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The Parrot That Whistled Yankee Doodle Dandy

The 19th U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes received the first Siamese cat to arrive in America. It was given to him and his wife as a gift from the American consul in Bangkok. The cat took a long journey by ship from Hong Kong to San Francisco and by train to Washington, D.C. arriving at the White House in 1879. He was the First Cat in the White House. The cat was named Siam.

The 23rd U.S. President Benjamin Harrison adored his family and grandchildren. In 1889 he set up the first White House Christmas tree and enjoyed playing Santa.

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The 25th U.S. President William McKinley was the owner of a double yellow-headed Amazon parrot that he called Washington Post. The parrot became the official White House greeter. The bird learned how to whistle “Yankee Doodle Dandy” with the president whistling the first notes and the parrot finishing the rest.

The 26th U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt decided to have his portrait painted. He engaged the services of portraiture artist Theobald Chartrand who had previously done a portrait of the First Lady Edith Roosevelt. Chartrand related that it was difficult for the president to keep still while he was painting. Finally, the painting was finished and displayed in France in 1903. However, Roosevelt disliked the painting and kept it hidden in a dark hall at the White House. After some years he burned the portrait.

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