August 2020

This Day in History… August 11, 1862

The Virginia City Pony Express

US #143L7 – 10¢ brown Wells Fargo Pony Express stamp

On August 11, 1862, Wells Fargo inaugurated its Virginia City Pony Express, which carried mail between Nevada mining towns and California business centers.

When California’s gold rush began in 1848, Vermonter Henry Wells and New York-native William Fargo, both partners in different express companies, realized the opportunities available to them in the West.  In 1850, these two joined forces with John Warren Butterfield to establish the American Express Company (the same one now known for its credit card).  When Wells and Fargo considered expanding to California, the company’s board declined.  Instead, the two started their own business. 

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This Day in History… August 10, 1936

Joshua Tree National Monument

US #5347 – 2019 Express Mail Stamp picturing Joshua trees

On August 10, 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt used the power of the 1906 Antiquities Act to create Joshua Tree National Monument.

Rising tall above the sand dunes in the American Southwest, Joshua trees are dominating figures with twisted branches and sharp, spiky leaves.  Found in the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts, Joshua trees grow about three inches per year, which is fast for their climate.  They are known to reach soaring heights, up to 49 feet.  Unlike most trees, they do not have growth rings, so it is difficult to determine their age.  Joshua trees can live for hundreds of years, but it is believed some have survived for a thousand.

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This Day in History… August 9, 2001

American Treasures Series 

US #3524-27 features the designs of quilts created in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

On August 9, 2001, the USPS inaugurated the American Treasures Series with the issue of four stamps depicting Amish quilts.

In announcing the new stamp series, the USPS stated, “US postage stamps honor significant people, major events, and lasting achievements.  Yet sometimes, people just want beautiful stamps.”

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This Day in History… August 8, 1829

The First Steam Locomotive in the U.S.

US #2362 – from the 1987 Locomotives issue

On August 8, 1829, the Stourbridge Lion became the first steam locomotive to be operated in the United States.

The locomotive had been built for the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company (D&H).  The company had been founded in 1823 to construct canals between the coalfields near Carbondale, Pennsylvania, and New York City.  In 1825, the project’s engineers began to consider using trains to transport the coal to the canal.

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This Day in History… August 7, 1904

Birth of Ralph Bunche 

US #1860 – from the Great Americans Series

Ralph Johnson Bunche was born on August 7, 1904, in Detroit, Michigan.

In his youth, Bunche and his family moved around a bit, spending time in Toledo, Ohio; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Los Angeles, California.  He was a bright student, a member of the debate team, and the valedictorian of his high school class.

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This Day in History… August 6, 1965

Voting Rights Act of 1965

US #3937b features a photo of young protesters at the Selma March.

On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law, prohibiting racial discrimination in voting.

The 15th to the United States Constitution says the right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”  However, Southern registration boards used poll taxes, literacy tests, and other strategies to deny this right to blacks.

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