HOG CAPITAL OF THE WORLD
You might not be aware of it, but Kewanee is the Hog Capital of the World by order of the Illinois Legislature.
The title of Hog Capital dates to 1948 when a resolution was introduced into the 66th Illinois General Assembly by the late Frank Preston Johnson of Kewanee, for whom Johnson Sauk Trail State park is named.
When the news came from Washington, D.C. in 1948 that Henry County led the world in hog production, Johnson was serving in the Illinois House of Representatives.
He immediately introduced a resolution calling upon the General Assembly to recognize the Henry County championship officially, and to designate Kewanee as the “Hog Capital of the World.”
As the clerk of the House read the resolution, the gallery interrupted the reading with hog calls and pig squeals whereupon Rep. Johnson spoke as follows:
“Mr. Speaker and ladies and gentlemen of the House: I had not intended to speak on this resolution - it speaks for itself. But I was deeply pained, grieved and humiliated by the raucous laughter and derisive jeers which greeted its reading. I would not be true to my district, to myself, or to his Imperial Majesty, King Hog, if I allowed these insults to go unanswered.
It should not be necessary to remind you sons and daughters of Illinois of the significance of this great championship which the farmers of Henry County have brought to our beloved state.
The hog is the very foundation of Illinois prosperity and has played a vital role in the history, the economy and the development of this great state.
Our pioneer forefathers who cleared the wilderness, and conquered these prairies were nourished and sustained on a diet of hog and hominy. The boys in blue from Illinois who ran the batteries at Vicksburg, scaled the heights of Lookout Mountain and marched with Sherman to the sea were strengthened for those ordeals by rations of salt pork from the farms back home.
We of this House take great pride in the ability of our illustrious speakers, the Honorable Paul Powell. Whence came those sterling qualities that have molded his granite character? He came from Johnson County where they weaned their babies on bacon rind, and his youthful years were nurtured by a diet of hot jowls and turnip greens.
We have praised our Illinois athletes for the great victories they have brought to our state - and rightly so. May I remind you that King Hog played an important role in those magnificent victories? We have been informed that the pictures of the Rose Bowl game are to be shown to this Assembly. Study those pictures and you will observe a PIGSKIN in every play.
And watch carefully for the dramatic climax of that historic game. That climax came when a blonde haired youth from Kewanee, Illinois, the Hog Capital of the World, scampered over the California goal line for the winning touchdown.
You can appreciate Eddie Tunnicliff’s magnificent achievement when you understand that the tender years of his youth were strengthened by daily breakfasts of Henry County bacon.
And, you, my colleagues from the great City of Chicago who grunted the loudest during the reading of the resolution, you in your innocence may cherish the delusion that you have little in common with the Illinois hog. I assure you that you do - PLENTY. Every city must have some economic justification for its existence. That was true in the ancient past and it is true today.
Ships made Carthage,
The wars made Rome,
Beer built Milwaukee,
Gold made Nome,
Cotton built Atlanta,
The harbor made New York,
But good old Chicago was built on pork.
Mr. Speaker, in view of these historic facts and economic truths, I ask unanimous consent for the suspension of the rules and the immediate consideration of the resolution.”
At the conclusion of the eloquent speech, Rep. Johnson moved the adoption of the resolution creating Kewanee the “Hog Capital of the World.” There was no debate on the motion - after all his speech had silenced any possible critics - and the resolution was adopted by a unanimous vote.
And now you know!