Uncle Sam

DEFINITION of 'Uncle Sam'

A nickname dating back to 1812 used to refer to the U.S. government. The term is said to come from "Uncle Sam" Wilson, who provided barrels of beef to the U.S. Army during the War of 1812. The barrels were stamped "U.S." to indicate that they were government property, but they came to be associated with Wilson's nickname, and eventually "Uncle Sam" became a nickname for the U.S. government.

BREAKING DOWN 'Uncle Sam'

The most popular visual representation of Uncle Sam is a cartoon image drawn by James Montgomery Flagg in 1916 of a white-haired, bearded, Caucasian male dressed in a patriotic top hat and jacket for a U.S. Army recruitment poster with the words "I Want You." The term is commonly used by financial writers, often in conjunction with discussions of income taxes.