Uncle Sam Day is observed on September 13 every year. The day commemorates the man behind the iconic image which is synonymous with the United States government. The fascinating nickname for the United States government came to be on September 13, 1766. Uncle Sam is as famous as the stars and the stripes and the eagle that is often used to represent the nation of America. Uncle Sam also makes for a fascinating case study of how an image can successfully represent a bunch of ideals and aspirations. Uncle Sam Day has become a permanent symbol of American strength and idealism.
History of Uncle Sam Day
President George HW Bush declared September 13 as Uncle Sam Day in 1989. This was in honor of Samuel Wilson’s birth anniversary. The day also coincided with the bicentennial celebration of the City of Troy, New York where Wilson lived and worked.
Sam Wilson, a meat packer from New York, supplied barrels of meat to soldiers during the war of 1812. Wilson would stamp “U.S.” on the barrels to identify the meat for shipment. It wasn’t long before the soldiers associated the stamp of the US with Sam Wilson himself and cheerfully started addressing him as Uncle Sam. This nickname soon became popular.
However, the first illustration of Uncle Sam is not the one we know today. Published by Harper’s Weekly in 1861, the young Uncle Sam wore a bandana on his head and a striped vest and is depicted dividing up Virginia like a butcher. Through the years, the image of Uncle Sam would be renovated according to the political climate of the country. But it wasn’t an American who designed the Uncle Sam logo- the credit belongs to German-born illustrator and cartoonist Thomas Nast who designed the long-legged Uncle Sam we know today. Today Uncle Sam can be distinguished by a starred top hat and striped pants. Interestingly this Uncle Sam also made his debut in Harper’s Weekly. During the modern era, Uncle Sam has been recreated in color. The United States Army used the artwork for the “I Want You For The U.S. Army” campaign during World War I. It first appeared on the cover of Leslie’s Weekly.
Uncle Sam Day timeline
Christopher Columbus starts the European colonization of the Americas.
The earliest known personification of the U.S. is as a woman named Columbia.
July 4 is commemorated as American Independence Day.
Uncle Sam Day becomes official.
Uncle Sam Day FAQs
Who is Uncle Sam in real life?
Uncle Sam is based on a New York State businessman, Sam Wilson.
How does the cartoonist portray Uncle Sam?
Uncle Sam, a popular symbol for the United States, is a cartoon figure having long white hair and chin whiskers and dressed in a swallow-tailed coat, vest, tall hat, and striped trousers.
Who is Uncle Sam's female equivalent?
Rosie the Riveter is a loosely based female version of Uncle Sam.
How To Celebrate Uncle Sam Day
Draw Uncle Sam
Trying your hand at drawing the Uncle Sam logo on Uncle Sam Day. You may also create digital art, knit, or sketch the logo.
Do all things American
Uncle Sam Day stands for all things American. Spend the day playing American sports, eating American foods, and watching Hollywood movies.
Learn the history
Read about Uncle Sam’s origin and how the symbol evolved over the years. It’s an interesting slice of American history and worth knowing more about.
5 Facts About America That Will Blow Your Mind
It’s the third-largest country in the world
In fact, America is the size of Europe.
New York wasn’t always New York
Before New York was called New York, it was called New Amsterdam.
Americans love fast food
On any given day, 37% of American adults consume fast food.
Tornadoes are a common occurrence
Three out of four tornadoes that occur in the world happen in the U.S.A.
It’s a hub of innovation
575 out of the 2000 world’s largest companies are based in the U.S.A.
Why We Love Uncle Sam Day
Celebrates American history
Uncle Sam is quintessentially American. Uncle Sam Day is also a celebration of the nation’s history and legacy.
A salute to the American spirit
Uncle Sam Day also salutes the American spirit and idealism. It’s a symbol of hard work, success, and honesty.
Uncle Sam is an iconic symbol. You would recognize it anywhere. This is a good day to study how icons (or logos) become synonymous with a brand.
Uncle Sam Day dates