Skip to main content
Select Source:

Uncle Sam

UNCLE SAM

UNCLE SAM, a nickname of the U.S. government, first used during the War of 1812. Critics of the war applied the term somewhat derisively to customhouse officers and to soldiers while the "war hawks" generally avoided it. As contemporary newspapers show, the term


was doubtless a jocular expansion of the letters "U.S." on uniforms and government property.

The name is also identified with Samuel Wilson of Troy, N.Y. (1766–1854), known as "Uncle Sam" Wilson, who supplied barrels of beef to the government. In 1961 Congress recognized Wilson as a namesake for America's symbol, which over the years has lost its negative connotations.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Ketchum, Alton. Uncle Sam: The Man and the Legend. New York: Hill and Wang, 1959.

AlbertMatthews/c. w.

See alsoWar Hawks ; War of 1812 .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Uncle Sam." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Uncle Sam." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/uncle-sam

"Uncle Sam." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/uncle-sam

Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam, name used to designate the U.S. government. The term arose in the War of 1812 and seems at first to have been used derisively by those opposed to the war. Possibly it was an expansion of the letters "U.S." on uniforms and government property, but some sources attribute the origin of the term to Samuel Wilson (1766–1854) of Troy, N.Y. Wilson, whose nickname was Uncle Sam, was an inspector of army supplies. The "U.S." stamped on supplies was referred to as "Uncle Sam" by the workmen. Regardless of origin, the term found wide application and became permanent.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Uncle Sam." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Uncle Sam." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/uncle-sam

"Uncle Sam." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/uncle-sam

Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam Symbolic figure personalizing the USA. The name was first used during the War of 1812. The appearance of Uncle Sam, tall, thin and frock-coated, was developed by 19th-century cartoonists.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Uncle Sam." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Uncle Sam." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/uncle-sam

"Uncle Sam." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/uncle-sam

Uncle Sam

Un·cle Sam / sam/ a personification of the federal government or citizens of the U.S., typically portrayed as a tall, thin, bearded man wearing a suit of red, white, and blue.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Uncle Sam." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Uncle Sam." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/uncle-sam

"Uncle Sam." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/uncle-sam