Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day: The History of Uncle Sam

Happy Independence Day citizens of this good ole’ United States of America. Many just call the day the Fourth of July but at first it was known as Independence Day. Today I thought in honor of Independence Day I would tell you of one of our popular American symbols. No not myself. I want to tell you of one of my good friends Uncle Sam. Some wonder if Sam was real or fiction. Well he was really both. The story of Uncle Sam starts on September 13, 1766 with the birth of Samuel Wilson in Arlington, Massachusetts to his Scottish immigrant parents. When he got older Sam moved to Troy, New York in 1789 where he became a meat packer. During the War of 1812 He supplied beef to the American Army in barrels. Since the barrels were government property he stamped the initials U.S. on them. To him it meant United States but the soldiers they jokingly said it stood for Uncle Sam. Over time people started saying that anything that was government property that had the initials U.S. on it belonged to Uncle Sam.
In 1916 artist James Montgomery Flagg did a cover of his version of Uncle Sam for Leslie’s Weekly. It was so popular that he was commissioned to do an Army recruitment poster. In 1917 he gave us the most popular version of Uncle Sam. He based it on a British Army recruitment poster that featured Lord Kitchener recruiting for the British Army. Some say that Flagg used himself as the model for Uncle Sam. Others say he based it on Sam Wilson or had another model in mind. Below are pictures of both Flagg and Wilson so you can judge for yourself.
James Montgomery Flagg

Sam Wilson

Uncle Sam was so popular that by 1940 he was a superhero in Quality Comics. He continues to this day to occasionally fight comic book crime in DC Comics alongside heroes like Superman and Batman.
Hope you all have a very happy Fourth of July.

No comments:

Post a Comment