Uncle Sam's Hat Celebrates Diversity

Photo of Uncle Sam's Hat stamp
USPS Stock Photo
The 2017 design on a postage stamp issued by the United States Postal Service deviates from years of tradition surrounding Uncle Sam. The additional ounce rate stamp shows eight Uncle Sam's Hats, each in familiar red, white and blue stars and stripes atop eight different faces, each with a different racial hue.

This is the first representation of Uncle Sam's hat on U. S. stamps to embrace diversity. All previous designs have shown a patriotic white male or just an empty hat.

For more than 150 years, Uncle Sam has been a popular nickname for the United States government around the world. Political cartoons and newsprint have popularized and refined the caricature.

The History Channel traces the origin of the term Uncle Sam to the 1800's. During the War of 1812, Samuel Wilson, a meat packer, supplied the government with beef in barrels marked U. S. So, soldiers called their grub "Uncle Sam's." The media adopted the term and broadened the meaning. Over the years, movies, songs and artists embellished Uncle Sam image, until, during World War II, a poster of a  stern white male recruiting servicemembers became the iconic caricature. Later, in 1961, Congress quelled speculations on who the original Uncle Sam was when it credited Samuel Wilson, the meat packer.

Now, long after the original Uncle Sam stuffed beef barrels and sparked imaginations, eight small Uncle Sam hats on stamps attest the changing character of the U. S., as a country of diverse immigrants, with none more prominent than another. That egalitarian ideal may be printed on government papers, but it may take longer to accomplish in the experiences of everday citizens.

For more information
United States Nicknamed Uncle Sam

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