1995 32¢ Clara Barton
· 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
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 portrait of Clara Barton is based largely on an 1865 photo taken by Mathew Brady. The famed nurse is shown inside a field hospital with other medical tents in the background.
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: American Red Cross founder Clara Barton was born on December 25, 1821, in North Oxford, Massachusetts.
Barton’s father was a local militiaman who instilled in her a sense of patriotism and human interest. She attended school at the age of three where she excelled in reading and spelling.
When Barton was 10, he brother fell from the roof of a barn, suffering a major injury. She took it upon herself to nurse him back to health, learning how much medicine to give him and help him make a full recovery, even after the doctors had given up on him.
Barton was severely shy from a young age and her parents took great strides to help her overcome this. The most effective thing was when they convinced her to become a schoolteacher. She earned her certificate when she was 17 and found she greatly enjoyed the profession. She then launched a redistricting campaign to help workers’ children receive an education. This helped her gain confidence to demand equal pay.
Barton went on to teach for 12 years. After her mother died in 1851, she went to the Clinton Liberal Institute in New York to study writing and languages. Then in 1852 she opened a free school in New Jersey and served as its principal until she was replaced by a man because the school board believed a woman was unfit for the position.
After that, Barton went to work as a clerk in the US Patent Office. She was working there in April 1861 during the Baltimore Riot. New recruits from Massachusetts had been attacked by mobs of Southern sympathizers as they traveled through Baltimore on their way to Washington. When the soldiers arrived in Washington, they had few supplies except the clothes they were wearing.
Barton took supplies to the US Senate chamber, where the wounded were housed, and tended to their needs. She began collecting clothing, food, and other relief supplies and learned how to store and distribute them. She appealed to the public for donations, including advertising in the local papers in her home state of Massachusetts.
Barton’s efforts were successful and she was given a general pass from US Surgeon General William A. Hammond to travel with the army ambulances “for the purpose of distributing comforts for the sick and wounded, and nursing them.” Her duties included dressing the wounds of soldiers, writing letters for them, reading to them, and praying with them.
Barton traveled through the night with a wagon full of supplies after the battle of Cedar Mountain in August 1862. The surgeon at the field hospital later wrote, “I thought that night if heaven ever sent out an angel, she must be one – her assistance was so timely.” From that time, Clara Barton became known as the “Angel of the Battlefield.”
As she got to know the men, Barton gathered information about missing and imprisoned soldiers to report to families. In 1865, President Lincoln put her in charge of the Office of Correspondence with Friends of the Missing Men of the United States Army. She and her assistants identified over 22,000 missing men and created a cemetery for Union soldiers at Andersonville Prison in Georgia.
After the Civil War Barton went on to nurse the wounded in other wars. Learning of the International Committee of the Red Cross while serving in the Franco-Prussian Wars, she returned home in 1873 and began an eight-year campaign to establish an American branch of the Red Cross. Seeing the organization into formal existence in 1881, she became its first president – a position she held until 1904. After her retirement she traveled extensively, lecturing on health-related topics. She died from pneumonia on April 12, 1912.