On September 7, 1813, the United States gets its nickname, Uncle Sam. The name is linked to Samuel Wilson, a meat packer from Troy, New York, who supplied barrels of beef to the United States Army during the War of 1812.

Wilson (1766-1854) stamped the barrels with “U.S.” for the United States, but soldiers began referring to the grub as “Uncle Sam’s.” The local newspaper picked up on the story and Uncle Sam eventually gained widespread acceptance as the nickname for—and personification of—the U.S. federal government.

READ MORE: Was a 19th-Century Meat Seller the Inspiration for “Uncle Sam”?

In the late 1860s and 1870s, political cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840-1902) began popularizing the image of Uncle Sam. Nast continued to evolve the image, eventually giving Sam the white beard and stars-and-stripes suit that are associated with the character today.

The German-born Nast was also credited with creating the modern image of Santa Claus as well as coming up with the donkey as a symbol for the Democratic Party and the elephant as a symbol for the Republicans. Nast also famously lampooned the corruption of New York City’s Tammany Hall in his editorial cartoons and was, in part, responsible for the downfall of Tammany leader William Tweed, alongside former New York City mayor Fiorello La Guardia who ran his platform on ending Tammany Hall and its corrupt practices.

Perhaps the most famous image of Uncle Sam was created by artist James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960). In Flagg’s version, Uncle Sam wears a tall top hat and blue jacket and is pointing straight ahead at the viewer. During World War I, this portrait of Sam with the words “I Want You For The U.S. Army” was used as a recruiting poster.

The image, which became immensely popular, was first used on the cover of Leslie’s Weekly in July 1916 with the title “What Are You Doing for Preparedness?” The poster was widely distributed and has subsequently been re-used numerous times with different captions.

In September 1961, the U.S. Congress recognized Samuel Wilson as “the progenitor of America’s national symbol of Uncle Sam.” Wilson died at age 87 in 1854, and was buried next to his wife Betsey Mann in the Oakwood Cemetery in Troy, New York, the town that calls itself “The Home of Uncle Sam.”

SOURCEHistory.com

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15 COMMENTS

  1. :Somewhat correktive to my miss.spelled remarks: /I am a dykectic tue to cerrebak hemmorages, but hre follows the corrected version:
    Today also, the corps of Qyuines of quirnsses the Britsh Emoire (as of the paying fields of Eton and Harrow private schools for the pubescend overclass) dreiw ts last breath and ended up as a corpse in the form of theuu nspeajabklyputrid murderess o Kenya’s Kikyyis during her early reign –and later on againdst the locak resustance in Malaya and who disposed of progressive ministers both in Australia and in South Africa — not to forget her chrimes against Nasser in Ecypt nor her husband’s mass murdering og Greeks.
    A harlot who posessed the greatest hidden fortunes in the World.(Thru secret fuds that were not akkiwwd to be scrutinies´d by tax authirities(
    But whó not willingly was admitted into the gold woults of the Bank of England in the City of London two years ago: Over her ruled even greater forces,,,

  2. Today also, the corps of the Britsh Emoire drew its last breath and ended up as a corpse in the form of the nspck´chable c´quiin an murderess o Kenyans in her early reign –and later on againd´st the maltives and who disposed of progressive ministers both in Australia and in South Africa — not to forget her chrimes against Nasser in Ecypt nor her husband’s mass murdering og Greeks.
    A harlot who posessed the greatest hidden fortunes in the World.
    But whió not willingly was admitted into the gold waults of the Bank of England in the City of London two years ago: Over her ruled even more malignant forces.

  3. This is a small but interesting article from the category “did you know that ….?” There are many such interesting questions. I once wondered why in the USA there is a Rust belt, a Bible belt, etc.
    Just like in the USSR, the diameter of Soviet cigarettes was equal to a caliber of ~ 7.62, so that in wartime factories could quickly be converted to the production of gun cartridges. Of course, cigarettes did not have a tolerance in hundredths of millimeter. And there are a million such interesting facts.
    Thank you, it was interesting to read.

    • That’s very interesting Andrew since I’ve smoked Russian cigarettes before but never thought to measure the diameter compared to their American counterparts 🤣👍

    • The business model of the US is war since independence day. Very early the US politicians & freemazons wanted to sell their theatre of democracy, what’s in reality an oligarchy, to the British canadians. But your neighbors in the north were not convinced by this scum of Europa in DC.

    • Say what you want about the US but at least we have a Constitution which has a Bill of Rights which includes the 2nd Amendment.DC is a foreign occupier which will soon be addressed under 11.3 of the Manual of War. You Canadians are nothing but an unarmed Crown Colony subjected to the whims of the City of London.

    • I never wear brown shirts. The entire US population wears, as you, brown shirts. Your constituion and your bible, which establish the US-identity, have no meaning. In your country corps are financing election campaigns which was the dreath strike for the rest of partial democracy. Close your 800 overseas dystopian military bases and the related threat against other nations, stay in your stolen homeland and start to pay reparation for your fascist crimes against humanity.

    • Yeah those bases wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t the Anglo-American alliance which you are a part of which includes 5 Eyes and speaking of fascists. At least we don’t have a full fledged inveterate Nazi at the levels of our government and about stolen land. You should read Vine Deloria Jrs God is Red for a 1st American perspective on that. Seems you Canucks are the worst since you offer no sovereignty. Also speaking of fascists. We don’t have full fledged Nazis running our country like you do. So get used to wearing brown up there🤣