February 2016

This Day in History… February 29, 1940

Hattie McDaniel’s Academy Award Win

U.S. #3996 – McDaniel was the 29th honoree in the Black Heritage Series.

On February 29, 1940, Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Academy Award.

McDaniel, the youngest child of former slaves, was born in Wichita, Kansas, and raised in Denver, Colorado. She dropped out of high school to tour with vaudeville companies. When McDaniel arrived in Hollywood in 1931, she supported herself by working on radio and washing clothes.

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This Day in History… February 28, 1827

Incorporation of B&O Railroad

U.S. #1006 was issued on this date in 1952. It pictures the railroad’s charter and three historic trains, including the Tom Thumb.

One of America’s oldest railroads, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, was first established on February 28, 1827.

In the early 1820s, New York opened the Erie Canal as a quicker way to move goods across the state. Similar canals were constructed and even more proposed in the coming years, including the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. This concerned businessmen in Baltimore, Maryland, who feared such a canal would draw business away from their growing port city.

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This Day in History… February 27, 1902

Birth of John Steinbeck

U.S. #1773 – Steinbeck was the first honoree in the U.S.P.S. Literary Arts Series.

Acclaimed author John Steinbeck was born on February 27, 1902, in Salinas, California.

Raised in a small rural town, Steinbeck grew up with a great appreciation for the land. He spent his summers working on ranches and on beet farms with migrant workers, providing experiences that deeply influenced his later writing. Reportedly, Steinbeck decided to become a writer at age 14, at which point he frequently locked himself in his room to write poems and stories. After graduating from high school in 1919, Steinbeck went to Stanford University to study English Literature. He attended the school on and off for six years, finally leaving for good in 1925.

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This Day in History… February 26, 1919

Grand Canyon National Park Established

U.S. #757 is one of the 1935 “Farley’s Follies” Special Printings.

On February 26, 1919, Woodrow Wilson signed legislation establishing the Grand Canyon National Park.

The history of the Grand Canyon began up to two billion years ago when some of the oldest rock in the canyon was lifted to create a great mountain range nearly six miles high. Over millions of years, the land was raised, eroded and raised again several times. Then, about six million years ago, the Colorado River began carving through the rock, creating the vast canyon.

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This Day in History… February 25, 1951

First Pan-American Games

U.S. #C56 was issued for the 3rd Pan-American Games held in Chicago.

After nearly two decades of planning, the first Pan-American Games were held on February 25, 1951.

The first step toward the Pan-American Games came at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, France. During the Olympic Congress there, members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from Cuba, Guatemala, and Mexico suggested the creation of regional games to increase sport activities in Central America. Working together, they succeeded in holding the first Central American Games two years later.

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This Day in History… February 24, 1885

Birth of Admiral Chester Nimitz

U.S. #1869 was issued as part of the Great Americans Series.

Chester William Nimitz was born on February 24, 1885, in Fredericksburg, Texas.

Nimitz had early aspirations to join the Army, applying to West Point while still in high school. No spots were available, so he entered the Naval Academy instead. Excelling in mathematics and graduating with distinction (cumulative GPA of 3.750 or higher) in 1905, Nimitz joined the crew of the USS Ohio for service in the Far East. Two years later, he was given command of the USS Panay, the Dacatur, and then the Denver.

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