Uncle Sam Day

Most Americans know that their country is nicknamed Uncle Sam, but not as many know why or how the U.S. got this nickname. Fortunately, they can find out by taking a little bit of time and celebrating September 13th as Uncle Sam Day. This is a holiday in which Americans can show some appreciation for one of the most recognized American symbols—not only in the U.S. but all around the world.

The History Of Uncle Sam Day

No one really knows when Uncle Sam Day started being recognized and celebrated as a holiday, but we do know why it’s celebrated on September 13th. It’s celebrated on this day because this is when a local newspaper picked up on the nickname for the U.S., “Uncle Sam,” and ran a story about it. Eventually, the story circulated all over the U.S., and people from coast to coast started referring to the U.S. as their Uncle Sam.

But why did the U.S. get the name in the first place? Well, it all has to do with a meat packer named Samuel Wilson. He ran a business out of Troy, New York, that was supplying the U.S. Army with barrels of beef during the War of 1812. He stamped the barrels with the initials “U.S.” for the United States, but soldiers began calling the barrels of food Uncle Sam’s beef. And once the local paper caught wind of it, this nickname was spread far and wide.

It wouldn’t be until the 1860s, however, that the iconic look of Uncle Sam would be refined. This is when a political cartoonist named Thomas Nast began playing with the design of Uncle Sam. Interestingly enough, the German-born Nast not only invented the iconic image of Uncle Sam but also created some other iconic images including the image of Santa Claus, the Donkey for the Democratic Party, and the Elephant for the Republican Party.

In September of 1961, the Congress of the United States officially recognized Samuel Wilson as the progenitor of America’s national symbol, Uncle Sam. This is probably why people have begun to celebrate this holiday every September 13th.

Observing Uncle Sam Day

Uncle Sam Day can be observed in several different ways. You can take the time to deck out your home with Uncle Sam memorabilia, you can dress in red, white, and blue clothing, or you can learn more about the two men responsible for Uncle Sam, Samuel Wilson and Thomas Nast. While you’re observing this holiday, be sure to spread the word about it on the internet using the hashtag #UncleSamDay. Educate everyone out there about how this American symbol came into existence.

When is it?
This year (2024)
September 13 Friday
Next year (2025)
September 13 Saturday
Last year (2023)
September 13 Wednesday
Culture & History