I think we are all pretty familiar with Uncle Sam… but did you know where he came from and how he got to be the symbol of our country? Well, apparently there was a merchant that sold meat to the soldiers during the War of 1812. His name was Sam Wilson and he grew so popular with the soldier, among others, that they took to calling him Uncle Sam.
He operated out of Troy, New York and I guess you can see some resemblance in his photo to our Uncle Sam today. Well it so happens that his birthday falls on September 13th, which happens to be Uncle Sam Day! Now that didn’t really begin until 1961 when Congress voted on a drawing to be used for Uncle Sam. But they still did not vote in a day of celebration just yet.
There were two other characters in the running for become a national symbol. The first was Brother Jonathan. He was a lot more popular in the newspapers and the south than he was with the general public. Although, if you examine his character he did wear the same sort of hat and striped pants. However as this was the fashion of the day he did not really stand out all that much.
And then there was Uncle Sam’s girlfriend, Columbia. Now having a pretty woman to look at was inspiring and though provoking but did not exactly inspire men to fight. In fact, it rather made them want to take a nap and dream… maybe of Columbia herself!
It took until 1989 for Congress to actually officially recognize Uncle Sam Day. And now, it’s been so long, apparently anyone with white hair can be an Uncle Sam! “We want you… to celebrate Uncle Sam Day!”
How to celebrate – Dress up as Uncle Sam yourself and parade about the town. Start a write in campaign to see if Columbia can at least be the symbol for our Congress! Try and create your own national symbol like Uncle Sam!