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Uncle Sam Poster, "I'm Counting on You!" 1943

Poster of Uncle Sam

Poster of Uncle Sam

New York State Library, NYSL_Poster_UncleSam
Document Description
Uncle Sam Poster, "I'm Counting On You!" 1943
What does Uncle Sam represent?
How did Uncle Sam get his nickname?
Why would Uncle Sam be warning the readers of this poster not to discuss troop movements?
Historical Challenges
Find five Uncle Sam posters with different images of Uncle Sam and place them in chronological order according to the date of publication.
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Research the life story of Sam Wilson. Write a persuasive paragraph arguing whether or not he is a good representative of the United States.
West, Delno C., and Jean M. West. Uncle Sam and Old Glory: Symbols of America. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2000. ISBN: 0689820437
Yanuck, Debbie L. Uncle Sam. Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2004. ISBN: 073682295X

About this Activity


Lesson Topic:


Historical Context
Uncle Sam is a character that symbolizes the United States government.  Historians are not sure if Sam really existed, but some believe that Uncle Sam was based on a real person named Sam Wilson, a butcher in Troy, New York who shipped meat to the soldiers during the War of 1812.  These shipments were packaged in large barrels with “U.S. beef” stamped on the side.  It was said that the soldiers joked that "U.S." stood for Uncle Sam (Wilson), meaning that the meat came from Uncle Sam, which was really the United States government.

The real Sam Wilson did not look anything like the poster of Uncle Sam.  Over time, artists and political cartoonists created the image of Uncle Sam that we know today.

This particular war poster was used in 1943 during World War II.  The purpose of the poster is to tell citizens not to discuss any information concerning the war, so as not to jeopardize national security. 

Essential Question
How does war impact a society?
Check for Understanding
Identify the main idea of this poster and evaluate the impact on American society.