1936-37 4¢ Lee and Jackson
U.S. Army Heroes
Issue Date: March 23, 1937
First City: Washington, D.C.
Quantity Issued: 35,794,150
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforation: 11x10 ½
U.S. #788 was part of a 10-stamp series that commemorated Army and Navy heroes of the United States – 5 stamps for each. Shown in the background of U.S. #788 is Stratford Hall in northern Virginia – the birthplace of Robert E. Lee. Four generations of the Lee family lived in the plantation, including two signers of the Declaration of Independence (Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee).
U.S. #788 was issued during President Franklin Roosevelt’s administration. Roosevelt was involved in the process of every stamp issued during his presidency and had a sharp eye for detail and accuracy. But #788 was one time Roosevelt made an error.
The image of Lee on the stamp shows two stars on his shoulder (representing his rank). Lee was a three-star general. This drew numerous complaints from collectors in Southern states, who thought the error was on purpose in order to diminish Lee’s legacy. The Post Office Department responded that the mistake had been only an accident, with the third star lost during the production process.
Confederate Generals Honored on Federal Stamps
The 4¢ 1937 commemorative is a rare occurrence of a stamp featuring military leaders who took up arms against the United States. Lee joined the Army of the Confederacy because he couldn’t bear the thought of taking up arms against his native Virginia. Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson served under Lee during the Civil War until Jackson’s death at the Battle of Chancellorsville. Despite serving as Commander-in-Chief of Virginia forces, Robert E. Lee did not believe in the practice of slavery.