Temperance Reform
in the Early 19th Century

Primary Sources


The Striped Pig of Dedham (1837)

The Striped Pig of Dedham (1837)


"There was a woman loved a swine:
Grump! Said he.
Piggy, says she, will you be mine?
Grump! Said he."

The last muster field at Dedham, in Norfolk County, will be long remembered, as remarkable for having produced two rare monsters of the swinish race;—the one a quadruped hog, ring-streaked and striped, like the kin of old Laban,—and the other a biped brute, a rum-seller, acting in his trade under the appropriate banner and in the appropriate company of the striped pig aforesaid.

On that memorable day there appeared, high raised aloft among the tents and booths, which checkered the military parade ground, the banner of the rum-seller, bearing thereon as a proper heraldic device, not a hogshead merely, but a whole hog.— a hog, not in its simple and natural state, but a hog disguised with paint, (or liquor). This curious and aptly chosen emblem was accompanied by a false advertisement, that in the tent below might be found a great natural curiosity, by any person disposed to invest his fourpence-half penny in sight seeing. This lying program, not less than the device which it accompanied, was a fair manifestation of that spirit which is a mocker and a deceiver.

Within the tent below stood the worthy couple already described, — the striped pig and his associate,—surrounded by all those elements and implements of intoxication which have brought so much woe and death into the world, prepared for the use and enjoyment of customers.

At first but a few individuals were tempted to enter this den of iniquity. A shrewd Yankee pauses long before he will pay his money to see a pig, or any other beast, whose exact picture is before his very eyes without a fee. But one or two did straggle in, and multitudes gathered about the tent and stared at the sign, and discussed its merits and wondered at its meaning.

It was not long before the earliest visitors came out of the tent, looking considerably less silly, than when they went in, and winking their eyes most knowingly, and smacking their lips.

Since the above paragraph was in type, we have learned that a post mortem examination of the pig was made by divers learned doctors last night, from which examination we have gathered the following items.

1. On searching the cerebral cavity it was found that the pig had no brains, excepting a small portion near the phrenological regions of almentiveness, destructiveness, amativeness, and acquisitiveness, by which these propensities must have developed themselves. Instead of the medullary substance, the brainpan was filled with a dark semi-fluid, which resembled blackstrap, entitled an alcoholic odor, and burnt readily, with a blue flame, when brought in contact with the lamp.

2d. The heart of the pig, which was reduced to less than one half the common size, was entirely ossified, and, what was exceedingly curious, it had assumed the exact appearance of a common junk bottle.

3d. There was a high degree of inflammation discovered in the abdominal viscera,—the occasion of which was in part the ardent spirit with which they were suffused, and in part a strange mass of undigested and indigestible substances, the precise nature of which could not, for some time, be determined; but which at last proved to be composed of paper, on which were printed hand-bills, circular letters, resolutions, appeals, and other documents published by the pig-party. This papyraceous mass had accumulated in the stomach of the pig, irritated the mucous membrane, and gangrene had supervened. The stench was so overpowering that the examiners could not pursue this part of their search so thoroughly as was desired.

Not to go further in our paper of this morning, we will only add that we expect a full account of the discoveries of the surgeons in a few days.

P.S. Our devil has just come into the office in a great panic, with the assertion that the pig is not yet dead, —that he revived under the lancet, sprang upon his feet, bit several of the operators, one of whom has just gone off with hydrophobia, and then escaped from the dissecting-room into the streets! We know not what to think. A friend at our elbow suggests that if the devil has told us the truth, this pig must be the beast referred to in the Apocalypse, (chap. Xiii, 3,) of whom it was said, one of his heads was wounded to death, and his deadly wound was healed, and all the world wondered after the beast! We shall give our readers the earliest authentic news on this subject which can be procured.

From The History of the Striped Pig (1838)

Edited by the Museum Education Department at Old Sturbridge Village




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Last updated July 11, 2003