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A man dressed as Uncle Sam, or his precursor, Brother Jonathan, posed in front of an American flag with a cannon and two young children
Ambrotype, whole plate
Cowan's Auctions, Inc
American History: Premier Auction, 26 June 2018, Lot: 240
A remarkable piece of patriotic history, this full plate ambrotype features a man dressed as Uncle Sam, or his precursor, Brother Jonathan, posed in front of an American flag with a cannon and two young children, the younger of whom he is holding atop the cannon cart and the older of whom is standing in front, with an angry facial expression, waving a smaller American flag. Housed under mat, glass, and preserver.
The adult subject in the photograph is probably dressed as Brother Jonathan, an early national emblem who got his name from a phrase apocryphally credited to George Washington during the Revolutionary War, "We must consult Brother Jonathan." Washington was allegedly referring to Connecticut Governor, Jonathan Trumbull, who secured provisions for the revolutionary troops, even at great personal expense. Brother Jonathan became a parody figure symbolizing New England and capitalism during the early days of the Republic, lending his name to the nation's first weekly illustrated newspaper, The Brother Jonathan. The fictional character wore striped pants, a black coat, and a stovepipe hat. Sometime in the early nineteenth century, Uncle Sam emerged onto the scene as an embodiment of the United States as a whole. At the end of the Civil War, he began to supplant Brother Jonathan in popular culture, but not without borrowing some of his trademark features including his outfit.