When it comes to representing America, Uncle Sam has been holding down the fort since the 19th century. Seeing that goatee and top hat will make anyone stop what they’re doing and salute the flag. Before Sam took over being the official symbol of the US, there was another.

The true first lady

In 1738, America wasn’t actually America just yet. The Thirteen Colonies were alive, and the population was growing by the day. When it was time to give the region some sort of symbol, they created one. Unlike Uncle Sam, the first symbol of America was a lady.

With years of violence surrounding the region, they were on the hunt for a calming, nurturing figure.

Hail Columbia, happy land

In 1770 they decided to name this new badass representation of the country Columbia. The name was originally a nickname many Europeans gave the United States. Columbia was basically Wonder Woman‘s mother. Wearing a gown made of the American flag, Columbia was placed in various advertisements throughout the years.

Over time, the name Columbia became a major part of American discourse. Columbia became the name of 19 cities in the United States, including the capital of South Carolina. Popular New York City college, Columbia University, changed its name to pay tribute to the symbol in 1784. Columbia quickly became that one underground band you liked that blew up and started getting nonstop radio play.

The gem of the ocean

While people praised Columbia for years, the actual symbol was traded to Columbia Pictures in the 1920s. Around this time, Uncle Sam took his spot as the official symbol of the country, with Lady Liberty following suite.

Aside from Columbia Pictures, the symbol is still a major part of American culture today. The 2013 video game Bioshock Infinite features her as an angelic figure in the city of Columbia. Many newspaper artists still use Columbia in various political cartoons. For historians, she hasn’t aged at all in nearly 250 years.