The Edmondson Blog

Uncle Sam Wilson

Samuel Wilson was born in 1766 in Massachusetts to Scottish parents. At the age of 23 he and his brother Ebeneezer started a business as meat packers. They were reasonably successful and age 31 he married Betsy Mann. They settled down to a quietly prosperous life and had four children. That would have been the end of it and we would never have heard of him.

However, when the Brits and Americans fought the War of 1812, Samuel negotiated a contract to supply beef to the US Army. The meat was shipped in barrels that were property of the US government and so were branded with the initials U.S. It became a standing joke with the carters and soldiers that the initials actually referred to "Uncle Sam" Wilson.

Over time the joke spread so that anything marked with the same initials (as much US Army property was) also became linked with his name.

In 1961 the United States Congress resolved that "... the Congress salutes Uncle Sam Wilson ... as the progenitor of America's National symbol of Uncle Sam."

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