But what do we know about the origins of this famous icon?
By an act of the 87th Congress of the United States, the following resolution was adopted on Sept. 15, 1961: "Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring) that the Congress salutes `Uncle Sam' Wilson of Troy, N.Y., as the progenitor of America's national symbol of "Uncle Sam."
Samuel Wilson and his brother Ebenezer established a meat packing business in the town of Troy, New York. Their firm won a contract to supply meat to U.S. soldiers after the declaration of war against England in 1812. At the time, meat was packed in barrels and the barrels were stamped U.S. to designate the United States as the customer.
Because Samuel was so well liked by the people of Troy, he was known locally as "Uncle" Sam, and Troy residents associated the “U.S.” stamp on the sides of the barrels with “Uncle Sam” who they knew was supplying meat for the soldiers.
The actual image of Uncle Sam evolved over time.
Prior to the Civil War another character was more commonly used as a symbol of our country – Brother Jonathan. Brother Jonathan was depicted with striped pants, a coat with tails and a tall top hat. But, the Civil War brought a major transition to the symbol of our country.
People began to associate the image of our country with the face of Abraham Lincoln and it was during this period that our icon aged and acquired a beard.
Brother Jonathan was slowly phased out, being replaced by Uncle Sam. The updated image of Uncle Sam was popularized by Thomas Nast through his political cartoons.
The antique postcards photographed for this post are postmarked or copyrighted during the period 1907-1909. I hope you enjoyed this bit of American history.
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Until next time, live and love well.
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