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Harper's Encyclopedia of United States History (ed. Benson Lossing) 2 0 Browse Search
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Harper's Encyclopedia of United States History (ed. Benson Lossing), Uncle Sam, (search)
Uncle Sam, A popular name of the government of the United States. Its origin was as follows: Samuel Wilson, commonly called Uncle Sam, was an inspector of beef and pork, in Troy, N. Y., purchased for the government after the declaration of war against England in 1812. A contractor named Elbert Anderson purchased a quantity of provisions, and the barrels were marked E. A., the initials of his name, and U. S., for United States. The latter initials were not familiar to Wilson's workmen, who inquired what they meant. A facetious fellow answered, I don't now, unless they mean uncle Sam. A vast amount of property afterwards passed through Wilson's hands, marked in the same way, and he was rallied on the extent of his possessions. The joke spread, and it was not long before the initials of the United States were regarded as Uncle Sam, which name has been in popular parlance ever since. The song says: Uncle Sam is rich enough to give us all a farm.