Bald Eagle Versus the Turkey

By | July 8, 2019

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A bald eagle sits on a perch in front of an American Flag. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The majestic bald eagle—the symbol of the United States—has a reputation for being a noble bird that represents strength and might. In Europe, it is associated with royalty, and depictions of the formidable bird of prey adorned the military shields of powerful generals. Despite all this, however, Benjamin Franklin lobbied for the humble turkey to be used in the official seal of the United States instead of the eagle. Franklin, it seemed, saw through the façade of the eagle and believed the bird to be lacking in moral character. Let's look at Benjamin Franklin's failed attempt to name the turkey at the symbol of the newly founded nation. 

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The signing of the Declaration of Independence. (

Designing the Official Seal: A Tough Job

The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, establishing the United States of America as a new, independent nation. Naturally, the new country would need all of the accessories a proper country should have, such as a flag, currency, and official seal. It wasn't long after the signing of the Declaration of Independence that the Continental Congress appointed a committee to develop an official seal. On that committee was Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. They came up with a few designs, but not one of them were accepted by the Continental Congress. In fact, the next two committees also failed to produce a winning seal.