The story about Benjamin Franklin wanting the National Bird to be a turkey is just a myth. This false story began as a result of a letter Franklin wrote to his daughter criticizing the original eagle design for the Great Seal, saying that it looked more like a turkey. In the letter, Franklin wrote that the “Bald Eagle...is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly…[he] is too lazy to fish for himself.”
About the turkey, Franklin wrote that in comparison to the bald eagle, the turkey is “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.” So although Benjamin Franklin defended the honor of the turkey against the bald eagle, he did not propose its becoming one of America’s most important symbols.
Learn about the life and accomplishments of Philadelphia's favorite founding father, Benjamin Franklin.
Franklin's Glass Armonica, Franklin's Lightning Rod, Nini Medallion