Uncle Sam with a Gun

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Illustration of Uncle Sam wearing a top hat and pointing a gun on a white background

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Uncle Sam is a fictional character who represents a personified version of the United States. While the character is fictional, many historians believe Uncle Sam was based on a New Jersey Merchant who supplied beef to American troops during the war of 1812, Samuel Wilson (or Uncle Sam Wilson). Since the 1800s, cartoonists created many versions of their perceptions of America personified. The Image we all know today was created by James Montgomery Flagg in 1917. Flagg's image was used in army recruitment posters for both of the World Wars. The posters featured a patriotic Uncle Sam, wearing patriotic colors, pointing at the audience, and stating “I Want You for U.S. Army”.

In contrast, the image we see here is darker (black and white), Uncle Sam is pointing a gun at the audience, and it was used to protest the Vietnam war. This image can be found on posters and advertisements created by Student Mobilization Committee to End the War in S.E. Asia. One poster features Uncle Sam with a gun, a grieving soldier, and a statement urging the government to bring all the troops home from “Vietnam, Laos, and all of Southeast Asia”. This poster is now housed in the Library of Congress.


National Geographic Society. (2023, October 19). Uncle Sam. National Geographic: Education. https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/uncle-sam/ 

Student Mobilization Committee To End The War In S.E. Asia, S. & Personality Posters, C. C. (1970) March and strike, April 15: U.S. out of Vietnam, Laos, all of Southeast Asia: bring all troops home now. , 1970. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2016649366/.

Catalog ID PO1019