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The sight of sheep grazing on the south lawn of the White House may seem unusual, but during World War I, it was a highly visible symbol of home front support of the troops overseas. The flock, which numbered 48 at its peak, saved manpower by cutting the grass and earned $52,823 for the Red Cross through an auction of their wool. The Wilsons wanted to be a model American family helping the war effort, so they suspended entertaining at the White House and actively participated in public programs. Margaret Wilson sang to raise money for the troops. Mrs. Wilson organized war bond rallies, which were held on the steps of the Treasury Building with appearances by such Hollywood stars as Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Marie Dressler, and Douglas Fairbanks. She also demonstrated her support by publicizing White House compliance to food and fuel conservation programs spearheaded by Herbert Hoover, one of Wilson’s dollar-a-year-men and head of the Food Administration.

Sheep grazing on the South Lawn of the White House, c. 1918.

Library of Congress

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