During the War of 1812, the United States Army received supplies from a variety of organizations and individuals, one of which was Samuel Wilson, a meat packer from Troy, New York. He labeled his barrels of beef with “U.S.” to indicate U.S. government property, but soldiers referred to the “U.S.” as Uncle Sam (Wilson). A local newspaper picked up the story on September 7, 1813, and this identification eventually led to the widespread use of the nickname. On September 15, 1961, Congress adopted the following resolution, making Uncle Sam the official symbol of the United States:
“Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring) that the Congress salutes ‘Uncle Sam’ Wilson of Troy, New York as the progenitor of America’s National symbol of ‘Uncle Sam.’”
Over time, many political cartoonists began creating an image for Uncle Sam. The most famous was James Montgomery Flagg, who clothed Uncle Sam in a tall top hat and blue jacket, and Thomas Nast, who gave Uncle Sam a white beard and stars-and-stripes suit. Both portraits became incredibly popular and contributed to the “I Want You For The U.S. Army” recruitment poster.
Today, the people of Troy are proud to call their city “The Home of Uncle Sam.”