This Day in History… December 8, 1765

Birth of Eli Whitney

US #889 from the 1940 Famous Americans Series. Click the image to order.

Eli Whitney was born on December 8, 1765, in Westborough, Province of Massachusetts Bay. 

Whitney was the son of a farmer and was a talented mechanic and inventor from an early age.  As a child, he built a nail forge and a violin, among other things.  After graduating from Yale College in 1792, he hoped to study to become a lawyer, but needed money.  Instead, he took a job as a private tutor on the Georgia plantation of Catherine Greene (widow of Revolutionary General Nathanael Greene).

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This Day in History… December 7, 1898

The World’s First Christmas Stamp

Canada #85 – Canada’s first Christmas stamp. Click the image to order.

On December 7, 1898, Canada issued what many consider to be the world’s first Christmas stamp.

In 1898, Imperial Penny Postage was established in Canada, lowering the postage rate from 3¢ to 2¢.  New stamps were needed, and it became Postmaster General William Mulock’s duty to present the design to Queen Victoria for approval.

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This Day in History… December 6, 1917

Finnish Independence

US #1334 was issued for the 50th anniversary of Finnish Independence.

On December 6, 1917, Finland declared its independence. 

The Kingdom of Sweden had ruled Finland since the 13th century.  In 1742, during the Russian occupation in the Russo-Swedish War, the first recorded mention of Finnish independence was made.  At that time, Empress Elizabeth of Russia spoke to the people of Finland in the Finnish language telling them to create a Finland that was independent from Sweden and Russia.  A duke was elected – but no further action was taken. 

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This Day in History… December 5, 1782

Happy Birthday Martin Van Buren 

U.S. #813 from the Presidential Series.

US #813 from the Presidential Series.

Martin Van Buren was born on December 5, 1782, in Kinderhook, New York.  He was the first president born an American citizen (all of his predecessors were born before the American Revolution).

As a child, Van Buren spent time in his father’s tavern, a popular stop for politicians traveling between Albany and New York City.  His interest in politics sparked at this early age.  At the age of 17, he had his first taste of political life, attending a party convention where he helped attain John Van Ness’ congressional nomination.

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This Day in History… December 4, 1867

Founding of the National Grange 

U.S. #1323 was issued for the 100th anniversary of The Grange.

US #1323 was issued for the 100th anniversary of The Grange.

On December 4, 1867, Oliver Hudson Kelley established the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry.

Born in Boston in 1826, Kelley decided in his 20s to become a farmer.  So in 1849, he took a steamboat to St. Paul, Minnesota.  While the area was mostly one of Indian trade at the time, Kelley recognized that it held great agricultural potential.

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This Day in History… December 3, 1755

Birth of Artist Gilbert Stuart 

U.S. #884 from the Famous Americans series.

US #884 from the Famous Americans series.

On December 3, 1755, Gilbert Stuart was born in Saunderstown, Rhode Island Colony.

Stuart was the third child of Gilbert Stuart, who worked in America’s first colonial snuff mill.  When he was six, Stuart’s family moved to Newport, Rhode Island.  It was there that he first began to show an interest and talent for painting.  In 1770, Stuart met Scottish artist Cosmo Alexander, who served as his first art tutor.   The following year Stuart traveled to Scotland with Alexander but returned to America in 1773 following his tutor’s death.

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