Soon it will be Thanksgiving, the day most of us will eat turkey. We have had wild turkey flocks in GriggsDakota, although predators like coyotes, bald eagles and owls, have caused their numbers to dwindle. I wondered how it was that a brilliant man like Benjamin Franklin could have wanted the silly Turkey as the official symbol of America rather than the majestic Bald Eagle.
How could it be that a man who left us with so many brilliant ideas and improvements, from bifocals to Daylight Saving Time, judge the turkey most worthy of this honor?
After a bit of research it appears that he proposed this only once in a letter to his daughter dated January 26, 1784. The letter, written from France suggests he was primarily disgusted with the drawing of the eagle as the official symbol of America and commented that it looked more like a turkey. It seems the founding fathers accepted the eagle design of Charles Thomson on the day he submitted it. They clearly had bigger issues on their minds and decided that a bird in the hand was a fine symbol indeed. It was a year and a half later when writing to his daughter that Mr. Franklin lapsed into analyzing the moral character of the eagle which he judged to be poor. The eagle he claimed to be lousy and a thief. From there he suggested the turkey to be a much more worthy symbol. It seems these thoughts occurred to him after long consideration of the eagle sketch on the symbol for our nation.
"For the truth the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America," Mr. Franklin wrote to his daughter.
So I now understand that the suggestion by Benjamin Franklin was in a humorous rambling written at a time when he wanted his beloved girl to know she was in his thoughts, without telling her too much of what he was actually up to.