Ben Franklin’s Lost Love Letter to His Turkey Mistress

June 20, 1782

My dearest Turkenia,

I will always remember the first time I saw you. I had ventured into the meadow while observing an electrical storm. Soon I realized the greatest electricity of all coming from you, a beautiful turkey who acting was a lightning rod to my heart.

I know you initially mistrusted me because of past my philandering and I resisted my attraction because you are a turkey. However, I have never felt so loved as when you allowed me to pluck a feather from your plumage to become my writing quill. The gesture was so vulnerable, so intimate, you had given yourself to me. I wanted to give my love to you with my own grand gesture. I knew I could do that by protecting you and your ancestors from consumption by man. I would make you the National Bird of The United States.

Yet, in my quest to honor you, George Washington said, “But an eagle can fly, turkeys can’t fly,” and John Adams laughed as if I was making a joke. They thought this was just another one of Poor Richard’s Proverbs, for of course I’m known for my sharp wit, but this was the one time I wanted something real. Those fumbling founding fathers chose the eagle as our national bird, which I only know they chose because Washington has been having trysts with a certain smooth-headed bird of prey.

You would have been the perfect symbol of this new nation. You are a flightless bird native to North American that travels in packs, like We The People need to do! You would have led this nation to greatness, but instead we are distilled to the image of a balding predator.

My sweet loving darling, forgive me as I quote myself “by failing to prepare, I prepare to fail,” but we must address that looming autumnal menace: Thanksgiving. I am aware that my failure has sentenced you and all your great-great-grandchicks to an eternity of being roasted, fried, grilled and stuffed in the name of all that is thankful.

As much as I want you by my side, the whole country wants you on their table and now no one will ever realize how delicious eagles truly are. Not even your natural defenses of dry meat and soporific effects could prove to them you are our true avian symbol. Nothing says government more than a dry mouth and half-awake eyes.

I still carry the hope that in the future Thanksgiving fades away from our national narrative, which I believe is possible since it is on a random Thursday, which is already challenging with work schedules and everyone wanting to have Friday off, James Madison is quite insistence on that. And since Thomas Jefferson always leaves early the Wednesday before, maybe we can just scrap the whole holiday anyway.

Still it is too late for us. I morbidly envy the hunter that will stop your heart in a way I never could. Which is why I have asked him to bring you to me, for I must be the only one lay a hand on your freshly roasted breast. I will cherish every inch of you and I will give thanks to you, my dear sweet beautiful Turkenia. Oh, how I deeply wish the words consume and consummate were reversed in this instance.

All my love,

Benjamin Franklin