Harper’s Weekly – June 29, 1872 (extract)

Nast did not originate the concept of Uncle Sam, but he did create his modern image. He generally made Uncle Sam an active participant in his cartoons rather than just an on-looker. Thin, tall, with an angular face, tousled long hair, goatee, high hat, striped pantaloons, swallow-tailed coat and gaudy vest, his avuncular figure almost always emanated a proper dignity and morality. The exceptions came when Uncle Sam dealt with a shameful political event (as Nast saw it).

The personification of Uncle Sam as the national symbol of the United States was preceded by Brother Jonathan, a derisive caricature created by English cartoonists in the late eighteenth century. “Uncle Sam” as a concept dated to 1810. By the 1860s, Brother Jonathan slowly evolved into Uncle Sam, although his appearance was markedly different from Nast’s portrayal.