Uncle Sam

In WWI, Uncle Sam’s face was all over posters and even became a national icon, but what actually lead up to the rise of Uncle Sam as an icon? Was he actually a man? And how did this one icon contribute to the development of better citizens? Uncle Sam was widely known throughout the United States in a fairly short amount of time.

Of course, people knew his face, but was he a real man? In the posters he he was a white man, dressed in red, white, and blue, with a white goatee and a top hat. In real life, on the other hand, it was a term used for the United States government. It is said to have an origin of a real man, though. Samuel Wilson, who was known as ‘Uncle Sam’, started it all. He was an inspector of meat, beef and pork.

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While he was inspecting the meat that was purchased for the government after declaring war against England in 1812, he put his initials as U.S., for United States. Of course, his workers weren’t familiar with this and a joke spread that it stood for Uncle Sam. By 1864, Uncle Sam was widely known. He showed up in newspapers and other publications and seemed to be defined by Thomas Nast.

Nast was one of the most popular artists of the 1800’s; with the responsibility of the first images of Santa Claus, the Republican Elephant, and the Democratic Donkey. Uncle Sam showed up for the first time on November 20, 1869 in an edition of Harper’s Weekly. Inscribed on the picture was a caption saying, “Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving Dinner.” It symbolizes freedom and equality for everyone. Eventually, Uncle Sam evolved into what we know and recognize.

But how did Uncle Sam contribute to the development of better citizens? That is easy, from the time Uncle Sam started to show up in publications in America, he has been pushing United States citizens to be better citizens. The very first picture that was printed showed him sitting at a table with all types of people; including: Black, White, Chinese, and Indian. This shows that everyone should be treated equal. As time went on and Uncle Sam developed, he started showing on posters for the United States Army. He was used to persuade them to go into the army. Fighting for the army makes you a better citizen automatically.

It shows that you are able to stand up for your nation. From Samuel Wilson to Thomas Nast, many things have lead up to the rise of Uncle Sam as a national icon. From November 20, 1869, Uncle Sam would widely be known as an symbol for better citizens, equality, and freedom.