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Interpreting the Evidence

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

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Era:

    The Great Depression and WW II (1929 - 1945)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    World War II

  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    New York State
    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Uncle Sam Poster, "I'm Counting on You!" 1943 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Uncle Sam Poster, "I'm Counting On You!" 1943
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.
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.