July 2015

This Day in History… July 13, 1787

Northwest Ordinance Revolutionizes Addition of New States to the Union 

U.S. #795

The United States passed the Northwest Ordinance on July 13, 1787, to establish a set of steps territories would have to follow before becoming a state. It was groundbreaking at the time and led to the organized and rapid expansion of America.

As part of the United States’ victory in the Revolutionary War, Great Britain ceded a 260,000-square-mile territory to the young nation. As states filed competing claims for the same land, the government sought a way to bypass the confusion. Early attempts at such legislation failed to make it through Congress. Then in 1787 Manasseh Cutler (the man on the left side of this stamp) and others drafted the Northwest Ordinance. Continue reading

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This Day in History… July 12, 1862

Birth of U.S. Army’s Medal of Honor 

U.S. #2045

On July 12, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation creating a Medal of Honor to be awarded “to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities during the present insurrection [Civil War].”

The first men to receive the Army’s Medal of Honor (the medal on the left side of this stamp) were members of a Union raiding party that took part in the Great Locomotive Chase in April 1862. In that action, they commandeered a train, cut telegraph wires, and destroyed sections of a Southern railway for the Union cause. Continue reading

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This Day in History… July 11, 1921

William Howard Taft – Only Man to Serve as President and Chief Justice 

U.S. #687

William Howard Taft always dreamed of being a Supreme Court Justice. He was even offered the chance several times throughout his career, but refused out of a sense of duty to the various posts he was already serving. After a term as President, the time was finally right for Taft to take his dream job – on July 11, 1921.

As President, Taft faced several struggles, largely from his own party. In spite of this, he managed to create peaceful relations through treaties with foreign nations, established the first presidential budget, and imposed several pieces of civil service reform. Continue reading

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This Day in History… July 10, 1890

Wyoming Becomes 44th U.S. State 

U.S. 897

U.S. #897

As a passageway to the West, thousands of people passed through Wyoming in the mid-1800s, yet few stayed. It was a site of fierce fighting and legislative firsts long before it became a U.S. state.

Most of Wyoming became part of the U.S. following the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. The rest was acquired in 1845. The large number of settlers traveling through Wyoming to the West alarmed local Native Americans and conflicts erupted intermittently until 1876.

During this time, gold and the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad began to draw settlers to remain in Wyoming. It was made a territory in 1868 and passed the first law allowing women to vote, hold office, and serve on juries the following year. Wyoming celebrated another first in 1872, hosting America’s first National Park – Yellowstone. Continue reading

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This Day in History… July 9, 1962

Andy Warhol’s First One-Man Show
Introduces Campbell’s Soup Cans 

U.S. #3652

On July 9, 1962, visitors to the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, California, were a part of history, but were uneasy about what they were seeing. Thirty-two canvases sat on narrow shelves, appearing much like a grocery store, picturing 32 varieties of Campbell’s Soup.

It was Andy Warhol’s first one-man show, and often considered the introduction of pop art to the West Coast. Warhol, a successful commercial illustrator at the time, was drawn to pop art, which challenged traditional art by utilizing imagery from mass culture.

Word of Warhol’s exhibition spread quickly, with critics questioning why an artist would essentially paint a scene from a grocery store. Others were thrilled by his work, which he believed was a reflection of modern society. Continue reading

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This Day in History… July 8, 1948

First Women Inducted into the U.S. Air Force 

U.S. #3167

Staff Sergeant Esther McGowin Blake is seen as the “first lady” of the Air Force. She raised her right hand and enlisted in the first minute women were allowed to join the U.S. Air Force on July 8, 1948. In doing so, she paved the way for a new generation of women’s military service.

During World War II, Blake had served in the Women’s Army Corp following the news that her son, a pilot, was missing in action. She hoped that by taking on clerical work, she was freeing a soldier to fight, which might help end the war sooner. Luckily for Blake, both of her sons returned home from the war. Continue reading

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