On this day 203 years ago, the United States got its nickname “Uncle Sam.”
Throughout the war of 1812, the U.S. Army periodically received shipments of beef from a New York meatpacker named Samuel Wilson, who sent the barrels with “U.S.” stamped on the side, for “United States.” Soldiers, however, began referring to the meat barrels as “Uncle Sam’s,” and once a local newspaper picked up on the story, the nickname spread.
Some five decades later, political cartoonist Thomas Nast popularized the image and then, in the 1910s, James Montgomery Flagg created the iconic “I Want You For U.S. Army” recruitment version that many think of today.
On Sept. 9, 1919, Boston got a taste of 20th-century life without law enforce- ment. The city’s police department went on strike, which opened the door to looting and other criminal activity, as well as national reform.
Surprisingly enough, no major, violent uprising occurred, but that’s thought to be the result of a quick response from then-Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge. He wasted little time in calling the militia to assist Harvard students and faculty, who were acting as a makeshift volunteer police force. Coolidge would later use this timely action to propel him to the presidency. Today, while police can form unions, it is illegal for them to strike.
He may be known for more controversial parts of his baseball career now, but on Sept. 11, 1985, Pete Rose captured headlines in a much more positive light. He broke Ty Cobb’s 57-year-old major league record of 4,191 hits.
As a player in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Rose established a reputation of persistent work ethic, even earning the nickname “Charlie Hustle” after sprinting to first following a spring training game walk by Whitey Ford. The scrappy second baseman was a big part of the success of the Cincinnati Reds in the 1970s, and he won the World Series with them in back-to-back years in 1975 and 1976. He won another World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1980.
He retired as a player in 1986 but stayed with the Reds as a manager until 1989, when he was found to have gambled extensively on his own games and banned from baseball for life.
On Sept. 13, 1996, hip hop lost one of its earliest superstars: Tupac Shakur.
At the time of his death, Shakur, a 25-year-old West Coast-based rapper, was already one of the most influential MC’s in the genre’s history. He’d been shot nearly a week earlier at a stoplight in Las Vegas, and finally died of those injuries.
The shooting — for which police have made no arrests — came at the height of the mid-1990s East Coast v. West Coast rap feud, which was perpetuated most visibly by Shakur and his rival Christopher Wallace (The Notorious B.I.G.), who was similarly shot and killed some six months later.
Despite relatively short careers, both have maintained their legend reputations in the hip hop world, and their work continues to influence the genre.