1989 25c Constitution Bicentennial

# 2421 - 1989 25c Constitution Bicentennial

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U.S. #2421
1989 25¢ Drafting of the Bill of Rights
Constitution Bicentennial Series

  • Issued for the 200th anniversary of the drafting of the first 10 amendments to the US Constitution – the Bill of Rights
  • Part of a series of 24 stamps commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Constitution

Stamp Category:  Commemorative
Series: 
Constitution Bicentennial
Value: 
25¢, first-class rate
First Day of Issue: 
September 25, 1989
First Day City: 
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Quantity Issued: 
191,860,000
Printed by: 
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: 
Lithographed and engraved
Format: 
Panes of 50 in sheets of 200
Perforations:  11

Why the stamp was issued:  To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the drafting of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution – the Bill of Rights.

 

About the stamp design:  The Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) briefly considered creating a booklet of 10 stamps, one for each of the 10 amendments in the Bill of Rights.  However, they agreed they didn’t need to make that many new stamps.  Plus, it would be a lot of type on the stamps and they would be difficult to illustrate.  They also knew they didn’t want portraits of the men associated with the Bill of Rights, as that would seem to honor them more than the document.  They decided that something graphic and symbolic might be the best option.  One representative confessed, “It was one of the toughest design assignments we’ve given to anybody.” 

 

The artist who rose to that challenge was Lou Nolan.  He turned in an image of a stylized eagle against a black background holding a quill pen in its beak, spelling out “Bill of Rights.”  In front of part of the eagle’s body stood a shield emblazoned with the red, white, and blue stars and stripes.  CSAC had only minor changes and hired a professional calligrapher to write “Bill of Rights” for the stamp. 

 

First Day City:  The First Day ceremony for this stamp was held at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Initially, the USPS mistakenly said that the amendments were written in Philadelphia’s Congress Hall, when they were actually drawn up at the First Congress in New York City’s Federal Hall.  The USPS later said that Philadelphia was still a fitting location, because the idea of a guarantee of rights was first brought up during the 1878 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.  Plus, they felt Independence Hall was “such a natural place to hold the ceremony.”

 

Unusual fact about this stamp:  An error stamp has been found missing the black intaglio “US” and denomination.

 

About the Constitution Bicentennial Series:  Between 1987 and 1990, the USPS issued 24 stamps commemorating important events relating to the creation and passage of the US Constitution.  Thirteen stamps commemorate the statehood anniversaries of the first 13 states to approve the Constitution (the first nine of which were required to make the Constitution law).   America’s first commemorative booklet with four panes contained a set of five stamps containing quotes from the Preamble of the Constitution.  Another stamp was issued on the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution.  Plus, there’s a set of four stamps honoring the three branches of government created by the Constitution (the House of Representatives and Senate each got their own stamp).  The final individual stamp honored the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution.  Click here for the complete set.

 

History the stamp represents:  Following the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, which led to the creation of the new nation’s Constitution, each state had to ratify it individually.  The first nine states approved the Constitution by June 1788.  Although all that was needed to approve the Constitution was nine states, four others argued it provided too much power to the central government, which could easily abuse individual rights.  They believed there should be a bill of rights to prevent such abuses.

 

Thomas Jefferson was among the critics who advocated a “Bill of Rights” enumerating individual rights.  In December 1787, Jefferson, then the ambassador to France, wrote a letter to James Madison.  “A bill of rights,” Jefferson wrote, “is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.”

 

Jefferson’s position gained strength, and a compromise was reached.  Individual state legislatures ratified the document with the understanding that the first national legislative meeting under the new Constitution would pass amendments guaranteeing specific individual liberties.

 

James Madison was then tasked with drafting this Bill of Rights, though he initially opposed it.  Madison crafted these amendments in part based on proposals he received from each state that wished to contribute.  He rejected proposals calling for structural changes in the government, and kept others which created a series of amendments protecting civil rights such as free speech.  Madison also drew inspiration from the Magna Carta and Virginia Declaration of Rights.

 

In June 1789, Madison presented nine articles with a total of 20 amendments.  To his disappointment, The Senate removed several amendments and added one.  On September 25, 1789, the US House and Senate met in Congress Hall to ratify twelve proposals.  Once passed there, they were submitted to the states on September 28.

 

Then for over two years, the states voted on the articles.  New Jersey was the first, ratifying 11 of the articles on November 20, 1789.  They were followed by Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and finally Virginia.  As the 11th state to ratify some or all of the amendments, Virginia cemented the creation of the Bill of Rights on December 15, 1791.  By the state’s votes, articles three through twelve were passed, and these became the first ten amendments, known collectively as the Bill of Rights.  (The other two specified a formula for the number of seats in the House of Representatives, and restricted when changes to payment could occur for members of Congress.  The second of these would later be ratified in 1992 as the 27th Amendment, more than 200 years after it was originally submitted.)  Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson officially declared the ten accepted amendments as adopted on March 1, 1792.

 

The rights guaranteed by the amendments are freedom of speech, the press, assembly, religious worship, and to petition for redress of grievances.  The right to keep and bear arms and restrictions on the quartering of soldiers in peacetime are also included.  The amendments provide for protection from unreasonable search and seizure, cruel and unusual punishment, self-incrimination, and a guarantee of due process of law and a speedy public trial with an impartial jury.  In addition, all powers that are not specifically given to the federal government in the Constitution are reserved for the citizenry or states.  And the listing of specific rights in the Constitution does not mean that other, non-specified rights do not exist.

