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Gilded Age Presidential Pets


I realize I am really scraping the bottom of the relevance barrel here, but I am now fascinated with Gilded Age presidential pets as a way to not write my book. For instance, did you know that President Rutherford B. Hayes was the owner of the first Siamese cat in the United States?

Twelve-year-old Fanny Hayes watched excitedly as the White House staff opened the Wells Fargo crate for her mother. It had been more than two months since David B. Sickels, a United States diplomat at the consulate in Bangkok, had written to First Lady Lucy Hayes. Sickels explained that when he discovered that Mrs. Hayes was fond of cats, he decided to send her one as a gift. He wrote, “I have taken the liberty of forwarding you one of the finest specimens of Siamese cats that I have been able to procure in this country”. I am informed that it is the first attempt ever made to send a Siamese cat to America.”

Unfortunately, it didn’t end well:

In the autumn of 1879, while the Hayes family was at Spiegel Grove, Siam became seriously ill. The staff tried fish, chicken, duck, cream, and even oysters, hoping that Siam would respond. When her condition worsened, the staff sent for the president’s personal physician. Dr. J. H. Baxter prescribed beef tea and milk every three hours, but Siam did not improve. A pet lover himself, Dr. Baxter took Siam to his home. There, Fanny’s playmate, Nellie McCrary, daughter of Hayes’ Secretary of War, visited the beloved pet. The next day Nellie wrote to Fanny, bluntly reporting Dr.

Baxter’s grim prognosis that, “he thinks she will die and I do to[o].”

Siam survived another five days. Everyone was saddened when news of Siam’s death reached the White House. Her gentle and appreciative ways had endeared her to the entire staff. It was left to the president’s steward Billy Crump, to write the First Lady about Siam’s passing. Crump then delivered the lifeless body to the Secretary of Agriculture, giving personal instructions to preserve her. Despite searches of the Department of Agriculture’s museum and the Smithsonian Institution, Siam has never been located.

Whoever Hillary hired to kill Vince Foster is also hiding Siam’s body.

Then, there’s Benjamin Harrison’s pet raccoons, Mr. Reciprocity and Mr. Protection.

And really, why not name your pets to reflect tariff policy? That is hot stuff.

Mr. Reciprocity at least has his own Facebook page.

Your comprehensive list of presidential pets is found here.

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