How a Pig Caused a War (3/11/2022)

Agricultural educators are recognized for their expertise in parliamentary procedure. Agriculture teachers often serve as parliamentarians for a variety of professional organizations or are asked to conduct workshops for the officers and members of various groups. When other career and technical education student organizations prepare teams to compete in parliamentary procedure contests, the agricultural teacher is commonly asked to help prepare the team.

When we teach our students about voting we often explain how to call for a vote (move the previous question), to ask for a recount (division of the house), and even to provide for a manner of voting. But do we emphasize the importance of voting with our students?

With states implementing a variety of laws regarding voting, it is imperative that we teach our students the importance of voting. To help emphasize this point, I am pleased to present the following story. It was written by Alice Keatley and appeared in the January, 1940 issue of American Farm Youth.

How a Pig Caused a War
Alice Keatley

You remember that the United States declared war on Great Britain in June, 1812. Of course the pig had nothing to do with the causes of war, but it did have much to do with the final vote in Congress, and this is how it happened.

The pig and its owner lived in Providence, Rhode Island, next door to a man who had a fine garden in which he took great pride. Often on coming home in the evening this man would find that the pig had been rooting in his garden for hours.

This naturally caused trouble between the two neighbors. The gardener complained to the pig’s owner and asked him to keep his pig-sty in repair so the pig could not get out. He was told in angry terms that if his rickety fences were in good condition the pig could not get through to molest the garden.

At last the crisis came. Rising unusually early one morning, the gardener found the pig contentedly munching his tulip bulbs. He could stand it no longer. He seized a pitchfork and plunged it into the hapless pig, which he carried to the sty, where its owner found it dead. After that it was war to the knife.

It happened that both of the men were Federalists. As you know, the Federalists were friendly to Great Britain and resisted a declaration of war, while the Democratic party was eager for war. The Federalists had always carried the district in which the pig lived. In 1811, the owner of the garden was a candidate for the legislature on the Federalist ticket. His neighbor, who had always been a Federalist, this time voted the Democratic ticket and a Democrat was elected to the legislature by a majority of one.

When the newly elected member took his seat in the legislature, his first duty was to vote for a senator. He cast his vote for the Democratic candidate, who was elected by a majority of one. When the senator took his place in the Senate, he found the question of war pending and after a long discussion it came to a vote. The Democrats voted for war, the Federalists against it. As a result, war was declared by a majority of one vote all on account of the bitter dissension over the pig.

Concluding Remarks

Many years ago, Dr. Bob Warmbrod from Ohio State was the keynote speaker at the Southern Region Agricultural Education conference held in Little Rock, Arkansas. He emphasized that we should devote more time and attention to the results of our research instead of spending so much time focusing on the methodology and statistical manipulations involved in the research.

At times I feel the same about the way we teach parliamentary procedure. We emphasize the process and proper procedures which are important, but at times we need to spend more time focusing on why we use parliamentary procedure and encourage our students to engage in thoughtful discussion of the issues and then take voting seriously.

When our students are old enough to vote, they should exercise that right. We can play a role in this happening.