We’ve all had a fight with a friend, a family member, or a neighbour over something stupid – but when’s the last time that your disagreement had national consequences? While we’d love to say that this has never happened to anyone in history, the fact of the matter is people are ridiculous, and it absolutely has.
Known as ‘The Pig War’ of 1859, a petty squabble between two people on either side of the border nearly started a tussle between the United States and Canada.
After America and Britain signed a treaty establishing the border between the US and Canada, things seemed to be pretty good at first. The continent had been divided evenly along the 49th parallel which created a straight line in the middle of the two countries.
It was practically perfect and it would have stayed that way… had there not been several smaller pieces of land between Vancouver and Washington.
While the solid piece was easy to slice, they couldn’t agree on how to split the islands evenly between them which ultimately led to everyone claiming everything (more specifically San Juan) as their own.
Both the US and Canada (previously British North America) began to settle on opposite ends of the islet and it wasn’t long until there was some cross-over. This is where it gets really messy.
Lyman Cutlar, an American potato farmer, was not particularly chummy with his neighbours and absolutely lost his damn mind when a pig, who wandered off of a nearby farm, got into his garden and began eating his crops.
In a rage, he shot the pig not knowing that this would offset what would be known as one of the dumbest wars in history – The Pig War.
Understandably the swine’s owner, Charles Griffin, was upset by this and demanded that he be compensated with some cold hard cash.
Cutlar offered him $10, but Griffin wanted more. Naturally, this didn’t happen, so instead, Cutlar turned to the police to settle things. Hindsight 2020… this was a terrible idea because after threatening to arrest Griffin for letting his pig ‘trespass’, the British Navy got involved.
No one knows exactly how or why things got so out of hand, but America retaliated against the navy, dispatching 66 men to the island.
Then, all hell broke loose, with one side trying to outdo the other. Eventually, there were 3 warships, 84 cannons and 2,600 additional soldiers added to the standoff.
This lasted 12 years until their respective governments (who didn’t actually know what was going on for most of this time), had come to a new land agreement stating that San Juan would go to America.
Luckily, after all of this, the pig was the only casualty – though we’ll never really know what made him so special.
He really must have been “some pig.”