Because of its white head and yellow eyes, physiognomists concluded that the bald eagle was fierce and noble. To his credit, Benjamin Franklin, the scientist, rejected this false logic, recognizing that the baldie was, in fact, a pirate and worse still, a "rank coward, commonly fleeing birds the size of sparrows." Franklin suggested that the turkey, a bird of many virtues, be used for the emblem instead. But Franklin's arguments didn't prevail: It seems our young nation was more concerned with symbolism than natural history, and the turkey had less charisma than the eagle.
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