From Colombia to Uncle Sam: The History of the American Symbol
Storms and hurricanes, floods and earthquakes, volcanoes and forest fires, avalanches, blizzards and searing frosts, droughts and sandstorms, epidemics and sudden illnesses - the origin of all these phenomena could not be explained, and therefore they inspired terror and fear in our ancestors, led them to despondency and despair. In search of help and protection, they turned their eyes to idols and gods, magicians and sorcerers, princes and emperors. In the hope that someone will be able to become their benefactor, intercessor and patron, will provide support, explain, save and heal. Belief in these unlimited possibilities led in many countries of the world to search for national symbols that could change over time or give way to others. Most often, they were gradually transformed, acquired new features, became the spokesmen for national mentality, hopes, traditions, but more often - new times. America was no exception in this series. You can even trace an approximate series of transformations of these symbols: Columbia, Brother Jonathan, Johnny Rab, Billy Yankee, Lady Liberty and, finally, Uncle Sam.
In this regard, a special term is most often used - national personification. It implies a personified image of a nation or state, which has traditionally been used in culture and state propaganda for centuries. This word has long-standing Latin roots and consists of two parts: the first is persona, or "person", and the second is facere, which translates as "to do." Those. personification is the creation of a person. Initially, this term was used to denote the ability to endow inanimate objects or natural phenomena with human properties. In other words - "personify" them. Even in Ancient Greece and Rome, this definition could easily be applied to the creation of images of titans, gods, or magical animals who could speak, think and empathize like ordinary people. Therefore, the concept of personification is most often found in religious treatises, myths and fairy tales, fiction, animated and fantastic films. As the great Voltaire once joked, "If God created us in his own image and likeness, then we were able to answer him in the same way."
Since those ancient times, the language of fables came to us and the "aesopes", in which animals and birds freely communicated with each other, like people. It should be noted that the literary tradition of the use of personalized imagery continues to live today.
In the storyteller Andersen, the persistent tin soldier pines for his dancer, like a real lover. In Gorky, “the sea was laughing”, and in Mayakovsky in the port:
"Boats pressed into the cradles of the entrances
To the nipples of iron mothers.
In the ears of huge steamers
The anchor earrings were burning.
And who among us does not remember the crow, who Edgar Poe speaks with the main character:
“The bird answered clearly, and at least there was little point.
I wondered with all my heart at her response then.
And who will not marvel at, who with such a dream will become akin,
Who will agree to believe to somewhere when -
He sat over the door talking without hesitation, without difficulty
The raven with the nickname: "Never."
Therefore, there are many nations, for which the use of images of birds and animals has been fixed as a national personification. One of the most famous among them is Francewith her "Gallic rooster".
The history of this symbol is quite interesting. The fact is that in ancient times on the lands of modern France, Belgium and Northern Italy lived Celtic tribes. Roman historians have brought to us the description of their warriors: tall, stately and slender men, with beards and stacks of red or white hair on their heads, which fit in some very special way, and resembled from a distance the crests of roosters. One can imagine how the Romans were amazed by their appearance, somewhere around the beginning of the first century AD Perhaps because of their appearance, but most likely, due to the special fighting qualities of character, the Romans began to call the Celts Gauls. Since then, the Latin word "gallus" means not only "gall", but also "rooster". Over time, the French began to mint his image on coins, banners, shields, handles of blades and swords. Perhaps this is just a beautiful legend. But the French still believe that the rooster is a symbol of struggle and battle, independence, freedom and cockiness, as well as, to some extent, arrogance. Therefore, the National Olympic Committee of France made it its emblem.
And national teams Australia in football, tennis and cricket they use in their attributes a national symbol - "Boxing kangaroo"... With such a strange name, he should be grateful to the kangaroos themselves, who, during a fight with the enemy, push him away with their front paws, and with their more powerful hind legs, they inflict crushing blows, from which the enemy receives serious damage or even dies. The sight of such a fight gives the impression that the kangaroo is “boxing” - hence the famous image of the “boxing kangaroo”. At first, it was used by wandering artists and circus performers. Then he began to be exploited in silent films and numerous cartoons, which finally connected him with Australia. During the Second World War, the "boxing kangaroo", thanks to its qualities: the ability to take a blow, resilience and willingness to win, became a symbol of the Royal Australian Air Force, appearing on the fuselages of aircraft. Later, this symbolism was also used by the Royal Navy.
