Tags: Presidential History | president | zachary taylor | pets

First Pets: Four-legged or Feathered Friends of President Zachary Taylor

By    |   Monday, 21 Dec 2015 06:10 PM

Taking on the role of president of the United States is no easy feat: after completing a grueling campaign, the stress only increases. Presidents throughout the years have recognized that they need ways to keep themselves cool and calm while in office.

To help ease the tensions of the office, many presidents and their families have had pets while residing at the White House. The bond between an animal and its owner is a powerful thing, and President Zachary Taylor readily acknowledged this truth.

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Born in 1784, Zachary Taylor was regarded as a war hero. Serving a total of 40 years in the Army, Taylor participated in both the Mexican-American War and the War of 1812. His military history, coupled with the fact that he owned 100 slaves back at home, made him an ideal candidate for the Whigs in 1848 because they thought he would appeal to both Northerners and Southerners.

According to the White House, this tactic proved successful, and Taylor took office in 1849.

Thrown into debates and disagreements about slavery and the right of states to choose whether or not they would allow the institution, Taylor distanced himself from his party and from Congress by acting for himself and doing what he thought best rather than becoming a puppet to others' plans.

Some Southern states started threatening secession, and he told them that if they did, he would lead the army against them. Although strong in his resolve and character, Taylor wasn't impervious to natural forces. He fell ill in July of 1950, dying within five days of becoming sick.

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While Taylor was in office, he had two pets with him at the White House. The first was his wartime mount and favorite horse, Old Whitey. The Presidential Pet Museum reports that the horse was a lively one, prone to prancing any time he heard parade music.

By the time Old Whitey made it to the White House, he was relatively old, so his favorite activity was grazing on the lawn. People loved to see the famous horse and would often come to visit him, sometimes pulling out hairs from his tail as souvenirs. He outlived his owner and participated in his funeral procession, walking behind the wagon carrying the president's casket.

Taylor also had a pony named Apollo. A present for Taylor's daughter, the pony had once been a trick pony in a circus. Bettie Taylor saw him there and instantly wanted him as her own. His owner didn't want to part with him, but had lost the pony's home due to flooding, so ultimately gifted him to the young girl. Apollo made his way to Washington, D.C., with Old Whitey and lived out the rest of his days in the White House stables.

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To help ease the tensions of the office, many U.S. presidents and their families have had pets while residing at the White House. The bond between an animal and its owner is a powerful thing, and President Zachary Taylor readily acknowledged this truth.
president, zachary taylor, pets
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2015-10-21
Monday, 21 Dec 2015 06:10 PM
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