Ben Franklin's Turkey Letter

Ben Franklin's Turkey Letter

January 26, 1784 - On this day Ben Franklin penned a letter to his daughter, Sarah Bache, in which he expressed his opinion about the selection of the bald eagle as the national bird. It was a decision that Congress debated on and off for 6 years.

Here's what Franklin had to say:

Others object to the Bald Eagle, as looking too much like a Dindon, or Turkey. For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk [osprey]; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.
With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country... I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For in Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America... He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.

Turkey trivia:

Turkeys are the only breed of poultry native to the Western Hemisphere.

Turkeys have no ears, but they have excellent hearing.

Turkeys sometimes sleep in trees.

Wild turkeys can fly (short distances), domesticated ones can't.

The first meal eaten on the moon (by Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin) was roasted turkey.

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