Native Bird

… [Some in America] 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 as 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 perch’d on some dead Tree, near the River where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; 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 and Robbing, he is generally poor, and often very lousy. Besides, he is a rank Coward; the little Kingbird, not bigger than a Sparrow, attacks him boldly and drives him out of the Dis¬trict. He is therefore by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest…of America who have driven all the Kingbirds from our Country…
… For in Truth, the Turkey is in comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America. Eagles have been found in all Countries, but the Turkey was peculiar to ours…

Benjamin Franklin

(excerpted from a letter to Sarah Bache, BF’s daughter, posted from Passy, France, January 26, 1784; the title is my own -J.H.)

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