Pigasus was a 145-pound (66-kg) domestic pig who was nominated for President of the United States as a theatrical gesture by the Youth International Party on August 23, 1968, just before the opening of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. The youth-oriented party (whose members were commonly called "Yippies") was an anti-establishment and countercultural revolutionary group whose views were inspired by the free speech and anti-war movements of the 1960s, mainly the opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War.
Yippies were known for using dramatic theatrics in their demonstrations, and they used Pigasus as a way to mock the social status quo. At a rally announcing his candidacy, Pigasus was seized by Chicago policemen and several of his Yippie backers were arrested for disorderly conduct.
Campaign for U.S. President
In 1968, Pigasus was nominated for the U.S. Presidency by the Youth International Party (Yippies). The pig's name was a double entendre on Pegasus, the winged horse in Greek mythology and the famous saying "When pigs fly" used when a highly improbable event should occur.
Selected for the campaign by group members Dennis Dalrymple, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, candidate Pigasus was purchased from a farmer by folk-singer and fellow Yippie Phil Ochs. His candidacy was announced during the massive protests leading up to and during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The Yippies demanded that Pigasus be treated as a legitimate candidate, with U.S. Secret Service protection and White House foreign policy briefings.
One reason why the Yippies preferred Pigasus was that "if we can't have him in the White House, we can have him for breakfast."
Press conference and arrests
The nomination of Pigasus for president occurred on the morning of August 23, 1968, at the Chicago Civic Center (subsequently renamed as the Richard J. Daley Center) in front of the Picasso sculpture.
Pigasus was transported to the rally in a station wagon, escorted by seven Yippies. There were 50 Yippies carrying campaign signs and handing out literature. There were about 200 spectators on hand, along with ten uniformed Chicago policemen and several detectives, under the personal supervision of 1st District Commander James Riordan. The pig was placed in a police wagon and taken to the Chicago Anti-Cruelty Society.
Jerry Rubin was in the process of reading the "acceptance speech" for him when Pigasus was "arrested" by the police. Seven Yippies, including Jerry Rubin and Phil Ochs, were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. The driver of the station wagon was also charged with obstructing traffic. Rubin later said that a policeman came to the jail cell and said "You guys are all going to jail for the rest of your lives—the pig squealed on you!" However, the Yippies were released after each posted a $25 bond.
Pigasus and the Yippies were charged with disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, and bringing a pig to Chicago. At the Chicago Seven conspiracy trial, defense counsel William Kunstler accused the Democratic Party of doing exactly the same thing.
The trial of the Yippies was covered by CBS, NBC, ABC, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Chicago Sun Times, the AP and UPI wire services, and many other major U.S. news outlets.
In addition to singer/songwriter and Youth International Party activist Phil Ochs, numerous members of the Youth International Party testified to the seriousness with which Pigasus had been vetted and briefed, in preparation for his campaign.
Phil Ochs' testimony:
||MR. KUNSTLER: After you arrived in Chicago did you have any discussion with Jerry [Rubin]?
THE WITNESS: Yes, I did. We discussed the nomination of a pig for President.
MR. KUNSTLER: Would you state what you said and what Jerry said.
THE WITNESS: We discussed the details. We discussed going out to the countryside around Chicago and buying a pig from a farmer and bringing him into the city for the purposes of his nominating speech.
MR. KUNSTLER: Did you have any role yourself in that?
THE WITNESS: Yes, I helped select the pig, and I paid for him.
MR. KUNSTLER: Now, did you find a pig at once when you went out?
THE WITNESS: No, it was very difficult. We stopped at several farms and asked where the pigs were.
MR. KUNSTLER: None of the farmers referred you to the police station, did they?
THE WITNESS: No.
MR. FORAN: Objection.
THE COURT: I sustain the objection. ...
MR. KUNSTLER: Would you state what, if anything, happened to the pig?
THE WITNESS: The pig was arrested with seven people.
MR. KUNSTLER: When did that take place?
THE WITNESS: This took place on the morning of August 23, at the Civic Center underneath the Picasso sculpture.
MR. KUNSTLER: Who were those seven people?
THE WITNESS: Jerry Rubin. Stew Albert, Wolfe Lowenthal, myself is four; I am not sure of the names of the other three.
MR. KUNSTLER: What were you doing when you were arrested?
