January 2016

This Day in History… January 19, 1809

Birth of Renowned Writer Edgar Allan Poe

U.S. #986 – “The Gold-Bug” was Poe’s most financially-successful work during his life.

Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Poe’s work, featuring dark themes of death and violence, is a reflection of his tormented and tragic life.  His father abandoned the family when Edgar was only a year old.  His mother, actress Elizabeth Arnold Poe, died when he was only two.  Eerily, the Richmond Theater, where she gave her last performance, burned to the ground a few days later, killing 72 people.
Continue reading

Posted in January 2016, This Day in History | 9 Comments

This Day in History… January 18, 1778

James Cook – First European to Visit Hawaii

U.S. #1732 – In addition to Hawaii, Cook also made the first European contact with Australia.

On January 18, 1778, Captain James Cook became the first European to reach the Hawaiian islands.

About 2,000 years ago, Polynesians journeyed to the Hawaiian Islands using giant sailing canoes.  These expert seafarers traveled more than 3,500 miles through rough, open seas that later proved a serious challenge to much larger European sailing vessels.  Incredibly, this migration was made without the use of navigational tools.

Although European or Japanese ships may have reached the Hawaiian Islands during the 1500s, Great Britain’s Captain James Cook was responsible for making them known to the rest of the world.  One of the world’s greatest explorers, he commanded three Pacific Ocean voyages and sailed around the world twice.  Cook began his third and final Pacific voyage in July 1776 with his ships the Resolution and the Discovery.

U.S. #1733 pictures Cook’s ships at Hawaii’s shore.

Cook made the first European landfall in Hawaii on January 18, 1778, and engaged in friendly trade.  It’s estimated that about 300,000 people lived in Hawaii at that time.  Cook’s arrival in Hawaii coincided with an important festival.  Many historians speculate that the islanders believed Cook was fulfilling a Hawaiian legend – the return from their sea god, “Lono.”  The Hawaiians believed Cook had divine powers and considered him a great chief.  He named the islands in honor of the first lord of the British admiralty, the Earl of Sandwich.  Cook left the Sandwich Islands after two weeks.

Hawaii #H75 pictures the bay at Honolulu.

Cook then sailed north, crossed the Bering Strait and entering the Arctic Ocean.  However, large walls of ice forced him to turn back.  So he returned to Hawaii in November 1778.  Despite their warm welcome, friction soon developed between the crew and the islanders.  Perhaps feeding the crew of his two ships was too great a strain on the Hawaiians.

The poor condition of Cook’s ships prevented him from leaving.  In February 1779, a Hawaiian stole a boat from the Discovery.  While Cook was investigating the theft, a fight broke out between the Hawaiians and Cook’s crew.  Cook was stabbed to death during the fight on February 14, 1779.

Cook Islands #85b – A Cook Islands stamp honoring their namesake.

Cook was respected so greatly that, among many other honors, Russia named an island group near New Zealand after him (the Cook Islands).  Perhaps the greatest praise came from Benjamin Franklin, though. As the American Colonies battled Great Britain for independence in the Revolutionary War, battles were often fought at sea.  Any ship of the opposing nation was potential prey with one exception – Captain Cook’s ship.

In 1779, Franklin ordered that American ships should “…not consider (Cook’s ship) an enemy, nor suffer any plunder to be made of the effects contained in her, nor obstruct her immediate return to England…but that you treat the said Captain Cook and his people with all civility and kindness…as common friends to mankind.”  But at the time of the order, Cook had already been slain in a conflict with Hawaiian natives earlier in the year.

Click the images to add this history to your collection.

Posted in January 2016, This Day in History | 12 Comments

This Day in History… January 17, 1903

Founding of El Yunque National Forest

U.S. #4318 pictures the Puerto Rican tody which can be found in the forest.

On January 17, 1903, the National Forest Service established Luquillo Forest Reserve (today known as El Yunque National Forest) in Puerto Rico.

The earliest-known people to live in El Yunque were likely Taíno Indians.  In 1508, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León was sent to conquer the Taíno, as their conflict with the Carib people of South America was mistaken for aggression against Spain.  He founded the first settlement, called Caparra, in 1508.  A year later, the settlement was moved to a nearby small island and named Puerto Rico, which means “Rich Port.”
Continue reading

Posted in January 2016, This Day in History | 5 Comments

This Day in History… January 16, 1917

Death of Admiral George Dewey

U.S. #793 pictures Dewey with two other Spanish-American war naval heroes – William Sampson and Winfield Schley.

George Dewey, the only man to hold the rank of Admiral of the Navy, died on January 16, 1917.

Dewey was born in Montpelier, Vermont, on December 26, 1837.  His father had helped found the National Life Insurance Company as well as the Christ Episcopal Church in Montpelier.  Continue reading

Posted in January 2016, This Day in History | 13 Comments

This Day in History… January 15, 1929

Happy Birthday Martin Luther King, Jr.

U.S. #1771 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was first celebrated as a federal holiday on January 20, 1986.

Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The middle child of a Baptist minister, he was born Michael King, Jr.  In 1931, his father succeeded his grandfather as pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church.  It was at this time that his father changed his name to Martin, in honor of the German Protestant leader Martin Luther.  Michael Jr. eventually adopted this name change as well.
Continue reading

Posted in January 2016, This Day in History | 6 Comments

This Day in History… January 14, 1957

Farewell to a Hollywood Legend

U.S. #3152 – In his nearly 30-year career, Bogart appeared in 75 feature films.

On January 14, 1957, we said goodbye to Humphrey Bogart.

Born December 25, 1899 in New York City, Humphrey Bogart was the oldest child of a successful surgeon and a commercial illustrator.  In 1918, with no other career options, Bogart embraced his love for the sea and joined the U.S. Navy.  He was a model sailor, spending most of his time in service ferrying troops back from Europe.  He worked a number of odd jobs after that, including shipper and bond salesman.  It was at this time that his friend Bill Brady, Jr., got him a job at his father’s business, World Films.
Continue reading

Posted in January 2016, This Day in History | 8 Comments