This Day in History

This Day in History… January 18, 1944

Metropolitan Opera’s First Jazz Concert

US #2054 was issued for the 100th anniversary of the Metropolitan Opera.

On January 18, 1944, the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City hosted its first-ever jazz concert, which raised money for the war effort.

The concert was the result of a reader’s poll for Esquire magazine.  Despite wartime cutbacks, the magazine was popular with GIs, and they sought to increase their popularity by running a poll in which readers could vote for their favorite artists for different instruments as well as singers and big band leaders.

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This Day in History… January 17, 1944

Battle of Monte Cassino

US #2765f from the 1943: Turning the Tide sheet.

On January 17, 1944, the Allies launched one of the longest and bloodiest fights of the Italian campaign – the Battle of Monte Cassino.

Although Italy had surrendered on September 3, 1943, Germany was determined to fight for control of the Italian mainland.  In a series of head-on assaults, the Allies slowly battled their way up the Italian peninsula to Monte Cassino, 75 miles south of Rome.

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This Day in History… January 16, 1883

Passage of the Pendleton Civil Service Act 

US #2053 was issued for the 100th anniversary of the act.

On January 16, 1883, President Chester A. Arthur signed the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act, making major changes to American Civil Service System.

When a new US President began his term in the early 1800s, one of his first duties was to dismiss thousands of Federal employees and replace them with members of his own party. The “spoils system” was part of the privilege of the position, and recipients of the jobs were expected to contribute to the President and party’s campaign.

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This Day in History… January 15, 1943

The Pentagon 

US #O117 – War Department Official stamp.

On January 15, 1943, construction on the Pentagon, the world’s largest office building, was completed.

In May 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt declared a state of national emergency, three weeks after Germany launched a surprise attack on the Soviet Union.  For many, it seemed very likely that the US would soon enter the war.

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This Day in History… January 14, 1943

Casablanca Conference

US #930 pictures Roosevelt and his upstate New York home at Hyde Park.

On January 14, 1943, Allied leaders met in Casablanca, Morocco, to discuss the next stage of World War II.

The conference was a secret. Days before the meeting, President Franklin Roosevelt boarded a train going north to make journalists think he was going to his upstate New York estate.  Instead, he secretly switched trains in Baltimore and rode down to Miami to catch a plane.  This made Roosevelt the first president to fly in an airplane while in office, and the first to leave American soil during wartime.

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This Day in History… January 13, 1968

Johnny Cash Performs at Folsom Prison 

US #4789 features a photograph taken for the 1963 album Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash.

On January 13, 1968, Johnny Cash put on a concert at Folsom Prison. The resulting album that was recorded that day revitalized his career.

Cash first became interested in Folsom State Prison (America’s second-oldest prison) when he was in the US Air Force Security Service. During that service in 1953, his unit watched Crane Wilbur’s crime film, Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison.

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