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We Are Siamese if You Please

08 Apr

Siamese cats are a popular breed in the United States, and they earned their right to be here in a most historic way.  In 1878, David Sickels, the American Diplomat stationed in Bangkok, had the privilege of meeting President Rutherford B. Hayes and First Lady, Lucy Hayes, and discovered that the Hayes family not only loved animals – they kept two dogs, a goat and a mockingbird at the White House– but that Lucy dearly loved cats.  After a search for the very best he could find, Sickels sent Mrs. Hayes a Siamese cat named Siam, the first ever of its breed to enter the United States.  Fanny Hayes, daughter to the President and First Lady, fell in love with Siam as did the entire White House staff.  The good natured and compellingly beautiful animal was allowed to roam the White House freely and would often happen into staff meetings and dinners.  Only a year later the beloved Siam died, but he left a stunning impression.  His care in his final illness and the transport of his body after his death involved Hayes’ personal physician, Dr. J.H. Baxter, the Secretary of War, the Secretary of Agriculture, and the President’s personal steward, Billy Crump.  The country mourned with the Hayes family over the loss of their precious Siam, and as a result the breed became a favorite of the American elite.

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