Abraham Lincoln's cats

This week I wanted to talk about some famous cats who were the best friends of a famous person - the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln! 

Abraham Lincoln was an animal lover. According to EverythingLincoln.com, he had a cat as a boy who would come with him on his trips to fetch water. 

Later on he got a dog named Fido, but left it at home when he moved to Washington DC to become president. PsychologyToday relates that the friendly dog was unfortunately assassinated after trying to make friends with a drunk man who was sleeping on the sidewalk. The man awoke and stabbed the dog in in a panic thinking he was being attacked. Because of  Fido's association with President Lincoln, to this day, dogs are often associated with the name Fido.

EverythingLincoln also mentions a dog named Jip who joined the Lincoln family in the White House. 

Also while in the White House, Abraham Lincoln was gifted 2 kittens from secretary of state William Seward,  He named his new presidential cats Tabby and Dixie. The Presidential Pet Museum reports that his friend Caleb Carman recalled how President Lincoln would pick up one of the cats and talk to it for a half hour at time. He also reportedly observed that “Dixie is smarter than my whole cabinet! And furthermore she doesn’t talk back!” There is even a story about Abraham Lincoln feeding his cat Tabby from the table during a formal dinner at the White House. His wife was reportedly embarrassed and when she scolded President Lincoln for it later, he responded that if it was good enough for (former president) James Buchanan, it was good enough for Tabby! 

He was also fond of stray cats and historyfacts,com notes that when Mary Todd Lincoln was asked if her husband had any hobbies, she simply replied "Cats!"

The Presidental Pet Museum also mentions another story where Abraham Lincoln was involved with some stray cats. It was March of 1865 during the siege of Petersburg. President Lincoln was at General Ulysses S. Grant's headquarters in City Point, VA, and was distracted by the sound of mewling. Admiral David Porter wrote that he carefully pet the kittens and quietly told them “Kitties, thank God you are cats, and can’t understand this terrible strife that is going on.” He then made sure that the kitties would be given milk and taken care of before leaving his meeting. 

 But it wasn't just dogs and cats that had a special place in the Lincoln household. The Lincoln's son, Tad Lincoln had 2 goats, Nanko and Nannie, who had the run of the White House according to Everything Lincoln

It was that same Tad Lincoln who is associated with the first ever "pardon" of a Turkey for Thanksgiving. Smithsonian Magazine reports that while it didn't become a tradition to "pardon" a Turkey until 1989, Abraham Lincoln did grant a reprieve for a Turkey at the insistence of his young son Tad. The turkey had been given to the Lincoln family in late 1863 to be part of their Christmas feast, but Tad adopted it and named him Jack. When Christmas Eve came and Lincoln told Tad that the turkey was to be tomorrow's dinner, he argued that he had the right to live and Lincoln gave in to the boy, so that Jack the turkey became the first turkey to be 'pardoned' at the White House!

Our cover photo is by Ed Fr on Unsplash

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