Lincoln 1860

Lincoln 1860

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Lincoln's Dog Fido

Many people don't know that Abraham Lincoln and his family owned a pet dog while they lived in Springfield, Illinois. Fido was born in circa 1855 and lived with the Lincoln family for five happy years. The dog was of uncertain ancestry, but closely resembled a retriever/shepherd mix and was roughly the color of mustard.

Fido often followed Lincoln around the streets of Springfield, happily carrying the daily paper or some other object for his master. The dog would wait calmly outside the barbershop while Lincoln would get a trim. Fido was apparently a full-fledged member of the family and was an inside dog with the run of the house. He loved a horsehair sofa in the home and often claimed it for his own.

His time with the Lincoln family ended upon Lincoln's election to the presidency. Lincoln noticed how terrified Fido was of the cannon blasts marking Lincoln's election and never enjoyed being around trains. Lincoln loved animals with a passion (he abhorred hunting and fishing, for example) and strongly believed that Fido would not survive the trip to Washington. So with great sorrow, the Lincolns gave Fido to a local family with the stipulation that he be an indoor dog, given special treats, allowed the run of the home, etc. In fact, the Lincolns even gave Fido's favorite horsehair sofa to the family who took over the raising of Fido.

Fido was still living at the time of Lincoln's assassination and his new owners brought the dog to greet mourners at the Lincoln family home in Springfield. Sadly, Fido himself was killed by a drunken man within a year of Lincoln's death.

Today, original photos or cartes-de-visite (CDV's) of Fido are highly sought after by collectors of Lincoln memorabilia. An original CDV of Fido can fetch upwards of hundreds or even thousands of dollars. They were sold as souvenirs in the months after Lincoln's death.


Anonymous said...
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klkatz said...

i'm alway interested in the little slices of life that come from researching our forefathers. the imagery of fido waiting outside the barbershop is not one I'll soon forget.

welcome to the blogosphere geoff. thanks for reading , I've added you to my link list.

Anonymous said...

Particularly as a dog lover, I really enjoyed reading this story about Fido. It is nice to see others have a fondness for "mans' best friend."

Geoff Elliott said...

I also love dogs. There's nothing quite like "fuzz therapy" from our best friends when we're feeling low.

I think Fido's story is one which helps us to understand Lincoln the human being. Lincoln is so nearly mythical that the fact that he loved this dog so dearly brings him out of the realm of mythology.

Thanks to everyone for reading!

Anonymous said...

After reading Fido was done in by a drunken person. I would like to reach back through time and save Fido.
That not being practical (i cant get a grant for a time machine) I am trying to save dogs from a similar fate. From what I find, it takes a long time for humans to learn anything

Unknown said...

Thank you for this! I posted a link onto one of the Facebook pages I manage.

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