“There is one thing that I did get as a gift that I am not giving back…”

That was the beginning of a statement made by President Nixon during his infamous “Checkers Speech” on September 23, 1952.  He was referring to his beloved family dog, Checkers, a black and white cocker spaniel that had been given to his little girls as a gift.

Allegations had surfaced regarding possible gifts that had been received, but had not been accounted for in Nixon’s campaign fund.  He hoped that by giving this speech, he would garner enough support from the public to convince the Republican National Committee to keep him on the ticket.  Rather than deny or ignore the allegations made against him, Nixon gave this famous speech to millions of viewers across the United States.  He discussed, in great detail, his entire personal and professional financial status.

Approximately 60 million Americans pinned their ears back and listened as Nixon outlined sources of income, explained major expenses, and described his most valuable assets.  Among those items were the amounts of his two mortgages, his wife’s salary, and his precious dog, Checkers.

“There is one thing that I did get as a gift that I am not giving back… It was a little cocker spaniel dog in a crate that he’d sent all the way from Texas. Black and white spotted. And our little girl-Tricia, the 6-year old-named it Checkers. And you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog and I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we’re gonna keep it.”

Nixon’s speech saved his campaign and made Checkers one of the most famous dogs in American history, which is a status that Checkers still holds today.  Other cherished presidential pooches include King Tut Hoover, Miss Beazley Bush, and Bo Obama.

For more information about patriotic pets through history, check out:

 Presidential Pet Museum.