In 1906, Uncle Joe was one of the most influential men in the nation. Theodore Roosevelt was president, but at times it seemed the speaker was running the nation. Letters addressed with the simple notation, “Uncle Joe’s Town,” found their way to his home on North Vermilion Street in Danville.
Mark Twain observed he and Uncle Joe were “true philosophers.” Perhaps he was right. Uncle Joe’s philosophy was it would be more productive to be “hoeing potatoes” than to be vice president of the United States. Many would agree with that observation
Meaningful copyright protection did not come until long after Twain’s death in 1910, but his humorous appeal to members of Congress is credited with laying the groundwork for the legislation.
Donald Richter’s column appears every other week in the Commercial-News. He is a member of the Vermilion County Museum Board.