Did you ever wonder how the cartoon figure Uncle Sam originated?

Historians at Troy, N.Y., say it all started there and that he was a real person named Sam Wilson. Friends called him Uncle Sam. Troy has erected a large statue of their famous resident near their downtown Riverfront Park.

Local stories vary. Some say he was a butcher who contracted with the government to supply meat to the Army during the War of 1812. Others say he was a government meat inspector. In any case, he stamped the meat with his initials, “U S,” for “Uncle Sam.”

Cartoons depicting Uncle Sam first appeared 1852. Whiskers and stars were added later. During the first World War, Army Recruiters used his likeness on a recruiting poster with the phrase, “I want you” by the famous artist James Montgomery Flag.

Congress declared Uncle Sam Wilson the progenitor of America's national
symbol in 1961.

Wilson died in 1854 and is buried in Troy at the Oakwood Cemetery, but he has posthumously lent his name to a variety of establishments there: a parking garage, a natural foods store and a bowling alley, to name a few.