Of course, there are still many similar national symbols in many countries: the Unicorn of Great Britain, the Abyssinian lion of Ethiopia, the Swedish elk, the Belarusian bison and many others.
However, in this type of symbolism the figure is the most interesting for us. Russian bear - personifying Russia. It existed in national folklore from time immemorial. On a par with a hare, a cunning fox, a vicious wolf, etc.
Since there were no elephants or lions in the Russian forests, the bear was the largest and most important beast here, a kind of “master of the taiga”. Therefore, in Russian fairy tales and epics, he was given a special place. Gradually, his image appeared on coins, seals and emblems in different parts of Russia. But turning it into a national symbol served as a tricky case. In 1526, the winter was exceptionally cold. It was at this time that the Austrian ambassador Sigismund Herberstein had to cross the state border with Russia. Later, in his book “Notes on Muscovite Affairs” published by him, he would describe what he saw: “Bears, instigated by famine, left the woods, ran everywhere in the neighboring villages and broke into houses. Seeing their crowd, the villagers fled from their attack and died of cold outside the house with a pitiful death. ” The authority of the ambassador was so high that in the next century a lot of memories of Russia appeared in Italian, English, Polish, German, Dutch and other languages where this story was reproduced.
Thus, a local incident that occurred on the border of Russia in the harsh winter in the 16th century turned into a popular legend about bears running around the streets of Russian cities. And permanently entrenched in historical memory. A little later, as the taming of wild animals, it became clear that bears are easy to train. And then the towns of Russia and Europe were filled with a huge number of buffoons with bears, as well as circuses, without fail including work with bears in their repertoire, where bears acted as acrobats, jugglers, equilibrists, clowns, and later roller-runners, cyclists and even motorcyclists . Since the trainers' performance took place most often under the auspices of the “Russian circus”, this even more “connected” in the minds of Europeans the concepts of “Russian” and “bear”. Therefore, over the centuries, this image was associated by them with aggressiveness, strength, cruelty and backwardness. In recent decades, as opposed to them, such features of a bear as awkwardness, good nature, ingenuousness gradually began to be cultivated in consciousness. And now it rises above the Moscow stadium, under the sad song of Pakhmutova, the symbol of XXII games - a happy, smiling Olympic Bear. And in the cinemas of the world, with ever-increasing success, the show of the animated series “Masha and the Bear” continues, about the adventures of a little girl who has made friends with a big and good-natured beast.
But stereotypes over the centuries have been so firmly entrenched in consciousness that it will take a lot of time and effort to change them in any way.
However, the image of animals or birds in the national symbolism of different countries is not very common.
The most widespread appeal to the female image. And this is easily explained: the famous psychologist Sigmund Freud, like the American researcher Harry Sullivan, noted the special role of the mother in the process of personality formation. From this comes the assumption that the son often chooses a bride similar to his mother. The familiar appearance and manner of communication from childhood are a signal to him what exactly come from here his safety and protection. And the one who looks like a mother will understand and console everything. So gradually, this image begins to appear in the national symbolism. At first, it is in the image of "Motherland". Or in the form of a beloved, most often associated with the ideas of youth, hopes, liberties of spirit and expectations of change. It may also be presented as a Virgo, associated with the idea of purity and purity.
Female images as symbols of the nation
It is known that among the 12 gods of Ancient Greece there were three women: Hera - the wife of the almighty Zeus, Aphrodite - his daughter, and the most revered among them - Athena. The story of her birth is completely unusual - she was born from the head of Zeus in full military uniform. Therefore, she was considered primarily the goddess of just war and wisdom. This warrior maiden was also the goddess of knowledge, arts and crafts; the patroness of cities and states, sciences and craftsmanship, intelligence, skill and ingenuity. In addition, it was believed that she protected seafarers and shipbuilders, was a mentor to weavers, metal and wood craftsmen. She was a healer and protector of married women.
This most beloved and respected inhabitant of Olympus was portrayed, as a rule, as a tall fair-haired woman with classic facial features, big gray eyes and perfect posture. Unlike other goddesses, we always see her in armor: with a spear and a shield in her hands, as well as a helmet with a high crest on her head. Of course, his visor was raised. After all, everyone should have seen and enjoyed her divine beauty. Sometimes, an owl or a snake was placed at the feet of Athena, as symbols of wisdom, and in her hand a small sculpture of Nike was the personification of Victory. It is believed that it is from the figure of the goddess Athena that the depiction of female images in the symbolism of different countries of the world begins.
