1904 2¢ Jefferson
Louisiana Purchase Commemorative
Issue Date: April 30, 1904
Quantity issued: 192,732,400
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Method: Flat plate
Watermark: Double line USPS
The 1904 Louisiana Purchase commemoratives honor the 100th anniversary of the historic event. Promoters of a proposed exposition marking the purchase lobbied for a Congressional bill to subsidize the exposition. President William McKinley signed the bill, prompting the Post Office Department to consider commemorative stamps and the authorization of cancelling slogans to advertise the event. Five commemorative stamps were issued in denominations ranging from 1¢ to 10¢.
Thomas Jefferson is pictured on the 2¢ Louisiana Purchase commemorative stamp. Jefferson is remembered as our third President, but he was also a lawyer, legislator, educator, author, musician, inventor, mathematician, farmer, and statesman! He was very interested in westward expansion, but he worried about France and Spain’s possessions west of the Mississippi. When the time was right, he wisely took advantage of financial problems in France and bought the Louisiana Territory.
The Louisiana Purchase Changes the Face of America
In 1762, Napoleon Bonaparte sought to create a great French empire in the New World. The center of the empire was to be the nation of Hispaniola. Napoleon envisioned that the Mississippi Valley would be the trade center of the new empire, shipping food and supplies from America to Hispaniola.
At this time, Hispaniola was in the midst of a slave revolt. This revolt had to be put down before French control could be restored. In an attempt to end the revolt, Napoleon sent a large army to Hispaniola. Although there were considerable French victories on the battlefield, many soldiers died from disease. Because of these heavy losses, Napoleon decided to abandon Hispaniola and his dream of an empire in the New World.
With Hispaniola gone, Napoleon had little use for Louisiana. This, coupled with the fact that war was imminent in Europe and he couldn’t spare troops to defend Louisiana, caused Napoleon to offer the land for sale to the United States. This pleased James Monroe and Robert Livingston, who had been sent to France to negotiate for Florida. After a small hesitation, the pair decided to purchase the larger territory for $15 million. The newly acquired land (which would some day make up all or part of fifteen states) doubled the size of the existing United States and guaranteed free navigation of the Mississippi River.