Was Uncle Sam a Real Person?

During the War of 1812, Samuel Wilson of Troy, New York, supplied barrels of salted meat to the U.S. government for-its troops. To show that he had personally inspected the meat, Wilson stamped the letters “U.S.” on the meat, indicating that it was for the U.S. government.

But Wilson’s neighbors in Troy, who fondly called him “Uncle Sam,” took it to mean the initials of Uncle Sam Wilson.

As the years passed, cartoon characters named Uncle Sam appeared in newspapers to represent the United States government. Probably the most popular was the recruiting poster used by the army during World War I. It showed Uncle Sam, in stars and stripes, pointing a finger out and saying, “I want YOU for the U.S. Army.”

It wasn’t until 1961 that Congress passed a resolution acknowledging Wilson as the namesake of our national symbol.