BROTHER JONATHAN. As early as March 1776 the British used this term to designate Americans. Governor Jonathan Trumbull (the elder) of Connecticut was a key man in the support of Washington's army. Once, when coping with a particularly tough problem, Washington is alleged to have said, "We must consult Brother Jonathan." Legend has it that the expression spread as a generic term for Americans. The Oxford English Dictionary accepts this derivation of the term, which stood as the widely used generic name for the United States through the nineteenth century until replaced by "Uncle Sam."
SEE ALSO Trumbull, Jonathan, Sr..
revised by Michael Bellesiles