Benjamin Franklin thought the turkey should be the national bird instead of the eagle. Franklin wrote a letter to Sarah in 1784.
I wish the bald eagle hadn't been chosen as the country's representative. He is a bad person. He doesn't get his living. You may have seen him perched on a dead tree, too lazy to fish for himself, and watching the work of the fishing hawk, who is carrying a fish to his nest for his mate and young ones.
People think that this story means Franklin wanted to replace the eagle on the Great Seal of the United States with a turkey. Anatol Kovarsky did as much as he could on the cover of "The New Yorker" in 1962. Some historians think that Franklin wasn't serious. Best Life magazine says that he was joking. "The Eagle and the Shield: A History of the Great Seal of the United States" was written by Richard S. Patterson and Richardson Dougall and was published by the U.S. State Department.
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Which is it? Was Franklin making fun of the idea of having a mascot or was he making fun of something else entirely? Franklin helped design the seal that he is roasting.
The Seal of the United States is where the idea of the eagle as America's national bird comes from. The Continental Congress asked Franklin, Adams and Jefferson to work on a seal for the new nation on July 4, 1776. Each founder came up with a proposal. Franklin proposed a scene from the movie "Exodus" in whichMoses stood on the shore and extended his hand over the sea to overwhelm Pharoah.
According to "The Eagle and the Shield," Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson consulted with Philadelphia artist Pierre Eugne du Simitire about the design of the seal, and chose a design that was still without an eagle. They proposed using Franklin's design for the back. The legislative body tabled the double-sided seal design that the group proposed to congress.
Franklin wasn't a part of the committee that passed the design project to. According to History.com, the eagle was introduced into the design by Philadelphia lawyer William Barton. The 1782 design of Charles Thomson, secretary of congress, can be found at the National Archives. Two pieces of legislation in 1782 and 1789 made it official that an eagle was on our seal.
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There is a carpeted edition of The Great Seal of the United States at The Hall of Presidents in the Magic Kingdom. Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket is the image's credit.
Was Franklin serious?
Franklin was no longer part of the seal project when he wrote to his daughter. Maybe he was having a good time. Not everyone thinks he was joking. Franklin didn't take the idea of a national bird seriously. H. W. Brands is the author of "The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin." I think he was serious that turkeys had better character qualities than eagles.
The story of Benjamin Franklin wanting the National Bird to be a turkey is a myth, according to the Franklin Institute. The organization says that Franklin didn't propose the turkey as the national bird. Benjamin Franklin did not propose that the turkey become one of America's most important symbols.
Was the letter a joke?
The 1784 "turkey" letter to his daughter was never sent by Franklin, according to the National Archives transcript. He wrote it as a satire of the Society of the Cincinnati, which was a patriotic organization formed by former Revolutionary War officers. According to its current website, group membership was only open to descendants of Revolutionary War officers, as well as to French officers who fought for America's independence, and their male children through the generations.
The Cincinnati, a club of officers from the American Revolution, is the subject of a comedy by the British.
The National Archives commentary states that Franklin never sent the letter to his daughter, but did send it to a French economist to translate into French. The National Archives commentary said that Franklin had intended the essay to be a public one. Franklin was poking fun at the society in a private letter that he intended to make public. According to the National Archives commentary, Morellet advised Franklin not to publish it during his lifetime. The entire letter was first published in English in 1817, and a partial French translation was published in Paris within months of Franklin's death.
The eagle is not a proper emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America according to the letter. It's often assumed that Franklin is talking about the national seal when he wants the turkey to be the national bird. The Society of the Cincinnati has an eagle emblem. Franklin might have been flipping the bird at the Cincinnati society's eagle, not the seal he helped design. Franklin was against the eagle as the representative of our country, and he was also against the eagle symbols.
Franklin didn't want the turkey to be the national bird, but he did use it as a way to mock the Society of the Cincinnati's hereditary traditions.
Live Science published the original article.