The most famous image of Uncle Sam is from James Montgomery Flagg’s WWI recruiting poster. But Sam was not the creation of Flagg. Uncle Sam predates Flagg’s poster by over a century and is the product of a different war.
The earliest surviving use of the term is from the Troy, NY Troy Post of 3 September 1813:
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“Loss upon loss,” and “no luck stiring but what lights upon Uncle Sam’s shoulders,” exclaim the Government editors, in every part of the Country....This cant name for our government has got almost as current as “John Bull.” The letters U.S. on the government wagons &c are supposed to have given rise to it.
Copyright 1997-2013, by David Wilton