THE WITNESS: We were arrested announcing the pig's candidacy for President.
MR. KUNSTLER: Did Jerry Rubin speak?
THE WITNESS: Yes, Jerry Rubin was reading a prepared speech for the pig---the opening sentence was something like, "I, Pigasus, hereby announce my candidacy for the Presidency of the United States." He was interrupted in his talk by the police who arrested us. ...
MR. KUNSTLER: Do you remember what you were charged with?
THE WITNESS: I believe the original charge mentioned was something about an old Chicago law about bringing livestock into the city, or disturbing the peace, or disorderly conduct, and when it came time for the trial, I believe the charge was disorderly conduct.
MR. KUNSTLER: Were you informed by an officer that the pig had squealed on you?
MR. FORAN: Objection. I ask it be stricken.
THE WITNESS: Yes.
THE COURT: I sustain the objection. When an objection is made do not answer until the Court has ruled. . .
After the 1968 Democratic convention
Sources vary on the fate of Pigasus. There is some speculation that a police officer ate him.
The Chicago Tribune, on September 30, 1968, said that after Pigasus was taken into custody by Chicago police, they transported him to the Anti-Cruelty Society, along with a sow called "Mrs. Pigasus", and a piglet, all collected after being paraded by the Yippies as part of their demonstrations around the time of the convention. The swine were later transferred to a farm in Grayslake, Illinois.
Five months after the nomination of Pigasus, during the inauguration ceremony of President Nixon, the Yippies held their own "in-HOG-uration" ceremony – for President Pigasus.
Eight years after the Pigasus stunt, the Yippies would nominate another candidate for President: Nobody.
Many years later, The New York Times obituaries for Dennis Dalrymple, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin all highlighted the nomination of Pigasus for President during the Democratic Convention of 1968 as an extraordinary moment in political theater.
- ^ a b c Kusch, Frank. Battleground Chicago: The police and the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The University of Chicago Press, 2008. (paper), page 60. ISBN 9780275981389
- ^ a b c "Chicago 1968 DNC". New York: NY Daily News. August 20, 2008. Retrieved May 29, 2012.
- ^ a b (Associated Press) (August 23, 1968). "Chicago Cops Squelch Piggy Nominations". The Montreal Gazette. Retrieved June 3, 2012.
- ^ "Anita Hoffman, queen of the Yippies, died on December 27th, aged 56". The Economist. January 7, 1999. Retrieved June 4, 2012.
- ^ a b "Obituary: Dennis Dalrymple". The New York Times. March 15, 2009. Retrieved June 3, 2012.
- ^ "Pigasus the Immortal". Porkopolis.org. September 27, 2008. Retrieved June 3, 2012.
- ^ Mailer Norman Miami and the Siege of Chicago: An Informal History of the Republican and Democratic Conventions of 1968; New York: New American Library, 1968
- ^ a b "7 Yippies, their pig seized at a rally," Chicago Tribune OCLC 7960243, Aug 24, 1968, page 6. Historic Newspapers, Document ID: 592514882 (subscription required)
- ^ a b The Wonderful Pig of Knowledge!: Pigasus and the Yippies
- ^ Yippie pig retires from election race," Chicago Tribune OCLC 7960243, Sep 30 1968, page 1. Historic Newspapers (fee), ID:586877682.
- ^ Rudin, Ken (September 12, 2005). "The politics of Katrina and Roberts." National Public Radio (US). Retrieved May 29, 2012.
- ^ Simpson, Craig (January 9, 2013). "The 1969 Nixon Inauguration: Horse Manure, Rocks & a Pig" Washington Area Spark. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
- ^ http://hoaxes.org/archive/permalink/nobody_for_president
- ^ McQuiston, John T. (April 14, 1989). "Abbie Hoffman, 60's Icon, Dies; Yippie Movement Founder Was 52". The New York Times.
- ^ Pace, Eric (November 30, 1994). "Jerry Rubin, 56, Flashy 60's Radical, Dies; 'Yippies' Founder and Chicago 7 Defendant". The New York Times.
- Brett Mizelle (January 30, 2007). "Pigasus and the Yippies". The Wonderful Pig of Knowledge!. Retrieved 2007-09-22.
- David Holloway (January 29, 2002). "Yippies". St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture. Retrieved 2007-09-22.