Hickey (2015) A Note on the Origins of "Uncle Sam", 1810-1820


Conventional wisdom holds that “Uncle Sam”, the popular personification for the United States government, was inspired during the War of 1812 by Samuel Wilson, who, along with an older brother, Ebenezer, supplied the army with meat from Troy, New York. The Wilsons employed as many as two hundred people, includ- ing many relatives who had moved to Troy to work in the diversified family business. The nieces and nephews referred to Sam Wilson as Uncle Sam, and such was his friendly and easy-going nature that the nickname caught on among other employees and townspeople. Due to confusion over the meaning of the abbreviation “U.S.”, which was stamped on army barrels and supply wagons, the nickname supposedly migrated from Wilson to the federal government in 1812.

Citation Donald R. Hickey (2015). A Note on the Origins of “Uncle Sam”, 1810-1820. The New England Quarteryly, vol. LXXXVI no. 4, pp. 681–692. article

BibTex entry for this article:

BibTex entry for this article:

author = {Hickey, Donald R.},
journal = {The New England Quarteryly},
number = {4},
pages = {681--692},
title = {{A Note on the Origins of "Uncle Sam", 1810-1820}},
volume = {LXXXVI},
year = {2015}

Key ideas