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The Story Behind tells the extraordinary history of the ordinary. Everyday objects are more closely examined, from their ancient beginnings through the present—all within 5-10 minutes.

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Jul 3, 2017

We talked about mascots in The Story Behind Sports Superstitions and Curses and about how they’re thought to bring a team luck. Well, mascots aren’t just for sports. The one we’ll be talking about today is basically a mascot for the United States, although you probably won’t see him performing cartwheels during halftime of the Olympics or something.

This particular mascot went something of a personification of the country in political cartoons to being the representation of the U.S. government, and, although we won’t talk about it, was the title character of a 1996 slasher movie with the tagline: "I want you … dead."

I’m your host, Emily Prokop, and this is The Story Behind Uncle Sam.

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Media:

Music for Makers

Other Episodes of The Story Behind Referenced:

The Story Behind Sports Superstitions & Curses

The Story Behind Surfer Lingo

The Story Behind Christmas Traditions

The Story Behind Secret Ballots

Sources:

Uncle Sam - Encyclopedia Britannica

1813: United States nicknamed Uncle Sam - History.com

Was there a real “Uncle Sam”? - History.com

9 Things You Might Not Know About Uncle Sam - Mental Floss

John Bull and Uncle Sam: Four Centuries of British-American Relations - Library of Congress

Artist Biography: Joseph Ferdinand Keppler - Smithsonian Library

When America Was Female - The Atlantic

Columbia Pictures - Closing Logos Group

Sorry Uncle Sam, but Warrior Goddess Columbia Was Our Coolest National Mascot - Slate