Soon the civilization of the Ancient Greeks was replaced by the Roman, and then the empire of Charlemagne, who spread the ideas of Christianity throughout Europe. And because for a long time in her group identity was not that “Italian” you or “Dutchman”, but you are a Catholic or a heretic. Later, Catholic or Protestant. But after the bloody thirty-year religious war of 1618-1648, when the boundaries of states were clearly defined, there is a fundamental shift in the search for national identity, culture, language and historical community. What will later be called "national priorities."
Great Britain. Britannia. Lady britain
This was especially evident in Great Britain. There appeared its own national flag - "Union Jack", then the national anthem - "Rule Britain", glorifying not so much the monarchy as the community, or the nation. And then the image of the symbolic image of the country - the Lady of Britain. Its ancient name, implying a feminine gender, was given to the country by the Romans. With the light hand of Queen Victoria, the figure of Britain began to be depicted in a helmet, with a trident and a shield in his hand, as a symbol of the victor and founder of a huge sea power. And the lion, perched at the feet, seemed to confirm its power and significance. On British coins, she is depicted sitting on a chariot, heading forward into the future.
Sweden. Moder Svea (Mother Sweden)
As a rule, depicted as a powerful warrior with a shield in her hands, standing next to a lion. Svea is the national female name, which derives from the outdated grammatical form of the name of a people and country (Svea - Svea rike - Sverige). Unfortunately, Svea is not the goddess of the ancient Vikings. This is a collective image that personifies the national personification of Sweden.
As a national symbol, it appeared in 1672, thanks to the Swedish diplomat Anders Leijonstedt. In his youth, he composed a poem, which he called "The Triumph of Svei" (Lycksaligheets Triumph). And later 25 years, another Swedish poet Gunno Dahlstierna (Gunno Dahlstierna) borrowed this image as a patriotic symbol in the work, glorifying the Swedish king Karl XI. From this moment on, Svei becomes a widely used patriotic symbol of Sweden: a warrior standing guard over her homeland with a shield, a sword and a lion lying at her feet. She put the sculptures and monuments, and its bas-reliefs carried on the banknotes and coins.
Iceland. Fjallkonan (Fjallkonan).
As a national symbol, it embodies the aspiration of Icelanders for independence, the beauty and nature of the country. The "Lady of the Mountains," as she is often called, is depicted as fair-haired (like most Icelanders), wearing a blue or black dress and a light-colored headdress. She was first described in the poem Ofsjónir by Eggert Olafson (1752), but her name became widely known thanks to the poem Eldgamla Ísafold by Bjarn Torarensen. From that moment on, she became the most famous symbol in Icelandic poetry. After the founding of the Icelandic Republic in 1944, reading the poem "Lady of the Mountains" on Independence Day (June 17) becomes a tradition. Then a beautiful woman is chosen, who, wearing a festive Icelandic national costume, in the image of the Lady of the Mountains, recites this work, under warm applause from all the participants of the holiday.
The symbol of the republic since the Great French Revolution. It was then, in September of the 1792, that the National Assembly of France decided that the new state’s press should have an image of a woman with a spear, and a Phrygian cap on her head. This headgear was known from the time of the Roman Empire, where liberated slaves wore it. Since then, Marianne has been portrayed as a young woman in this cap, personifying the national motto of France, Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood. Many French artists recreated it in their works. One of the most famous among them is Delacroix's Freedom on the Barricades, painted under the impression of the 1830 revolution of the year. Marianne's profile is not only on the state seal, it is also depicted on French standard postage stamps.
And the sculptural images of Marianna are a mandatory attribute of the institutions of government, courts, municipalities and so on. Initially, these were busts, with a reflection of a certain collective image, but since 1970, new rules have been introduced. The committee of mayors of French cities, as a prototype of Marianna, began to elect one of the famous beautiful women of the country. The first of these in 1968 was the movie actress Brigitte Bardot.
Switzerland. Helvetia (Helvetia)
The name of the female symbol of the country comes from the Latin name for the north-western part of modern Switzerland, in ancient times inhabited by the Helvetians. Called the mother of the Swiss people, she is usually depicted in a flowing dress, with braided hair, holding a spear and a shield decorated with the national flag. The wreath on her head symbolizes the Confederation.
