Andrew Jackson’s parrot was kicked out of his funeral for swearing.

  • Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Photo credit: Library of Congress/ Unsplash

Before cats and dogs became the go-to, a number of U.S. Presidents had unusual pets. Thomas Jefferson had bear cubs, Calvin Coolidge kept a raccoon in the White House, and Theodore Roosevelt counted guinea pigs, a bear, and a hyena among his dozens of animals. That makes the fact that Andrew Jackson had an African grey parrot named Poll less odd, but what is strange is that the bird was kicked out of Jackson’s funeral for swearing. This knowledge comes to us courtesy of Samuel G. Heiskell’s book Andrew Jackson and Early Tennessee History, which quotes Reverend William Menefee Norment as observing: “Before the sermon and while the crowd was gathering, a wicked parrot that was a household pet got excited and commenced swearing so loud and long as to disturb the people and had to be carried from the house.”

Sadly, the good reverend didn’t detail the specifics of Poll’s outburst beyond saying that it was “excited by the multitude and… let loose perfect gusts of ‘cuss words,’” causing some to be “horrified and awed at the bird’s lack of reverence.” What became of Poll following the funeral is unknown, but it isn’t uncommon for African greys to outlive their owners — they’ve been known to live up to 60 years in captivity.

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