Good morning, it’s Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. Today is the recognized birthday of Uncle Sam. Although the iconic bearded visage, usually pictured in a top hat, gained universal fame in World War I recruiting posters, it was nearly a century earlier that he came to life. It happened in upstate New York, and is a bit of an oddball story, which I’ll relate in a moment.
First, I’d point you to our front page, which aggregates, as it does each day, columns and stories spanning the political spectrum. Today’s edition includes Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh on rethinking Labor Day (CNN); Liz Peek on President Biden’s job approval ratings (Fox News); Edward-Isaac Dovere on the Virginia gubernatorial race (The Atlantic); and Joanne Kenen on why we haven’t turned the corner on COVID (Politico). We also offer a complement of original material from RCP reporters and contributors, including the following:
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It’s Time to Enshrine in Law Women’s Right to Choose. In a guest op-ed, veteran Democrat Maria Cardona urges Congress to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act.
Gaslighting the American People. Columnist J. Peder Zane writes that President Biden’s characterization of the Afghan retreat as an “extraordinary success” is being echoed by a news media that has coalesced behind that and other Democratic narratives.
Election Updates for the Week of Sept. 6. In a guest op-ed in RealClearPolicy, Todd Carney recaps new developments.
“Culturally Responsive Education” Is Troubling in Practice. Also at RCPolicy, Frederick Hess and Tracey Schirra warn that the curriculum is a vehicle for pursuing ideological crusades at the expense of academic rigor.
Questions Remain About Oil-and-Gas Lease Sale. At RealClearEnergy, Mark Green examines the administration’s announcement that it will resume new leasing on federal lands and waters.
Was Cleopatra the First “Mad Scientist”? RealClearScience editor Ross Pomeroy highlights disturbing findings in a new book.
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As the War of 1812 dragged on, the fledgling federal government solicited butchers, bakers, farmers and food distributors to supply American troops with rations. In New York, a large contract went to a businessman and warehouse operator named Elbert Anderson Jr. In upstate New York, one of the meatpacking subcontractors hired by Anderson was Samuel Wilson.
So how did that produce “Uncle Sam”?
Here’s how: Sam Wilson was a popular personage in his adopted hometown of Troy. Born in Massachusetts, he had held local political office in Troy. More relevant to the soldiers stationed at nearby Greenbush Cantonment, Wilson was also a decorated veteran of the Revolutionary War. Among his friends, he was known affectionately as “Uncle” Sam.
Wilson dutifully stamped every crate of salted pork or beef “US/EA,” which simply meant that the foodstuffs were procured by Elbert Anderson for the United States government. But many of the troops stationed at Greenbush were from Troy and knew Sam Wilson personally. The notion that “US” really meant that “Uncle Sam” approved this meat began as an inside joke, then became a wider rumor, and eventually caught on all over the country, albeit a much smaller country than exists today. Uncle Sam was born.
Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics