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Abraham Lincoln and the Three Kittens

An excellent example of President Abraham Lincoln's tenderness occurred near the end of the Civil War. Abraham and his family had been invited to visit General Ulysses S. Grant's headquarters at City Point, Virginia. The trip took place in late March of 1865 about three weeks before the assassination.

During his visit to City Point, the president happened to be in the telegraph hut on the day that Grant's army began the final advance of the Civil War. In the hut the president came upon three tiny kittens. They appeared to be lost and were wandering around and meowing. Abraham picked up one of the kittens and asked, "Where is your mother?" A person standing nearby said, "The mother is dead." The president continued to pet the little kitten and said, "Then she can't grieve as many a poor mother is grieving for a son lost in battle." Abraham picked up the other two kittens and now had all three in his lap. He stroked their fur and quietly told them, "Kitties, thank God you are cats, and can't understand this terrible strife that is going on." The Chief Executive continued, "Poor little creatures, don't cry; you'll be taken good care of." He looked toward Colonel Bowers of Grant's staff and said, "Colonel, I hope you will see that these poor little motherless waifs are given plenty of milk and treated kindly." Bowers promised that he would tell the cook to take good care of them.

Colonel Horace Porter watched the president and recalled, "He would wipe their eyes tenderly with his handkerchief, stroke their smooth coats, and listen to them purring their gratitude to him." Quite a sight it was, thought Porter, "at an army headquarters, upon the eve of a great military crisis in the nation's history, to see the hand which had affixed the signature to the Emancipation Proclamation and had signed the commissions....from the general-in-chief to the lowest lieutenant, tenderly caressing three stray kittens."

The sketch at the top of the page is the work of James Warner. James Warner lives in Cadillac, Michigan and enjoys illustrating, woodcarving and antique collecting. To contact Mr. Warner for artwork please call (231) 577-4207 or send e-mails to: jameltrib@yahoo.com. Please type "Lincoln" in the subject line of your e-mail. Mr. Warner always enjoys hearing from people. However, all mail without the name "Lincoln" in the subject line will NOT be answered. Sorry for the inconvenience. ARTWORK NOT TO BE REPRODUCED FOR USE ON ANY OTHER SITE WITHOUT PERMISSION!

Thank you to Donna Habel for alerting me to the story of the three kittens.

Source of story: Carl Sandburg's Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, Volume IV, p. 146.

In 2008 Ellen Jackson's Abe Lincoln Loved Animals was published. Ellen's attractive book is non-fiction, and it's intended for young readers. The book is about the animals in Abraham Lincoln's life and is beautifully illustrated by Doris Ettlinger. If you are interested in purchasing Abe Lincoln Loved Animals please CLICK HERE.


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