Who is Uncle Sam?

Say Uncle Sam and most people immediately think of an angry looking old man in a suit of stars and stripes. But just who is Uncle Sam? One of our founding fathers, perhaps? Or a prominent head of our military division? And more importantly, how did he come to represent the government of the United States. The truth is, no one is completely sure where Uncle Sam actually got his start, but the most credible story goes back to the War of 1812. After moving to Troy, New York in 1789, Samuel Wilson established himself in the meat packing business. During the war, he was a large supplier of meat to the US Army and sent the shipments out in barrels that were stamped U.S. Many historians believe that this U.S. mark is where the name Uncle Sam began. Whether it was a joke or just a simple assumption, it was widely known that Uncle Sam Wilson was THE meat supplier to the government's army so the notion that Uncle Sam represented the United States quickly became readily accepted. However, the image of Uncle Sam in his stars and stripes suit is anything but a depiction of Sam Wilson. Where our cartoon image of Uncle Sam has a long white beard, Sam Wilson was notably clean-shaven. It is believed that the earliest cartoons of Uncle Sam were produced by political cartoonist Thomas Nast during the 19th century however, many of these depictions are actually that of Yankee Doodle aka Brother Jonathan a fictional cartoon character inspired by the revolutionists. - and not Uncle Sam. Perhaps the most well-known Uncle Sam image is the I Want You! recruiting poster painted by James Montgomery Flagg during World War I. In 1961, Congress declared that Uncle Sam Wilson of Troy was the official namesake of our bearded figurehead and the State of New York declared September 13th Wilson's birthday to be Uncle Sam Day.




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