World News’ Found Many Patriotic Products Aren’t Actually Made in the USA

Feb. 24, 2011

Tens of millions flock to the Smithsonian museums
in Washington each year to see Americana —
everything from Abraham Lincoln’s top hat to Archie
Bunker’s chair.

But one thing you’ll have a hard time finding is
something American in the gift shop.

Take the miniature sculptures of presidents sold at
the National Museum of American History, located
right on the Mall in the nation’s capital.

From the busts of George Washington to Barack
Obama, they were made in China.

Last month Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, was so
outraged by the situation that he fired off a letter
demanding that the museum sell products made in
the USA.

“It appears that a museum owned by the people of the
United States, celebrating the history of the United
States, cannot find companies in this country
employing American workers that are able to
manufacture statues of our founding fathers, or our
current president,” Sanders said in a letter to the

“That is pretty pathetic!” he exclaimed. “I was not
aware that the collapse of our manufacturing base
had gone that far.”

But it’s not just the Smithsonian. Walk around the
capital city’s monuments – the great symbols of
America – in search of products made in the USA and
you might be surprised what you find.

The Lincoln Memorial gift shop sells magnets of the
Washington Monument – made in China. A bell –
made in China. A toothpick holder – made in China.
Plates designed in the US – but made in China. And
yes, a Barack Obama coffee mug – made in China.

The Jefferson Memorial gift shop sells actual replicas
of the memorial – made in China. Even American flag
pins – you guessed it – made in China.

You might spend $400 on souvenirs all over town
and not buy a single product made in the USA, not
even a keychain of the Supreme Court gavel.

But those Made-in-the-USA products are out there if
you look, even if they are harder to find.

Why? It all comes down to dollars and sense.

The Lincoln Memorial gift shop sells two hats – one
made in America and one made in China – and the
price difference is drastic. $19.95 for the former, only
$10.95 for the latter.

The Memorial used to sell spoons made in America,
but then the manufacturer decided to move to Mexico.

The Smithsonian, for instance, did find an American
manufacturer of presidential busts, but at nearly
double the price. Faced with that prospect, the
museum chose to stick with the Chinese-made
presidents – and the Elvis bobblehead, too.

After Sanders’ released his letter last month, Brent
Glass, the director of the National Museum of
American History, called ABC News to explain their
stance on the made-in-China products.

“We do whenever possible try to buy from US-made

2 thoughts on “At Smithsonian, Americana ‘Made in China’”
  1. It’s important to support US based businesses, no doubt. Buyers will look for the most cost-effective solution unless US businesses provide higher value through outstanding service, product quality, and customer experience. Perhaps US businesses can save clients money with just-in-time stocking options? It’s time to be smarter about how we do business together.

  2. “That is pretty pathetic!” he exclaimed. “I was not aware that the collapse of our manufacturing base had gone that far.” – Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT

    I’m sorry, but how can a SENATOR not know that a majority of consumer goods are produced outside of the United States? It should come as no surprise to a U.S. Senator that most clothing, chatchkes and souvenir items for sale in North America have been manufactured in places other than the United States, and it has been this way for some time.

    Maybe what we really need — instead of token keepsakes that are made in America — are government officials who are up to date on what is happening in our economy today! It’s no wonder we’re in mess if our leaders don’t know what’s going on in our country.

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