“Our popular image of Uncle Sam (As seen in the image on the top of this page) was defined in large part by Thomas Nast, who was one of the most popular artists of the 1800’s. Nast was also responsible for our popular images of Santa Claus, the Republican Elephant, and the Democratic Donkey. Nast’s first illustration of Uncle Sam appeared in the November 20, 1869 edition of Harper’s Weekly.
“While Uncle Sam does not show the top hat and striped pants that we have come to associate with him, he shows something much more important in this image. In this image, Uncle Sam is a symbol of unity and equality. The image shows many people welcomed at Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving table . . . Black, White, Chinese, and Indian, as wall as many others are seen sitting around the table. The image is captioned, “Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving Dinner; Come One, Come All, Free and Equal.” The image clearly shows that Uncle Sam was originally a symbol of freedom, and equality. Uncle Sam was a unifying symbol.
By 1876, Nast’s Image of Uncle Sam had evolved into one that we would recognize today. The image to the left is the cover of the November 24, 1876 Harper’s Weekly. The image features Uncle Sam with striped pants, a long overcoat, and a top hat. In this image, the top hat also has feathers. This image deals with Reform of the Civil Service System.
While the exact image of Uncle Sam has evolved over the years, one thing remains constant. He is a symbol of the best ideals of the United States. From the earliest days until today, he has stood for Freedom, Equality, and Justice. While as a Nation, we do not always perfectly achieve these ideals, Uncle Sam remains a poignant symbol and reminder of the goal and objective . . . One Nation, Under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All.”
Uncle Sam is a super patriotic Yankee who practices social equality. He is a symbol of the Second Republic that was defined in the Reconstruction era by the German immigrant cartoonist Thomas Nast.
Note: I really should embark upon a career as a nineteenth century historian.