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Eagle, American


EAGLE, AMERICAN. The American bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was chosen in 1782 by a committee of the Continental Congress consisting of Arthur Middleton and John Rutledge of South Carolina, Elias Boudinot of New Jersey, and Arthur Lee of Virginia to represent the infant nation on an official seal. The Continental Congress had put aside the matter of the seal in 1776, returning to it in May 1782, when shown a sketch of a bald eagle drawn by the brother of a Philadelphia naturalist, who argued that the raptor represents "supreme power and authority." An informal heraldic seal bore the eagle, along with other symbols of the new nation, until Charles Thomson of Philadelphia devised a

new seal that was officially adopted as the emblem of the United States in 1787 and is still in use today. It has since appeared on coinage. The species is protected under the National Emblem Act of 1940.


Herrick, Francis Hobart. The American Eagle: A Study in Natural and Civil History. New York: D. Appleton-Century, 1934.

Stalmaster, Mark V. The Bald Eagle. New York: Universe Books, 1987.

Alvin F.Harlow

John HowardSmith

See alsoContinental Congress ; Currency and Coinage ; Seal of the United States .

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