In 1672, Johann Caspar Weissenbach showed his new play Eydgnoßsisches Contrafeth auff-unnd abnemmender Jungfrawen Helvetiae, in which he created the image of Helvetia, the figure of subsequent identification of all Swiss citizens, regardless of their language and religious affiliation.
And on the postage stamps and coins of the country, the neutral name of the country began to be used - Helvetia, so as not to give preference to any of the four state languages. For the same reason for license plates cars was chosen neutral country code CH, or Confoederatio Helvetica (Helvetica Confederation).
At the end we will remind you a sculpture Motherland is callinginstalled in Russia in 1967 (Volgograd), and Motherland in Ukraine (Kiev) in 1981
And here we have the image of the National personifications of France, Russia and Britain on the poster of the times of the First World War.
America. Columbia (Miss Colombia).
It is believed that her name was first spoken officially in 1697 by the Chief Justice of Massachusetts, Samuel Sewell. According to other sources - during the debates of the British Parliament in 1738 - it became more and more obvious that the settlements of the new colonists on the distant mainland should have been given some name. With the light hand of the famous cartographer Mercator, the mainland itself has been named America for a long time. The mistake, and its true discoverer, Columbus, has been known for a long time. So why not bring into circulation the feminine transformation of his name - Colombia? So one of the most prestigious universities in the country since 1784 received a new name - Columbia. As well as the sailboat on which Captain Robert Gray began exploration of the inland waters of British Columbia (now Washington and Oregon) in May 1792.
Since then, until our time, this name was exploited quite often. Starting from the founding fathers, when George Washington called Colombia a government district. By the way, the river flowing alongside in Washington state also bears the name of Columbia, as well as the lake from which it begins its journey. This is the name of 15 of large cities in the country, not counting the large number of small villages and other settlements, and in them the names of many streets and avenues. It is impossible not to name the mountain, the glacier, the plateau and the two islands, as well as many enterprises proudly bearing this name. It should be recalled that the command module of the Apollo 11 spacecraft, which had landed on the Moon, was also called Colombia, just like the first Shuttle, built in 1975 – 1979.
This name has become so firmly entrenched in the minds of the country's inhabitants that, by analogy with Britain, the Americans did not hesitate to call their female symbol Colombia. However, to the greatest regret, her appearance and image was neither officially recorded nor enshrined in tradition. She was most often depicted as a young woman wearing classically draped garments adorned with stars and stripes (the most popular version is a red and white striped dress and a blue blouse), and a scarf or belt adorned with sequins with white stars. Her headdress also changed frequently, sometimes including feathers reminiscent of an Indian headdress, or a laurel wreath. But most often it was a Phrygian cap. These differences in its appearance can easily be traced to the change in the logo of the American film company CBC Film Sales Corporation, which soon after its formation decided to use the image of Columbia in its advertising, even changing its name to Columbia Pictures in 1924. Colombia was originally depicted on the logo with a laurel wreath, olive branch and shield, recalling the image of a Roman soldier. Then a torch appeared in her outstretched hand, probably inspired by the Statue of Liberty, and a Phrygian cap on her head, but the shield disappeared. In the following versions, she was already erected on a pedestal, and looked like a beautiful young woman with a strict hairstyle, in a snow-white tunic, with a striped or blue cape falling from her shoulder.
The sculptural images of the female symbol of the country are also different: from a proud warrior and defender, whose six-meter-high figure crowns the dome of the Capitol building in Washington, and the figures of the victor and the winner, the so-called. “Golden Lady”, set up in Jackson Park in Chicago, before mourning for her dead sons at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Today it is difficult for us to imagine what a huge role the figure of Colombia played in the minds of Americans for a long time: from the beginning of the country's wars of independence until the 20s. She was present in speeches of politicians and presidents, on the pages of newspapers and magazines, in political cartoons and pamphlets. Colombia rejoiced, joked, criticized, resented, hoped and grieved with all the people. Artists, writers and journalists have used it to inspire millions of people in the struggle for American ideals. After all, the main anthem of the country in those years was the song Hail Columbia ("Long Live Columbia"), which then ceded leadership to the Star-Spangled Banner, remaining the march of the Vice President of the United States of America. It was first performed under the name "Presidential March" (music by Philip File - Philip Phile, lyrics by Joseph Hopkinson) was first performed in 1789, at the inauguration of George Washington. Not with the name of the leader, as it will be later in Germany, or in Russia ("Heil Hitler", or "for the Motherland, for Stalin"), but with the words "Hail, Columbia" American soldiers went to the battles of the First World War. “Long live Colombia, happy land. Long live the heroes who fought and shed their blood in the struggle for freedom ... ”, so sang the young Americans leaving for the front. This symbol of America - Colombia, was then associated with activity, power, power, the desire for expansion, i.e. with those qualities that are traditionally treated as masculine. And therefore, over time, American sympathies began to gradually lean more and more towards male symbols. But for a long time they existed at the same time.