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U.S. #2421
1989 25¢ Drafting of the Bill of Rights
Constitution Bicentennial Series

  • Issued for the 200th anniversary of the drafting of the first 10 amendments to the US Constitution – the Bill of Rights
  • Part of a series of 24 stamps commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Constitution

Stamp Category:  Commemorative
Series: 
Constitution Bicentennial
Value: 
25¢, first-class rate
First Day of Issue: 
September 25, 1989
First Day City: 
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Quantity Issued: 
191,860,000
Printed by: 
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: 
Lithographed and engraved
Format: 
Panes of 50 in sheets of 200
Perforations:  11

Why the stamp was issued:  To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the drafting of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution – the Bill of Rights.

 

About the stamp design:  The Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) briefly considered creating a booklet of 10 stamps, one for each of the 10 amendments in the Bill of Rights.  However, they agreed they didn’t need to make that many new stamps.  Plus, it would be a lot of type on the stamps and they would be difficult to illustrate.  They also knew they didn’t want portraits of the men associated with the Bill of Rights, as that would seem to honor them more than the document.  They decided that something graphic and symbolic might be the best option.  One representative confessed, “It was one of the toughest design assignments we’ve given to anybody.” 

 

The artist who rose to that challenge was Lou Nolan.  He turned in an image of a stylized eagle against a black background holding a quill pen in its beak, spelling out “Bill of Rights.”  In front of part of the eagle’s body stood a shield emblazoned with the red, white, and blue stars and stripes.  CSAC had only minor changes and hired a professional calligrapher to write “Bill of Rights” for the stamp. 

 

First Day City:  The First Day ceremony for this stamp was held at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Initially, the USPS mistakenly said that the amendments were written in Philadelphia’s Congress Hall, when they were actually drawn up at the First Congress in New York City’s Federal Hall.  The USPS later said that Philadelphia was still a fitting location, because the idea of a guarantee of rights was first brought up during the 1878 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.  Plus, they felt Independence Hall was “such a natural place to hold the ceremony.”

 

Unusual fact about this stamp:  An error stamp has been found missing the black intaglio “US” and denomination.

 

About the Constitution Bicentennial Series:  Between 1987 and 1990, the USPS issued 24 stamps commemorating important events relating to the creation and passage of the US Constitution.  Thirteen stamps commemorate the statehood anniversaries of the first 13 states to approve the Constitution (the first nine of which were required to make the Constitution law).   America’s first commemorative booklet with four panes contained a set of five stamps containing quotes from the Preamble of the Constitution.  Another stamp was issued on the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution.  Plus, there’s a set of four stamps honoring the three branches of government created by the Constitution (the House of Representatives and Senate each got their own stamp).  The final individual stamp honored the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution.  Click here for the complete set.

 

History the stamp represents:  Following the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, which led to the creation of the new nation’s Constitution, each state had to ratify it individually.  The first nine states approved the Constitution by June 1788.  Although all that was needed to approve the Constitution was nine states, four others argued it provided too much power to the central government, which could easily abuse individual rights.  They believed there should be a bill of rights to prevent such abuses.

 

Thomas Jefferson was among the critics who advocated a “Bill of Rights” enumerating individual rights.  In December 1787, Jefferson, then the ambassador to France, wrote a letter to James Madison.  “A bill of rights,” Jefferson wrote, “is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.”

 

Jefferson’s position gained strength, and a compromise was reached.  Individual state legislatures ratified the document with the understanding that the first national legislative meeting under the new Constitution would pass amendments guaranteeing specific individual liberties.

 

James Madison was then tasked with drafting this Bill of Rights, though he initially opposed it.  Madison crafted these amendments in part based on proposals he received from each state that wished to contribute.  He rejected proposals calling for structural changes in the government, and kept others which created a series of amendments protecting civil rights such as free speech.  Madison also drew inspiration from the Magna Carta and Virginia Declaration of Rights.

 

In June 1789, Madison presented nine articles with a total of 20 amendments.  To his disappointment, The Senate removed several amendments and added one.  On September 25, 1789, the US House and Senate met in Congress Hall to ratify twelve proposals.  Once passed there, they were submitted to the states on September 28.

 

Then for over two years, the states voted on the articles.  New Jersey was the first, ratifying 11 of the articles on November 20, 1789.  They were followed by Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and finally Virginia.  As the 11th state to ratify some or all of the amendments, Virginia cemented the creation of the Bill of Rights on December 15, 1791.  By the state’s votes, articles three through twelve were passed, and these became the first ten amendments, known collectively as the Bill of Rights.  (The other two specified a formula for the number of seats in the House of Representatives, and restricted when changes to payment could occur for members of Congress.  The second of these would later be ratified in 1992 as the 27th Amendment, more than 200 years after it was originally submitted.)  Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson officially declared the ten accepted amendments as adopted on March 1, 1792.

 

The rights guaranteed by the amendments are freedom of speech, the press, assembly, religious worship, and to petition for redress of grievances.  The right to keep and bear arms and restrictions on the quartering of soldiers in peacetime are also included.  The amendments provide for protection from unreasonable search and seizure, cruel and unusual punishment, self-incrimination, and a guarantee of due process of law and a speedy public trial with an impartial jury.  In addition, all powers that are not specifically given to the federal government in the Constitution are reserved for the citizenry or states.  And the listing of specific rights in the Constitution does not mean that other, non-specified rights do not exist.