Congress adopted the bald eagle as a national emblem in 1782, when the bird was chosen as part of the design for the Great Seal of the United States. Benjamin Franklin famously opposed the use of the bird because he disapproved of its opportunistic hunting habits; in a letter to his daughter, he declared that the eagle was "a bird of mad moral character." Franklin preferred the wild turkey, which "though a little vain and silly" was, in his estimation, "a bird of courage." The Founding Fathers gave no precise justification for the inclusion of the eagle in the Great Seal, but the bird is often thought to represent strength, courage, and freedom.
In addition to the Great Seal and Presidential Seal, bald eagles may be found on military and government uniforms, atop the mace in the House of Representatives, in the Library of Congress main reading room, and on the candy in Air Force One. The birds have also been a frequent motif on U.S. money, including the $10 gold "eagle," the $5 "half-eagle," and the $2.50 "quarter eagle" (all discontinued). Notably, the crest for the Apollo space project also depicts an eagle, and the capsule that landed on the Moon in 1969 was named the Eagle -- hence the phrase "the Eagle has landed."
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)