Uncle Sam, Patriot

unclesamBy Carol Mobley
   The 4th of July inspires one to visualize patriotic images and what is more patriotic than an image of Uncle Sam. As I was looking at Uncle Sam images it made me wonder how Uncle Sam came to be. I hope you find this Uncle Sam article as much fun as I had researching it.

   The earliest known reference to Uncle Sam was in 1775 in the original lyrics of ‘Yankee Doodle’:
Old Uncle Sam come there to change
Some pancakes and some onions,
For ‘lasses cakes, to carry home
To give his wife and young ones.

   Apart from newspapers, Uncle Sam was featured in a book, The Adventures of Uncle Sam in Search After His Lost Honor, by Frederick Fidfaddy in 1816. This is the first book with mention of Uncle Sam.

   Another unsubstantiated version is from The War of 1812. Samuel Wilson provided beef in barrels to the troops. His nickname was Uncle Sam and as was the practice then, his initials and U.S. were stamped into the barrels to identify the source of the meat. When someone asked what the initials on the barrel stood for it was reported that it was Uncle Sam when actually the U.S. stood for United States.

   Many interpretations of Uncle Sam’s appearance were used over the years but it was James Montgomery Flagg who created a likeness that has survived the test of time. Flagg first published his Uncle Sam with white hair, goatee, top hat, blue coat tails and red and white striped pants in the July 6, 1917 issue of Leslie’s Weekly. More than 4 million copies of this image were printed between 1917 and 1918. It was also used during WWII for posters and other advertising.

   Uncle Sam is widely used in postcards that illustrate patriotic dates or activities. Fourth of July is the perfect opportunity to use Uncle Sam to invoke feelings of patriotism. Many different publishers capitalized on Uncle Sam in postcards, shown here is a card c1907 from a series with flag/eagle borders. Bright and colorful, these cards use almost every patriotic symbol they could fit on a 4”x6” postcard.

   Come out to the Denver Postcard & Paper Show July 14 & 15 at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds and see how many different versions of Uncle Sam you can find! Visit www.DenverPostcardShow.com for more information or call Carol or Bill Mobley at 303-761-3755.

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