October 2015

This Day in History… October 19, 1789

U.S. #1046 – While serving as chief justice, Jay went to Great Britain and negotiated the Jay Treaty, which settled many of the lingering post-war disputes.

John Jay Becomes First Supreme Court Chief Justice

On October 19, 1789, John Jay was sworn in as America’s first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

John Jay was one of America’s Founding Fathers, serving in the First and Second Continental Congress, drafting New York’s Constitution, and serving as New York’s Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Judicature. He was also American Ambassador to Spain, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and helped negotiate the Treaty of the Paris, in which Great Britain recognized America’s independence. Supporting a strong centralized government, Jay helped write the Federalist Papers with Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, which promoted the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.

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This Day in History… October 18, 1867

U.S. #800 pictures Denali (formerly Mount McKinley), the highest mountain peak in North America.

U.S. Takes Possession of Alaska

On October 18, 1867, Alaska became part of America in a move dubbed “Seward’s Folly”.

The earliest known European presence in Alaska came in 1741 when Vitus Bering led an expedition for the Russian navy. Bering’s crew returned to Russia with some of the finest sea otter pelts in the world. Soon, fur traders began sailing from Siberia to the Aleutian Islands, establishing the first European settlement in 1784.

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This Day in History… October 17, 1777

U.S. #644 is based on an 1821 painting by John Trumbull. You can view the full painting and find out who’s pictured here.

Burgoyne Surrenders at Saratoga

On October 17, 1777, British General Burgoyne surrendered at Saratoga – one of the major American victories of the American Revolution.

After the first two years of fighting, the British changed their strategy. Rather than trying to conquer the New England colonies, they planned to separate them from what they considered to be the more loyal middle and southern colonies. British General John Burgoyne believed New York’s Hudson River Valley was the perfect route for an invasion and developed a three-prong attack.

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This Day in History… October 16, 1962

Item #M8728 – President Kennedy helped avoid war in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Cuban Missile Crisis Begins

On October 16, 1962, missiles were discovered in Cuba that could easily reach the U.S., beginning the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In April 1961, a group of CIA-trained soldiers attempted to overthrow Fidel Castro’s communist government in Cuba. Dubbed the Bay of Pigs Invasion (after one of the landing sites), it ultimately failed and strengthened Castro’s leadership and Soviet support. In fact, Castro met secretly with Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev to request nuclear missiles to prevent future actions against them. Construction on these missile launch facilities began that summer.

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This Day in History… October 15, 1860

U.S. #1113 – Lincoln received Grace’s letter while sitting for this painting, which was the last to picture him without a beard.

Did an 11-Year-Old Girl Convince Lincoln to Grow a Beard?

On October 15, 1860, 11-year-old Grace Bedell wrote a letter to Republican presidential nominee Abraham Lincoln. She suggested he grow a beard – which he did shortly after!

During the 1860 election season, young Grace Bedell saw a picture of Abraham Lincoln and told her mother he’d look better with a beard and that she intended to tell him so. And in fact, she did. On October 15, she wrote a letter to Lincoln, telling him she wanted him to be president and that she would vote for him if she could. She also urged him to grow a beard. Grace told Lincoln he would be “much improved in appearance, provided you would cultivate whiskers.”

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This Day in History… October 14, 1912

U.S. #830 – Of the shooting, Roosevelt said “It takes more than that to kill a bull moose.”

Roosevelt Delivers Speech After Being Shot

Shortly after being shot in the chest by an attempted assassin, Theodore Roosevelt delivered a ninety-minute campaign speech on October 14, 1912.

After serving as President from 1901 to 1909, Theodore Roosevelt groomed his friend, William Howard Taft, to lead the country. However, after returning from a safari trip, Roosevelt was unhappy with Taft’s agenda.  After failing to win the Republican party’s nomination, he formed the Progressive Bull Moose Party and embarked on a rigorous campaign tour.

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