The little known Pig War that could have changed US History!
One of the America's most unusual wars involved only one casualty -- a pig -- and yet it could have changed the course of history. The bizarre conflict took place on present-day San Juan Island (in Washington state) and involved American and British troops, and even warships. The Pig War began on June 15, 1859, when an American settler named Lyman Cutlar shot and killed a trespassing pig belonging to Englishman Charles Griffin of the Hudson Bay Company. "It was eating my potatoes," said Cutlar, who had already warned Griffin to keep his pig out his potato patch. "It is up to you to keep your potatoes out of my pig," was Griffin's reply. Normally, the shooting of a pig would be a small matter, but American and British tempers were short in those days. Both the United States and England claimed the San Juan Islands; ill-defined boundary lines were to blame. When British authorities threatened to arrest pig-killer Cutlar, his fellow Americans called for U.S. military protection -- which they got in the form of the 9th Infantry. The Brits responded by dispatching three warships under the command of Capt. Geoffrey Hornby. Forces on both sides grew, but guns remained silent. A month passed without incident. British Rear Adm. Robert L. Bayes, commander of British Naval forces in the Pacific, did his best to avoid war. He would not, he said, "involve two great nations in a war over a squabble about a pig." Yet, the scene remained tense and potentially explosive. By August 10, American forces numbered 461; British forces numbered 2,140 with five warships. When word reached Washington, officials were shocked that the shooting of a pig could cause such an international incident. President James Buchanan dispatched General Winfield Scott, commanding general of the U.S. Army, to investigate and hopefully contain the potentially deadly affair. Scott got both sides to agree to restrain their guns while a solution was worked out. During this time, both countries kept token forces on hand -- at what are now National Historic Sites called American Camp and British Camp. The paramount issue was who owned San Juan Island -- the Americans or the British. For twelve years, including the Civil War period, the issue was debated. It wasn't until 1872 that the question was put to a third party for a decision. On October 21, Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany declared the San Juan Islands American property; land north of the 49th parallel was Canadian, to the south it was American. A month later, British troops departed. And so ended the Pig War. If things had gone differently -- and war had actually begun, who knows what would have happened. Would the angry British have then sided with the Confederacy in the Civil War? If so, how would that have affected that war's outcome? Would it have swung the balance of power toward the South? If so, the world would be a far different place today -- and all because of a hungry pig in a potato patch. ( Wikipedia )
San Juan's History - we visted the Historical Museum and the Whale Museum
An must see attraction to your exploration of Friday Harbor, Roche Harbor and San Juan Island is the San Juan Historical Museum. Located just a few blocks from the ferry landing and downtown Friday Harbor, Washington State, USA, the Museum is the home ofthe Annual July 4th Pig War Picnic, Island Rec’s Music on the Lawn Summer Concert Series, the Annual Old Fashioned Christmas Celebration and a number of interesting workshops and speakers throughout the year. Come see our brand of American History through the exhibits of 19th and early 20th century life on the Island, replete with photographs and stories from the pioneers and the mix of people and cultures who changed the life of the Island over the years. Construction and development of the exciting new Museum of History and Industry is underway this summer, with the Atrium and Fishing Exhibits expected to be available for your exploration by the summer of 2014.