Letters to the Editor

Uncle Sam proves false

“Uncle Sam” turns 200 years old next month, and it’s time to celebrate the truth. Although the first citation of “Uncle Sam” was written by a “Federalist” in the December 23, 1812 Bennington News-Letter (available on http://GenealogyBank.com/), this person probably also traveled to Albany and Troy during the War of 1812. Troy must reach out to Bennington and correctly celebrate the birth of “Uncle Sam.” It sure would be nice if Troy’s mayor and Troy’s newspaper made these steps right now.

As I have said, we now know that Samuel Wilson was not the progenitor of “Uncle Sam.” The name was already in use before Wilson stamped his first barrels of meat and pork. Three newspaper articles in the Albany and Troy newspapers from 1813–1817 do not mention Samuel Wilson or credit his stamped barrels. I have no doubt that Samuel Wilson was a fine citizen of Troy, given that his first name was Sam, and that people called him “Uncle Sam.” However, the essential facts were not known to Congress in 1961 when it declared that Samuel Wilson was the progenitor of “Uncle Sam.” It is very sad that this 50+-year-old resolution is being presented today as the truth when Troy knows a more complete story.

There are two things Troy must do:

1. Troy must stop telling people that Samuel Wilson is the progenitor of “Uncle Sam” because Congress 50 years ago said so. If you tell people about the Congressional resolution, you must also tell them that we now know that “Uncle Sam” was cited in print before Wilson ever stamped his barrels of meat and pork.

2. Troy must reach out to Bennington and properly celebrate the 200th anniversary of “Uncle Sam” in December 2012, for yourselves and for the nation. The truth will always bring far greater honor to all.

I went to school at RPI and I always thought that Troy was a great city. I’ve wanted to find out the truth about “Uncle Sam” for 30 years. Digitized newspapers have presented us with new information and we should accept it, just as RPI does with all new technologies. Please tell me that you will do these things.