Uncle Sam

History

Ever the trendsetter, the borough may be able to lay claim to the term via a young midshipman stationed in the Brooklyn Navy Yard well before the War of 1812.

Upstate New York butcher Samuel Wilson has been credited with being the real-life inspiration behind Uncle Sam, the unofficial “human face” of the U.S. Government. The Troy, NY butcher supposedly stamped cuts of meat he delivered to American troops during the War of 1812 with the initials “U.S.” But the NY Times tells us that a Nebraska professor who has been tracing the origin of the top-hatted elder statesman has turned up an earlier reference. History professor and War of 1812 expert Donald R. Hickey from Wayne State College brings the origin of Uncle Sam back to New York City–the nation’s first capital–and a young midshipman’s use of the Navy slang of the day.

So what’s the Brooklyn story?

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