League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - JOHN BULL AND UNCLE SAM

This image depicts the cover of sheet music for a song celebrating the friendship between America and Britain. The song—entitled “John Bull and Uncle Sam”—was written by William Allan and J.B. Herbert. It was published, in Chicago, during 1898. Online via the Library of Congress.


At the start of the 19th century, relations between the United States and Britain were not good. The American Revolutionary War had ended with the Treaty of Paris, but the Napoleonic Wars of 1803-1815 brought more disputes between the two nations.

People in the United States weren’t happy when the Royal Navy forcibly seized American seamen against their will. Add to that situation boundary disputes, and other contentious issues, and soon the two countries fought, again, on U.S. soil.

Americans refer to that conflict as the War of 1812. At the time - when invading British forces burned Washington, including the Library of Congress and the White House - America was symbolized by "Columbia."

Long before Uncle Sam first pointed his finger at potential WWI military recruits, John Bull was at work in Britain. Wearing his derby hat, atop a rotund body, John Bull epitomized the good life and victories over, among other things, Napoleon’s Navy.

Depending on whether relations between Britain and the United States were bad or good (and they were bad during the American Civil War when Britain outfitted Confederate raiding ships), John Bull and Uncle Sam (like Columbia before him) have either been at odds or in cahoots. (At the end of the U.S. Civil War, Britain sympathized with America over the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Queen Victoria even sent a personal letter to Mary Todd Lincoln, the President’s widow.)

Not until the First World War, when Germany’s Zeppelins were flying over England and America fought by Britain’s side, did the two English-speaking countries solidly cement their relationship.  Since that time, as noted by Tony Blair's 2003 speech to Congress, disputes between them (the last significant disagreement was in 1898) have been rare.

What of those air ships which caused such terror in Britain during World War I? How did they fly? What was their range? Who invented them? Did they depend on anti-gravity propulsion? Had The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen really existed at the time, would its members have been able to prevent the Zeppelins from crossing the English Channel?

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jul 01, 2003

Updated Last Revision: Jul 09, 2019

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"JOHN BULL AND UNCLE SAM" AwesomeStories.com. Jul 01, 2003. Feb 26, 2020.
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