Uncle Sam character jug produced in a red colorway by Frankoma Pottery of Glenpool, Oklahoma, in 1976. Uncle Sam, a figure that symbolizes the United States, originated as an unfriendly nickname for the U.S. government during the War of 1812. The term Uncle Sam was derived from the large initials U.S. that Samuel Wilson, a meat supplier, stamped on barrels of salted meat destined for the U.S. Army. It was suggested that the initials stood for Uncle Sam Wilson. The notion that meat shipments came from Uncle Sam led to the idea that he symbolized the U.S. government. The costume of Uncle Sam originated in the cartoons of the 1830s. Today, Uncle Sam is most often depicted as a tall, thin man having a white goatee and wearing a blue tailcoat, red-and-white-striped trousers, and a tall hat with a band of stars. In 1961, Congress passed a resolution recognizing Uncle Sam as a national symbol.