1995 32c Civil War: Jefferson Davis

# 2975f - 1995 32c Civil War: Jefferson Davis

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U.S. #2975f
1995 32¢ Jefferson Davis
Civil War

 

  • Issued for the 130th anniversary of the Civil War
  • From the second pane in the Classic Collections Series
  • Declared the most popular stamps of 1995 by the USPS

 

Stamp Category:  Commemorative
Set:
 Civil War 130th Anniversary
Value: 
32¢, rate for first-class mail
First Day of Issue: 
June 29, 1995
First Day City: 
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Quantity Issued: 
15,000,000
Printed by: 
Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: 
Photogravure
Format: 
Panes of 20 in sheets of 120
Perforations: 
10.1

 

Why the stamp was issued:  To mark the 130th anniversary of the end of the Civil War.

 

About the stamp design:  The Civil War stamps featured artwork by Mark Hess, who had previously produced the artwork for the Legends of the West sheet.  The USPS explained that they liked his painting style because of its “folksy stiffness,” that “emulates people standing uncomfortably in front of daguerreotype cameras.”

 

The Jefferson Davis portrait was based on the only painting from life of the Confederate president while in office.  Hess originally wanted to picture the Confederate executive mansion in the background, but it wasn’t recognizable enough.  Instead, he developed a scene symbolic of the South – a tree with Spanish moss and a sidewheel steamboat moving down a river.

 

First Day City:  The official first day ceremony was held at the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania, the site of one of the war’s most famous battles.  Because they received a large number of requests, the USPS made the stamps available for sale across the country the same day.

 

Unusual facts about the Civil War stamps:  The Civil War sheet was available by mail order in uncut press sheets of six panes.  Of these, 20,000 were signed by stamp artist Mark Hess.  The USPS also produced a set of postcards featuring the same images as the stamps (US #UX200-19).  Imperforate and partially imperforate error panes have also been found.

 

About the Civil War Stamps:  The Civil War stamp sheet featured 16 individuals – eight from the Union and eight from the Confederacy.  The four battles in the corners included one victory for each side and two that are considered draws.

 

This was the second sheet in the Classic Collections Series following the famed Legends of the West sheet. Stamps in this series follow a similar format – 20 stamps, a decorative header, and information about each stamp printed on its back under the gum.

 

Plans for the Civil War sheet began while the 1994 Legends of the West sheet was still in its planning stage.  The USPS believed that the Civil War was a natural addition to the new series and would be informational for the public.  Initially the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee rejected the idea, saying they should wait 20 years for the 50th anniversary of the war.  But they were eventually swayed and the Civil War stamps were created.  A group of historians were tasked with making a list of protentional subjects and Shelby Foote was hired to make the final selections.  Foote was an expert in the Civil War, having written a three-volume history of the war and been featured in Ken Burns’ PBS documentary series on the war.

 

The USPS wanted the Civil War stamps to have more action to them – so only the two presidents were depicted in traditional portraits.  The rest of the individuals were placed in the field or amidst an activity.  After the Legends of the West mix-up, in which the Bill Pickett stamp mistakenly pictured his brother Ben, the USPS completely revamped their research process.  The release of the 20 Civil War stamps marked the most extensive effort in the history of the USPS to review and verify the historical accuracy of stamp subjects.  As Hess completed each version of his paintings, they were sent to a panel of experts who commented on the historical accuracy of everything from the weather to belt buckles. 

 

Some of the people and battles featured in the Civil War sheet had appeared on US stamps before.  This was also the second time the Civil War was honored – a set of five stamps (US #1178-82) was issued for the centennial in the 1960s.  And from 2011-15, the USPS issued a series of stamps for the war’s 150th anniversary (US #4522/4981).

 

History the stamp represents:  Jefferson Davis was born on June 3, 1808, in Fairview, Kentucky, though he grew up in Wilkinson County, deep in Mississippi’s cotton country.

 

Davis entered West Point in 1824. Two years later, he was placed under house arrest for his involvement in the “Eggnog Riot.” Following graduation, he served under Zachary Taylor and became smitten with Taylor’s daughter, Sarah. Taylor was against the courtship and didn’t attend their wedding. His animosity grew three months later when the young couple contracted malaria while visiting Davis’ sister in Louisiana. Jefferson survived; Sarah did not.

