December 2016

This Day in History… December 25, 1776

Washington Crosses the Delaware

U.S. #1688 pictures Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze’s dramatic portrayal of Washington’s crossing.

U.S. #1688 pictures Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze’s dramatic portrayal of Washington’s crossing.

On the night of December 25, 1776, George Washington led his men across the Delaware River in a surprise attack on the British.

By early December 1776, things were bleak for the American patriots.  They’d lost a string of battles and were pushed out of New York, through New Jersey, into Pennsylvania.  Many soldiers had deserte­­­­­­­­­d, fearing that the cause for independence was lost.  Even General Washington expressed his doubts when he wrote to his cousin, “I think the game is pretty near up.”
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This Day in History… December 24, 1914

Word War I Christmas Truce 

U.S. #1205 – America’s first Christmas stamp.

On December 24, 1914, soldiers from both sides engaged in a truce for the Christmas holiday.

As World War I reached a quick stalemate within its first few months, troops on the Western Front settled in for trench warfare. These trenches ran in a continuous line “from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier” with France. In some places, enemy combatants occupied trenches that were only 30 yards apart, which allowed them to communicate with one another.

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This Day in History… December 23, 1913

Federal Reserve Established 

U.S. #3183b pictures an eagle statue on the Federal Reserve building.

On December 23, 1913, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act, establishing America’s current central banking system.

The idea of a central banking system dates back to post-Revolutionary War America. The new country had large wartime debts and needed a solid banking system. Two of America’s founding fathers and long-time friends, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, were split on the issue.

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This Day in History… December 22, 1696

Birth of James Oglethorpe 

U.S. #726 – Georgia settlement bicentennial picturing Oglethorpe.

On December 22, James Oglethorpe, founder of the colony of Georgia, was born.

Born in Surrey, England, Oglethorpe briefly attended Corpus Christi College before joining the army of Prince Eugene of Savoy. Oglethorpe served as the prince’s aide-de-camp and served with distinction during the Austro-Turkish War of 1716-18.

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This Day in History… December 21, 1945

Death of General George Patton

U.S. #1026 pictures Patton and two of the tanks named in his honor.

On December 21, 1945, General George S. Patton died from injuries he received in a car crash 12 days earlier.

George Smith Patton, Jr. was born on November 11, 1885 in San Gabriel, California. Patton belonged to a prominent military family, with ancestors participating Revolutionary and Civil War battles. Though he had difficulty learning to read and write as a child, Patton soon became an avid reader with a determined interest in military history, particularly Julius Caesar, Joan of Arc, Napoleon Bonaparte, and family friend John S. Mosby (the “Gray Ghost” cavalry leader from the Civil War).

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This Day in History… December 20, 1860

South Carolina Secedes from the Union 

U.S. #2343 was issued for South Carolina’s 200th anniversary.

On December 20, 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union.

Well before the start of the American Civil War, South Carolina came into conflict with the federal government over states’ rights. South Carolina depended heavily on foreign trade and federal tariffs discouraged foreign trade.

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