December 2020

This Day in History… December 31, 1783

Birth of Thomas Macdonough

US #791 honors Macdonough and his ship Saratoga. It also honors Stephen Decatur and his ship United States.

Thomas Macdonough (born McDonough) Jr. was born on December 31, 1783, in New Castle County, Delaware.  The town in which he was born was later named McDonough in his honor. 

Macdonough worked as a clerk until 1800 when he joined the navy as a midshipman aboard the USS Ganges.  His first term of service brought him the West Indies.  After the Quasi-War with France ended, Macdonough was assigned to the USS Constellation for service in the Mediterranean Sea. 

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This Day in History… December 30, 1873

US #937 was issued the year after Smith died.

Birth of Alfred E. Smith 

Alfred Emanuel Smith was born on December 30, 1873, in New York City, New York.

Smith’s father was a Civil War veteran who had fought with the 11th New York Fire Zouaves.  When Smith was 13, his father died.  After this, he dropped out of school to work at a fish market to help support the family.

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This Day in History… December 29, 1812

Another Victory for Old Ironsides 

US #951 was issued for the Constitution’s 150th anniversary.

On December 29, 1812, the USS Constitution scored another American victory at sea in the War of 1812.

Named for the document that established our nation’s laws, the USS Constitution was built in a Boston shipyard between 1794 and 1797.  Its massive 204-foot-long oak hull was composed of trees from Massachusetts, Maine, and Georgia.  The Constitution was launched on October 21, 1797.

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This Day in History… December 28, 1903

Birth of John von Neumann

US #3908 – from the 2005 American Scientists Issue

Mathematician and scientist John von Neumann was born on December 28, 1903, in Budapest, Hungary.

Von Neumann was considered a child prodigy.  At only six years old, he could divide two eight-digit numbers in his head and joke with his father in classical Greek.  He also learned English, French, German, and Italian and took a particular interest in history. 

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This Day in History… December 27, 1947

US #4414d – from the Early TV Memories Sheet

It’s Howdy Doody Time! 

On December 27, 1947, Howdy Doody made his television debut on Puppet Playhouse.  Howdy Doody was one of the first TV programs made for children and produced in color.

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This Day in History… December 26, 1805

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts 

US #1064 was issued for the 150th anniversary of the academy. 

On December 26, 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts was founded – the first and oldest art museum and art school in the country.  The Academy was the brainchild of artist Charles Willson Peale, sculptor Benjamin Rush, and other artists and businessmen.

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