With its white head, white tail, and majestic wingspan, the bald eagle is a revered and iconic symbol of the United States. But why exactly was this regal bird chosen to represent America?
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The bald eagle was selected as a national emblem of the U.S. in 1782 because its long life, great strength, and majestic looks inspired admiration. Its association with leadership and liberty exemplified the new nation’s values.
In this comprehensive article, we’ll explore the historical significance of the bald eagle, its symbolic meaning to America, and how it became our official national emblem.
The Bald Eagle Has Long Been a Symbol of Leadership
The bald eagle, with its majestic appearance and powerful presence, has been a symbol of leadership for centuries. This magnificent bird is often associated with the United States of America, representing the nation’s strength, freedom, and resilience.
Here are some reasons why the bald eagle has become such an iconic symbol of America.
Revered by Native American Tribes
The bald eagle holds great significance in Native American cultures, where it is considered a sacred bird. Many tribes view the bald eagle as a symbol of spirituality, wisdom, and strength. Its ability to soar high in the sky is seen as a representation of the connection between the physical and spiritual realms.
Native Americans often incorporated the image of the bald eagle into their artwork, clothing, and rituals, further solidifying its status as a symbol of leadership.
A Symbol of Kings and Emperors
The bald eagle’s association with leadership can be traced back to ancient civilizations. In ancient Rome, the eagle was a symbol of power and authority, often depicted alongside emperors and military leaders.
Similarly, in ancient Egypt, the eagle was associated with the sun god Ra and was seen as a symbol of royalty. These historical associations likely influenced the bald eagle’s status as a symbol of leadership in America.
Appears on Earliest American Flags and Seals
The bald eagle’s inclusion on the earliest American flags and seals further solidifies its status as a symbol of America’s leadership. The image of the bald eagle first appeared on the Great Seal of the United States in 1782, chosen by the Continental Congress as a representation of the country’s strength and independence.
Since then, the bald eagle has become a prominent feature on various American symbols, including the official seal of the President of the United States.
Qualities That Made the Bald Eagle an Ideal National Symbol
The selection of the bald eagle as the national symbol of the United States was not a random decision. It was chosen for its exceptional qualities that embody the spirit and values of the nation. Here are the key qualities that made the bald eagle an ideal representation of America:
Strength and Longevity
One of the main reasons why the bald eagle was chosen as the national symbol is its incredible strength and longevity. With a wingspan of up to 7 feet and a powerful build, the bald eagle is a magnificent creature that commands respect.
It has the ability to soar high in the sky and represents the strength and resilience of the American people.
Not only is the bald eagle physically strong, but it also has a long lifespan. The average lifespan of a bald eagle in the wild is around 20 years, and some individuals have been known to live up to 30 years. This longevity symbolizes the endurance and perseverance of the American spirit.
The bald eagle’s majestic appearance played a significant role in its selection as the national symbol. With its striking white head and tail contrasting against its dark brown body, the bald eagle is truly a sight to behold.
Its regal posture and piercing eyes give it an air of nobility, making it a fitting representation of the United States.
Moreover, the bald eagle’s ability to gracefully glide through the air showcases its elegance and beauty. It captures the awe-inspiring nature of the American landscape and represents the freedom and vastness of the country.
Association With Freedom and Liberty
Perhaps the most significant reason why the bald eagle became the national symbol is its association with freedom and liberty. The bald eagle has been a symbol of power and independence for centuries. It was revered by Native American tribes and later adopted by the Founding Fathers as a symbol of the newly formed nation.
The bald eagle’s ability to fly high and soar freely represents the principles upon which America was built. It embodies the ideals of liberty, democracy, and the pursuit of happiness. The bald eagle’s presence on the Great Seal of the United States and on numerous patriotic symbols solidifies its association with the American identity.
The Bald Eagle’s Road to Becoming America’s Symbol
Early American Leaders Value Its Symbolism
The bald eagle’s journey to becoming America’s symbol dates back to the early days of the nation. American leaders, such as Benjamin Franklin, recognized the unique qualities of the bald eagle and its representation of strength, freedom, and majesty.
In fact, Franklin even expressed his preference for the wild turkey as a national symbol, but his views were outnumbered by those who saw the bald eagle as a more fitting representation of the nation.
Featured on Great Seal of the U.S. in 1782
In 1782, the bald eagle made its first official appearance as a symbol of America on the Great Seal of the United States. The seal, designed by Charles Thomson, features the iconic image of the bald eagle holding an olive branch in one talon and arrows in the other, symbolizing the nation’s desire for peace but readiness for war.
This depiction solidified the bald eagle’s status as a symbol of America and its values.
Made the National Emblem in 1787
Five years later, in 1787, the bald eagle was officially declared the national emblem of the United States. This decision was made by the Second Continental Congress, who recognized the bald eagle as a powerful and majestic bird that represented the spirit of the American people.
Since then, the bald eagle has become synonymous with American patriotism and is often associated with the ideals of freedom, courage, and strength.
For more information on the history of the bald eagle as America’s symbol, you can visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.
In conclusion, the bald eagle was chosen as the emblem of the United States because it embodied leadership, strength, freedom, and other ideals that the Founding Fathers valued for the new nation. Its association with power and liberty made it a fitting symbol for America.
After appearing on early American flags and seals, it was officially declared the national emblem in 1787. The bald eagle retains an iconic status today as the living symbol of the United States of America.
When we see the bald eagle with its wings spread, it’s easy to understand why this majestic bird has inspired pride and patriotism for over 200 years – and why it was selected to represent freedom and democracy across America.