How Did the Name Uncle Sam Originated?
“Uncle Sam” originated as a nickname for Samuel Wilson, a merchant from Troy, N.Y. Wilson, known as Uncle Sam, sold supplies to the U.S. Army during the War of 1812. He stamped the initials “U.S.” (for United States) on the barrels and boxes. But people liked to refer to the initials as “Uncle Sam” Wilson.
The name became popular when a soldier began to call everything belonging to the government “Uncle Sam’s.” Cartoonists borrowed the idea, and a bearded Uncle Sam in stars and stripes, became the national symbol. The symbolic Uncle Sam is a tall, thin, angular figure with long white hair and chin whiskers. He is usually dressed in a swallow-tailed coat, waistcoat, top hat and striped trousers.
In American stories and tales he is associated with Yankee Doodle, the British inspired nickname for American colonials during the American Revolution, and with Brother Jonathon, a country folk-hero who always beats his enemies by surprising displays of native intelligence and wit.