J. M. Flagg’s 1917 poster, based on the original British Lord Kitchener poster of three years earlier, was used to recruit soldiers for both World War I and World War II.
Flagg used a modified version of his own face for Uncle Sam, and veteran Walter Botts provided the pose.
World War I Uncle Sam recruiting poster.
Uncle Sam (initials U.S.) is a common national personification of the American government that, according to legend, came into use during the War of 1812 and was supposedly named for Samuel Wilson.
The first use of Uncle Sam in literature was in the 1816 allegorical book “The Adventures of Uncle Sam in Search After His Lost Honor” by Frederick Augustus Fidfaddy, Esq. An Uncle Sam is mentioned as early as 1775, in the original “Yankee Doodle” lyrics of the Revolutionary War.
It is not clear whether this reference is to Uncle Sam as a metaphor for the United States, or to an actual person named Sam.