After the Civil War, my great-grandfather Albert Cordner got a job delivering the mail by boat and train from Westerly to Newport, Rhode Island. As a veteran of the battles of Antietam and Gettysburg, he was ready for the risks.

One cold January day in 1873, an accident on his mail boat “wafted Uncle Sam’s agent overboard,” the Newport Daily News reported. Until my ancestor was rescued, it was “a serious question of life and death.”

Read the full article at USA Today.

Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and co-edits Follow her on Twitter @SarahDAnderson1.

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