Industrial Revolution

Pig and human history timeline
1751 to 1850 AD

Aesthetic theoretician, Edmund Burke, publishes The Sublime and Beautiful in which he refutes his contemporaries assertions concerning utility as the cause of beauty thus: “on that principle, the wedge-like snout of a swine… would be extremely beautiful.” Burke was not fond of pigs.
c. 1760s
George Washington imports special hogs to Virginia to establish breeding herds for his estate at Mt. Vernon.
John Montagu, the English Earl of Sandwich, orders a snack to eat at the gaming tables. His snack — two slices of bread with a slice of ham slapped down between them — will henceforth be named after him.
English agriculturist Thomas Coke begins a reform of animal husbandry. He will breed improved Suffolk pigs, Southdown sheep, and Devon cattle.
At the end of a tour of the Scottish Highlands, British writer and lexicographer, Samuel Johnson, known as “Dr. Johnson,” notes that he saw only one pig, and that in the Hebrides. The pigs scarcity is generally attributed to the Scottish belief that pigs are the devil incarnate — many Scotts at that time would not keep or eat pigs.
Salt pork is smuggled past British lines to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania where it is the staple fare of the cold and hungry solders of the Continental Army under the command of George Washington.
c. early 1780s
European pigs are first crossed with those from Asia — Chinese pigs — producing new strains that came to maturity earlier, produced more young per litter and exhibited dramatic changes in physical appearance. This cross-breeding in Britain produced the first of the Berkshire breed and others that have remained enormously popular into present times.
In the city of Helsinki, Finland free-running pigs were a real nuisance. They rooted around the streets and alleyways and scratched themselves against building walls. Petter Westberg, the city dog-catcher, was commanded by the city council to carry out a pig hunt, catching the pigs or driving them from the city. As his payment, Westberg was allowed to keep all the free-running pigs for himself. But Westberg must not have liked pork, because he did not stick to his task, the pigs escaped, and once more filled the streets of the city.
Thomas Jefferson imports Calcutta hogs to his Virginia farm and proceeds to corner the market on ham, to the dismay of local butchers, who call him the “hog governor” and drape his estate’s fences with pig entrails.
November 4th
The Continental Congress of the Thirteen Colonies appeals to its member states to contribute quotas of pork, as well as flour and hay for continued support of the Continental armies fighting the British.
While painting Girl with Pigs, Thomas Gainsborough, (1727-88), the English portrait and landscape painter celebrated for the elegance and refinement of his portraits, had live pigs brought to the studio in his Pall Mall house for observation in order that he be able to achieve the realism he demanded.
As many “Learned Pig” performers arise throughout Europe, one of the earliest recorded learned pigs is exhibited in Nottingham, England. While some people declared that these talented pigs are agents of the devil, the leading literary figure of the second half of the 18th century, Dr. Samuel Johnson, remarked, after viewing a performance, that pigs “are a race unjustly calumniated!”
A schedule of performances by a Learned Pig, advertised in The Daily Universal Register (later The Times of London), heralds the porker as capable of telling time, casting accounts, and reading ladies minds.
Revd. James Woodforde of Norwich, England records in his journal how he paid a shilling to view a “learned pigg” and praised the “sagacity of the animal” as it arranged cards with numbers and letters placed before it in order to spell and do mathematics.
c. late 1700s
In Northern Europe, pigs become easier to produce (i.e.: faster and easier to follow growth with fat) as blood lines are augmented with the introduction of the blood of faster-maturing and finer-boned Chinese pigs directly from the Orient and from Neapolitans (earlier crossings of Sus scrofa and Oriental varieties) from the Mediterranean.
In Watervleit, NY, members of the Shaker community begin cross-breeding white Big China hogs with wild local “backwoods” hogs. Thees pigs’ progeny are further developed by Shakers and others in Ohio, producing a breed of black and white hogs — the still popular Poland-China — which would become backbone of the U.S. pork industry.
