The extraordinary affinity the US leader had with cats is recalled by Bridget McCann

Seven score and fourteen years have passed since President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14th, 1865 – the feast of Good Friday.

The Great Emancipator, who led his country through the Civil War and ended slavery, was well known for his love of all animals, but perhaps first and foremost, his cats.

Treasury official Mansell B. Field recalled in his memoirs how President Lincoln “possessed extraordinary kindness of heart when his feelings could be reached.”

Noting Lincoln’s fondness for animals, especially cats, Field added: “I have seen him fondle one for an hour. Helplessness and suffering touched him when they appealed directly to his senses, or when you could penetrate through his intelligence to them.”

When he was first elected president, Lincoln, who had decided to leave his dog Fido at home in Springfield, Illinois, was given an unexpected gift of two kittens from Secretary of State William Seward.

The president doted on the cats, which he named Tabby and Dixie, so much so that he once fed Tabby from the table during a formal dinner at the White House.

When Lincoln’s embarrassed wife later observed that the action was “shameful in front of their guests,” the president replied, “If the gold fork was good enough for former President James Buchanan, I think it is good enough for Tabby.”

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