Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam (initials U.S.) is a commonnational personification of the American government or the United States in general that, according to legend, came into use during the War of 1812 and was supposedly named for Samuel Wilson but whose actual origin may be obscure. Uncle Sam represents a manifestation of patriotic emotion.

The first use of Uncle Sam in formal literature, as distinct from newspapers, was in the 1816 allegorical book “The Adventures of Uncle Sam in Search After His Lost Honor” by Frederick Augustus Fidfaddy, Esq. An Uncle Sam is mentioned as early as 1775, in the original “Yankee Doodle” lyrics of theAmerican Revolutionary War. It is not clear whether this reference is to Uncle Sam as a metaphor for the United States, or to an actual person named Sam. The lyrics as a whole clearly deride the military efforts of the young nation, besieging the British at Boston. The 13th stanza is:

Old Uncle Sam come there to changeSome pancakes and some onions,For ‘lasses cakes, to carry homeTo give his wife and young ones.
The earliest known personification of what would become the United States was “Columbia” who first appeared in 1738 and sometimes was associated with Liberty.
With the American Revolutionary Warcame “Brother Jonathan” as another personification and finally after the War of 1812 Uncle Sam appeared.

Kitchener, Britons

However, according to an article in the 1893 The Lutheran Witness Uncle Sam was simply another name for Brother Jonathan:

“When we meet him in politics we call him Uncle Sam; when we meet him in society we call him Brother Jonathan. Here of late Uncle Sam alias Brother Jonathan has been doing a powerful lot of complaining, hardly doing anything else.” (sic)


Furthermore, a March 24, 1810 journal entry by Isaac Mayo states:

weighed anchor stood down the harbour, passed Sandy Hook, where there are two light-houses, and put to sea, first and second day out most deadly seasick, oh could I have got on shore in the hight [sic] of it, I swear that uncle Sam, as they call him, would certainly forever have lost the services of at least one sailor.

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