From the Ridiculous to the Sublime on July 4th

You’ll have to go elsewhere if you want beer, back yard bar-b-ques and fireworks for the Fourth of July.  More interesting (to me) is Benjamin Franklin’s letter to his daughter, in which he explains his choice of the turkey, a “bird of courage” for the National Bird instead of   the an eagle, a bird of “bad moral character” and “a rank coward” to represent the majesty of our great nation:


“For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen 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 perched 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 & robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district. He is therefore by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our country…”

“. .  . For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”  Franklin Institute  Read more: American Myths, Smithsonian Magazine

I leave you with the sublime

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Thanks Lyn!

10 comments on “From the Ridiculous to the Sublime on July 4th

  1. Of course, the turkey isn’t all that smart…it has been known to drown itself by looking up in the sky when it rains.
    I remember growing up there was a farmer close by who had chickens and a few turkeys and he was always complaining about how dumb the turkeys were….I don’t know if he was exaggerating about the drowning bit, but I do know he thought they were really stupid birds.

    Now the bald eagle is both a scavenger and a raptor. It does capture and eat live food too. Fish, and will even eat rabbits and things like that. But they can be stupid too, if they get try to get a fish that is too big they sometimes won’t let go and have been known to drown, especially if the water is too cold. Stubborn things.

    I’m not too sure either should have been picked as the national bird…but the eagle is considered to be at the top of their food chain…where turkeys are eaten a lot. 🙂


  2. I agree – we should repeal every image of eagles on our national emblems and replace them with your picture of the turkey, already stuffed and even ready with a thin mint for dessert! LOL!
    Hope to see you Monday.


  3. There’s something to be said for the bald eagle’s patience to wait his turn (until predators have eaten their fill), to diligently picking through the scraps to ‘clean up’ or habitat, to willingly share (well, if a bigger predator shoos them away). Still, I am sold on the argument for the turkey.


    • Jacqui,
      Based on Ben Franklin’s comments about the eagle maybe it’s not patience but cowardice – afraid of being chased by all the other birdies?!!!!!!!! The problem with having the turkey for our national bird is that Ben didn’t take into consideration is how tasty the turkey is!


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