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Did a real Uncle Sam ever exist?

We all know Uncle
Sam as the bearded character,
who, in his red, white and blue
outfit represents America,
but did a real Uncle Sam ever
And if he did, how did he
come to be the personification
of the United States?

Until recently,
no one was sure of the origins
of the Uncle Sam character,
but recent discoveries
show that Uncle Sam
is based on a man named
Samuel Wilson.

Wilson was an American patriot
who, at age eight, was a
drummer boy whose drumming
at the sight of redcoats kept
the British from advancing on
Montgomery during the
American Revolution.

After the war, Wilson opened
a meatpacking business,
where his fairness lead people
to affectionately refer to him
as "Uncle Sam."

This reputation for fairness
also won Wilson a military
contract to provide meat
to soldiers during the
War of 1812.

To indicate which of
his crates were meant for the military,
Wilson used the initials
"U.S."--as in "United States."
At the time,
however, the abbreviation U.S.
had not yet become
popularly associated with the
United States,
so many soldiers assumed that
the initials stood for "Uncle Sam."
Before long, all government food
was said to have come from
Uncle Sam,
while government issued supplies
were said to belong
to Uncle Sam,
and the soldiers even
referred to themselves
as Uncle Sam's men.

To the army, Uncle Sam
represented America.
The public at large was
introduced to Uncle Sam
a little at a time.

At first he appeared in newspaper
illustrations as a
clean-shaven figure wearing
a top hat and black tailcoat.
Abraham Lincoln inspired
the addition of the beard.
Cartoonists dressed him in the
nation's colors to make him
look more patriotic.
With each change,
Uncle Sam became more
national figure and less
Samuel Wilson,
until few remembered that
one was based on the other.