December 2016

This Day in History… December 19, 1777

Washington Winters at Valley Forge

U.S. #1689 pictures The March to Valley Forge by William Trego.

From December 19, 1777, to June 18, 1778, the Continental Army, under the command of General George Washington, camped at Valley Forge.

Following the crushing defeats at Philadelphia and Germantown in late 1777, General George Washington led his men to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, on December 19.  In addition to the recent losses that had dampened the men’s spirits, there was little food and inadequate clothing for the harsh winter conditions ahead.  Crude huts were hastily constructed to provide some type of shelter.  It was only when the last of 10,000 men had moved into sturdier structures that Washington abandoned his own tent in favor of the relative comfort of a cabin.

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This Day in History… December 18, 1918

Latvia’s First Stamps Printed on Maps! 

Item #MA1507 – Latvia #2, printed on German map.

On December 18, 1918, war-torn and recently independent Latvia issued its first stamps, printed on the back of German military maps.

After centuries of fighting and invasions, Latvia became part of the Russian Empire in the 1700s. Discontent there and in other areas of the empire led to the Russian Revolution in 1905, though the imperial government ultimately won.

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This Day in History… December 17, 1807

Birth of John Greenleaf Whittier 

U.S. #865 from the Famous American Poets issue.

John Greenleaf Whittier was born on December 17, 1807, at his family’s rural homestead in Haverhill, Massachusetts.

Whittier grew up on his family’s farm, which saw frequent visitors over the years. The farm wasn’t very profitable, and only provided the family with enough to sustain their lives. Whittier suffered from poor health as a child, and throughout his life, and never really enjoyed the hard labor of farm life.

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This Day in History… December 16, 1773

Colonists Revolt with Boston Tea Party

U.S. #1480-83 – Wealthy colonists offered to pay for the lost tea, but the British refused.

On December 16, 1773, a group of Massachusetts colonists known as the Sons of Liberty staged a dramatic protest against British taxes – the famed Boston Tea Party.

The French and Indian War left Britain in debt. So taxes were levied on the New World colonies, which enraged colonists as they had no say in government. The slogan, “No taxation without representation,” became popular in Massachusetts and protests were staged. In 1770, British soldiers fired on a group of angry patriots, killing five of them. The Boston Massacre, as it came to be known, sparked public sentiment against the British.

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This Day in History… December 15, 1890

Death of Lakota Leader Sitting Bull 

U.S. #2183 from the Great Americans Series.

On December 15, 1890, Indian agency police on the Standing Rock Reservation killed Sitting Bull.

The Hunkpapa Lakota leader known as Sitting Bull was born in 1831 near the Grand River in present-day South Dakota. At birth he was named Jumping Badger, but also received the nickname Slow, because he didn’t rush through anything. After showing great courage in a battle against the Crow Indians at age 14, he was given the name “Buffalo Bull Who Sits Down,” which was later shortened to “Sitting Bull.”

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This Day in History… December 14, 1819

Alabama Becomes 22nd State

U.S. #1375 was issued for Alabama’s 150th anniversary of statehood.

On December 14, 1819, Alabama was admitted to the Union as the 22nd state.

As far back as 8,000 years ago, American Indian groups lived in the area that is now Alabama. Much later, Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw Indians moved into the region. After white settlers arrived in the area, they referred to these Indians as the “Civilized Tribes,” as they adopted many European customs.

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