How did Uncle Sam get to be a symbol for the United States?
Uncle Sam was a real person from Massachusetts named Samuel Wilson. He served in the Revolutionary War, then owned a successful meatpacking business, where he developed a reputation as being friendly and fair. This earned him the nickname “Uncle Sam.” In the War of 1812, Wilson supplied troops with pork and beef, and he marked the boxes destined for the troops “U.S.,” for United States. Some people thought it meant Uncle Sam, and soldiers and civilians soon began to apply this term to anything supplied by the federal government. The caricature of Uncle Sam with which we are familiar developed over the next century and a half.