BROTHER JONATHAN/UNCLE SAM
Editorial cartoonists of the Confederation period and even prior to that, revealed a fierce antagonism to any suggestion of annexation to the United States. They personified the United States as “Brother or Cousin Jonathon” who was often attempting to seduce “Miss Canada” or as “Uncle Sam” attempting to do the same thing. In addition to “Miss Canada” Canada was also portrayed as “Jack Canuck”.
The “Uncle Sam” character slowly took over from “Brother Jonathon”. He originated in the United States first appearing in an American lithograph cartoon in 1834. Canadian cartoonists slowly adopted him but portrayed him as a far more disreputable character. It is possible that writer T.C.’s Haliburton’s “Sam Slick the Yankee clock peddler” which appeared in stories in the 1830’s had a lot to do with this, or Haliburton’s portrayal simply shows that Canadian distrust of the U.S. reaches back into our colonial period. John Henry Walker in the 1840’s frequently used this character to depict the United States, in his cartoons. See below.
The Hecklers. Writ. & Ed.., Peter Desbarates & Terry Mosher. McClelland and Stewart Ltd., 1979: 40.
Car., John H. Walker. Punch in Canada, 20 Oct. 1849 taken from The Hecklers: 41.
Here John Walker shows Canadian politicians as a group of naughty children (notice John A. Macdonald seems to be among them) attempting to pawn the British flag to a shop keeper called “Uncle Sam”. This is one of the earliest appearances of this character in a Canadian cartoon. The policeman “Punch” comes from a character in the British magazine Punch. This “Uncle Sam” character predates C. W. Jefferies’ “Sam Slick” drawings by more than a generation, but the two show remarkable similarity.
In the post card below we see another version of a somewhat chastened Uncle Sam.
Car., unidentified. Canadian Private Post Card. Knowles & Co. London Ont. Circa 1907/09