At least, the famous cartoonist Thomas Nast, in his publications, gave her even more space than Uncle Sam. But as time went on, her popularity and attractiveness were intercepted first by her brother Jonathan, and then by her uncle Sam. A place of the "female" symbol of the country confidently took the Statue of Liberty, located for centuries at the entrance to the harbor of the New York port. Oddly enough, but definitely unfavorable The use of Colombia as the logo of the same-name film studio played a role in this. As we have said, they are constantly changing and "improving" her image. As a result, she turned into an amazingly beautiful, slim woman, with an elegant haircut and a cape casually slung over her shoulder. But the self-asserting, ambitious and rushing nation of leadership, wanted to have as its symbol not just a pleasant woman, but an energetic, business-like, tough and strong-willed figure that would embody the best features of both Britain and Marianna. Such a woman was embodied by Bartholdi in the Statue of Liberty. So, gradually giving up the position, Colombia eventually gave way to the Statue of Liberty and Uncle Sam.
Male images as symbols of the nation
Of course, in the world there are a huge number of male figures claiming to become the leading symbols of the national personification of the country. However, if female images to some extent originating from the goddess Athena (after all, Colombia also rarely removes its snow-white tunic) most often have the functions of patroness, protector and intercessor, counselor and protector of the earth and hearth, then “male”, as usually perform a completely different function. These are some characters that most often come from the pages of epics, or literary works, are carriers of folk wisdom, all kinds of folklore, jokes, poems, rude humor, or anecdotes. Such “simpletons” who fall into different difficult situations and rework, but always find a way out of them, depending on their national mentality and characteristics. We will tell about some of them.
Germany. Deutscher Michel (Michel)
Of course, there are many legends about the birth of this character. Authorship is attributed to Sebastian Frank, who allegedly launched it into circulation in his collection of proverbs and sayings (1541). There is also an opinion that the glory of the combat commander of the times of the thirty-year war (1618-1648) Hans Michael von Oberteraut, nicknamed "Michael Germanicus", contributed to its spread. However, the most plausible is the assumption that during the period of the Middle Ages, when Germany adopted Christianity, the archangel Michael was considered the patron saint of the empire, and therefore very many boys received this name at baptism. Over time, it became perceived by foreigners as a stereotype (like Ivan in Russia). In those days, in the country, the difference between educated wealthy people and ordinary people was observed more and more sharply: illiterate citizens and peasants. They were perceived by the nobility, and even by the middle class, a sort of near-minded simpletons, who, despite the stupidity, are able to endure many hardships and hardships. Thus, Michel gradually established an image of the simple-minded, stupid, limited and not interested in politics. Bosch, beer club, cabbage eater, etc. Therefore, the essential attributes of the appearance of Michel are a simple or nightgown, with a nightcap (or cone-shaped with a tassel), indicating a docile nature and purely peaceful philistine features. And although during the Second World War and later, this image turned out to be unclaimed, but recently it has again appeared on the pages of comic magazines and in political satire.
Canada. Johnny Canuck (Johnny Canac)
In 1869, a cartoon came out in Canada, in which this amazing hero first appeared - Jenny Canac. This word itself - canuck, is associated with those people who work in the forest. Hence, this “Canadian lumberjack” has corresponding attributes: a beard, a plaid shirt or a sweater, a slanting sazhen in the shoulders, and, of course, an ax. Later, when this symbol is used in hockey, the ax will be replaced with a stick. In the entire history of the existence of this symbol of the national personification of the country, it has been changed several times. But most of all (almost 30 years) was used in political animation, where Jenny Canak acted as a lumberjack, farmer, rancher or soldier.