 

Stricken with grief, Davis retreated to a 900-acre plot his brother Joseph gave him, where he built Brierfield Plantation in 1847. Ten years later, he owned 74 slaves. Davis’ slaves were educated and well fed in an era when teaching African-Americans was discouraged and brutality common. They were given a degree of self-governance and allowed to settle matters of discipline in courts made of their peers.

 

During this period, Davis became involved in politics, serving as a delegate to the Democratic state convention and campaigning for James K. Polk. He also remarried, selecting Varina Howell as his bride. The couple would have six children, although only one lived to marry and raise a family.

 

Davis raised a volunteer regiment at the outbreak of the Mexican-American War and served as its colonel under commanding General Zachary Taylor. His troops participated in the siege of Monterrey and the Battle of Buena Vista, where he was shot in the leg. Learning of Davis’ bravery, Taylor is alleged to have said, “My daughter, sir, was a better judge of men than I was.”

 

Davis was appointed to temporarily fill a vacant Mississippi Senate seat in 1847, and was later elected to it. The Smithsonian Institution also appointed him a regent during this time. Each of these honors stemmed largely from Davis’ distinguished military service.

 

As a senator, Davis introduced several amendments to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which sought unsuccessfully to annex northwestern Mexico. He also declared Cuba “must be ours” to “increase the number of slaveholding constituencies. Opposed to the Compromise of 1850, Davis resigned to run for the governorship of Mississippi, but lost the election.

 

Left without a political office, Davis took part in a pro-slavery convention and campaigned throughout the South for Democratic presidential candidate Franklin Pierce. He was rewarded with an appointment to serve as U.S. secretary of war following Pierce’s election. Davis pushed for the Gadsden Purchase of today’s southern Arizona from Mexico, increased the Army from 11,000 to 15,000 troops, and modernized its weaponry. He also oversaw the building of the Capitol Dome. When Pierce lost his bid for re-election in 1857, Davis resumed his own career in the Senate.

 

On July 4, 1858, Davis delivered an anti-secessionist speech near Boston – a platform he would repeat in October. As he explained after the Civil War, Davis felt each state was sovereign and had the right to secede. But he didn’t believe the North would allow a peaceful separation and urged the South to delay secession for that reason. Davis also knew the South lacked the military and naval resources to defend itself. Lincoln’s election and the rapid declarations of secession sealed Davis’ fate, and he delivered a farewell address to the U.S. Senate on January 21, 1861. He would call that day the saddest in his life.

 

Davis told the governor of Mississippi he would do whatever the state required of him. On January 23, he was made major general of the Army of Mississippi. Then in early February, the Confederacy held a constitutional convention, which selected Davis as its new president. Davis received the news via telegraph and according to his wife, “looked so grieved that I feared something had befallen our family. He told me (of his appointment) as a man might speak a sentence of death.” Davis was inaugurated on February 18 in front of 5,000 people cheering with patriotic zeal. Looking out over them, Davis recalled, “I saw smiling faces, but beyond them I saw troubles and thorns innumerable.”

 

Davis had been a staunch defender of slavery in the years building up to the Civil War, but preferred to avoid both secession and war. He spent the first six weeks of his presidency trying to negotiate peacefully with Northern officials until talks broke down over Fort Sumter. Only then did Davis give the order to fire on the Federal fort.

 

Early on, Davis displayed the characteristics that doomed his leadership, the largest being his reluctance to delegate authority and a dependence on old cronies. Flawed military strategy and insensitivity to the suffering of his followers also hampered Davis’ administration.

 

Captured on May 10, 1865, Davis spent two years in prison before being released on a bond of $100,000, which was raised by a group of prominent citizens including Horace Greeley, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and abolitionist Gerrit Smith. While he became a symbol of the Confederate “Lost Cause,” Davis urged loyalty to the nation during Reconstruction. Following his death on December 6, 1889, Davis’ funeral, which was one of the largest in the South, included a continuous procession from New Orleans to Richmond.

 

Davis had outlived the Confederacy, buried all four of his sons, and witnessed his daughter’s engagement to a Yankee from New York. Yet he remained unapologetic to the end. “Were the thing to be done over again, I would do as I then did. Disappointments have not changed my conviction.”

