White House Sheep, a History

In 1918, President Wilson wanted sheep. But trouble lurked.

National Journal
Brian Resnick
Add to Briefcase
Brian Resnick
Oct. 17, 2014, 7:27 a.m.

Pres­id­ent Woo­drow Wilson wanted sheep. 

It was 1918, and “while rid­ing in one of the White House auto­mo­biles through the coun­try with Dr. Grayson [a per­son­al friend] the pres­id­ent re­marked that he would like to see some sheep at the White House, and that Mrs. Wilson would like to see them, too,” ac­cord­ing to a Wash­ing­ton Post re­port from April of that year. 

It was settled. “Pres­id­ent Wilson in­tends to raise some sheep on the White House lawn,” the story sur­mised. And it was a nice enough idea. Wilson and his wife, ac­cord­ing to the White House his­tory web­site, wanted to be the mod­el fam­ily for sup­port­ing the war ef­fort. Over the next two years, auc­tions of the White House wool would yield $52,000 for the Red Cross.

But trouble lurked.

“Pres­id­ent Wilson is hav­ing no end of trouble with the flock of sheep he pur­chased re­cently to graze on the White House lawn,” a May 12, 1918, Wash­ing­ton Post art­icle re­por­ted. The prob­lem: The sheep were scared of the cars that had star­ted to ap­pear across the Dis­trict of Columbia in in­creas­ing num­bers.

“Two of the sheep de­veloped ser­i­ous ill­ness yes­ter­day and are un­der the care of spe­cial­ists from the De­part­ment of Ag­ri­cul­ture,” the Post’s re­port­ing con­tin­ued.

The an­im­als had been get­ting along nicely, un­til yes­ter­day. The fact that one of the sheep has the “dips” is said to be due to the fact that it be­came frightened by passing auto­mo­biles and sim­il­ar noises to which it was not ac­cus­tomed.

By 1920, the flock had grown to 48 and had “eaten up nearly all the grass in the rear” of the White House. See­ing the de­struc­tion of the White House back­yard, Wilson ordered the flock to graze in the front, prompt­ing frantic pre­par­a­tions to fence in “the nu­mer­ous flower beds and the more del­ic­ate trees which ad­orn the front lawn to save them from the flock,” a Post story from that May states.

But by Au­gust of that year, Wilson had had enough of the sheep. “Pres­id­ent Wilson has de­cided to re­tire from the sheep busi­ness,” the Post de­clared.

What We're Following See More »
DEFENSE AND LABOR-HHS TO BE COMBINED
Senate Turns to Approps This Week
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

"As the August session continues, senators will turn their attention in earnest to a measure that combines two spending bills covering appropriations for four Cabinet departments, led by the Department of Defense. ... The combined Senate bill includes the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations package, as well. That bill is traditionally among the most difficult to get across the Senate floor because of predictable partisan debates about social policy issues."

Source:
INTENDS TO PROTECT OTHER OFFICIALS
Brennan May Sue Trump Over Clearance
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Former CIA director John O. Brennan said Sunday that he is willing to take President Trump to court to prevent other current and former officials from having their security clearances revoked, escalating a battle over whether the president is misusing the power of his office to retaliate against opponents."

Source:
REACTION TO REVOCATION OF BRENNAN'S CLEARANCE
175 Former NatSec Officials Now Sign Letter Rebuking Trump
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

The national-security protest letter-writing campaign continues, with 175 former top U.S. officials rebuking President Donald Trump for stripping former CIA chief John Brennan of his security clearance last week.

Source:
SERVED 16 YEARS IN THE HOUSE
Former. Rep. Leonard Boswell Dies at 84
8 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Former Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA) died Friday at age 84; he “was hospitalized for complications from a form of cancer known as pseudomyxoma peritonei.” Boswell served in the House from 1997-2013, losing to now-former Rep. Tom Latham (R).

Source:
"A CASE ABOUT LIES"
Manafort Case Moves to Closing Arguments
5 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login