Have you ever seen this man? He is dressed in striped pants, a long tailcoat, a tall hat covered with stars and stripes, and a beard? His name is Uncle Sam. There are many stories about him. He has become a symbol of the United States.
Samuel Wilson was born in Arlington, Massachusetts, in 1766. Later he moved to Troy, New York, and started a meatpacking business. During the war of 1812, Sam supplied meat to the U.S. Army in barrels marked ~ "U.S." When asked what the initials stood for, one f Wilson's workers said they stood for the meatpacker, Uncle Sam Wilson. The story gained lots of popularity when printed in a New York City newspaper. Soon many things labeled U.S. were being called Uncle Sam.
Illustrators began drawing Uncle Sam as a symbol of the United States, using the same colors and stars and stripes as the American flag. In 1869, a famous cartoonist named Thomas Nast gave Uncle Sam a beard. During World War I, artist James Flagg used Uncle Sam on an army recruiting poster. On the poster, Uncle Sam points a finger at the person looking at him and says, "I Want You!"
Congress officially recognized Uncle Sam in 1961.