In this election year, voting for the candidates of choice should be based on their political platforms. But is that all that influences a ballot choice? Some voters may base their choices for the nation’s highest elected office on other issues, such as which pet may move into the White House.
Has every president had a pet? Which pets have been most popular? Have dogs and cats been the only four legged, two legged or no legged White House pet denizens? The answers may surprise you.
Animals have graced 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue since this country existed. George Washington (1789-1797) had several stallions, including one named Magnolia. He kept two horses he rode during the Revolutionary War plus an additional equine veteran gifted to him. He had at least 10 hounds, including Drunkard, Tipler and Sweetlips. He had five French hounds and various additional horses. Martha had a parrot.
John Adams(1797-1801) was a large animal lover, housing his favorite horse, Cleopatra. He built the White House stables. Abigail had two dogs.
Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) kept a mockingbird and a Briard (a French dog).
James Madison (1809-1817) left the presidential pet choice to his avian friendly wife. Dolly Madison chose a green parrot.
James Monroe (1817-1825) also deferred to his wife Maria’s choice of a spaniel.
John Quincy Adams(1825-1829) took pet loving to a much higher level. His unconventional choices included an alligator given to him by the Marquis de Lafayette and Silkworms belonging to Mrs. Louisa Adams.
Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) was a horseman through and through. He kept several racing mounts and his war time horse, Sam Patches.
Martin van Buren(1837- 1841) kept tiger cubs given to him by the Sultan of Oman, until Congress insisted he send them to send to the zoo.
William Henry Harrison (1841)’s short presidential tenure didn’t keep him from bringing along a billy goat and a Durham cow.
John Tyler (1841-1845) kept The General, a horse, and a pair of Italian Wolfhounds that he imported for his wife, Julia. The grey hound named Le Beau came from the consul of Naples “to grace the White House lawn”. The horse is buried on White House grounds with a loving epitaph on his gravestone from the nation’s chief.
James Polk (1845-1849) was an excellent horseman but apparently kept no animals at the White House.
Zachary Taylor (1949-1850) housed Old Whitey, a wartime mount and also a short-lived canary that they called Johnny Ty. Unfortunately the bird died shortly after they tried to pair him with a mate only to discover it too was a male.
Millard Fillmore (1850- 1853) was a founding member and president of the Buffalo chapter of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but neither he nor Franklin Pierce (1853- 1857) kept pets during their presidential tenures.
James Buchanan(1857-1861) had a herd of elephants from the King of Siam, a pair of Bald Eagles, and a Newfoundland named Lara.
Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) brought the Midwest to DC. Presidential family pets included Fido, the beloved childhood pig, ponies that belonged to his sons, a white rabbit, and Nanny and Nanko, Tad Lincoln’s goats. Jack, Tad Lincoln’s turkey, Jip, Lincoln’s’ dog and also cats and additional dogs rounded out the menagerie.