September 1813, the United States gets its nickname, Uncle Sam.
Uncle Sam, might even be the most recognized person in the world, easily the most recognized of all American symbols. 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 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 the U.S. federal government.
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.
Wilson died at age 88 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.”
In 1989 a joint resolution of Congress designated September 13 “Uncle Sam Day”. This date was selected, as “Uncle Sam” Wilson was born on September 13, 1776.
By the President of the United States of America
Uncle Sam Day, September 5, 1989
The tall, white-haired figure of Uncle Sam -- his stern, sagacious face graced by a flowing beard, and his distinguished top hat adorned by stars and stripes -- is a beloved symbol of the United States. Recognized around the world, the striking visage of Uncle Sam recalls the pride and strength of the American people, as well as the freedom we enjoy.
One of the most familiar renditions of Uncle Sam is found on the James Montgomery Flagg recruitment poster used during World War I and World War II. With its now-famous headline, "Uncle Sam Wants You," this poster urged men and women to help defend our way of life by enlisting in the Armed Forces. Today, the figure of Uncle Sam continues to remind us of the great risks and personal sacrifices endured by generations of Americans in the quest for liberty.
In 1961, the Congress recognized Samuel Wilson of Troy, New York, as the progenitor of this celebrated American symbol. Hardworking and self-reliant, Samuel Wilson was a man of unwavering integrity. He was also an important source of food for the Army during the War of 1812. The marking "U.S." stamped on casks of meat that his packinghouse prepared for American troops represented "Uncle Sam" to many soldiers and eventually the name was associated with the U.S. Government itself.
During Samuel Wilson's lifetime, which spanned the exciting years of 1766 to 1854, Americans won our country's independence; formed a system of self-government under our great Constitution; explored and settled the frontier; and raised the hopes of freedom-loving peoples around the world. Because the character derived from his nickname embodies the proud and industrious spirit of the American people, it is fitting that we pause to remember "Uncle Sam" Wilson and his place in our Nation's history.
To honor Samuel Wilson on the anniversary of his birth and the occasion of the bicentennial of the City of Troy, New York, the Congress, by Public Law 100-645, has designated September 13, 1989, as "Uncle Sam Day" and has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this event.
Now, Therefore, I, George Bush, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 13, 1989, as Uncle Sam Day and call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of September, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fourteenth.