Propaganda Research- James Montgomery Flagg’s Uncle Sam Recruitment Poster
This piece of propaganda was created by James Montgomery Flagg in 1917 and was a poster to encourage recruitment in the United States Army during World War I. It showed Uncle Sam pointing at the viewer with the caption “I Want YOU for U.S. Army”. Over four million copies of the poster were printed during World War I and it has been named “the most famous poster in the world”.
Flagg’s poster was inspired by Alfred Leete’s 1914 British war poster, which featured the Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, pointing his finger and declaring “Your Country Needs YOU.”
Preferring to work with a live model as inspiration, Flagg himself donned a hat and fake beard to serve as the model for Uncle Sam to save the hassle of hiring a model.
Uncle Sam is one of the most popular personifications of the United States. However it’s origin is still somewhat unknown. Some historians associate the name with a meat packer who supplied meat to the army during the War of 1812 and was seen to be a man of great fairness, reliability, and honesty, who was devoted to his country, qualities now associated with the typical idol of “Uncle Sam”.