John Adams served as the United States’ 1st Vice President, the 2nd President, and was the father of John Quincy Adams, our 6th President. Adams played a large part in the historical founding of America and was a key figure in the creation of the Declaration of Independence and helped to negotiate the eventual peace treaty with Great Britain. Adams was also the 1st President to live in the White House, making his pets the first “White House Pets”.
It was during Adams’ term of office that the White House stables were constructed. On May 20th, 1800 a notice was released asking for bids for a stable to be built, one that would “contain stalls for 12 horses, carriage house to contain 3 carriages, and a small room for grain.” Here is where is carriage horses Cleopatra and Cesar resided, but they were joined by several others.
While these horses went fairly unremarked upon, they were likely used for riding and for carriages when Cleopatra and Cesar were unavailable. John Adams was a good horseman, and the horses in his stable were likely indicative of that. In fact, Adams once successfully thwarted George Washington’s attempt to sell him horses that Adams felt were misrepresented as being better than they were. Later, Washington admitted to a friend that the horses in question were in fact older than he had told Adams that they were.
Upon reaching the end of his term, Adams wrote a brief note to his successor, Thomas Jefferson, stating that at least 7 of the horses residing in the stables, harness for same, and 2 carriages would be left as “Property of the United States” thus sparing the new President the need to purchase horses.