1925 Lexington-Concord Issue
1¢ Washington at Cambridge
First Day of Issue: April 4, 1925
First City: Washington, D.C.; Concord, MA; Concord Junction, MA; Boston, MA; Cambridge, MA; Lexington, MA
Quantity Issued: 15,615,000
Printing Method: Flat Plate
Color: Deep Green
The Lexington-Concord Issue of 1925 was the first set of U.S. postage stamps to honor the War of Independence. These stamps honor the patriots who gave their lives – and the ideals of freedom and independence they died for.
Washington Takes Command of the Continental Army
As America fought its war for independence against the British, it was decided that a commander in chief was needed to lead the newly established Continental Army. Several men were considered, including John Hancock.
Washington was among those in consideration and he arrived t the Second Continental Congress in full military uniform, signaling his intention to fight in the war. While some argued against Washington, the Continental Congress ultimately decided that his Virginian roots would help garner support from the southern colonies. Washington was officially appointed commander of the Continental Army on June 16. In his acceptance speech he said, “I am truly sensible of the high Honor done to me in this appointment… I do not think myself equal to the Command I am honored with.
Although he was faced with the very real threat of death, either in battle or following a conviction for treason, Washington refused compensation for his service and asked only to have his expenses reimbursed. Within days of receiving his commission, Washington left for Massachusetts, where his army awaited.
On July 3, 1775, Washington officially took command the 14,500-member Continental Army in Cambridge, Massachusetts, riding out ahead of them and drawing his sword. Many of the troops were suspicious of the outsider they’d never heard of. But Washington was determined to transform the ragtag band of undisciplined men into a well-structured army. At Cambridge, it was evident that Washington possessed the leadership qualities to guide America through her fight for Independence.
The Washington at Cambridge Stamp
The 1925 Washington at Cambridge stamp is part of the Lexington-Concord Issue, which was the first set of US postage stamps to honor the War of Independence. Although part of the Lexington-Concord issue, U.S. #617 pictures General George Washington leading colonial forces at Cambridge Common on July 3, 1775. This was two-and-a-half months after the battles at Lexington and Concord. A driving factor for this scene’s inclusion in the set was due to the famed “Washington Elm.” According to legend, Washington stood under the elm tree as he took command of the Continental Army.
Over the years, the tree was badly damaged and was accidentally knocked over during repair attempts in 1923. Revolutionary War scholars debate the historical accuracy of the scene pictured on this stamp. Some protest that the army would have been too busy and not properly trained to assemble in the way shown. Whether the story is true or not, a plaque stands where the tree once did, according to the Cambridge Historical Commission, “not because Washington ever stood there, but as a monument to a belief.”
The Battles of Lexington and Concord
The battles that took place at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, were the first military encounters between Great Britain and the 13 colonies of British North America.
One reason for the battles was the secret order given to British Army forces to find and destroy military supplies held by the Massachusetts militia at Concord. Colonial Patriots received word of the impending theft and moved most of their supplies.
The first shots of the battle rang through the air as the sun rose over Lexington. The Colonial militia was outnumbered by more than 300 and fell back. In the meantime, the British forces moved on to Concord to search for supplies. As the British reached Concord’s North Bridge, about 500 militiamen met them. This time the British were outnumbered and defeated, then forced to retreat. In all, 49 Patriot lives were lost versus 73 British.