1995 32c Civil War: Mary Chestnut

# 2975o - 1995 32c Civil War: Mary Chestnut

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U.S. #2975o
1995 32¢ Mary Chesnut
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.”

 

Hess used photos of Mary Chesnut as the basis for his stamp portrait.  However, the photos were all of her full face, so he had to take artistic liberties to show her in profile.  He was able to work from images of her actual diary to illustrate that correctly.  Knowing that she often wrote at Jefferson Davis’ home, he recreated the scene there, drawing from furniture and fixtures from the time.  

 

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:  Author Mary Boykin Chesnut was born on March 31, 1823, near Stateburg, South Carolina.  She kept a detailed diary of the Civil War from her perspective, and the resulting book had been labeled a masterpiece and a work of art.

 

Mary was the oldest of four children born to Stephen Decatur Miller.  As the daughter of a South Carolina governor and US senator, she was immersed in politics from childhood.  She attended a French school for young ladies and her family spent some time on a farm in Mississippi.

 

At age 17, Mary married James Chestnut Jr.  The only surviving son of one of the largest landowners in the state, he was elected to the US Senate in 1858 – a position he resigned from when Abraham Lincoln was elected president.  He then returned south as a delegate to the Confederate Provisional Congress, and later served as personal aide to Jefferson Davis.

 

With her husband working as an aide to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Mary played a role in her husband’s career.  They hosted regular events, which were important to build political connections.  Mary was a popular hostess, and her hotel quarters in Montgomery soon became a fashionable salon where the elite of the new Confederacy came to socialize and exchange information.

 

Aware of the magnitude of the events unfolding around her, Mary began keeping a diary on February 18, 1861.  She stated at the start, “The journal is intended to be entirely objective.  My subjective days are over.”  She was present at several historic moments from the meeting of the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States of America to witnessing the first shots of the war.

 

Everything Mary saw and heard she candidly recorded, from political rumors and firsthand reports of battles, to wartime romances, parties, and funerals.  Her writing explored the conditions of the different social classes in the South during the war, covering slavery, the treatment of women, and more.  After the war she converted her diary into a novel, though she didn’t finish it in her lifetime.  She also wrote three other full novels that she never published.  Mary died on November 22, 1886.

 

Excerpts from her journals appeared in The Saturday Evening Post under the title “A Diary from Dixie,” and later several heavily revised editions were also published.  Finally in 1981, with the publication of Mary Chestnut’s Civil War, her journals appeared as she had originally written them, giving us one of the finest firsthand accounts of the Confederacy.  This 1981 edition earned a Pulitzer Prize.  The popular Ken Burns television series, The Civil War, included several readings from her diary.

 

One modern review of her book stated that “The very rhythm of her opening pages at once puts us under the spell of a writer who is not merely jotting down her days but establishing, as a novelist does, an atmosphere, an emotional tone…  Starting out with situations or relationships of which she cannot know the outcome, she takes advantage of the actual turn of events to develop them and round them out as if she were molding a novel.”

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U.S. #2975o
1995 32¢ Mary Chesnut
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.”

 

Hess used photos of Mary Chesnut as the basis for his stamp portrait.  However, the photos were all of her full face, so he had to take artistic liberties to show her in profile.  He was able to work from images of her actual diary to illustrate that correctly.  Knowing that she often wrote at Jefferson Davis’ home, he recreated the scene there, drawing from furniture and fixtures from the time.  

 

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:  Author Mary Boykin Chesnut was born on March 31, 1823, near Stateburg, South Carolina.  She kept a detailed diary of the Civil War from her perspective, and the resulting book had been labeled a masterpiece and a work of art.

 

Mary was the oldest of four children born to Stephen Decatur Miller.  As the daughter of a South Carolina governor and US senator, she was immersed in politics from childhood.  She attended a French school for young ladies and her family spent some time on a farm in Mississippi.

 

At age 17, Mary married James Chestnut Jr.  The only surviving son of one of the largest landowners in the state, he was elected to the US Senate in 1858 – a position he resigned from when Abraham Lincoln was elected president.  He then returned south as a delegate to the Confederate Provisional Congress, and later served as personal aide to Jefferson Davis.

 

With her husband working as an aide to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Mary played a role in her husband’s career.  They hosted regular events, which were important to build political connections.  Mary was a popular hostess, and her hotel quarters in Montgomery soon became a fashionable salon where the elite of the new Confederacy came to socialize and exchange information.

 

Aware of the magnitude of the events unfolding around her, Mary began keeping a diary on February 18, 1861.  She stated at the start, “The journal is intended to be entirely objective.  My subjective days are over.”  She was present at several historic moments from the meeting of the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States of America to witnessing the first shots of the war.

 

Everything Mary saw and heard she candidly recorded, from political rumors and firsthand reports of battles, to wartime romances, parties, and funerals.  Her writing explored the conditions of the different social classes in the South during the war, covering slavery, the treatment of women, and more.  After the war she converted her diary into a novel, though she didn’t finish it in her lifetime.  She also wrote three other full novels that she never published.  Mary died on November 22, 1886.

 

Excerpts from her journals appeared in The Saturday Evening Post under the title “A Diary from Dixie,” and later several heavily revised editions were also published.  Finally in 1981, with the publication of Mary Chestnut’s Civil War, her journals appeared as she had originally written them, giving us one of the finest firsthand accounts of the Confederacy.  This 1981 edition earned a Pulitzer Prize.  The popular Ken Burns television series, The Civil War, included several readings from her diary.

 

One modern review of her book stated that “The very rhythm of her opening pages at once puts us under the spell of a writer who is not merely jotting down her days but establishing, as a novelist does, an atmosphere, an emotional tone…  Starting out with situations or relationships of which she cannot know the outcome, she takes advantage of the actual turn of events to develop them and round them out as if she were molding a novel.”