People were “horrified and awed at the bird’s lack of reverence.”
Andrew Jackson isn’t the only US President to keep a pet bird in the White House. Teddy Roosevelt had a one-legged rooster and James Buchanan supposedly owned two bald eagles (because America). But to our knowledge, Jackson was the only one to have a swearing parrot.
The bird’s name was Poll and was originally meant for Jackson’s wife, Rachel. But after she passed away, Jackson became the African Grey’s caretaker. So how did the parrot get a foul mouth? We can’t say for sure. But with what we know about Jackson—a man so tough and temperamental his nickname was “Old Hickory”—it’s safe to assume the bird picked up the habit straight from his owner.
On June 8, 1845, the country’s seventh Commander in Chief passed away from unknown complications. Thousands gathered to pay their respects, including Poll, who squawked, squeaked and swore like a sailor.
Volume 3 of “Andrew Jackson and Early Tennessee History” cites Reverend William Menefee Norment, who presided at Jackson’s funeral:
“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.”
Rev. Norment goes on to say the presidential parrot was “excited by the multitude and … let loose perfect gusts of ‘cuss words.’” People were “horrified and awed at the bird’s lack of reverence.”
We don’t know what happened to Poll after his indecent outbursts, but we do know that Jackson and his dirty bird mouth will forever live in infamy.