Ben Franklin and the Turkey


Interesting Facts in Easy English

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

  • propose: suggest
  • Great Seal of the US: a presidential stamp placed on federal documents in the US
  • illustration: drawing
  • vain: overly admiring of oneself
  • invader: an unwelcome person who tries to enter or take over a region by force
  • criticize: to speak or write negatively about someone or something
  • immoral: not kind or caring towards others
  • reservations: concerns or doubts

Ben Franklin and the Turkey

Did Benjamin Franklin really propose that a turkey, an eagle, should be the national symbol on the Great Seal of the United States? Not exactly. In a letter to his daughter, dated January 26, 1784, Benjamin Franklin noted that the proposed of the bald eagle for the Great Seal looked more like a turkey. He went on to say that perhaps the illustration was fitting, since a turkey is a more bird than a bald eagle. He said that though a turkey is a bit vain and silly, it is also a native species with great courage who would protect territory from invaders. He went on to criticize the eagle, saying that these birds were immoral cowards that liked to steal. While Benjamin Franklin’s letter to his daughter suggests he had reservations about the of the eagle, it is a myth to say that this Founding Father truly felt the turkey ought to be America’s national bird.

Comprehension Questions

  1. What is the Great Seal of America?
  2. What really caused Benjamin Franklin to consider the turkey in favour of the eagle?
  3. How does the report end?

Discussion Questions: Which bird best represents your own native country, and why?

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