[Ads-l] Major Antedating of "Uncle Sam"

Dan Goncharoff thegonch at GMAIL.COM
Wed Feb 9 01:29:33 UTC 2022

As you probably know, Whitney was making muskets for the US government at
the time. Orr was probably going to inspect 500 muskets.

On Tue, Feb 8, 2022, 6:08 PM Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at yale.edu> wrote:

> I have a very nice antedating to report.  The Winter - Spring 2022 issue
> (Volume 36, Number 2) of The Trumpet newsletter put out by the Swann
> Auction Galleries in New York has an item of great
> historical-lexicographical interest.  On April 7 they are auctioning off a
> letter by Robert Orr dated June 7, 1803.  The letter regards an arms
> inspection for Eli Whitney.
> The letter is reproduced on page 7 of the newsletter.  At the bottom of
> the letter there is a postscript that clearly reads "I expect to go to New
> Haven next week to inspect arms made by Ely Whitney for Unkel Sam 500."  I
> don't know what the "500" means.
> The earliest citation in the Oxford English Dictionary for "Uncle Sam" is
> dated 1810, so this is a significant improvement to the historical record.
> The image of the letter is not yet on the Swann website, but I will post a
> link when one is available.
> Fred Shapiro
> Editor
> New Yale Book of Quotations (Yale University Press)
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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