According to tradition this colorful representation of the United States, Uncle Sam, had its beginnings with the life of a Massachusetts man - Samuel Wilson. Sam Wilson was born in Arlington, Mass. (known as Menotomy at the time) on September 10, 1766, making him just eight years old when the fighting took place near his home on April 19, 1775 that marked the beginning of the American Revolution. While still a boy his family moved to Mason, New Hampshire.
It was a later war, the War of 1812, that brought Samuel Wilson his "fame". Sam and his brother had a contract with the government to supply meat to the U.S. Army. The meat was shipped to the army in barrels that were marked with the letters U.S. to show that they belonged to the government. The soldiers at some point began to joke that the letters U.S. actually stood for the supplier of the meat and the name Uncle Sam came into being. The traditional military habit of referring to any item that was government issued (whether stamped U.S. or not) as "belonging to Uncle Sam" was begun.
Many years later political cartoonists began drawing a character representing the U.S.A. who was commonly referred to as Uncle Sam. But Uncle Sam is of course best known for the military recruiting posters of the First and Second World War that show his image with the caption: "Uncle Sam wants you for the U.S. Army". Millions of American servicemen became very familiar with this poster as they volunteered for the U.S. military.
During America's Bicentennial year of 1976 the town of Arlington, Mass. unveiled this monument to Samuel Wilson, the real life genesis for the symbol of our country, Uncle Sam. Theodore Catillo Barbarossa was the artist and sculptor. The monument bears a statue of Samuel Wilson, a graphic depiction of his life and the following inscription at its base:
IN HONOR OF SAMUEL WILSON - A NATIVE SON - BORN NEAR THIS SITE ON SEPTEMBER 10, 1766 - HE BECAME OUR NATIONAL SYMBOL - UNCLE SAM