First Lady Grace Coolidge and her husband, President Calvin Coolidge owned a veritable zoo of animals. Some remain famous to this day, like white collie Prudence Prim and Rebecca the racoon. Others took a sideline to their more famous sibs.
Among her many pets, Grace Coolidge had a mockingbird. While he remains nameless, he was a bit notorious. Mockingbirds are illegal to own in captivity in the District of Columbia. (Hint: D.C.) The punishment was a $5 fine and up to a month in prison. As Mrs. Coolidge felt that it would be inappropriate for a First Lady to be in prison, she elected to give up her pet. “I was reluctant to part with my chorister, but I was even more averse to embarrassing my country by the imprisonment of its First Lady,” she said.
While Mrs. Coolidge was forced to give up her mockingbird, she wasn’t the first person in the White House to own one. None other than the first First Lady herself, Martha Washington, owned a mockingbird. President Thomas Jefferson also had a mockingbird – but lucky for them both they owned theirs before it became illegal.