The Pose Goes On

In keeping with the Uncle Sam tradition, I chose this spin-off as my next subject.

When you think about it, all politicians DO exhibit a characteristic Uncle Sam pose at one time or another, don’t they?

WE WANT YOU - Channeling Uncle Sam's favorite pose, modern-day politicians use it for the same effectiveness, primarily to encourage citizen involvement in politics.

Looking straight at the American public, they point their promises and emphasize alignment with U.S. citizens. Emphatically swearing to change this, better that, and improve everything, they sound good to eager ears.

Just as Uncle Sam recruited millions into the army, politicians today are encouraging involvement in politics by making citizens feel obligated to participate, else be viewed as lackluster patriots.

Uncle Sam wanted citizens to be on board with America and support the land of opportunity. Modern politicians recall his methods to rally support for themselves and lure the American public into feeling engaged in the political world.

With meaningful expressions (although Obama and Clinton don’t achieve the same level of sincerity as Uncle Sam), politicians remind the public that their votes matter, their ideas matter, they matter. And the people, unaware that this showing is mostly a put-on in modern day politics, naively eat it all up.

Uncle Sam’s Origins

According to its creator, James Montgomery Flagg, the portrait went on to become “the most famous poster in the world.”

The portrait to which he referred is of an elderly man with white hair and a goatee wearing a top hat with white stars on a blue band, and red and white striped trousers. None other than “Uncle Sam” himself.

Originally printed in the magazine Leslie’s Weeklyunder the title “What Are You Doing for Preparedness?” the poster was renamed to “I Want You” when it began its career as a recruitment image. Over four million copies were printed between 1917 and 1918, and the image was also used extensively during World War II to encourage men to join the ranks.

AMERICA'S MAN - Uncle Sam is as much an American symbol as the bald eagle or the stars and stripes. He first appeared in World War I army recruitment posters.

Perhaps one of the most iconic American images, “Uncle Sam” bears resemblance to Flagg as well as to Samuel Wilson, who purportedly inspired the character.

As the story goes… during World War I, Sam Wilson was a meat packer living and working in Troy, New York. Each barrel of meat rations was stamped “US” before it was shipped to American soldiers. The soldiers of that time equated their United States supplied rations with Uncle Sam Wilson. The story grew to mythological proportions, resulting in a somewhat fictional image of Sam Wilson emerging as the white bearded, red-white-and-blue clad symbol of America.

THE MAN BEHIND THE IMAGE - The real Sam Wilson, a meat packer in Troy, New York during World War I, who reportedly inspired the character Uncle Sam.

The 87th Congress of the United States adopted the following resolution on September 15, 1961:

“Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives that the Congress salutes Uncle Sam Wilson of Troy, New York, as the progenitor of America’s National symbol of Uncle Sam.”

In terms of defining America, Uncle Sam is right up there with the bald eagle and the stars and stripes.