I Want You For U.S. Army

The famous James Montgomery Flagg “I Want You” Army recruitment poster, from Gary Borkan posters, as part of Lifelines story on recruitment posters. Photo by Gary Borkan

I Want You For U.S. Army, 1917

James Montgomery Flagg (American, 1877-1960)

Lithograph on paper

Miami University Art Museum purchase

Of the 46 posters J.M. Flagg produced during World War I, none rivaled the popularity of I Want You For U.S. Army. In fact, Flagg’s poster is one of the most iconic images in all of American poster art. His Uncle Sam became the new standard for the national personification. Little known is that Flagg used his own visage in lieu of a model, aging himself and adding the emblematic goatee. Four million copies of his Uncle Sam were printed for posters, magazines and newspapers. Within a month, nearly every American saw the poster. Flagg’s design stood out amidst the crowd of other posters through the simple, yet confrontational nature of the design. The image was inspired by Alfred Leete’s 1914 poster depicting Lord Kitchener, the British Secretary of State of War, above the words “wants you,” pointing at the viewer.

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