National Checkers Day – September 23, 2021

National Checkers Day is on September 23, also known as “Dogs in Politics Day,” and commemorates political canines or candidate pooches, First Fidos, or Revolution Rovers. Checkers Day has nothing to do with the popular board game; rather, it celebrates Richard M. Nixon’s famous ‘checkers’ speech on this very date in 1952.

History of National Checkers Day

On September 23, 1952, Vice President candidate Richard Nixon delivered the “Checkers Speech.” Nixon needed to defend himself after being accused of improprieties involving a fund set up by his supporters to compensate him for campaign costs. His position on the Republican ticket was also at risk, so he traveled to Los Angeles and gave a half-hour television address.

During his address, Nixon emphasized that no matter what anyone thought, he planned to keep one gift. The gift was a black-and-white dog christened “Checkers” by the Nixon children, thus giving the speech its famous name.

The “Checkers Speech” was viewed or heard by about 60 million Americans, the greatest television viewership at the time, and it sparked an outpouring of popular support. Almost every President in history has had a dog as a member of the First Family. It’s no surprise considering Americans’ affection for dogs and the fact that dogs can calm almost any crisis — which is necessary for the most powerful position in the world.

National Checkers Day timeline

1789
The First Dog of the United States

George and Martha Washington own many dogs, including American Foxhounds, Black and Tan Coonhounds, and a Greyhound.

1944
You Can't Criticize my Little Dog

After being criticized and accused of spending thousands of government money to rescue his dog, Roosevelt stated in a speech, "you may criticize me, my wife, and my family, but you can't condemn my little dog."

1952
The Checkers Speech

Richard Nixon delivers the historic speech that sparks National Checkers Day, to the American people.

1998
First Pets Featured in a Book

"Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids' Letters to the First Pets" is a children's book authored by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the First Lady of the United States.

National Checkers Day FAQs

What U.S. presidents did not have dogs or pets?

Only three presidents, James K. Polk, Andrew Johnson, and Donald Trump, did not have presidential pets while in office.

What president had worms as a pet?

The President with the most unusual pets was undoubtedly John Quincy Adams, who kept silkworms; he also kept an alligator in a toilet and brought it out to terrify guests on occasion.

Who had the most pets in the White House?

President Theodore Roosevelt took the oath of office in 1901, accompanied by six children and more animals than the White House had ever seen.

How To Celebrate National Checkers Day

  1. Read about the "Checkers" speech

    The "Checkers" speech, regarded as a watershed moment in American political oratory, illustrates how quickly attention may be shifted from one issue to another. Nixon regained the public's trust in a single speech. Students of oratory, political science, journalism, and history, as well as historians, are still studying the "Checkers" speech today.

  2. Discuss little politics

    If you have children or young adults in your life, National Checkers Day is an excellent opportunity to teach them American politics and the importance of television in global politics.

  3. Dress up your dog or pet

    Make a simple outfit for your dog using your creativity. You may go old school with a monocle and top hat, or you can channel Ronald Reagan with an 80's outfit. Take some photographs, post them on social media with the relevant hashtags, and then sit back and laugh.

5 Cool Facts About The First Dogs In The White House

  1. George Washington created a breed

    According to the American Kennel Club, our first president was an enthusiastic fox hunter who desired a superior dog that was fast, clever, and had a great sense of smell, so he crossed his Black and Tan Coonhounds with French Hounds to produce the American Foxhound.

  2. The notorious Pete

    According to the Presidential Pet Museum, Roosevelt loved his pet, characterizing him as "ridiculously devoted," and frequently made excuses for Pete's conduct.

  3. The Roosevelt dog-lovers

    Teddy Roosevelt wasn't the only Roosevelt with a soft spot for puppies, Franklin D. Roosevelt owned eight dogs while serving as president!

  4. Gentleman Rob Roy

    According to WhiteHouseHistory.org, Rob Roy, popularly named after a popular cocktail during prohibitions, was the first dog to be a part of an official First Family photo portrait and accompanied First Lady Grace Goodhue Coolidge in her official White House photo.

  5. Beloved Millie

    Millie, an English Springer Spaniel owned by Barbara and George H. W. Bush has been dubbed "the most famous White House dog in history."

Why We Love National Checkers Day

  1. Dogs are patriotic

    Dogs have had an important role in molding American history and politics, particularly during wartime. Dogs have played an important role in almost every battle in which America has been involved.

  2. They teach us to be more human

    Dogs are kind, caring, and sympathetic; they forgive and never carry grudges. A dog is always present in the moment, no matter what they are doing. If you observe your dog throughout the day, you will see that he is a better person than most humans.

  3. Presidents are just like regular people

    Every dog at the White House receives a lot of attention, much like their owners and other celebrities. The presence of a dog helps the First Family and “the most powerful person in the world” appear more normal, accessible, and sympathetic.

National Checkers Day dates

YearDateDay
2021September 23Thursday
2022September 23Friday
2023September 23Saturday
2024September 23Monday
2025September 23Tuesday

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