As America pays taxes to … Uncle Sam … Who is he?
The name is linked to Samuel Wilson, a meat packer from New York, who supplied beef to the United States Army during the War of 1812. The barrels were stamped with “U.S.” for United States, but soldiers referred to meat as “Uncle Sam’s.” A local newspaper picked up on the story and Uncle Sam eventually became the nickname for the U.S. federal government.
Around 1870, political cartoonist Thomas Nast began drawing the image of Uncle Sam. The German-born Nast was also credited with creating the modern image of Santa Claus as well as coming up with the donkey as a symbol for the Democratic Party and the elephant as a symbol for the Republicans.
The most famous image of Uncle Sam was created by artist James Montgomery Flagg, where Uncle Sam wears a tall top hat and blue jacket and is pointing straight ahead at the viewer with the text “I Want You For The U.S. Army.” It was used as a World War I recruiting poster. The image was first used on the cover of Leslie’s Weekly in July 1916 with the title “What Are You Doing for Preparedness?” The poster was widely distributed and has subsequently been re-used numerous times with different captions.
In September 1961, the U.S. Congress recognized Samuel Wilson as “the progenitor of America’s national symbol of Uncle Sam.”
Information from History.com