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Uncle Sam is the fictional embodiment of the United States of America, heavily used in political cartoons, propaganda, and other anthropomorphic depictions of the country. The term "Uncle Sam" dates to the War of 1812, and the earliest depiction to 1852. It was primarily in the post-Civil War era, however, particularly in the illustrations of Thomas Nast, that the familiar image of the tall, goateed Uncle Sam (borrowing aspects of Abraham Lincoln) completely supplanted earlier anthropomorphizations of America (such as Columbia and Brother Jonathan).
Uncle Sam became particularly iconic in World War I, through a series of famous recruitment posters in which, finger outstretched, he encouraged citizens to join the military.