Friday, July 4, 2014
UNCLE SAM Postcards
Independence Day seems like the ideal time to look at some Uncle Sam postcards. Above, we see him with a woman in a patriotic outfit, who may be Columbia or Lady Liberty. Columbia was an early symbol of the United States who lost prominence, leaving the main responsibility for serving as a symbol of our country to Uncle Sam. There is some controversy about where the name Uncle Sam comes from - either from Samuel Wilson, a meat packer from Troy, N.Y. who supplied soldiers or from the initials U.S. that stand for United States. The city of Troy claims Uncle Sam as a hometown hero. These two postcards with black backgrounds were copyrighted in 1907 and are divided back flat designs.
It was the famed illustrator James Montgomery Flagg who gave Uncle Sam his enduring image with white hair, white goatee, and a top hat with a star-studded band. The Flagg artwork below of Uncle Sam "I WANT YOU" appeared on the cover of a July, 1916 issue of the magazine Leslie's Weekly, an image that became extremely popular throughout WWI and was used again for recruiting in WWII.
Below we see two more postcards of him in slightly different outfits - an artist's rendering and a real photo postcard of a man wearing an Uncle Sam costume.
Does Uncle Sam represent our country as a whole, our government or our military? Hard to say, since postcards can be found of him in all these roles. Below, we see him on an embossed Lounsbury postcard postmarked 1908 with golden details observing what seems to be a group of boys firing a cannon. He has written on the paper before him, By the grace of God, Free and Independent.
In the postcard below, postmarked 1910, Uncle Sam surveys the Great White Fleet that Theodore Roosevelt sent around the world, The Nations Pride of our military.
Our last postcard below is from France, where he seems to represent both U.S. military strength and American resolve. We still find Uncle Sam in contemporary images - no matter his beginning, he has proven an enduring American figure.
Happy Independence Day!