Commonly accepted as the nickname for the United States Federal Government, the term Uncle Sam provokes thoughts of the Stars and Stripes, patriotism and that guy with the beard trying to recruit you to the army.
According to an eye witness report in the May 12th 1830 edition of the New York Gazette, today was the day in history when the term Uncle Sam was first adopted. Apparently, Samuel Wilson, a meat packer from Troy, New York, supplied barrels of beef to the US Army during the war of 1812. The barrels were stamped with ‘EAUS’ which troops jokingly interpreted as ‘Elbert Anderson – Uncle Sam’. They began referring to the food as ‘Uncle Sam’s’.
Another version of the story suggests that it was probably the US stamps on government wagons and mail bags that brought the name into use – citing the Troy Post of September 7th, 1813 and Albany Newspapers in 1817 which make no additional links or credits to Samuel Wilson.
Regardless of the specific origins, during the 1860s, political cartoonist Thomas Nast, also credited with the modern day image of Santa Claus, began to develope the familiar Uncle Sam character in his work. But the most famous depiction was the one drawn by Montgomery Flagg in 1916 which was used as a propaganda poster during the First World War.
Wilson was officially credited as being the original Uncle Sam by congress in 1961 and his home city of Troy, NY is the self titled ‘Home of Uncle Sam’.