"Over the entrance hovers an enormous specimen of the American eagle"

The bald eagle was adopted as America’s national emblem in 1782 when it was incorporated into the Great Seal and has since made its perch upon the Presidential flag, assorted federal flags and innumerable government buildings. The “unhappy fowl” above the custom house was a wooden carving created by local artisan Joseph True in 1826. Hawthorne’s description of its “bunch of intermingled thunderbolts and barbed arrows in each claw” does not entirely tally with the reality: like most of its kind, it carries the olive branch of peace along with the arrows of war. True’s bird was replaced in 2004 by a fiberglass replica and is now exhibited as part of the custom house museum.