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I Want You For The Us Army

I Want You The Story Of James Montgomery Flaggs Iconic Poster

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I Want You for U.S. ArmyLibrary of Congress

The top hat, the goatee, the burning eyes and that long accusing finger the “I Want YOU!” poster has become one of the most iconic images in American history. Used by the U.S. Army to recruit troops during the First World War, this image transformed the character of Uncle Sam into a stern and powerful figure. His persuasive pose and marked demeanour proved to be a hugely effective tool during the war, and a staggering four million copies of it were printed between 1917 and 1918.While the poster continues to be recognised the world over, its creator’s name has not fared quite as well. Born in New York in 1877, James Montgomery Flagg was a hugely prolific illustrator who at the peak of his career was said to have been the highest-paid magazine illustrator in all of America. Talented from a young age, Flagg had sold his first illustration at the age of twelve. By fourteen, he had become a regular illustrator for Life, and two years after that, he joined the staff of its rival publication Judge.

Wake up America Day

Flagg was an outspoken man who didn’t suffer fools gladly. An unapologetic fan of fast cars and beautiful women, he took great pleasure in his work and, in return, it brought him fame and fortune. He lived the life of a bohemian, mixing with celebrities and sycophants and earning a reputation for being one of the most colourful and cantankerous characters of his day.

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I Want You For The Us Army

By James Montgomery Flagg | Created: 1916

“The most famous poster in the world.”


©Public Domain

Originally published as the cover for the July 6, 1916, issue of Leslie’s Weekly with the title “What Are You Doing for Preparedness?,” this image was used as a political poster. Over four million copies were printed between 1917 and 1918, as the United States entered World War I and began sending troops and matériel into war zones.

Because of its overwhelming popularity, the image was later adapted for use in World War II. Upon presenting President Franklin Delano Roosevelt a copy of the poster, Flagg remarked that he had been his own model for Uncle Sam to save the modeling fee. Roosevelt was impressed and replied: “I congratulate you on your resourcefulness in saving model hire. Your method suggests Yankee forebears.”


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Requirements For Joining The Military

The U.S. military has six branches of service: the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Space Force. The requirements to join are similar for all six. The main differences are in age limits, test scores, and fitness levels. Men and women meet different fitness standards. Besides the requirements listed here, a branch may have other requirements.

Age Limits for Enlisting

You must be at least 17 to enlist in any branch of the active military. The oldest you can be to enlist for active duty in each branch is:

  • Coast Guard: 31

  • Space Force: 39

Some branches have different age limits for their part-time Reserve and National Guard. Visit each service’s recruiting website for its part-time age limits.

Requirements for Enlisting If You Are Not a U.S. Citizen

You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to enlist in the military, but you may have fewer options. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must:

  • Have a permanent resident card, also known as a Green Card

  • Currently live in the U.S.

  • Speak, read, and write English fluently

Educational and Testing Requirements for Enlisting

You must take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test. The ASVAB has 10 subtests.

  • Your scores on four of those make up your Armed Forces Qualification Test score. This score determines which branch you may join. Each branch has its own lowest score for joining.

  • Your scores on all 10 subtests determine which job specialties you qualify for.

Health and Fitness Requirements for Enlisting

S For Joining The Military

I Want You For Us Army Poster

Start by doing some research about your options for joining the military. Learn about the six active-duty branches and their part-time counterparts. Know the main differences between officers and enlisted members. And explore the career fields you can enter for each branch.

Once you know which branch youre considering, contact a recruiter. A recruiter will give you an overview and answer your questions about that service. If youre interested in more than one branch, contact a recruiter for each. If youre interested in joining as an officer, the recruiter will explain any options you may be eligible for.

If you decide to enlist, you will report to a military entrance processing station . Youll spend a day or two completing pre-enlistment steps. These include taking the ASVAB, having a physical exam, meeting with a career counselor, and if youre accepted, taking the oath of enlistment. From there youll receive orders for basic training, usually to start within a few weeks. If you enrolled in a delayed entry program, youll go home and get orders for basic training within a year.

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I Want You For Us Army Poster

Development Of The Character

In 1835, Brother Jonathan made a reference to Uncle Sam, implying that they symbolized different things: Brother Jonathan was the country itself, while Uncle Sam was the government and its power.

A clockmaker in an 1849 comedic novel explains “we call…the American public Uncle Sam, as you call the BritishJohn Bull.”

