March 2016

This Day in History… March 19, 1941

Formation of Tuskegee Airmen

U.S. #4879 – “Chief” Anderson is often called the “Father of Black Aviation.”

On March 19, 1941, the War Department ordered the creation of the the 99th Pursuit Squadron, better known as the Tuskegee Airmen.

The Tuskegee Normal School (later Tuskegee Institute) was founded on July 4, 1881. Its founders were Lewis Adams, a former slave, and George W. Campbell, a former slaveholder, who both believed African American education was of the utmost importance. They selected 25-year-old Booker T. Washington to serve as their first president. Under Washington’s leadership, the school went from using a rundown church to an institute spanning 2,300 acres by the early 20th century.

Continue reading

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

This Day in History… March 18, 1837

Birth of Grover Cleveland

U.S. #564 – Cleveland won the popular vote three times – more than any other President.

Stephen Grover Cleveland was born in Caldwell, New Jersey, on March 18, 1837, the fifth of nine children. He was a distant relative of General Moses Cleveland, the namesake of Cleveland, Ohio. The future President was named after the first pastor of his father’s church. However, he preferred to go by his middle name of Grover later in life.

Continue reading

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

This Day in History… March 17, 1941

National Gallery of Art Opens

U.S. #3910g – From the Modern American Architecture sheet.

On March 17, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt presided over the opening of the National Gallery of Art.

Andrew Mellon made his fortune in oil, steel, shipbuilding, and construction, becoming one of the wealthiest people in America. During World War I, Mellon used his wealth to build a private art collection of old master paintings and sculptures. Appointed Secretary of the Treasury in 1921, he moved to Washington, D.C., and soon realized that America should have a national art museum like the ones in other great nations.

Continue reading

Posted in March 2016, This Day in History | 10 Comments

This Day in History… March 16, 1751

Happy Birthday, James Madison

U.S. #262 is from the first series of stamps produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

James Madison was born on March 16, 1751, in Port Conway, Virginia. James was the oldest of 12 children, although only seven would reach adulthood. He was a weak and sickly child, unable to spend much time being active, but was an avid reader.

Madison attended the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) from 1769-71, completing a four-year degree in just two years. For a year after graduating, he studied closely with the school’s president, John Witherspoon, earning the honor of being Princeton’s first graduate student (sometimes referred to as America’s first graduate student).

Continue reading

Posted in March 2016, This Day in History | 7 Comments

This Day in History… March 15, 1820

Maine Admitted to the Union 

U.S. #1391 pictures The Lighthouse at Two Lights, Maine, by Edward Hopper.


On March 15, 1820, Maine became America’s 23rd state.

Before European settlement, thousands of Indians lived in Maine. Most belonged to the Abenaki and Etchemin tribes of the Algonquian Indian family. The Iroquois Indians frequently attacked these people, and they were bitter enemies.

Vikings led by Leif Erikson may have visited Maine around 1000 A.D. In 1498, John Cabot, an Italian captain in the service of England, reached Maine. France also sent many explorers to the area, including: Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524; Pierre du Gua de Monts, in 1604; and Samuel de Champlain in 1604. Champlain named Mount Desert, the largest island on the Maine coast.

Continue reading

Posted in March 2016, This Day in History | 3 Comments

This Day in History… March 14, 1794

Eli Whitney Patents Cotton Gin

U.S. #889 from the 1940 Famous Americans Series.

On March 14, 1794, Eli Whitney received the patent for his cotton gin nearly five months after first applying for it.

Born in Massachusetts in 1765, Whitney was the son of a farmer and was a talented mechanic and inventor from an early age. As a child, he’d built a nail forge and a violin, among other things. After graduating from Yale College in 1792, he hoped to study to become a lawyer, but needed money. Instead, he took a job as a private tutor on the Georgia plantation of Catherine Greene (widow of Revolutionary General Nathanael Greene).

Continue reading

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