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U.S. #2975f
1995 32¢ Jefferson Davis
Civil War

 

  • Issued for the 130th anniversary of the Civil War
  • From the second pane in the Classic Collections Series
  • Declared the most popular stamps of 1995 by the USPS

 

Stamp Category:  Commemorative
Set:
 Civil War 130th Anniversary
Value: 
32¢, rate for first-class mail
First Day of Issue: 
June 29, 1995
First Day City: 
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Quantity Issued: 
15,000,000
Printed by: 
Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: 
Photogravure
Format: 
Panes of 20 in sheets of 120
Perforations: 
10.1

 

Why the stamp was issued:  To mark the 130th anniversary of the end of the Civil War.

 

About the stamp design:  The Civil War stamps featured artwork by Mark Hess, who had previously produced the artwork for the Legends of the West sheet.  The USPS explained that they liked his painting style because of its “folksy stiffness,” that “emulates people standing uncomfortably in front of daguerreotype cameras.”

 

The Jefferson Davis portrait was based on the only painting from life of the Confederate president while in office.  Hess originally wanted to picture the Confederate executive mansion in the background, but it wasn’t recognizable enough.  Instead, he developed a scene symbolic of the South – a tree with Spanish moss and a sidewheel steamboat moving down a river.

 

First Day City:  The official first day ceremony was held at the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania, the site of one of the war’s most famous battles.  Because they received a large number of requests, the USPS made the stamps available for sale across the country the same day.

 

Unusual facts about the Civil War stamps:  The Civil War sheet was available by mail order in uncut press sheets of six panes.  Of these, 20,000 were signed by stamp artist Mark Hess.  The USPS also produced a set of postcards featuring the same images as the stamps (US #UX200-19).  Imperforate and partially imperforate error panes have also been found.

 

About the Civil War Stamps:  The Civil War stamp sheet featured 16 individuals – eight from the Union and eight from the Confederacy.  The four battles in the corners included one victory for each side and two that are considered draws.

 

This was the second sheet in the Classic Collections Series following the famed Legends of the West sheet. Stamps in this series follow a similar format – 20 stamps, a decorative header, and information about each stamp printed on its back under the gum.

 

Plans for the Civil War sheet began while the 1994 Legends of the West sheet was still in its planning stage.  The USPS believed that the Civil War was a natural addition to the new series and would be informational for the public.  Initially the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee rejected the idea, saying they should wait 20 years for the 50th anniversary of the war.  But they were eventually swayed and the Civil War stamps were created.  A group of historians were tasked with making a list of protentional subjects and Shelby Foote was hired to make the final selections.  Foote was an expert in the Civil War, having written a three-volume history of the war and been featured in Ken Burns’ PBS documentary series on the war.

 

The USPS wanted the Civil War stamps to have more action to them – so only the two presidents were depicted in traditional portraits.  The rest of the individuals were placed in the field or amidst an activity.  After the Legends of the West mix-up, in which the Bill Pickett stamp mistakenly pictured his brother Ben, the USPS completely revamped their research process.  The release of the 20 Civil War stamps marked the most extensive effort in the history of the USPS to review and verify the historical accuracy of stamp subjects.  As Hess completed each version of his paintings, they were sent to a panel of experts who commented on the historical accuracy of everything from the weather to belt buckles. 

 

Some of the people and battles featured in the Civil War sheet had appeared on US stamps before.  This was also the second time the Civil War was honored – a set of five stamps (US #1178-82) was issued for the centennial in the 1960s.  And from 2011-15, the USPS issued a series of stamps for the war’s 150th anniversary (US #4522/4981).

 

History the stamp represents:  Jefferson Davis was born on June 3, 1808, in Fairview, Kentucky, though he grew up in Wilkinson County, deep in Mississippi’s cotton country.

 

Davis entered West Point in 1824. Two years later, he was placed under house arrest for his involvement in the “Eggnog Riot.” Following graduation, he served under Zachary Taylor and became smitten with Taylor’s daughter, Sarah. Taylor was against the courtship and didn’t attend their wedding. His animosity grew three months later when the young couple contracted malaria while visiting Davis’ sister in Louisiana. Jefferson survived; Sarah did not.

