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Uncle Sam

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Uncle Sam


May came upon us so fast that Sam Wilson who became UNCLE SAM in our American history has had to visit our website in May.  We hope you will enjoy this little bit of Revolutionary War history that started on April 19, 1775 and ended up in the Revolutionary War.  A very interesting story for children of all ages!1


Sam Wilson was just nine years old on the night of April 19, 1775.  Paul Revere had just completed his famous ride as dawn was ending its long shadows over the green in Arlington, then known as the small town of Menotomy.

The Old North Church had given Revere the message, had sent out the warning, that the Red Coats were coming, determined to confiscate the arms of the patriots.  Little Sam was just as excited as a man, his heart pounding in his breast, but, as he was no doubt reminded, he was still just a little boy.  What could he do?  Could he ride all night with Paul Revere?  Out of the question, for all but a few men would find that job too demanding.  Could he be expected to actually bear arms against the Red Coats as just a little boy?  No, he could not be expected to do that.  But, by the Grace of God, he could beat a drum to the cadence that would stir the heart-strings of his older relatives, the neighbors, and his dad.  Arlington was the last town to which the Red Coats would march before they were to arrive in Lexington and be met with the "Shot Heard Around the World."

Even as there are today there was an Invincible Band of Patriots in Menotomy just waiting for the Red Coats.

All they needed was for someone to sound the alarm, and it was this lad, standing in the chilly darkness just before dawn, that was to sound the alarm!  As the Red Coats were advancing as silently as possible, it was a nine year old boy whose drum awoke the patriots and the Red Coats were suddenly surrounded and facing the long rifles.  What is now not widely known is that the British actually ducked into the woods, by-passing Sam Wilson's town believing that there were more patriots there than was actually the case.

When this Drummer Boy was fourteen his family moved to Mason, New Hampshire, to get away from the influence of the secret Red Coat supporters in and around Boston.  While Massachusetts is remembered today for its patriots, there were, then as now, traitors who lived there.  Soon after his family moved to New Hampshire, Sam, at 14, joined the Continental Army.  Now, he was a man.  Sam survived the Revolutionary War and, in 1789, Sam and his brother moved to Troy, New York.  There they started a meat-packing business.  (How does this fit into this story?  Wait and see!)

On October 11, 1812, as America was again having trouble with the Red Coats, Col. Elbert Andersen, Jr. of the War department went to Troy to inspect the meats of Sam Wilson's company, then supplying provisions for the American military.  Stamped on the barrels of the prime beef were the letters "U.S." to indicate that this meat was owned by the United States.  When someone in the Army delegation asked a guard what the "U.S." stood for he was told "Uncle Sam".

"Who is "Uncle Sam"?" asked the military brass.

"Why, itís Uncle Sam Wilson, the man hired to feed the U.S. Army." came the reply.

So now you know who Uncle Sam really was: a man using the private enterprise system to help secure liberty for his fellow Americans --- and who began his patriotic career as just a drummer boy on April 19, 1775.

On the eve of the War of 1812, Uncle Sam Wilson wrote:

"We have tried the bickering, the hatreds, the selfishness, and it has brought us to the brink of destruction.  Canít we ever become united in time?  It starts with every one of us giving a little more, instead of taking and getting all the time."

"Uncle Sam" has always stood for giving instead of getting.  The first cartoons in 1820 were obviously caricatures of Sam Wilson, but showing him as clean shaven and wearing a top hat and tail coat.  The red pants were added during the Presidency of Andrew Jackson and the beard was added during the Lincoln years.  Uncle Sam started out as just a little boy with courage.  He never asked what possible good one small drummer boy could do.  He only did what he could and let God multiply his efforts.  "Uncle Sam" was first a simple drummer boy, then a soldier, and finally, a supplier to freedom fighters.  At last, in caricature, he became an inspiration to Americans who never knew his name.

There will always be "drummer boys" who do their duty and end up becoming heroes.  Our country has had, and still has, lots of those.  It is appropriate that we close April celebrating the battle at Lexington on April 19, 1775, with a simple story about a drummer boy.  And when you think of "Uncle Sam" thank our God for those of our Founders who gave us Liberty.


1. We are indebted to Mr. Nord Davis, Jr., a fine patriot and editor of "Off the Cuff" for this story.  Some editing was done to fit it for our web site. Thank you, Mr. Davis.

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