Today in History, March 13: 1852:
The first cartoon image of Uncle Sam appears in “The New York Lantern” newspaper, drawn by cartoonist Frank Henry Bellew. Uncle Sam had been used to represent the US Government for years, becoming most popular during the War of 1812, but Bellew’s was the first cartoon to portray him. The cartoon was critical of the US government, expressing that “John Bull” (representing the British government) was helping the US shipping industry while Uncle Sam stood by and did nothing for the industry. The use of Uncle Sam became popular when Samuel Wilson, who provided meat products to the military during the War of 1812. He stamped the products with “US” for United States. However when someone asked a worker what it stood for, the reply was “Uncle Sam” (for Sam Wilson). The moniker stuck.