During the Second World War, as a captain, Canac will wear red and white tights, and a Canadian maple leaf will appear on his helmet. As we have said, in the middle of the last century, the well-known professional hockey club “Vancouver Canadians” will decide to use its figure as its emblem, while wearing it in hockey uniforms. And in the 1995 year, when Canada Post released a series of Canadian postage stamps, Johnny Canac was wearing a bomber jacket, leather headgear and boots. So time, constantly running forward, changed the image of this Canadian hero.
England. John Bull (John Boole)
In 1727, a pamphlet by the English publicist John Arbuthnot, The Story of John Bull, was published here, a witty allegory intended to ridicule the Duke of Marlborough and to dampen the British desire for war with France. It is believed that the idea of its creation was suggested to the author by the writer Jonathan Swift, an active member of his “Martin Pisaki Club”. And the name itself - John Boole, was not chosen by the author by chance. To personify the image of England, the name of the court organist of Queen Elizabeth, author of the English anthem "God Save the King" was used. The image of John Bull created by Arbuthnot became especially popular after the premiere of the play by John Coleman the Younger "John Bull, or the Family Life of an Englishman" (1803), staged at the Haymarket Theater.
Since then, in numerous cartoons and sketches, John has been portrayed as a stocky, red-cheeked, red-haired fat man with a sly face - a patriot who despises everything non-English. At the same time - rude, stubborn, but gifted with common sense. With the indispensable sideburns, in a red frock coat, white trousers or leggings, a short top hat or a caper. Sometimes with a spyglass. During the reign of King George, the character was dressed in a red vest and a royal blue coat. He was often accompanied by an English Bulldog - a dog that perfectly suits John Boole in character and appearance. For the British themselves, John Boole was the personification of the strong, healthy and business sides of the national character, first of all - energy, honesty and decency. Other peoples saw in this symbolic figure not only positive features, but also negative ones characteristic of the British colonialists: greed, arrogance and arrogant attitude towards other peoples. Nevertheless, his literary or pictorial incarnations are a vivid illustration of a very special English character and English humor.
Remember how in a poem by the Soviet children's poet Vadim Levin, about an English professor who, slowly observing his colleague drowning in the river, before coming to the rescue, asks: “Excuse me, Buhl, Now is July, is the water warm? Bul-bul, - said Professor Bul, Which meant "Yes".
America. Uncle Sam (Uncle Sam)
Looking at these joint cartoons of John Boole with Uncle Sam, one gets the impression that one of the main tasks of the artists creating the image of Uncle Sam was to find a character diametrically opposed to John Boole. Long and short, thin and thick, with and without a goatee, with long disheveled hair and short hair. At the same time, with a high and low top hat, and clothes that include national symbols. But it is not so. Because the image of Uncle Sam was not born from scratch. Some of the details from the image of Brother Jonathan, a folk hero who was associated with New England, during the period of the Revolutionary War, were transferred into it.
Brother Jonathan (Brother Jonathan)
On the pages of newspapers and magazines, in political cartoons and posters, he was usually depicted dressed in striped trousers, a dark coat and a hat-cylinder. It is believed that his prototype was Jonathan Trambull (1710 — 1785), the governor of Connecticut, friend and associate of General Washington during the War of Independence. General Treasurer of the Continental Army. There is a legend that allegedly George Washington, when he had problems with the supply or recruitment of the army, always said "Now you should consult with Brother Jonathan." This phrase soon became “winged”, and army jokers made it especially popular. Once in the newspapers, the image of Brother Jonathan was first cultivated as a character who knows the answers to all questions and is able to solve any problem, and then began to be perceived much more widely. Be that as it may, but in the period from 1783, and until the Civil War, this image was very popular among the Americans of New England.
