Did Ben Franklin suggest a turkey for America's national bird?


Post by: Valley Financial Group

Perhaps nothing apart from the stars and stripes themselves is more intrinsically American than a bald eagle. Since the foundation of the United States, the sight of a soaring eagle has instilled a sense of pride and patriotism in generations of the nation's citizens, and a stern image of an eagle, wings spread, is prominently featured on our nation's seal. It seems to be the perfect selection for a national bird, a powerful and majestic creature then instills awe in all those who gaze upon it. Now, imagine that this powerful symbol of our nation's pride and freedom was replaced, but the question remains, what kind of bird could possibly replace the bald eagle as America's national bird? No matter what idea you came up with, if any, I highly doubt that a turkey was the first thing that came to mind as a viable candidate to represent the nation.

We've all heard the fun "fact" at some point in our lives that Ben Franklin put forth the wild turkey as his candidate for the national bird. In fact, I even assumed it was true I had heard it so much, that is, until recently, when I checked the ever so reliable source that is the internet. As it turns out, Franklin did oppose the idea of the bald eagle as our nation's bird when John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and himself were tasked with creating the seal of the newly independent nation.

Franklin, one of the great minds and most famous inventors of all time, called the bald eagle a "bird of bad moral character that did not make its living honestly." Um...what? Ben, I understand that you may not be the biggest fan of eagles, but I'm having a hard time seeing how the ethics and morals of a specific species of bird are so in question? And they're always making their livelihood dishonestly? Ben, c'mon buddy. Moving on, however, Ben then (supposedly) facetiously said that they might as well use a wild turkey if they were going to use the eagle. He never actually suggested and backed the idea of the gobbler being used for the seal, instead advocating for a scene from the Book of Exodus, when Moses raises his hand over the sea to close the gap over the pursuing Pharaoh and Egyptian soldiers.

In 1784, a tabloid of the time ran an article claiming that Franklin had desperately fought for the turkey as the national bird, and somehow the rumor has survived over 200 years to the present day. Now, I know my uncovering of this mind-boggling conspiracy has probably shocked almost everyone reading this.  I'll admit that I was at first reluctant to believe the several sources that confirmed the truth, which simultaneously made me question almost everything I know, but however you feel about the bald eagle or the wild turkey, I think we can all agree that it’s for the best we aren't eating the national bird next Thursday evening.

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Happy Thanksgiving!  
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