America and Britain In Pig War Standoff


Pig War, not War Pigs

On This Date in History:  Let’s see. We have had many wars in American History: American Revolution, War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Pig War.  The Pig War?  

Battle of New Orleans: Pointless Battle Almost NOT the final Conflict Between Britain and America

After the conclusion of the War of 1812 in late 1814 and after the Battle of New Orleans, which came about in January 1815 after the treaty concluding the war had been reached, America and Britain still had differences.  However, after a war of independence and then a second war between the former brothers, one would think that further armed conflict was not a possibility.  In 1818, both English and American citizens had settled in what was known as the Oregon Country, which includes present day Washington, Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia and parts of Wyoming and Montana.  So, the two sides simply agreed to be cohabitants of the region.  I suppose they figured that sooner or later that they’d straighten it all out.   However, by 1845, nothing had changed and the folks in the region seemed to be growing weary of each other.

Map of Pig War Dispute

Americans thought that the British presence was nothing but an obstacle to their divine “Manifest Destiny” and the Brits thought that the wild influx of American settlers were trespassers on land guaranteed to the crown through previous treaties and trading practices established by the Hudson Bay Company.  Cooler heads prevailed and in 1846, the Oregon Treaty was signed and it stipulated that the Americans had control of all territory south of the 49th parallel with the boundary extending “to the middle of the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver’s Island; and thence southerly through the middle of the said channel, and of Fuca’s straits to the Pacific Ocean.”  The wording must have been made up by eastern lawyers who had never been there because the truth was there were two channels, not one.  Dividing the two straights was San Juan Island and each side claimed the island for themselves.

Griffin, no ordinary farmer, refused to pay tax to Uncle Sam

So, citizens of both nations quickly staked claims to the island.    The old bugaboo of taxation led to the first conflict when America tried to collect taxes on British produce.  Englishman farmer Charles John Griffin refused to pay, claiming he was not subject to American taxation.   Griffin was no ordinary farmer though.  He had been appointed as the chief agent of the Hudson Bay Company.  Nevertheless, it just so happens that of all the people on the island, it was Griffin’s pig on this date in 1859 that got loose and began to stick his snout in the potato patch of Lyman A. Cutlar(Cutler).   Being a true American, Cutlar did what any well bred Yankee would do: He shot the pig dead.  Griffing marched with quite indignation straight to the office of the British magistrate and demanded compensation of $100 from Cutlar.   To me, $100 is a lot of money today and back then it was a small fortune.  Naturally, Cutlar refused to pay, claiming that he was not subject to British law.

George E. Pickett as a 1st Lieutenant

The Americans on the island called on the government for protection and so, Uncle Sam sent young Captain George E. Pickett with troops.  That would be the same Pickett who gained fame for his exploits as a Confederate General at the Battle of Gettysburg.   In response to the presence of Pickett and his 66 troops, Britain sent a bunch of warships with an eye toward routing the American command.  Pickett was reinforced by 171 more troops.  When it was apparent that the Americans were still outgunned by the British ships, more troops were called for.  Could the United States and Britain be headed back to war again over a pig rooting around in a potato patch?  For a time it looked that way until “Old Fuss and Feathers,” commanding American General Winfield Scott, arrived from Washington at the direction of President James Buchanan with a proposal.  Each side would station 100 men on the island in a contrived stand-off, or balance of power, until an agreement could be reached. 

There's Even a Book About the Pig War

Well, the slavery issue was boiling over in America around that time and Uncle Sam had bigger fish to fry.  So, the “Pig  War”, as it became known,  got put on the back burner for 12 years.  In 1871, there was an Anglo-American treaty signed called the Treaty of Washington.  That document called for the “Pig War”  matter was taken up by German Emperor Wilhelm I who promptly referred the question to a 3 member arbitration board.  The board, through the kaiser, ruled in favor of the Americans.  In November 1872, all British troops evacuated the island and two years later, all American troops left.  Thus, after the governments of both countries had kicked the sovereignty issue down the road to let someone else deal with, peace finally came to the Pacific Northwest.  Politicians had left the question of slavery to others from the Declaration of Independence  through the Missouri Compromise and the result was a war in which over 600,000 Americans died.  At least the punting of the San Juan Island issue only resulted in the death of a single pig, in what has been fondly remembered as “The Pig War.”

SPC Severe Outlook June 15 2010

SPC Severe Wind Probability June 15 2010

Weather Bottom Line:  On Monday night, Snow White and I went for a walk.  She is always quite concerned about thunderstorms and she got nervous when we saw distant lightning to our North and to our South.  I told her that I suspected that, not only would we have time for the walk, but also that we may get no rain at all as I thought that we would be in between the storms.  The lightning was cool.  This is the second time that I saw lightning shoot up from the cloud to no apparent destination.  The first time I saw this was at the Kitty Cat Castle on the Georgia Coast.  I’m guessing that what I am seeing are called sprites.  They were first discovered by astronauts on the Shuttle.  A very interesting phenomena that I don’t think anyone has quite figured out yet.  Anyway, I was right.  We got the walk in and we never had any rain.   When I came home, I looked at the radar and it appeared to me that the storms I saw to the north were almost all the way to Cincinnati and the ones to the South were in Meade county.  Quite a distance, though farther than I would have expected.  Needless to say, there was no thunder. 

SPC Tornado Probability June 15 2010

We remain in the same pattern but it seems to me that the storm track has shifted slightly north.  So, there is a shortwave out in Iowa on Tuesday afternoon and the vector appears to be taking it Northeast toward the Great Lakes.  It may swing around to a more easterly component later on but I would think that the main part of the short will be well north of our area.  Having said that, there is an appendage from that vortmax extending into Central Missouri and a new outcrop of storms ahead of the main short in Central Illinois. That too is moving Northeast.  I think our issue will be with the appendage. I see some indication of a low level convergence zone setting up with other parameters suggesting that the appendage may blossom into storms during the heat of the day as it moves into Southern Illinois.  I would think that there will be a reasonable shot of storms late in the day or the evening, very similar to what we had Monday.  Whether or not a line forms or if that line holds together by the time it gets here remains to be seen.  Also, I betcha we get some scattered guys ahead of the short wave in the heat of the day forming ahead of the shortwave, similar to what it already going on in Illinois.  That would be my greatest concern for severe weather…perhaps and errant supercell would not be totally out of the question.  As I am writing this, I see the boys at the SPC have seen the same thing because they just now changed the outlook to include a moderate risk for the region just north of Louisville, between say Charlestown and Indianapolis.  So, keep that in mind as you go into the late afternoon and evening.  If you find yourself in a thunderstorm, be sure to tune into your radio or tv to see what the story is. After today, the ridging of the storm track should continue and I think the storm chances will be decreasing for the rest of the week until Saturday when a weak cold front comes knocking at the door.

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