By the 1850s, the names Brother Jonathan and Uncle Sam were being used nearly interchangeably, to the point that images of what had previously been called “Brother Jonathan” were being called “Uncle Sam”. Similarly, the appearance of both personifications varied wildly. For example, one depiction of Uncle Sam in 1860 showed him looking like Benjamin Franklin, while a contemporaneous depiction of Brother Jonathan looks more like the modern version of Uncle Sam, though without a goatee.

An 1893 article in The Lutheran Witness claims Uncle Sam was simply another name for Brother Jonathan:

When we meet him in politics we call him Uncle Sam when we meet him in society we call him Brother Jonathan. Here of late Uncle Sam aliasBrother Jonathan has been doing a powerful lot of complaining, hardly doing anything else.

In 1976, Uncle Sam was depicted in “Our Nation’s 200th Birthday, The Telephone’s 100th Birthday” by Stanley Meltzoff for Bell System.

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Other Wartime Artwork From James M Flagg

Before the end of 1918, Flagg illustrated nearly 50 drawings, advertisements and posters for Washingtons wartime propaganda department known as the Committee on Public Information . His posters urged Americans to plant victory gardens, save money, join the military or simply work harder for victory. Yet, none of his other works became as widely seen or celebrated as his Uncle Sam poster.

The Return Of Uncle Sam

I.Movies Special: I Want You (for U.S. Army)

The Sam image quickly vanished from public following the 1918 Armistice and Flagg carried on with his successful career as a magazine illustrator. During the interwar period, he composed art for a number of advertising and publishing clients and even sketched celebrities of the day like prizefighter Jack Dempsey and actress Ethel Barrymore. His likeness of appeared on a 1940 postage stamp.

But the story didnt end there for Flaggs Uncle Sam. With America again at war in 1941, the I Want YOU poster was suddenly back in demand. Millions more were printed by the U.S. Army and distributed nationwide. It was evidently just as effective the second time around. President Roosevelt himself praised Flagg, who churned out patriotic imagery right up to VJ Day, as a contributor to the Allied victory.

Flagg, well into his 60s by 1945, continued to produce art after the war and the following year even penned an autobiography entitled Roses and Buckshot. And while Flagg died in 1960 at the age of 82, his stern visage still lives on in the famous likeness of Uncle Sam.

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Kitchener Wants You Too

Interestingly enough, Flaggs quintessentially American image was a crib of a British drawing from three years earlier. The original appeared in a 1914 edition of the British magazine London Opinion. It featured a grim looking Lord Kitchener urging Britons to enlist in the army. This drawing, by Alfred Leete, would itself be adapted into a famous recruiting poster in the United Kingdom.

Flagg had little idea that his Americanized version of the Kitchener illustration would be such a hit stateside. In fact, by all accounts it was a rush job. With no time to commission a model to pose as Uncle Sam, Flagg used his own likeness for the face he composed the drawing while sitting in front a mirror and later added wrinkles, a hat and a goatee.

Both the Kitchener and Uncle Sam posters became instant classics. A host of other nations, including the Russia and even Germany, pinched the concept for their own wartime recruiting drives.

Four Million Copies Of The Poster Were Quickly Printed And Plastered Onto Walls And Signposts From Maine To California Within Weeks Just About Every American Citizen Had Seen It

YOUVE PROBABLY NEVER heard the name James Montgomery Flagg, but its a safe bet that you know his most famous artistic creation rather well.

Shortly after Americas declaration of war against Germany in 1917, the 40-year-old veteran magazine illustrator from Pelham Manor, New York composed a drawing for the United States Armys recruitment campaign. It featured a stern-faced Uncle Sam pointing outward with his right index finger, his eyes glaring directly at the viewer. I Want YOU for U.S. Army announced a caption below in bold red and blue capital letters.

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Where Next

If you found this essay interesting, you might also enjoy exploring these selections:The Portraits of John Singer SargentFlagg’s great hero was the American painter John Singer Sargent . Arguably the greatest portrait painter of his era, Sargent had impressive technical skills, and it is not hard to see the influence that he had on the illustrator.Ludwig Hohlwein’s Heroic RealismIt was not just the Allied Powers that produced propaganda during the wars, and despite his controversial output, it would be remiss not to mention the work of German artist Ludwig Hohlwein . A talented artist, Hohlwein was a member of the Nazi party and designed posters for the NSDAP, the Nazi People’s Welfare and the 1936 Olympic Games.The Portraits of Everett KinstlerAn admirer of Flagg’s work since early childhood, Everett Raymond Kinstler went on to become a devoted friend of the illustrator. Kinstler’s 1952 portrait of the illustrator feels like a truly fitting tribute to a man who played such an influential role in this young artist’s life.

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