1975 8¢ Sybil Ludington
Contributors to the Cause
Issue Date: March 25, 1975
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Photogravure
Perforations: 11 x 10 ½
Sybil Ludington (1761-1839)
Revolutionary War Heroine
Ludington was born and raised in Putnam County, New York. Her father, Colonel Henry Ludington, commanded a military regiment there. In the face of danger at the age of 16, she rode 40 miles through New York and Connecticut to rally the militia to the cry, “The British are burning Danbury. Muster at Ludington’s.” Although Danbury was burned, Sybil’s ride resulted in a militia victory which cost the British a tenth of their attacking force, and put them in retreat.
The Bicentennial Series
The U.S. Bicentennial was a series of celebrations during the mid-1970s that commemorated the historic events leading to America’s independence from Great Britain. The official events began on April 1, 1975, when the American Freedom Train departed Delaware to begin a 21-month, 25,338-mile tour of the 48 contiguous states. For more than a year, a wave of patriotism swept the nation as elaborate firework displays lit up skies across the U.S., an international fleet of tall-mast sailing ships gathered in New York City and Boston, and Queen Elizabeth made a state visit. The celebration culminated on July 4, 1976, with the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
The U.S.P.S. issued 113 commemorative stamps over a six-year period in honor of the U.S. bicentennial, beginning with the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission Emblem stamp (U.S. #1432). As a group, the Bicentennial Series chronicles one of our nation’s most important chapters, and remembers the events and patriots who made the U.S. a world model for liberty.
Birth Of Sybil Ludington
Revolutionary heroine Sybil Ludington was born on April 5, 1761 in Kent, New York.
The oldest of 12 children, Sybil was the daughter of Colonel Henry Ludington, the leader of the local militia in Patterson, New York. During the Revolutionary War, Sybil wanted to join the militia because she didn’t like being ruled by Great Britain.
Early in the war, a group of 50 Loyalists approached the Ludington house to capture her father. But Sybil lit candles all around the house and had her siblings march military style in front of the windows to scare them off. And it worked.
Sybil’s claim to fame came on the night of April 26, 1777. As Sybil was tucking her siblings into bed, a messenger arrived at the family house. He had news that the British were burning the town of Danbury, Connecticut – the militia’s supply center. With only 150 militiamen in town at the time, Sybil’s father knew he needed to muster additional troops to protect the town from a British attack. With only hours before they’d arrive, he needed a volunteer to ride fast and hard to bring back troops. Sybil volunteered in a heartbeat.
It was 9 p.m. before Sybil got underway. By then, the glow from the burning town of Danbury could be seen for miles. She traveled 40 miles alone on horseback and in the dark. She banged a stick on doors to rouse the locals, calling out, “Muster at Ludington’s!”
Sybil rode all night through the rain – at one time fending off highwaymen with her father’s musket. Finally, exhausted after riding 40 miles, she returned home shortly before dawn.
There, 400 members of the local militia had gathered and soon marched off. They were too late to save Danbury, but in the Battle of Ridgefield – and other skirmishes – the British were so thoroughly harassed that they were driven back to their ships. They did not raid deep into Connecticut for the rest of the war.
News of Sybil’s ride spread, and General George Washington personally went to her house to thank her for her courage. Alexander Hamilton also wrote her a letter of thanks.
After the war, Sybil got married and had one son. She died on February 26, 1839. In 1935, in honor of her ride, New York State placed markers along the route she took. And since 1979, there has been a Sybil Ludington 50-kilometer race that closely follows the path of her ride.