During his Presidency, 15th President James Buchanan oversaw the increasingly heated arguments revolving around slavery – arguments that would ultimately lead up to the start of the Civil War, which began around 2 months after Buchanan retired. Without a wife or children, it is likely that Buchanan’s pets provided him comfort. Among those pets were a pair of eagles, given to Buchanan by a friend who lived in San Francisco.
The eagles, although the nation’s symbol, were unsuited to life in the White House so Buchanan elected to send them to his home (named Wheatland) in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The pair of eagles had cages on the back porch of the house, and it is said that although they were given the freedom to fly as they wished, they never strayed far from the property.