Mockingbirds

From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

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Jefferson owned mockingbirds for most of his life and they really were his only pet. They gave him company as he worked alone. The first birds were purchased in the 1770s, but there is more documentation starting during his presidency. As President, Jefferson's weather memorandum book states he owned at least four mockingbirds one of which he called a "New Orleans mockingbird.[1]

One of these birds was named Dick and it was considered his favorite. Margaret Bayard Smith states that Dick's cage was suspended among the roses and geraniums in the window recesses of the presidential cabinet.[2] It was not unusual to open the cage and let the bird fly around the room while he worked. Dick was known to even sit on Jefferson's shoulder and hop up stairs with him. When he retired, he still had a bird although we don't know the length of Dick's life.

Footnotes

  1. Weahter Book. Thomas Jefferson Papers, MHi
  2. Smith, Margaret Bayard. The First Forty Years of Washington Society. (New York: Scribner, 1906), 385.

Further Sources

Stanton, Lucia. Fall Dinner at MOnticello, November 4, 1988, in Memory of Thomas Jefferson (Keepsake). Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 1988.