Farmers in Rhode Island burn their grain, dump their milk, and leave their apples to rot in the orchards in a farm strike directed against Providence and Newport merchants who have refused to accept the paper money of the young United States as the bills have depreciated to the point of being virtually worthless. The strike has little effect, since most New Englanders still raise their own food, letting their hogs forage in the woods for acorns and by growing peas, beans, and corn in their gardens.
Cincinnati (later aka: Porkopolis) gets its name when the 2-year-old town of Losantiville on the Ohio River near Fort Washington is renamed by the Northwest Territory’s first governor Gen. Arthur St. Clair. He renames the town Cincinnati after the Society of Cincinnati, an association of war officers of the Continental Army, founded by St. Clair at the end of the Revolution. The name is derived from the former Roman farmer Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus, who left his home and fields to volunteer for the Roman army, just as many of the American Revolution’s officers left their rural homes to fight.
early 1800s
An eccentric farmer in England causes a local stir when he gallops his cart into the city of St. Albans, Hertfordshire, drawn by a team of four trained pigs.
Sir Henry Mildmay owned a remarkable sow called “Slut.” Born and trained in New Forest, she learned to point and retrieve game. With a sense of smell far superior to any dog, she was well regarded for her ability and enthusiasm. Similar reports of pigs trained in this manner, especially in the New Forest, will persist until the early half of the next century.
Butchers in Köningsberg, Germany produce a pork bologna sausage three-quarters of a mile long, weighing 2,000 pounds. 187 men carry it in a New Year parade.
Two Englishmen from New Forest, Richard and Edward Toomer, are reported to have trained a sow named Slut to point game. The periodical Daniel’s Rural Sports claimed “her nose was superior to the best pointer… she frequently stood a single partridge at forty yards distance, her nose in an exact line.”
c. 1808
The braiding of pigtails in European men’s hair begins to go out of fashion.
During the War of 1812, an army-contract pork-packer in Troy, NY, named Uncle Sam Wilson stamps his barrels of pork “U.S.” Wilson ships hundreds of stamped barrels and seems to be feeding the entire Army. Thus “Uncle Sam” came to represent the Federal Government itself.
The British parish of Clapham in London issues a directive that no one will henceforth be permitted to feed swine on Clapham Common. With this directive, pannage — the legal right since Medieval times, of pig owners to allow their pigs to freely roam royal forests and feed on acorns and beech mast in the fall season — officially ends on the Common lands of Greater London.
The most celebrated of the learned pigs, “Toby, the Sapient Pig” is exhibited in London. Among his renowned abilities are: reading, spelling, casting accounts, playing cards, telling time to the minute and the reading of minds. His autobiography, published the next year, is wildly popular.
Pioneer pig sticker, Elisha Mills opens Cincinnati, Ohio’s first slaughterhouse. Cincinnati begins packing pork in brine-filled barrels. Salt pork soon becomes a U.S. food staple, and within a decade, the city will earn the nickname “Porkopolis.”
Hawaiian women are first permitted to eat kaklua, or roast pork, at the luau.
The English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley composes his Oedipus Tyrannus, or Swellfoot the Tyrant, a satire on English politics in the form of a parody of Greek drama with an all-pig cast and representing the matrimonial affairs of British King George IV and Queen Caroline with porcine roles, as well, for many government ministers.
Washington Irving, in a surrender to the illusions of poetry, makes a pilgrimage to Eastcheap, England seeking the real Boar’s Head Tavern, site of the madcap revelry of Falstaff, Dame Quickly and her guests in Shakespeare’s Henry IV.
“A Dissertation Upon Roast Pork” is published by Charles Lamb in The London Magazine. Lamb attributes the discovery of the concept and taste of roast pork to a Chinese man whose house burned down with a nursing sow inside. The man happened to lick his fingers while removing the charred carcasses of the sow and her piglets and the discovery of roast pork was made!
