I peered closely at the black and white image. Figures in the backyard of the White House. A goat hooked to a wagon with two children onboard. An adult nearby.
I was in a bedroom at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site. But all that I could think of when I saw that goat was a different presidential kid running amok with a goat in the White House. Clearly goats running around the White House seemed to be more common than I thought. At least in the 19th century.
Unlike Tad Lincoln’s goat that he rode inside the White House, this was an outdoor goat. Meant to be ridden around the White House lawn. Old Whiskers belonged to Benjamin Harrison’s son Russell and was enjoyed by the President’s grandchildren.
And as I learned, typical of goats by nature, Old Whiskers sometimes didn’t want to calmly haul the kids around. In fact, sometimes he would take off. As a result, the children always had adult supervision with Old Whiskers. And at times the adult would need to race around the lawn in pursuit of the goat. And sometimes this adult was President Benjamin Harrison.
I paused trying to imagine a president racing around the White House lawn hot on the heels of a goat. And then I tried to image the president being Benjamin Harrison, a rather upright gentleman in the 19th century tradition.
I decided I liked President Harrison. I like goats. And a sitting President who would get his grandchildren a goat to play with at the White House because they wanted one couldn’t be all bad. And I liked Old Whiskers. He looks stately and respectable in the photo, just like his owner, but clearly he has some spunk.