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#3 - Why Is the Imaginary Man Called Uncle Sam Linked With the United  States? - 2004-10-13

Uncle Sam is a fun name for the United States government. The drawing of a man called Uncle Sam is used to represent the federal government on large signs called posters. His name, Uncle Sam, uses the same first letters as the words United States - a “U” and an “S”.

History experts are not really sure how Uncle Sam was created or how he was named. However, some say the name was first used on supply containers during the War of Eighteen-Twelve. People in the northeastern city of Troy, New York think they know the true story. They say that Uncle Sam was a person named Samuel Wilson. Many people in Troy believe that Mister Wilson is linked to the first use of the term “Uncle Sam” to represent the United States.

This is their story: Samuel Wilson worked as a meat packer in Troy during the War of Eighteen-Twelve. He often was called Uncle Sam because he was so friendly and fair. Mister Wilson supplied large amounts of meat to the Army. The meat was sent to the troops in rounded wooden containers. The barrels were marked with the letters “U S” to show they were meant for the government. Someone suggested that the letters represented “Uncle Sam” Wilson. The idea that the meat came from “Uncle Sam” led to the idea that Uncle Sam represented the federal government.

Samuel Wilson did not look like the drawing of Uncle Sam. The most famous drawings show him dressed in clothes showing stars and stripes. They appeared in political cartoons. Famous newspaper cartoonist Thomas Nast produced many of the earliest drawings of Uncle Sam in the eighteen thirties.

In the twentieth century, Uncle Sam was shown with a short white beard, high hat and long-tailed coat. The single most famous picture of him is a large sign painted by James Montgomery Flagg in about nineteen-seventeen. Its aim was to influence young American young men to go into the army during World War One. It shows Uncle Sam pointing his finger. Above him are written the words “I Want You.” Congress approved Uncle Sam as an official representation of the United States in nineteen-sixty-one.