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Uncle Sam, a popular symbol for the United States, is usually associated with a cartoon figure having long white hair and chin whiskers, and dressed in a swallow-tailed coat, vest, tall hat, and striped trousers.
See the fact file below for more information on the Uncle Sam or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Uncle Sam worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Uncle Sam is a common national personification of the United States.
- According to legend, it came into use during the War of 1812 and was supposedly named for Samuel Wilson.
- But before Uncle Sam, the earliest known personification was a woman named Columbia, who first appeared in 1738.
- She was sometimes associated with another female personification, Lady Liberty.
- Her use declined as a national personification once she became the mascot of Columbia Pictures in the 1920s.
- The name is linked to Samuel Wilson, a meat packer from Troy, New York, who supplied barrels of beef to the United States Army during the War of 1812.
- Wilson’s packages were labeled “E.A – US.” When someone asked what that stood for, a co-worker jokingly said, “Elbert Anderson and Uncle Sam.”
- He stamped the barrels with “U.S.” for United States, but soldiers began referring to the grub as “Uncle Sam’s.”
- The local newspaper picked up on the story and Uncle Sam eventually gained widespread acceptance as the nickname for the U.S. federal government.
- As early as 1835, Brother Jonathan, another personification came to rise among the American people.
- He was made a reference to Uncle Sam, implying that they symbolized different things: Brother Jonathan was the country itself, while Uncle Sam was the government and its power.
- In the late 1860s and 1870s, political cartoonist Thomas Nast began popularizing the image of Uncle Sam.
- Uncle Sam did not get a standard appearance, even with the effective abandonment of Brother Jonathan, until it was recreated by James Montgomery Flagg during World War I.
- Flagg’s depiction of Uncle Sam was shown publicly for the first time, on the cover of the magazine Leslie’s Weekly on July 6, 1916, with the caption “What Are You Doing for Preparedness?”
- More than four million copies of the Uncle Sam were printed between 1917 and 1918.
- During World War I, this portrait of Sam with the words “I Want You For The U.S. Army” was used as a recruiting poster.
- Flagg’s image was also used extensively during World War II, during which the U.S. was codenamed “Samland” by the German intelligence agency Abwehr.
- There are two memorials to Uncle Sam, commemorating the life of Samuel Wilson: the Uncle Sam Memorial Statue in Arlington, Massachusetts; and a memorial near his residence in Riverfront Park, Troy, New York.
- In 1989, “Uncle Sam Day” became official. A Congressional joint resolution designated September 13, 1989 as “Uncle Sam Day”, the birthday of Samuel Wilson.
UNCLE SAM and POLITICS
- Since Uncle Sam represented the United States, cartoonists have had freedom to draw political satires using his image.
- To some people, he is friendly, cheerful, and reminds many of a kindly old grandfather. But when the times call for it – as in periods of war – his mood changes, and he appears grim and serious.
- Uncle Sam also refers to America’s deep interest in foreign affairs and sometimes even the privacy of its own people.
- On September 15, 1961, the US congress recognized Mr. Wilson as “the progenitor of America’s national symbol of Uncle Sam.”
- Through the years, there have been many spin-offs on the poster. Uncle Sam’s image went from being a successful propaganda tool to a widely used advertising gimmick.
- Various campaigns have used the popular image and accompanying slogan to promote issues from climate change to women’s rights.
- However, not all of the rhetoric surrounding Uncle Sam has been positive. Modern political cartoonists use his image to represent what they feel is wrong with America.
- He has been depicted as an overweight and money-hungry miser and as a battery-operated robot being controlled by Congress.
- Authors have also portrayed Uncle Sam as a vagrant and bum, illustrating the downturn of American civilization.
Uncle Sam Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Uncle Sam across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Uncle Sam worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Uncle Sam, a popular symbol for the United States, which is usually associated with a cartoon figure having long white hair and chin whiskers, and dressed in a swallow-tailed coat, vest, tall hat, and striped trousers.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- My Uncle Sam
- Their Uncle Sam
- Editorial Cartoon
- Drawing Uncle
- I Want You!
- Uncle Sam’s Allies
- Uncle Sam’s Strength
- Called to Serve
- A Simple Reminder
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Link will appear as Uncle Sam Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, April 1, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.