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Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.

Abraham Lincoln’s Pig

Written by PETA | February 21, 2011

In honor of President’s Day, we bring you this account, in Abraham Lincoln’s own words, of a pig he knew as a little boy, which was published in the anthology The Speaking Oak, by Ferdinand C. Iglehart:

“That pig was my companion [at age 6]. I played with him, I taught him tricks. We used to play ‘hide and go seek.’ I can see his little face now peeping around the corner of the house to see whether I was coming after him. After a while he got too heavy for me to carry him around, and then he followed me everywhere—to the barn, the plowed ground, the woods. Many a day I have spent in the woods brushing the leaves away and helping him to find the acorns and nuts. Sometimes he would take a lazy spell and rub against my legs, and stop in front of me, and lie down before me, and say in a language which I understood: “Abe, why don’t you carry me like you used to do?”

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“There was talk about the house of the hog being fat enough to kill. At the table I heard father say he was going to kill the hog the next day. My heart got as heavy as lead.

“The next morning … I slipped out and took my pet with me to the forest. When father found out…he yelled as loud as he could, ‘You, Abe, you, Abe, fetch back that hog!’ … The louder he called, the farther and faster we went, till we were out of hearing the voice. We stayed in the woods till night.

“On returning, I was severely scolded. After a restless night, I arose early and went to get my pig for another day’s hiding, but found that father had arisen before me and fastened my pet in the pen. I knew then all hope was gone. I did not eat any breakfast, but started for the woods. I had not gone far when I heard the pig squeal, and knowing what it meant, I ran as fast as I could to get away from the sound.

“Being quite hungry, at noon I started for home. Reaching the edge of the clearing, I saw the hog, dressed, hanging from a pole…and I began to blubber. I could not stand it, and went back into the woods again, where I found some nuts that stayed my appetite till night, when I returned home. They never could get me to take a bit of the meat…it made me sad and sick to even look at it.”

Honest Abe wasn’t able to save that pig, but you can save one today, by going vegan. Find out how to get started by checking out our online Vegetarian/Vegan Starter Kit.

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  • Hyojin says:

    I hope people in the earth to be a vegan.. very much.

  • sarah says:

    nancy it takes around 8 mo to raise a pig to a good weight to slaughter not years… and back in those days pigs rooted around for food and were given scraps they didnt have bagged animal feed like we do these days.

  • nancy says:

    Wow, reverend Meg, it’s much cheaper not to eat meat. You do realize they had to feed the pig for years before they killed it, right?

  • Rev. Meg Schramm says:

    Abraham Lincon’s parents were not heartless. They were desperate, poor people trying to survive. When you read the life story of Abraham Lincoln you realize what a miricle it was that he survived to adulthood, let alone become President of the United States. I am sure that he loved that pig, but I am willing to bet that the meat from it helped his family to survive that year. By the way, after Abraham Lincoln’s birth mother died, his father left the children alone for close to two months while he went to find another wife to help on the farm and raise the kids. When he returned to the farm with his new wife, Abraham and his sister were close to death.

  • Kath says:

    Not only is that animal slaughter and cruelty, but child abuse too!

  • nancy says:

    Sarah, I’m sure most of the vegans here at one time were meat eaters. It’s a different path for everyone. I don’t see what your point is. People who feel compassionate toward animals choose to give up meat just as Lincoln did during his life.

  • Christopher says:

    After reading many of the documents penned by Pres. Lincoln, I have no doubt that this experience was one that transformed him into the man that saw compassion for all things and the tragedy of not giving it.

  • Christy says:

    It’s so sad that back then they didn’t care about slaughtering animals, it’s such a heartbreaking note. I’m so glad we can find new and creative ways to save animals.

  • Emily says:

    i would have taken that pig far away and never gone home. his parents are heartless.

  • Kathryn Jones says:

    It is this love for and sensitivity to his pet that were no doubt significant factors in his later stance against slavery. Cruelty often starts with animals, but so also does compassion.

  • Sarah McGee says:

    Abraham Lincoln was a great man. This country, or some part of it could be under tyrannical rule today if not for him. He couldn’t save the pig but he did save the union. Here is another example showing how a person relates to animals carries over to the way he/she relates to others.

  • Marissa says:

    What a sweet beginning and middle but horribly sad ending. The first parts made my heart melt.

  • Seamus McCartney says:

    That is incredibly sad. I don’t think humans should dictate when an animal dies, they have the right to live. That pig would have looked up to him and he would have been his only hope but he left without putting up a fight.

  • Sarah says:

    but this incident did not prevent him from eating meat he loved lamb,chicken and oysters so your clam that becuse he cried over a pig as a child we should go vegan? Im sure as he got older he realized that the Pig was better off feeding his poor family then being his pet.

  • Aneliese says:

    Wow, I never knew about this. I would never have gone back home if my parents did that too me.

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