The Famous Pig War

In 1859, the British and Americans coexisted on the small island of San Juan, located off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. They were on fairly good terms, until one fateful morning when an innocent hog owned by a British man named Charles Griffin ate some potatoes on a American farmer Lyman Cutlar's land. In a moment of rash anger, Cutlar shot Griffin’s pig, inadvertently almost bringing the two nations to war. Tensions flared, armies gathered, cannons were rolled out . . . all because of a pig. The pig was just the catalyst of the conflict. In the early 1800s, multiple countries had sent explorers to the Pacific Northwest coast to lay claim to the territory. However, since there weren’t any markings on property lines, Britain and the United States ended up with overlapping claims. Both nations had reasons why they felt their claim was more legitimate. The two countries agreed to let Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany arbitrate their dispute, and he ruled in favor of the United States. And so, the Pig War ended — a war in which the only casualty was a pig and in which diplomacy triumphed.