Today is the anniversary of one of the more charming letters in American history: Benjamin Franklin writing to his daughter Sally trashing the newly adopted Great Seal of America featuring a bald eagle (pictured above is the original proposed design by Charles Thomson). With serious “Can you even believe Space Force is real?” energy, Franklin wrote of the aforementioned garbage hawk:
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.
What comes next is the source of one of the funnier myths about the Founding Fathers (right up there with “the Constitution is an eternally fixed document that must exist in perpetuity outside the flow of evolving societal mores”): that Benjamin Franklin actually wanted a turkey to be America’s national bird (he did not).
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.
Basically, if the inventor of bifocals had had his way, we’d all be eating eagles for Thanksgiving. It is not too late, however, to make the turkey the unofficial bird of Space Force.