The U.S. Postal Service issued 113 commemorative stamps over a six-year period in honor of the U.S. bicentennial, beginning with the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission Emblem stamp (U.S. #1432). As a group, the Bicentennial Series chronicles one of our nation’s most important chapters, and remembers the events and patriots who made the U.S. a world model for liberty.
The first stamp in the Bicentennial Series.
This set of four stamps depicts colonial craftsmen working at their trade. Glassblowing is regarded as the colonial craft (Jamestown, 1608). Silversmithing began in Boston in the 1600s, and wigmaking began domestically around 1700. In 1660, hatmaking began in Virginia. The hatter on this issue is rolling a beaver hat.
U.S. #1476-79 was a set of four stamps chronicling the many ways patriots communicated the spirit of independence during the American Revolution. Each of the set of four stamps was issued on a different date and in different cities.
This set of four stamps was the second time the post office used four separate designs to create one larger scene. These stamps depict the drama of the night in 1773 when enraged colonists, dressed as Mohawk Indians, dumped chests of tea into Boston Harbor in protest of an English-levied tax.
This block of four stamps commemorates the Continental Congress, which organized the American colonies to revolt against British rule. Two of the stamps feature historic quotations, and two show buildings where the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia.
Four colonists were recognized in the Contributors to the Cause set of four stamps. Sybil Ludington was born and raised in Putnam County, New York. Her father, Colonel Henry Ludington, commanded a military regiment there. In the face of danger at the age of 16, she rode 40 miles through New York and Connecticut to rally the militia to the cry, “The British are burning Danbury. Muster at Ludington’s.” Although Danbury was burned, Sybil’s ride resulted in a militia victory which cost the British a tenth of their attacking force, and put them in retreat.
The second stamp in the Contributors to the Cause Series is Salem Poor. Poor was a celebrated African-American soldier who fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Fourteen officers signed a commendation citing him for bravery.
The third stamp in the Contributors to the Cause Series commemorates Haym Salomon. This Polish-born merchant and banker raised much of the money that financed the Revolution. Twice imprisoned by the British, he continued to donate freely to the American cause, only to die penniless after the war.
Last in the Contributors to the Cause Series, Francisco is remembered for his incredible bravery and strength. He is said to have brandished a five-foot broadsword. He is shown carrying a heavy cannon, weighing 1,000 pounds, at the Battle of Camden, where he saved the life of his commander.
When the Americans received intelligence that the British intended to capture certain strategic heights outside Boston, General Artemus Ward ordered the fortification of Bunker Hill. Inexplicably, the forces under his command took position on nearby Breed’s Hill. After several hours of bloody fighting the Americans were dislodged. But the British paid a terrible price: 228 were dead and 826 were wounded – 42 percent of their total strength.
This three-stamp se-tenant shows a detail from the famous oil painting by Archibald M. Willard of a fife player and two drummers, leading American troops during the Revolutionary War. The original painting hangs in the Selectmen’s Room in Marblehead, Massachusetts.
The 13¢ State Flags pane was a first in U.S. history. This was the first time a pane with 50 face-different stamps was issued. Each state is represented by its official flag, with the stamps arranged on the sheet in the same order each state was admitted into the Union.
On May 29, 1976, the Postal Service issued four souvenir sheets to commemorate INTERPHIL ‘76 (Seventh International Philatelic Exhibition) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Each sheet contained five individually perforated stamps, which were valid for postage. Since the U.S. was celebrating its 200th anniversary of Independence, four famous Revolutionary War paintings were appropriately chosen as design subjects for the sheets.
This stamp honors Benjamin Franklin, first U.S. Postmaster General, signer of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, American diplomat to France, publisher, writer, scientist, and inventor.
This se-tenant of four stamps commemorates John Hancock’s signing of the Declaration of Independence at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Hancock was the president and only member of the Continental Congress to sign the document on that date. The design reproduces a painting by John Trumbull (1756-1843).
U.S. #1704 honors the 200th anniversary of Washington’s victory over Lord Cornwallis, which occurred in Princeton, New Jersey.
U.S. #1716 commemorates the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the Marquis de Lafayette. Lafayette arrived on the coast of South Carolina in 1777 and played a critical role in the American Revolution.
This set of four stamps honors early American civilians whose skills were essential to the winning of the Revolutionary War.
On the morning of August 6, 1777, troops under Brigadier General Nicholas Herkimer began marching on Fort Stanwix to provide the besieged fort with much-needed relief. Within miles of the fort, a force of Indians, allied with the British under Chief Joseph Brant, ambushed Herkimer’s force. The battle was fierce and losses were high for both sides. General Herkimer was shot in the leg, but he continued to direct the fighting from beneath a beech tree, as shown on the stamp. General Herkimer died a few days later, but the Battle of Oriskany was key in preventing the British from reaching Albany.
The Articles of Confederation established a “firm league of friendship” among the 13 states. It gave the Congress responsibility for conducting foreign affairs (including war), maintaining an army and navy, and many other functions. However, it did not give the Congress the power to tax, regulate commerce, or enforce laws. Those shortcomings led to the creation of the U.S. Constitution.
This stamp commemorates the 200th anniversary of the ratification of the 1778 Treaty of Alliance with France. Historians agree that the resulting French military and financial support was essential to the winning of the Revolutionary War.
This stamp marks the 200th anniversary of the 1779 sea battle between John Paul Jones’ warship the Bonhomme Richard and the British HMS Serapis off Northern England. It was during this famous battle that Jones uttered the long-remembered words, “I have not yet begun to fight.”
U.S. #1826 features General Galvez, who was the governor of Spanish Louisiana during the American Revolution. Galvez organized military forces and successfully launched campaigns against the British.
This pair of stamps recalls the final battle of the American Revolution. After the British moved into Virginia, George Washington and the Comte de Rochambeau combined their French and American armies. With the help of the French fleet, they joined Lafayette and attacked Yorktown. The British commander, Cornwallis, was forced to surrender, bringing to an end the war in America.
This stamp recalls the Treaty of Paris, which proclaimed that the U.S. was an independent nation, free of British rule. The treaty formally ended the Revolutionary War.