Shortly after America declared its independence from Britain, it adopted the bald eagle as its national bird. Until the day he died, Benjamin Franklin regretted the decision. In a letter to his daughter in 1784, he wrote:
For my own part, I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country. He is a bird of bad moral character; he does not get his living honestly. . . . Besides, he is a rank coward.
Franklin proposed an alternative: The turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America. . . . [He is] a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards, who should presume to invade his farmyard with a red coat on.