Johnny Reb And Billy Yank (Johnny Reb and Billy Yank)
But time passed, and gradually the contradictions between the North and the South began to grow. And by the beginning of the Civil War, the mentality of southerners and northerners was already significantly different from each other. American history professor Grady McWeeney of Texas Christian University writes: “In the pre-war period, many observers describe Southerners as more hospitable, generous, outspoken, courteous, lazy, desperate, warlike, wasteful, impractical and reckless than northerners, who , in turn, were more frugal, perceptive, disciplined, awkward, proactive, greedy, cautious, humble, ambitious, peaceful and practical than the people of the South. Naturally, Brother Jonathan, New England's favorite, could no longer single-handedly express all the feelings and aspirations of the warring parties. Therefore, during this period his image “bifurcates”, and he dissolves into the figures of new heroes: “southerner” Johnny Reb and “northerner” Billy Yank (hence the offensive nickname “Yankee” that has come down to our times). Their figures became so popular that the war itself began to be called the War of Johnny and the Yankees, and their images were used for propaganda and political purposes. In this regard, the song by Gene Autry - Johnny Reb And Billy Yank is especially interesting:
"Oh, Johnny Reb and Billy Yankee
Do not you want to go back to fishing
Someone to the north, and someone to the south
Return to your old home circle
To your Virginia home, Johnny Reb
And a house in old New England, Billy Yankee. ”
And they, in the end, tried to “return” to the united country after the war, then they were no longer in demand there. A new figure was needed, already expressing common values and ideals.
And she is reborn, like Brother Jonathan, in an army environment. And the following happened: in 1812, in connection with the outbreak of the Anglo-American War, when the demand for meat products in the army increased significantly, Secretary of War William Eustis signed a one-year contract with an entrepreneur from Troy (a town in eastern New York) - Samuel Wilson , for the supply of a large party to the troops. The choice fell on Wilson due to the fact that by that time he already had a successfully operating enterprise for the production of meat products. Its workshops and berths were located on the banks of the Hudson River, from where products could be quickly delivered to the army, and to military warehouses in Greenbush. Samuel's duties also included checking the quality of meat for the Northern Army, packing it, accounting and labeling all barrels of products. For patriotic reasons, he marked the kegs with the stencil “US,” which stood for United States. However, most of the soldiers from the units stationed there were residents of nearby places, and many even from Troy itself. They perfectly knew not only the products manufactured by Samuel Wilson, but also himself. And therefore, we were firmly convinced that the letter abbreviation "US" on the packaging of meat barrels means nothing more than Uncle Sam (Uncle Sam). And therefore, if somewhere there were delays in the delivery of meat products, then the young fighters confidently declared: "Do not worry, Uncle Sam will not let you down!" So involuntarily, from the very beginning of the birth of the national symbol, a direct relationship was established between the figure of Uncle Sam and the government of the country.
By the way, the veracity of this legend was on September 15, 1961, officially confirmed by the decision of the US Congress, in which it was stated that Samuel Wilson is indeed the "progenitor" of the national symbol of America - "Uncle Sam". In this regard, in two cities of the country you can find monuments to this real historical character: in the city of Arlington (Massachusetts) - where he was born, and in Troy (New York) - where he worked and passed away (statue and tombstone monument). And various figurines, busts, bas-reliefs and all kinds of advertising crafts, depicting the already symbolic Uncle Sam, can be seen in huge numbers in many cities of the country.
However, if we look closely at the image of Samuel in these two original monuments, we will find that two completely different people are embodied there. On the first: a figure with a stern, intelligent face and hair neatly laid out in the middle. And on the second - an image close to the poster: a man with pointed features, a beard, and long flowing hair. This is due to the fact that the image of the real Samuel Wilson has not survived. And therefore, it should have been created. The first magazine versions of the "portrait" of the hero began to appear in the press in the first half of the 1870th century. However, it is believed that the basis of the now famous image of Uncle Sam was created by the cartoonist Thomas Nast (Nast Thomas) in the XNUMXs. In doing so, he used several details from the image of Brother Jonathan, giving him the portrait features of the first and only President of the Confederation during the Civil War, Davis Jefferson. Nast was a well-known master at that time: he was at the origins of the creation of the genre of American political drawing and animation, was the author of the emblems of the US Republican and Democratic parties - a donkey and an elephant, and was the first to draw the American Santa Claus - Santa Claus.
Therefore, the image of Uncle Sam created by him was immediately accepted, both by the public and by his colleagues. He passed away in 1902, and therefore, at the beginning of World War I, this baton was confidently taken by James Montgomery Flagg, who in 1917, commissioned by the American government, painted a poster that became not only the peak of his stellar career as an artist, but also led the US Army has tens of thousands of volunteers. His Uncle Sam, whose strong-willed face appeared tough, focused and exacting, from the poster addressed the whole nation: "I Want You 'for a US Army" ("I wait for you in the American army").
