Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam is a national personification of the United States (US), with the first usage of the term dating from the War of 1812 and the first illustration dating from 1852. He is often depicted as a serious elderly white man with white hair and a goatee, and dressed in clothing that recalls the design elements of flag of the United States—for example, typically a top hat with red and white stripes and white stars on a blue band, and red and white striped trousers.


Common folklore holds origins trace back to soldiers stationed in upstate New York, who would receive barrels of meat stamped with the initials U.S. The soldiers jokingly referred these initials as to naming the troops' meat supplier, (Uncle) Samuel Wilson of Troy, New York.

The 87th United States Congress adopted the following resolution on September 15, 1961: "Resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives that the Congress salutes Uncle Sam Wilson of Troy, New York, as the progenitor of America's National symbol of Uncle Sam." Monuments mark his birthplace in Arlington, Massachusetts, and site of burial in Oakwood Cemetery, Troy, New York. Another sign marks "The boyhood home of Uncle Sam" outside his second home in Mason, NH. The first use of the term in literature is seen in an 1816 allegorical book, "The Adventures of Uncle Sam in Search After His Lost Honor" by Frederick Augustus Fidfaddy, Esq., also in reference to the aforementioned Samuel Wilson.

Earlier representative figures of the United States included such beings as "Brother Jonathan," used by "Punch" magazine. These were overtaken by Uncle Sam somewhere around the time of the Civil War. The female personification "Columbia" has seldom been seen since the 1920s.The well-known "recruitment" image of Uncle Sam was created by James Montgomery Flagg, an illustrator and portrait artist best known for commercial art. The image of Uncle Sam was shown publicly for the first time, according to some, in a picture by Flagg on the cover of the magazine Leslie's Weekly, on July 6, 1916, with the caption "What Are You Doing for Preparedness?" [ [http://www.livescience.com/mysteries/080630-uncle-sam.html Who Created Uncle Sam?] , Livescience.com: Life's Little Mysteries, accessed 7/2/08. ] More than four million copies of this image were printed between 1917 and 1918. The image also was used extensively during World War II.

Other media

The 1864 song "U.S.G. A Song For The Times" by Dan D. Emmett refers to General Ulysses S. Grant as "Uncle Sam" in the Chorus: "Then U.S.G's the man for me, Three cheers for your old Uncle Sam!" Sheet music scans may be seen at the Library of Congress American Memory Lincoln website: [http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/scsmhtml/scsmhome.html] .

In addition to the appearance of Uncle Sam in politics, the character has also appeared as a comic book hero for Quality and then DC Comics. He is presented as the living embodiment of the United States and is the leader of the Freedom Fighters. See Uncle Sam (comics). There was also a short cartoon in the 1980s called "Uncle Sam's Adventures."

Furthermore, Uncle Sam appeared as a horror villain in the eponymously titled 1997 film, "Uncle Sam". In this film, a veteran who died during Desert Storm rises from the dead to exact justice upon some teenagers who burned the American Flag on his grave.

Major League Baseball's New York Yankees feature Uncle Sam's hat in their team logo, where it sits atop a bat that forms the vertical line of the "K" in "Yankees". The hat is frequently used in imagery pertaining to the team, and fans often wear Uncle Sam hats to games or other functions.

In music, rock group Grateful Dead featured a skeletal Uncle Sam as one of the band's symbols. Uncle Sam, referred to in their song "U.S. Blues", is one of the many elements that compose the band's "American mythology".

In the 2007 film "Across the Universe", Uncle Sam comes to life and reaches out of his poster to grab Max into the U.S. army, while singing The Beatles' song "I Want You."

ee also

General subject
* National personification
* Nationalism

National context
* US: Brother Jonathan, Yankee Doodle
* Philippines: Juan de la Cruz
* UK: John Bull, Britannia
* Finland: Finnish Maiden
* France: Marianne
* Germany: Germania, Deutscher Michel
* India: Bharat Mata (Mother India)
* Sweden: Mother Svea
* Russia: Mother Russia

Related parodies
* Uncle Jam Wants You (album by Funkadelic)


*Fenster, Bob. "They Did What!?", Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2003. ISBN 0-7407-3793-7


External links

* [http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/trm015.html "The Most Famous Poster,"] U.S. Library of Congress
*Historical [http://www.sonofthesouth.net/uncle-sam/uncle-sam-pictures.htm Uncle Sam Pictures]
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20041028073959/members.rogers.com/29194174476/posterdata1.htm James Montgomery Flagg's 1917 "I Want You" Poster and other works] (Internet Archive copy from 2004 October 28)
* [http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a3_003.html What's the origin of Uncle Sam?] The Straight Dope
* [http://www.usathinkingteam.com "USA Thinking Team"] - new images of a modern Uncle Sam promoting peace. Messages from his helpmate, Aunt Sarah.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Uncle Sam — (s. ⇨ Pickfiester, ⇨ Piepmeier und ⇨ Rundkopf). *1. Uncle Sam. »Uncle Sam« ist der Volksausdruck für die Regierung der Vereinigten Staaten, wie für das Volk »Bruder ⇨ Jonathan« (s.d.) Nach Frost s Naval History of the United States ist sein… …   Deutsches Sprichwörter-Lexikon

  • Uncle Sam — Uncle Un cle, n. [OE. uncle, OF. oncle, uncle, F. oncle, fr. L. avunculus a maternal uncle, dim. of avus a grandfather; akin to Lith. avynas uncle, Goth. aw? grandmother, Icel. [=a]i great grandfather.] 1. The brother of one s father or mother;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Uncle Sam — symbol of the United States of America, 1813, coined during the war with Britain as a contrast to John Bull, and no doubt suggested by the initials U.S. [L]ater statements connecting it with different government officials of the name of Samuel… …   Etymology dictionary

  • uncle sam — (USA) Uncle Sam is the government of the USA …   The small dictionary of idiomes

  • Uncle Sam — (Oenkl Säm), machte der amerikan. Volkswitz aus U. S. (d.h. united states, Vereinigte Staaten), der Aufschrift auf beweglichem nordamerikanischem Staatseigenthume; daher: Nordamerikaner, die Yankees …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Uncle Sam — (izg. ànkl sȅm) DEFINICIJA popularno ime za »tipičnog Amerikanca«, često upotrebljavano i kao simbolično ime za SAD; prikazan kao visok, mršav muškarac sa sijedom bradicom i šeširom sa zvjezdicama, odjeven u plavi sako i crveno bijele prugaste… …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • uncle sam — англ. (анкл сэм) «дядя Сэм», ироническое название США, переосмысленная расшифровка букв U. S. (United States Соединенные Штаты); также шутливое прозвище американцев. Толковый словарь иностранных слов Л. П. Крысина. М: Русский язык, 1998 …   Словарь иностранных слов русского языка

  • Uncle Sam — (spr. Onkl Sämm), scherzhafte Benennung der Nordamerikaner u. ihrer Regierung, entstanden aus der officiellen Abkürzung U. S. Am. (s.d.) …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Uncle Sam — (engl.), scherzhafte Bezeichnung der Nordamerikaner, entstanden aus der amtlichen Abkürzung U. S. Am. für United States of America, scheint zuerst während des zweiten Krieges der Nordamerikaner mit England (1812–14) aufgekommen zu sein …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Uncle Sam — (engl., spr. önkl ßämm), scherzhafte Benennung der Nordamerikaner, entstanden aus der Abkürzung U.S.Am. = United States of America (Ver. Staaten von Amerika) …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

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