Buffalo, NY, is the short-lived meat-packing center of the U.S. as the Erie Canal makes it a central shipping point. It will soon be replaced by Cincinnati, then Chicago.
Andy Jackson, hero of the Battle of New Orleans, campaigns for the U.S. Presidency as a “whole-hogger” and wins.
1,748,921 pounds of hog bristles — for use in brushes — are imported into Britain from Russia and Prussia, this year alone. William Youatt, in his book The Pig (1847), calculates that this weight was equivalent to 13,431,713,280 individual bristles.
c. 1829
Cincinnatians and the world have begun to regularly refer to the Ohio meat-packing town by the nickname “Porkopolis.”
“A pig in almost every cottage sty! That is the infallible mark of a happy people,” says British journalist and social reformer William Cobbett in Rural Rides a collection of essays about the deterioration of rural life in England.
For the first time, people of little means can afford to light their homes as French chemist Michael Chevreul discovers a way to break down hog lard into liquid glycerine and solid stearin compounds that can be used to manufacture inexpensive candles.
In Domestic Manners of the Americans, English novelist Frances Milton Trollope, who came to America in 1827, disparaged American eating habits. Suppers, she reports, are huge buffets that may include much “ham, turkey, beef, tea, coffee, hot cakes and custard, hoe cake, johnny cake, waffle cake, and dodger cake, apple sauce and pickled oysters, pickled peaches, and preserved cucumbers…”
London pathologist James Paget at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital detects the parasite Trichina spiralis for the first time. The parasite will later be associated with trichinosis, a disease produced primarily from eating raw or undercooked pork products.
Toby, the Learned pig is immortalized by British poet Thomas Hood in his poem “The Lament of Toby”, published in The Comic Annual for this year.
U.S. statesman Daniel Webster imports to his New Hampshire farm four red pigs from Portugal. All Duroc-Jerseys are descended from them.
The settlement of Pig’s Eye is begun in the Minnesota Territory by Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Parrant, a French Canadian trader, along with a group of squatters who had been living around Fort Snelling at St. Anthony’s Falls on the Mississippi River. [Editor’s Note: St. Anthony is the patron saint of pigs and swineherds.] In 1841, the settlement of Pig’s Eye is renamed for the chapel of Saint Paul, built there that year by Father Lucien Galtier. The city of Saint Paul eventually becomes the capitol of the state of Minnesota.
The musical instrument termed the “Porco-Forte” is invented in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is a keyboard instrument fashioned after a piano, but with a hammer action whereby pigs tails are pricked as each key is struck, permitting the player to produce a gradation of squealed notes depending on the intonation of the pigs and which keys are struck and how hard.
Early in his career, clown and future circus owner Dan Rice begins to tour the U.S. with his performing porker, Lord Byron, billed as a “Learned Pig.” Rice’s antics would become a favorite of Zachary Taylor, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Abraham Lincoln.
Ohio Senator and hero of the War of 1812, Wm. Henry Harrison’s campaign song for the Presidential election boasts: “He lives in a cabin built of logs. He plows his own ground and feeds his own hogs.” Though these are lies, Harrison is elected 9th U.S. President, but dies after only one month in office.
Charles Dickens, visiting New York in the USA, is surprised and amused to see Broadway teeming with untended pigs.
Hogs and other farm stock are shown and traded at the New York State Fair at Syracuse. This fair begins the tradition of U.S. “state fairs” dedicated to the advancement of agriculture and the home arts.
In the Slavonian town of Pleternica, a pig that allegedly devoured the ears off a small girl is sentenced to death. The pig’s owner is declared responsible and compelled to compensate the girl for her loss [perhaps in pork and bacon].
War threatens between the U.S. and Canada when Lyman Cutter, an Oregon settler, shoots a hog belonging to the Hudson Bay Company right on the disputed international boundary. “Fifty-four forty or fight!” (54° 40′) cry the Yanks, but end up with the 49th parallel… and the hog.

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A random image of a pig, hog, boar or swine from the collection at Porkopolis.