 

Stricken with grief, Davis retreated to a 900-acre plot his brother Joseph gave him, where he built Brierfield Plantation in 1847. Ten years later, he owned 74 slaves. Davis’ slaves were educated and well fed in an era when teaching African-Americans was discouraged and brutality common. They were given a degree of self-governance and allowed to settle matters of discipline in courts made of their peers.

 

During this period, Davis became involved in politics, serving as a delegate to the Democratic state convention and campaigning for James K. Polk. He also remarried, selecting Varina Howell as his bride. The couple would have six children, although only one lived to marry and raise a family.

 

Davis raised a volunteer regiment at the outbreak of the Mexican-American War and served as its colonel under commanding General Zachary Taylor. His troops participated in the siege of Monterrey and the Battle of Buena Vista, where he was shot in the leg. Learning of Davis’ bravery, Taylor is alleged to have said, “My daughter, sir, was a better judge of men than I was.”

 

Davis was appointed to temporarily fill a vacant Mississippi Senate seat in 1847, and was later elected to it. The Smithsonian Institution also appointed him a regent during this time. Each of these honors stemmed largely from Davis’ distinguished military service.

 

As a senator, Davis introduced several amendments to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which sought unsuccessfully to annex northwestern Mexico. He also declared Cuba “must be ours” to “increase the number of slaveholding constituencies. Opposed to the Compromise of 1850, Davis resigned to run for the governorship of Mississippi, but lost the election.

 

Left without a political office, Davis took part in a pro-slavery convention and campaigned throughout the South for Democratic presidential candidate Franklin Pierce. He was rewarded with an appointment to serve as U.S. secretary of war following Pierce’s election. Davis pushed for the Gadsden Purchase of today’s southern Arizona from Mexico, increased the Army from 11,000 to 15,000 troops, and modernized its weaponry. He also oversaw the building of the Capitol Dome. When Pierce lost his bid for re-election in 1857, Davis resumed his own career in the Senate.

 

On July 4, 1858, Davis delivered an anti-secessionist speech near Boston – a platform he would repeat in October. As he explained after the Civil War, Davis felt each state was sovereign and had the right to secede. But he didn’t believe the North would allow a peaceful separation and urged the South to delay secession for that reason. Davis also knew the South lacked the military and naval resources to defend itself. Lincoln’s election and the rapid declarations of secession sealed Davis’ fate, and he delivered a farewell address to the U.S. Senate on January 21, 1861. He would call that day the saddest in his life.

 

Davis told the governor of Mississippi he would do whatever the state required of him. On January 23, he was made major general of the Army of Mississippi. Then in early February, the Confederacy held a constitutional convention, which selected Davis as its new president. Davis received the news via telegraph and according to his wife, “looked so grieved that I feared something had befallen our family. He told me (of his appointment) as a man might speak a sentence of death.” Davis was inaugurated on February 18 in front of 5,000 people cheering with patriotic zeal. Looking out over them, Davis recalled, “I saw smiling faces, but beyond them I saw troubles and thorns innumerable.”

 

Davis had been a staunch defender of slavery in the years building up to the Civil War, but preferred to avoid both secession and war. He spent the first six weeks of his presidency trying to negotiate peacefully with Northern officials until talks broke down over Fort Sumter. Only then did Davis give the order to fire on the Federal fort.

 

Early on, Davis displayed the characteristics that doomed his leadership, the largest being his reluctance to delegate authority and a dependence on old cronies. Flawed military strategy and insensitivity to the suffering of his followers also hampered Davis’ administration.

 

Captured on May 10, 1865, Davis spent two years in prison before being released on a bond of $100,000, which was raised by a group of prominent citizens including Horace Greeley, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and abolitionist Gerrit Smith. While he became a symbol of the Confederate “Lost Cause,” Davis urged loyalty to the nation during Reconstruction. Following his death on December 6, 1889, Davis’ funeral, which was one of the largest in the South, included a continuous procession from New Orleans to Richmond.

 

Davis had outlived the Confederacy, buried all four of his sons, and witnessed his daughter’s engagement to a Yankee from New York. Yet he remained unapologetic to the end. “Were the thing to be done over again, I would do as I then did. Disappointments have not changed my conviction.”