Sam and Ed from Troy, NY

Uncle Sam Wilson

This fellow is Samuel Wilson of Troy NY. During the war of 1812, he supplied meat to the US government through a contract with Ed Anderson of New York.  The barrels of meat, shipped down the Hudson and also sold locally to a local army post were stamped "E.A.-US".

Story has it that the US, instead of just referring to the United States, was also nicknamed to be "Uncle Sam's" as in Uncle Sam Wilson's meat. The local Troy paper picked up the story and it spread to the point that anything marked US was an Uncle Sam.  The rest you kinda know; how the cartoonist Thomas Nast supposedly came up with the first caricature of Uncle Sam (Nast was the guy who also drew Santa Claus kinda the way we think of him) but that turns out not to be true. The idea of how we view Uncle Sam seems to have been here and there all during the 19th century.  Here is one from 1897.

A little know fact is that the 13th verse of Yankee Doodle goes like this:

Old Uncle Sam come there to change
Some pancakes and some onions,
For ’lasses cakes, to carry home
To give his wife and young ones

J. M. Flagg's 1917 poster, based on the
 original British 
Lord Kitchener poster of
three years earlier, was used to recruit
 soldiers for both 
World War I and World
War II
. Flagg used a modified version of
 his own face for Uncle Sam, and veteran
 Walter Botts provided the pose.
In all our talk about viral marketing being an invention of Facebook and YouTube - or offshoots there of....well, marketing folks should all be so lucky.