1926-28 Rotary Stamps
8¢ Ulysses S. Grant
First Day of Issue: June 10, 1927
First City: Washington, D.C.
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforation: 11 x 10 ½
Color: Olive green
The portrait of Ulysses S. Grant on U.S. #640 came from a photograph by renowned Civil War photographer Matthew Brady. While the 8¢ stamp had many uses at the time, it saw an increase in demand in 1932 when the Airmail letter rate was raised from 5¢ to 8¢.
Perfecting Perforations on Rotary Stamps
When the Bureau began printing sheets on the rotary press, they found 11 gauge perforations were too fine, causing the stamps to separate prematurely. This resulted in the perforations being changed back to 10 gauge perforations, which had first been used in 1915. Once again, objections were raised, and the Bureau began looking for a way to perforate the stamps so they were strong enough to resist premature separation, yet fine enough to be separated without difficulty. The solution was found in a compromise that resulted in a new perforation – the 10 1/2 gauge.
This perforation seemed to please everyone and was adopted as the new standard for rotary press sheets. In the words of Linn’s author Gary Griffith, the 1926-28 Compound Perforation rotary stamps represent “if not perfection, then at least a high degree of achievement...”
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was born Hiram Ulysses Grant on April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant, Ohio. In 1839, after just one year at an academy in Ripley, Ohio, Grant’s father heard of a vacancy at West Point. He asked his congressman to appoint his son to fill the vacancy. The congressman agreed, but when he was filling out the appointment, he mistakenly put Ulysses as the boy’s first name and Simpson (Ulysses’ mother’s maiden name) as the boy’s middle name. Grant decided to keep the new name because he liked his new initials better than the former “H.U.G.”
Upon graduating from West Point, Grant was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Fourth Infantry Regiment. During the Mexican War, he distinguished himself as a brave and skillful soldier. By the end of the war, he had achieved the rank of first lieutenant. Afterwards, Grant remained in the Army and was ordered to Fort Vancouver, in the Oregon Territory, and eventually Fort Humboldt in California. The cost of living in the West was too high to move his wife and young son to his new post, so loneliness soon set in. Just one year later, Grant retired from the Army and joined his family in St. Louis.
For six years, Grant drifted from job to job, never gaining the success he had enjoyed in the military. Then, in 1861 the Civil War broke out, and it was obvious to Grant that it was his duty to defend the Union he loved. He began by drilling a company formed in Galena, Illinois, and went on to Springfield and worked for the Illinois Adjutant General. After having been ignored on his first request, Grant was finally given a commission as colonel of the 21st Illinois Volunteers. After a two-month campaign against Confederate troops in Missouri, Grant was advanced to the rank of brigadier general. In March 1864, President Abraham Lincoln called Grant to Washington. He was promoted to lieutenant general – the highest rank in the Union Army.
Throughout the course of the war, Grant established himself as a very capable leader. His quick decision-making and willingness to commit troops in order to win an engagement distinguished him from his peers. However, after suffering heavy casualties at the Battle of Shiloh, critics called for Grant to be replaced. President Lincoln responded, “I can’t spare this man – he fights.”
Following the Union victory, on April 9, 1865, Grant became a national hero. He was so popular, in fact, he was elected President in 1868. Unfortunately, Grant’s lack of prior political experience caused him to fall prey to dishonest politicians. He appointed many of his friends to cabinet positions, and within months his administration was fraught with scandal. One such scandal involved Grant’s own brother-in-law providing insider information to the financier Jay Gould, who was attempting to corner the gold market.
Despite the scandals of his first administration, Ulysses Grant was elected to a second term as President. This term proved more disastrous than the first. Several high-ranking government officials were involved in illegal stock dealings in connection with the Union Pacific Railroad. Two members of Grant’s own cabinet were forced to resign rather than face impeachment for their involvement in the Whiskey Ring, where the U.S. government was swindled out of millions of dollars in excise taxes.
Following his second term in office, Grant retired to New York. After the bank he had invested in went bankrupt, Grant raised money by writing his memoirs. He died on July 23, 1885, just a few weeks after completing his writing.