Why is the bald eagle the emblem of America?

Imagine being on a battlefield right after the first battle of the Revolution. The noise of struggle awakening a convocation (group of eagles), they fly from their nest and soar in circles above your head. That scenario is one of the reasons why the bald eagle is a symbol of freedom, but what else happened that made the bald eagle the emblem of America? Perhaps something even more interesting.

Who decided that the bald eagle would be the emblem of America and when?

On June 20th of 1782, a man brought a drawing of a bald eagle with wings spread, its face facing forward, a breastplate on that has red and white stripes with blue at the top, in its right talon it holds an olive branch, in the left it holds 13 arrows and in its beak it carries a scroll that says ‘E Pluribus Unum”. E pluribus unum is the motto of the US, it means ‘out of many, one’. This drawing symbolises that the United States has ‘a strong desire for peace, but will always be ready for war’. The congress liked the drawing so they accepted it as the official seal.

What happened that made them want an emblem?

Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson were looking for an official seal for America. Having an emblem would be useful because it is used on gold coins, silver dollars, the half dollar and quarters, US passports, and on military flags. This tells us that the emblem is used mostly to show that you are an American.

What features of the bald eagle made them accept it?

The bald eagle was chosen because of its majestic beauty, great strength, long life, and because it is believed to only exist in America. According to President John F. Kennedy “ The fierce beauty and proud independence of this great bird symbolises the strength and freedom of America” . Although the eagle was already chosen as the symbol of America, there were some people who thought that the bald eagle was the wrong choice. Benjamin Franklin writes to his daughter: “I wish that the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country, he is a bird of bad moral character. Besides he is a rank coward. He is therefore by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest. . . of America.. . . For a truth, the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America . . . a bird of courage.”

Maude M. Grant believes, “At one of the first battles of the Revolution (which occurred early in the morning) the noise of the struggle awoke the sleeping eagles on the heights and they flew from their nests and circled about over the heads of the fighting men, all the while giving vent to their raucous cries. "They are shrieking for Freedom," said the patriots.

Thus the eagle, full of the boundless spirit of freedom, living above the valleys, strong and powerful in his might, has become the national emblem of a country that offers freedom in pace of the future.”

In conclusion, the bald eagle was chosen as the emblem of America for its majesticness, bravery, independence and freedom. So, if you ever see an bald eagle flying around, consider yourself lucky because you’re staring freedom right in the face.






Created with images by Texas State Library and Archives Commission - "Seal of the United States on the Entry Doors to the Lorenzo de Zavala Building" • stacyvitallo - "eagle eagle flying soar" • JAC6.FLICKR - "Bald Eagle" • Gordon Oliver - "Bald Eagle"

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