In 1859, not even 100 years after the Revolutionary War came to an end, the United States and Britain nearly went to war again. Though the official reason for the conflict was the war's first casualty, a British pig, the war was the product of mounting tension between the two nations over who owned San Juan Island, in Washington State. Though in 1846, The Oregon Treaty had granted the United States ownership of all land below the 49th parallel, its wording was unclear with regard to Puget Sound. Thus, both nations claimed the island and the issue remained unsettled on June 15, 1859, when a pig belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company was executed by an American homesteader, Lyman Cutlar.

Charles Griffin of the Hudson's Bay Company's Belle Vue Farm, where the pig had resided prior to shuffling off this mortal coil, wanted Cutlar arrested. Besides the larger territory dispute, the two parties involved in the shooting were at a disagreement over with whom fault should lie. Cutlar felt it was the Englishman's duty to keep his pig out of neighboring potato patches. Griffin responded, "It is up to you to keep your potatoes out of my pig."

Other Americans took up a petition to their government requesting protection for Cutlar, prompting the Commander of the Department of Oregon to send the 66 men of the 9th Infantry to San Juan Island to forstall the arrest. When Governor James Douglas of British Columbia got wind of the occupation, he sent three warships to the island, instructed to remove the Americans, if it was possible to do so without bloodshed. The standoff continued into August, the British forces now had 2,140 men on boats in the Puget Sound, including the Real Admiral of the British Navy. The Americans had 461 troops on the island itself, led by Lieutenant Colonel Silas Casey (for whom Fort Casey State Park in Washington is named).

President James Buchanan finally heard of the situation on the opposite coast, and sent the Commanding General of the U.S. Army to sort it out. General Winfield Scott and Governor Douglas agreed that the bulk of the troops from both sides would withdraw, leaving one company from each army to occupy the island. The camps that housed the two military units for the next 12 years were known as the English Camp and the American Camp, respectively.

In 1871, the two governments asked Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany to act as arbiter in determining to whom San Juan Island belonged. He took a year mulling it over, but on October 21, 1872, he declared that the island was United States territory. Within a month, the British had vacated their encampment, and in July 1874 the final U.S. troops left the island.

I used to know the name of the pig.. If anyone gets out to San Juan Island and takes the historic tour, please be a doll and find out what it was.

That wasn't the only Pig War, though. Although somewhat misnamed due to the lack of any actual warfare, there was another Pig War some fifty years later that, although a bit more boring, was one of the most important events of the twentieth century.

Austria-Hungary had been using Serbia as a sort of client state since the end of the first Pig War mentioned above. By 1903, about 90% of Serbia's foreign trade was conducted with Austria-Hungary, mostly in livestock such as pork. This isn't to say that Serbia didn't benefit from this trade, but in the minds of many Serbians they could have benefitted a lot more if Austria-Hungary left them alone. Also, Serbia had gotten it in their collective head that they might ought to establish an ethnically based state for Slavs, an idea that the Austro-Hungarians didn't like at all, since it would probably entail a large loss of Austro-Hungarian population and territory to this new hypothetical Pan-Slavic state.

So in 1904, in a move apparently meant to test Austrian determination to keep Serbia economically subordinate, Serbia stopped importing Austrian munitions and started importing French ones instead. After getting away with that, Serbia fell in with those Bulgarians, whom Austria-Hungary felt were a bad influence. When Serbia and Bulgaria formed a trade union that year, it put Austrian goods at a strong disadvantage to others because of the higher tariffs on them. Predictably, Austria-Hungary didn't like this and so they decided to do something about it in 1906, when they totally stopped the importation of Serbian pork.

Serbia just smiled grimly in the manner of an action hero and asked not to be made to laugh. Displaying remarkable adaptability, Serbia then snared some French investors to help them build the infrastructure required for international meat trading. When that had been completed, they started pressuring the then Austrian provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina for an outlet to the Adriatic. They also opened trade relations with Turkey, Egypt, Germany, and Greece. Serbian products found ripe markets in all of these places and the Serbian economy boomed, much to the chagrin of the Vienna government, who had been hoping to reduce Serbian independence and by doing so put an end to the Pan-Slavic movements of the day.

Serbia couldn't have done all of this without powerful friends, chief among which was Russia. As noted before, Pan-Slavism was fairly popular at the time and Russia was Slavic just like Serbia, so it was fairly natural for them to ally. Of course, this meant that Russia would have been dragged into any actual fighting wars that may have developed over this issue, but Tsarist Russia was nothing if not belligerent at this time, so they didn't mind. War almost did flare up over this between Austria-Hungary and Russia, but a German ultimatum in 1909 (presumably, although not certainly, to back Russia and Serbia against Austria-Hungary) brought an end to the Pig War by forcing Austria-Hungary to accept the changes in their relationship with their former client state. A new trade agreement between Austria-Hungary and Serbia was put into place in 1909.

Although the series of diplomatic maneuvers on all sides had ended, the social forces that brought the situation into being would last for years to come. Eventually, Pan-Slavism would lead to the assassination of a certain Archduke and throw everyone involved back into conflict, except this time things wouldn't be so easily resolved. It took the worst flu outbreak in history to stop the war that would result. According to CrazyIvan's writeup here, it was a form of swine flu.


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