Since Ben Franklin was probably one of the smartest men who ever was and also probably behind the American Revolution, he deserved some honor for Thanksgiving. Most people know that he wanted the turkey for our national bird and not the Eagle. I wanted to know why so I did some investigating. There’s all sorts of history behind the turkey, breeds and etc, but I was just interested in ol’ Ben.
This is what I discovered:
He claims that the drawing that had been produced looked like a turkey anyway and that such a bird would actually be preferable to the eagle. Franklin explained that the bald eagle had a “bad moral character” and was a “rank coward” that merely steals from other birds.
In Franklin’s letter from Paris to his daughter, dated January 26, 1784:
I am on this account not displeased that the figure is not known as an Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. So yes, he did float the idea that a turkey might be a better bird for a national symbol. But only within the context that people were claiming the bald eagle symbol already looked like a turkey. He never actually advocated this notion publicly or seriously.
As Smithsonian magazine points out, this little fun fact has evolved and grown more popular over the course of the last half century, aided by a 1962 New Yorker cover (pictured above) featuring the turkey in place of the bald eagle.
So—he did float around the idea of the Turkey being our national bird instead of the Bald Eagle. Can you imagine the patriotic songs? Where Turkey’s fly or soar? Oh my goodness! Thank heavens common sense prevailed or we’d be thought of as a Turkey Nation!