Stephen Can Rensselaer The only known image of Samuel Wilson (Wikipedia)


Lived: 1766 - 1854 (aged 88)

Hometown: Troy, New York


During the War of 1812, a man turned into a legend. Uncle Sam became an enduring symbol for all U.S. troops. This man was Samuel Wilson, a meat packer from Troy New York, who supplied the Army depot at Watervliet Arsenal New York with rations.  Wilson’s wooden barrels were stamped U. S., in broad capital letters, indicating that the food was the property of the United States and intended for American soldiers serving on the northern border with Canada.  Teamsters, carrying the rations to the troops along rutted tracks, identified the supplies as a gift from their Uncle Sam.  The arsenal’s artillery wagon and limbers, marked U. S., were considered to be from Uncle Sam as well.  And so it on went through the years of military campaigns it seemed everything came special delivery from Uncle Sam.

Congress, in 1961, recognized Sam Wilson’s contribution as the progenitor of the national symbol, Uncle Sam.