January 26, 2006

"He is a Bird of bad moral Character."

Benjamin Franklin disrespected the eagle, 222 years ago today:
"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 . . .

"I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. 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."

9 comments:

Goesh said...

Turkeys strut but never fly and soar in the heavens and they are all the time pecking and scratching in the dirt. What varmit has cause to be afraid of a turkey for pete's sake? How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? You guessed it, it depends on whether or not an eagle is present. Let me suggest that when Old Ben made his forays into the wilderness, he was more interested in the Native maidens than the native species of birds.

SippicanCottage said...
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bearbee said...

"....too lazy to fish......"

Contrary to being lazy I think that it would take more energy to attack and steal fish from a bird in flight than to hunt for a the food source

"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."

Peacemaker better describes the bald eagle for it seems unwilling to beat up on something smaller than itself. It deserves a nomination for the Nobel peace prize.

chuck b. said...

I always wondered when Ben Franklin would have seen a bald eagle. But I guess you see them back east? I always think of them as a west coast bird.

(As opposed to hostas, which liquify in a week or two in my California yard.)

Slac said...

I brought up many of the same issues while telling my scout leaders that being Eagle Scout is nothing to be proud of.

Then I became an Eagle Scout. And cried.

MadisonMan said...

I always think of them as a west coast bird.

A great place to see Bald Eagles in the winter is a half hour northwest of Madison, in Prarie du Sac, where the fish along the Wisconsin River. Prof. A: please drive up, lunch at the Blue Spoon, and take pictures!!

Then I became an Eagle Scout. And cried.

Think how you would have cried had you become a turkey scout ! :)

SippicanCottage said...
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howzerdo said...

We have eagles in New York. They are not exactly a common sight, but yes, they are a majestic bird. We also have wild turkeys, lots of them. My uncle (a woodsman, and I am not kidding) believes the turkey to be the more appropriate choice, also. Folks wouldn't have gotten through the first winters without turkeys, he says. I like birds in general, but I especially love wild turkeys (and I don't mean for dinner. I like to see them in the yard).
Gina

LoafingOaf said...

I always think of them as a west coast bird.

In all the papers in the Cleveland area last week it was reported that Ohio's bald eagle population this winter has hit its highest in modern history, particularly along the western Lake Erie shore. Apparently the mild winter has encouraged them to spend the winter with us. :)