By Thomas F. Schwartz

Two frequent questions that I have encountered in the last twenty years have been: 1) Did Lincoln endorse cockfighting? and 2) Where did Lincoln say, “I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being.” Both pose interesting challenges in dealing with evidence.

Cockfighting is a blood sport that was widespread in ancient Greece, Persia, and Rome. Specially bred roosters or gamecocks are placed in a pit and fight one another, often to the death. Cockfighting was practiced in Great Britain until 1849. It was a popular sport in frontier America. Even today, cockfighting remains legal in Louisiana and a number of counties in New Mexico. Throughout the campaigns to end cockfighting, both opponents and supporters have enlisted Abraham Lincoln to their cause.

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