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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > American Age of Discovery, Colonization, Revolution, & Expansion > American Age of Formative Expansion

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American Age of Formative Expansion 1789-1830 To begin with the 1st US President & extend through the Whiskey Rebellion, Quasi War with France, War of 1812, & southeastern Indian wars,

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  #1  
Old 20 Apr 16, 09:46
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Origin of "Uncle Sam"

One of the footnotes of United States history is changing. The origin of "Uncle Sam" apparently is not what it has long believed to have been.

Quote:
Conventional wisdom holds that “Uncle” Sam Wilson—a Troy, New York, meatpacker who, when he was supplying troops during the War of 1812, stamped his crates “U.S.”—inspired the federal government’s nickname; new evidence suggests, however, that the personification originated earlier, simply as a creative and colorful expansion of “U.S.”
The New England Quarterly
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Old 20 Apr 16, 10:53
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"new" evidence?
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Old 20 Apr 16, 11:26
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"new" evidence?
What do you think of the article? Did you read it?
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Old 20 Apr 16, 11:29
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Originally Posted by taco View Post
What do you think of the article? Did you read it?
tl;dr

I know that soldiers were making jokes about the "U.S." stamped on their gear at least as far back as the ACW.
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Old 20 Apr 16, 12:39
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Other sources disagree:

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/...n-of-uncle-sam
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Old 20 Apr 16, 12:40
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Yeah, my prof. listed twenty-six "origin" stories.
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Old 20 Apr 16, 13:45
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Originally Posted by Mountain Man View Post
Donald Hickey and the Straight Dope article are in agreement that it derived merely from an expansion of U.S. and not from the Samuel Wilson.

Hickey concluded: "Although the sobriquet’s origins are unclear, Albert Matthews offered the most persuasive explanation when he suggested that it began as nothing more than a colorful and creative expansion of the abbreviation U.S."

The Straight Dope article stated: "So where did Uncle Sam originate? Nobody knows for sure, but it's likely the original explanation in the Troy Post was correct: there was never an actual Uncle Sam; instead the name was just a wiseguy expansion of the initials U.S."

Hickey did supply some new info supporting the view that it did not derive from Samuel Wilson and Hickey's article in The New England Quarterly will undoubtedly be more influential than Straight Dope.
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