Behind the Scenes, Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House by Elizabeth Keckley is one of the first memoirs by a White House insider, published in 1868. It is considered both a vivid slave narrative and an important source for Abraham Lincoln scholars. The press criticized Keckley for her intimate portrayal of the Lincoln family, especially for publishing numerous letters Mary Lincoln had written to her.
Here is another excerpt I found of interest regarding President Lincoln’s goats in Elizabeth Keckley’s book. I thought Lincoln’s comment about manipulation of the "grand machine" and "bounty-jumpers" and the "outrageous fraud" seemed so timely with what is happening currently in Washington. I think the bailout of banks and companies, fit the bounty-jumpers' tag very well, and yes, it is an outrageous fraud being manipulated by the grand government machine.
Mr. Lincoln was fond of pets. He had two goats that knew the sound of his voice, and when he called them they would come bounding to his side. In the warm bright days, he and Tad would sometimes play in the yard with these goats, for a hour at a time. One Saturday afternoon I went to the White House to dress Mrs. Lincoln. I had nearly completed my task when the President came in. It was a bright day, and walking to the window, he looked down into the yard, smiled, and, turning to me, asked:
"Madam Elizabeth, you are fond of pets, are you not?"
"O Yes, sir," I answered.
"Well, come here and look at my two goats. I believe they are the kindest and best goats in the world. See how they sniff the clear air, and skip and play in the sunshine. Whew! what a jump," he exclaimed as one of the goats made a lofty spring. "Madam Elizabeth, did you ever before see such an active goat?"
Musing a moment, he continued: "He feeds on my bounty, and jumps with joy. Do you think we could call him a bounty-jumper? But I flatter the bounty-jumper. My goat is far above him. I would rather wear his horns and hairy coat through life, than demean myself to the level of the man who plunders the national treasury in the name of patriotism. The man who enlists into the service for a consideration, and deserts the moment he receives his money but to repeat the play, is bad enough; but the men who manipulate the grand machine and who simply make the bounty-jumper their agent in an outrageous fraud are far worse. They are beneath the worms that crawl in the dark hidden places of earth."
His lips curled with haughty scorn, and a cloud was gathering on his brow. Only a moment the shadow rested on his face. Just then both goats looked up at the window and shook their heads as if they would say "How d'ye do, old friend?"
"See, Madam Elizabeth," exclaimed the President in a tone of enthusiasm, "my pets recognize me. How earnestly they look! There they go again; what jolly fun!" and he laughed outright as the goats bounded swiftly to the other side of the yard.
Just then Mrs. Lincoln called out, "Come, Lizabeth; if I get ready to go down this evening I must finish dressing myself, or you must stop staring at those silly goats."
Mrs. Lincoln was not fond of pets, and she could not understand how Mr. Lincoln could take so much delight in his goats.
Mrs. Kackley notes that after President Lincoln’s death Mrs. Lincoln gave away the goats he loved so well.
See my Sunday Blog for another excerpt of Elizabeth Kackley’s book. Also the book is downloadable.