From Academic Kids
Uncle Sam is a national personification of the United States dating from the War of 1812. Common folklore holds that his origins come from the men of an army base in Troy, New York, who would receive barrels of meat stamped with the initials U.S. The soldiers jokingly referred to it as the initials of the meat supplier, Uncle Samuel Wilson. The 87th United States Congress adopted the following Resolution on September 15, 1961 - Resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives that the Congress salutes Uncle Sam Wilson of Troy, New York, as the progenitor of America's National symbol of Uncle Sam. A monument marks his birthplace in Arlington, Massachusetts. However, counter-arguments to this theory have been raised by some (for example, see Cecil Adams' article at The Straight Dope (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a3_003.html)) so the precise origin of the term may never be proven.
Most earlier representative figures of the United States such as "Brother Jonathan" were overtaken by Uncle Sam somewhere around the time of the Civil War. The female personification "Columbia" has seldom been seen since the 1920s. He was first used in a political cartoon, drawn by the famous Thomas Nast. Today, with the possible exception of the Statue of Liberty, the character of Uncle Sam is probably the most easily recognizable personification of the United States.
The term "Uncle Sam" can also be used as a synonym for the United States of America, especially the United States government. Phrases like "Uncle Sam needs ... " are often used by critics and satirists to create the image of the United States as a human being, with human wants and desires.
Uncle Sam is usually drawn as a tall, elderly man with a Stars and Stripes top hat, red white and blue morning coat, and striped pants. This style was originally popularized by cartoonist Thomas Nast and is now the "universal" image of the character. In recent years some cartoonists have drawn a more "modernized" youthful version of Uncle Sam, although the distinctive top hat always remains.
The Uncle Sam character is often used in editorial cartoons as a physical representation of America. To American cartoonists he is largely considered an honorable figure, and is usually treated with respect, often representing the nation's conscience.
In some other countries, especially those that the United States is hostile toward and/or vice versa has an Anti-American sentiment, Uncle Sam is often portrayed as a much less respectable figure, and the personification of American arrogance and/or imperialism.
During World War I a very famous recruitment poster that depicted Uncle Sam pointing at the viewer with the words "I WANT YOU" appearing below, created by artist James Montgomery Flagg in 1917, painting a modified version of his own face for Uncle Sam. The poster was inspired by a similar WWI poster issued in the United Kingdom, picturing Lord Kitchener in a similar pose. Flagg's poster was revived and reprinted for recruitment during World War II. The poster has been repeatedly parodied, with many different variations on the simple slogan.
Comic book versions
In the Golden Age of Comic Books of the 1940s, creator Will Eisner created a superhero version of Uncle Sam for Quality Comics. In that version, Sam was a mystical being who was the spirit of a slain patriotic soldier of the American Revolutionary War, but now appeared in the world whenever his country needed him. The character was used for a few years from 1940 to 1943 when it was discontinued. DC Comics acquired the character as part of its acquisition of the Quality characters and now occasionally appears as a supporting character, leader of the Freedom Fighters.
His origin was rewritten somewhat in The Spectre, where he was the third Uncle Sam, the first having been created in 1870, when the Spirit of America resurrected a political cartoonist who had been killed by Boss Tweed, and the second having fought in World War I. The new origin also states that, before this the Spirit of America had taken human form as the Minuteman, Brother Jonathan and, during the American Civil War, had been split in two as Johnny Reb and Billy Yank. It was also stated he had disappeared at the end of World War II, invalidating any previous appearances since then (although most of them had already been invalidated by the Crisis on Infinite Earths).
In The Spectre the Spirit was resurrected in a new form, called the Patriot, but has since reverted to Uncle Sam.
In an alternate DC universe, Uncle Sam becomes Green Lantern. Wonder Woman gives him Abin Sur's ring, as Hal Jordan was killed in this reality and wasn't able to take the ring.
DC Comics published a graphic novel called Uncle Sam, however this is not set in the DC Universe, and features a very different version of the character. This Uncle Sam is a ragged old man who is tormented by visions of visiting historical episodes and modern aspects of the United States at its worst. In particular, the bloody crushing of Shays' Rebellion is considered a particularly disillusioning moment for the character which suggested for him that the USA's professed ideals have never been seriously respected since the nation's beginning.de:Uncle Sam eo:Uncle Sam fr:Oncle Sam id:Paman Sam da:Uncle Sam he:הדוד סם