Tag Archives: John Adam

When did the Bald Eagle became our National Bird

Most people don’t realize what It took for the Bald Eagle to become the United States National Bird. Back in 1792 when President George Washington was in office, the Declaration of Independence had just been signed, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were assigned the duty of finding a new National seal for the United States. At first Franklin’s idea was a design that featured a Biblical scene featuring Moses and Pharaoh. Ben Franklin also wanted the “Wild Turkey” to be our National Bird said that the Bald Eagle was more like a vulture. The Bald Eagle was lazy and often would steal his food from other birds and animals.  Jefferson wanted a scene depicting the children of Israel and two Anglo-Saxon mythical figures.Thomas Jefferson also wanted the “Peacock” as his choice due to it’s beauty when it spread/fanned out it’s feathers.  Adams wanted another mythical figure: Hercules. John Adams was in favor of the Bald Eagle . 

The three Founders brought in a designer, Pierre Eugène Du Simitière, to work with them. He rejected those ideas and designed a seal with a shield held by the Goddesses of Liberty and Justice. The designs were quickly rejected by the Continental Congress.

A third committee in 1782 came up with a complicated design that featured a crested imperial eagle and a dove as elements. The idea didn’t fly with Congress.

The frustrated lawmakers asked Charles Thomson, the Secretary of the Continental Congress, to settle the Great Seal issue. It was Thomson who made sure the American Bald Eagle was the focus of the front of the Great Seal, while using the pyramid and eye design from the third committee as the back of the seal.