The image was so strong and impressive that it was repeated during the Second World War, and continues to be cultivated until today. In creating this poster, he used the style of the portrait of Uncle Sam, proposed by Nast, but he used his own face as a model, having deliberately aged it. In search of an optimal solution for his poster, he found the work of Alfred Leet, an English colleague, who at the very beginning of World War I (1914) portrayed unceremoniously “poking” his finger at the viewer of the Minister of War Lord Horace Kitchener with the words: “British! Kitchener needs you. Join the army of your country! God save the king! ”This poster made such a strong impression on him that James Flegg decided to use his idea in his work. And yet, the image created by him turned out to be so expressive and memorable, colorful and emotional (from whatever point you looked at this poster, the demanding Uncle Sam will always look you right in the eyes) that he received universal recognition and was replicated many times not only in America, but far beyond.
So, for example, this work by Flagg served as the basis for the creation by Soviet artist Dmitry Mor (aka Orlov) of the famous Russian poster of the Civil War - "Have you volunteered?", Thereby continuing the series of "posters with a finger." Like Flagg, Moor painted himself in the form of a Budenovite, thereby giving this work a more personal character. Later, he recalled her like this: “This poster shows a Red Army soldier pointing with his finger, his eyes are directed directly at the viewer and turn in the direction of him. I have collected a lot of feedback on this poster. Some told me ... that they were ashamed not to sign up as volunteers. " At the beginning of World War II, Moor updated the old poster - now the soldier was with a rifle, in a 1938 helmet and new pouches, while retaining the bright red revolutionary color. And soon this idea was borrowed by the artist - Irakli Toidze, who created the most famous Soviet poster of the Second World War - "The Motherland Calls!" (1941).
And here is a German poster from this series: “You should also join the Reichswehr”, created in 1919 for the purpose of recruiting into the armed forces of the Reichswehr. (Engelhard -JU)
Or British, at about the same time: “I want my old land back. Join the Jewish Legion! ”
But back to Uncle Sam. Time is inexorably changing lives, and with it changes the national symbol. During the wars, he called for help to the country, and go to the front. In difficult times, he actively participated in political life, enraging many opponents of the country. There, abroad, he was portrayed as greedy, implacable and angry. But not all. It is said that when, after the pogroms, the Kishinev Jews gathered in the plundered synagogue and discussed the issues of emigration, the most optimistic among them confidently declared: “What are you saying? Of course, we must go! Will Uncle Syoma be able to leave us in trouble? ”
And although life taught many generations of Americans to fight and rely only on themselves, but somewhere in the depths of their souls there was always a hope that if absolutely insoluble problems arose, then Uncle Sam would still come to their aid.
Nowadays, he is already depicted in modern clothes, in a tuxedo or even in special clothing. True, the top hat continues to be an integral part of his wardrobe. Although now he appears more and more often on the stages of musicals, in computer games, cartoons or on the screens of cinemas - most often in a humorous or parody embodiment. Gone are the wars in Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf, so are the days of McCarthyism, Witch Catching and the Cold War. But life is moving forward, completing its next round, and no matter how paradoxical it may seem, somewhere on the horizon military winds arise again, the silhouettes of "cold wars" and "catching witches" appear again. This means that again and again on the pages of newspapers and magazines, on TV screens and in numerous "networks", the figure of Uncle Sam, so well known to us, becomes in demand.
In 1989, the country's congress decided to celebrate on September 13 each year Uncle Sam Day - Uncle Sam Day. This date was not chosen by chance, since it was "tied" to the true birthday of Samuel Wilson - September 13, 1766. And if you have a desire to meet not with the poster Uncle Sam, or very similar to him from the Washington Wax Museum, but with the real one - alive, in no less modern clothes, then you should take part in this holiday.
After all, there you will encounter completely unforgettable sensations. Looking at the action taking place there, you perfectly understand that in front of you Uncle Sam is played by well-trained actors. But it doesn't really matter. After all, for you, Uncle Sam is not at all a living person, to whom you can now approach, touch, and maybe even, having plucked up the nerve, pat on the shoulder, or take a joint photo. This symbol is a personified image of the state, its "machine", services and institutions. And the poster that you can read next is about this. A long index finger points straight at you, as does a stern and demanding gaze. “Did you think that Uncle Sam hasn't been with you for a long time? But he's here. He remembers and knows about you! " It cannot be otherwise. He is always with us. An aging but cheerful Uncle Sam is a symbol of the country!
This article by ForumDaily author, journalist Leonid Rajewski is part of the “History of American Symbols” series.
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