Series of 1923-26 5¢ Theodore Roosevelt
Issue Date: December, 1924
First City: Washington, D.C.
Quantity Issued: 431,983,000
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
U.S. #586 made its first appearance during the 1924 Christmas rush in precanceled form only. Precanceled stamps were sent to mass mailers, or to large post offices. It was later issued without precancel on April 4, 1925.
Teddy Roosevelt’s Uphill Battle – Fame and Frustration
Pictured on U.S. #586, Teddy Roosevelt called the charge up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War “the great day of my life.” The only one of the Rough Riders with a horse, he rode back and forth between the rifle pits and the lead soldiers. Finally, he had to finish the climb on foot, as barbed wire emplacements prevented passage for “Little Texas,” his horse.
Roosevelt was nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroics, but it was turned down. In the weeks following the battle, malaria ravaged the remaining troopers. Roosevelt complained to the War Department and the press that the troops needed to be returned home. Secretary of War Russell Alger and President William McKinley were furious. Roosevelt believed that cost him the Medal. He was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2001, years after his death.
Birth Of William Allen White
William Allen White was born on February 10, 1868, in Emporia, Kansas.
He spent much of his childhood in El Dorado, Kansas, where he enjoyed reading and spending time with animals.
White went on to attend the College of Emporia and the University of Kansas before taking a job as an editorial writer with the Kansas City Star in 1892.
Three years later, White bought the Emporia Gazette for $3,000 and made himself the editor. In that role he shared his progressive ideals that would make him famous. Most notably, in 1896, White wrote an attack piece on William Jennings Bryan as well as Democrats and Populists that he called, “What’s the Matter With Kansas?”
In his piece, White criticized Populist leaders for allowing Kansas’ economy to struggle, while they helped neighboring states. He also called Bryan a socialist and claimed that “The election will sustain Americanism or it will plant socialism.” The Republican Party supported White’s writing and sent out hundreds of thousands of copies of it to support William McKinley’s presidential bid in 1896.
White soon became one of the leaders of the Progressive Movement in Kansas, creating the Kansas Republican League in 1912 to fight the railroads. That same year, he and Theodore Roosevelt broke off from the Republican Party and established their own Progressive Party. Named Bull Moose because Roosevelt said he was as fit as a bull moose to serve, they called for women’s suffrage, welfare assistance, farm relief, and changes to the banking and health insurance industries. They lost the 1912 election and dissolved entirely in 1916. Though their party failed, White and Roosevelt remained friends until Roosevelt’s death in 1919.
White went on to serve as a reporter at the Versailles Conference in 1919 and a vocal supporter of the League of Nations as suggested by Woodrow Wilson. As a writer, White was popular around the nation for his humorous, honest, and commonsense writing. Many of his articles were reprinted and distributed around the country and syndicated in other newspapers. He also wrote books, including biographies on Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge. Among his famous works was a touching tribute to his daughter, Mary. In 1923, White earned a Pulitzer Prize for his editorial “To an Anxious Friend” about his arrest following a free speech dispute over the treatment of men in the Great Railroad Strike of 1922.
White was often recognized as an unofficial spokesman for Middle America. Because of this, President Franklin Roosevelt enlisted him to help raise public support for the Allies before America joined in World War II. White helped to establish the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies, which was also sometimes known as the White Committee. In this role he often faced off against the America First Group, which opposed America’s involvement in the war.
Nicknamed the Sage of Emporia, White continued to write for the Emporia Gazette until his death on January 29, 1944. After his death, his autobiography won a 1947 Pulitzer Prize.
Rotary Presses Lead to Faster, Cheaper Production
Prior to 1923, the rotary press had been used in the production of coil stamps. It soon became apparent this was the fastest and most economical means of printing stamps. The rotary press could print 1000 stamps at a cost of .053 cents, compared to the conventional flat bed press cost of .08 cents. This difference of .027 cents is significant when one takes into consideration the fact that the Bureau printed millions of stamps each day.
Daily production rates jumped from 1,600,000 stamps on the flat bed press to 6,000,000 per day on the rotary press. Despite the increased production and lower costs, the Post Office Department was still skeptical. They finally decided a few stamps should be printed experimentally. At first, only the 1¢ Franklin was produced and used on a trial basis for six months.
The results were successful, proving that quality was not sacrificed for higher production. Shortly thereafter, the 2¢ Washington was produced on rotary presses as well. Eventually, new equipment was developed to improve the process, which resulted in the 1¢ through 10¢ being printed on the rotary press.