Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Here's Tuesday's Truth for Week Sixty-Eight Facts re Benjamin Franklin and Turkeys


Hello and welcome to the sixth-eighth week of my Tuesday's Truths series, which is being posted on the Tuesday of  the week before Thanksgiving, a day when many Americans, unlike yours truly, who is a vegetarian (ninety-five percent of the time), will eat turkey. I happen to find it foul to eat fowl, and cannot eat turkey, but I can talk turkey about the myth that Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of The United States instead of the bald eagle being our avian rep.

Franklin is on my mind today, — according to my TLLG FB newsfeed for The Writers Notebook —  yesterday, November 13th 2017, was the 228th anniversary of Franklin writing this famous phrase: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

He is also on my mind because I recently had a brief encounter who told me that Benjamin Franklin had wanted the turkey to be the national bird of The United States instead of the bald eagle. I had not ever heard of this news, and with all the fake news floating around, I did some research, and here is what I found:

A web-page authored by Matt Soniak, on mental floss has this to say re the matter:

"Maybe you’ve heard this story before: Ben Franklin, enamored with the 'respectable' personality of the wild turkey, wanted to see it, instead of the bald eagle, become the national bird and be used as a symbol for the new United States. However, he lost out to the eagle supporters in Congress. It’s a quirky little story, often brought up when conversation turns to turkeys or eagles, and has been repeated both by average joes and the National Wildlife Federation. The hitch is that the story has become so warped over time that it's more myth than fact." You can read Soniak's full story on mental floss.

Meanwhile, in another web-page for Billy Penn, which is authored by Mark Dent proclaims the following re the Franklin/turkey/bald eagle controversy:

"The Founding Father’s alleged attachment to the fowl was largely unknown for almost 200 years, until The New Yorker unearthed the connection," the next image is included in that posting, and you can read Soniak's full story on Billy Penn.


In any event, a web-page known as thegreatseal.com, also on weighs in on this matter:

"A year and a half after the Great Seal was adopted by Congress on June 20, 1782 – with the American Bald Eagle as its centerpiece – Benjamin Franklin shared some thoughts about this new symbol of America in a letter. He did not express these personal musings elsewhere, but they have become legendary. Writing from France on January 26, 1784 to his daughter Sally (Mrs. Sarah Bache) in Philadelphia, Franklin casts doubt on the propriety of using the eagle to symbolize the 'brave and honest Cincinnati of America,' a newly formed society of revolutionary war officers." You can read more of their information on their web-page.

Yet another source (written by Christopher Klein) re this "controversy" can be found within web-pages within history.com that state:

"After the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, it next tasked Benjamin Franklin—along with John Adams and Thomas Jefferson—with designing a seal to represent the new country. Given the opportunity to choose a national symbol, the Founding Father never suggested a turkey. According to his notes, Franklin proposed an image of 'Moses standing on the shore, and extending his hand over the sea, thereby causing the same to overwhelm pharaoh who is sitting in an open chariot' along with the motto 'Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.' While the committee selected the scene from the Book of Exodus for the reverse of the seal, the Continental Congress was not impressed and tabled the concept. Not until 1782 was the Great Seal of the United States, with a bald eagle as its centerpiece, approved.

"The story that Franklin proposed the turkey as the national symbol began to circulate in American newspapers around the time of the country’s centennial and are based on a January 26, 1784, letter in which he panned the eagle and extolled the virtues of the gobbler to his daughter, Sarah. In doing so, though, he was not delivering a critique of the Great Seal but a new medal issued by the Society of the Cincinnati, an association of Continental Army veterans. 'For my own part I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country,' he wrote. The Founding Father argued that the eagle was 'a bird of bad moral character' that 'does not get his living honestly' because it steals food from the fishing hawk and is 'too lazy to fish for himself.'

"In contrast, Franklin called the turkey 'a much more respectable bird' and 'a true original native of America.' While he considered the eagle 'a rank coward,' Franklin believed the turkey to be 'a bird of courage' that 'would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on.' While the private letter was a spirited promotion of the turkey over the eagle, Franklin never made his views public, and when the chance had been given to him to officially propose a symbol for the United States eight years earlier, his idea was biblical, not avian."

And finally, in terms of info on the Franklin/turkey/baldeagle truism, writer Matt Novack, states (on a web-page for Gizmodo)"It’s one of those Thanksgiving fun facts I loved repeating when I was a kid: Ben Franklin liked turkeys so much that he wanted them to be our national bird, instead of the bald eagle. It’s a popular fun fact. But I was shattered to learn as an adult that this little nugget of trivia isn’t quite true."

That's it, dear reader, re my findings on Franklin's desire to have the turkey be the national bird of the United States, but before I close, please let me tell you that features a partial view of a turkey-themed Macy's ballon and was taken by yours truly at the 2016 Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. I've recently had a big disappointment re this event, which I wrote about in a prior entry here on Blogger. But I cannot afford to focus on that and need to direct my energy towards getting the hardcover version of Words In Our Beak Volume One (ISBN: 9780996378529).


A mailing went out to individuals late yesterday afternoon and as press release went out to retailers today. Please stay tuned.

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