Uncle Sam and Old Glory: Symbols of Americaby Delno C. West, Jean M. West, Christopher Manson
Have you ever wondered why the American colors are red, white, and blue? Did you know that our national mascot was almost a turkey rather than a bald eagle? Can you trace your family's ancestry back to the Mayflower Pilgrims, or perhaps to a cowboy of the Old West? Do you think you would like to spend Thanksgiving watching footraces rather than televised/i>… See more details below
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Have you ever wondered why the American colors are red, white, and blue? Did you know that our national mascot was almost a turkey rather than a bald eagle? Can you trace your family's ancestry back to the Mayflower Pilgrims, or perhaps to a cowboy of the Old West? Do you think you would like to spend Thanksgiving watching footraces rather than televised football or eating venison and oysters rather than turkey? Many of us have played with Lincoln Logs, but did you know that they were named after President Abraham Lincoln, who was born in a log cabin?
Symbols have always played a crucial role in shaping our identity as a country. The American buffalo, the Statue of Liberty, the Mayflower, and Uncle Sam himself have all helped convey to the world the American values of liberty and democracy.
Delno and Jean West's lively prose unveils the stories behind America's symbols, complemented by Christopher Manson's handsome woodcuts, which perfectly convey the rugged individualism of the American spirit.
Read an Excerpt
Perhaps you've seen him in parades or at a Fourth of July picnic. He sometimes appears at patriotic gatherings clad in a long blue coat, a vest, and red and white striped trousers. He normally wears a beard and a tall striped and starred hat, and he appears to be dressed to look like the American flag. Who is he? He is "Uncle Sam," a cartoon symbol for the United States of America.
There is much debate about who Uncle Sam was and how the symbol came to be. The first mention of him was in a Troy, New York, newspaper article that appeared on September 7, 1813. It seems that a certain meat-processing plant owner named Sam Wilson began stamping the meat sold to the United States Army during the War of 1812 with the letters "U.S." The meatpackers at his plant called Sam Wilson "Uncle Sam," and the story was that the initials "U.S." really stood for "Uncle Sam" Wilson rather than "United States." The nickname stuck, and from then on everything belonging to the United States government began to be called "Uncle Sam's." Soon, cartoonists latched on to this idea, and they began drawing varieties of Uncle Sam in political cartoons. The most famous depictions of Uncle Sam were on World War I and World War II military recruiting posters. Today, no patriotic gathering would be complete without an appearance by someone dressed as Uncle Sam.
Text copyright © 2000 by Delno C. West and Jean M. West
Illustrations copyright © 2000 by Christopher Manson
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