February 2019

This Day in History… February 10, 1807

National Geodetic Survey

US #1088 was issued for the Coast and Geodetic Survey’s 150th anniversary.  Click image to order. 

On February 10, 1807, President Thomas Jefferson signed legislation to establish the United States Survey of the Coast, which became the US Coast and Geodetic Survey and later the National Geodetic Survey.

Well before 1807, other nations had done their own coastal and geodetic surveys.  Geodesy is the science of measuring the Earth’s shape, orientation in space, and gravitational field.  Swiss-born Ferdinand R. Hassler immigrated to the US in 1805 and proposed the creation of a government agency to explore this field of science.

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This Day in History… February 9, 1773

Birth of William Henry Harrison 

US #814 from the 1938 Prexies.  Click image to order. 

William Henry Harrison was born on February 9, 1773, in Charles City County, Virginia.

Harrison was the last American President born a British subject. William’s father, Benjamin Harrison V, was a delegate to the Continental Congress, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and a governor of Virginia.

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This Day in History… February 8, 1960

Hollywood Walk of Fame 

US #1727 was issued for the 50th anniversary of talking pictures.  Click image to order. 

On February 8, 1960, construction began on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

A man named EM Stuart is credited with creating the Walk of Fame.  In 1953, while serving as president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, he proposed the walk to “maintain the glory of a community whose name means glamour and excitement in the four corners of the world.”  Its unknown exactly where he got the idea, but some suggest it could have been the Hollywood Hotel, which had stars painted on the ceiling with celebrities’ names on them.

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This Day in History… February 7, 1885

Happy Birthday Sinclair Lewis 

US #1856 was issued for Lewis’ 100th birthday.  Click image to order. 

Harry Sinclair Lewis was born on February 7, 1885, in Sauk Centre, Minnesota.

The third and youngest son of a doctor, Lewis enjoyed reading and keeping a diary as a child. When he was 13, Lewis ran away from home to become a drummer boy in the Spanish-American War but his father found him and made him return.

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This Day in History… February 6, 1862

Battle of Fort Henry 

US #281 from the UPU colors issue.

On February 6, 1862, the Union scored an important early victory at the Battle of Fort Henry.

Though Kentucky had declared its neutrality in early 1861, Confederates entered the state that September.  They occupied the town of Columbus, taking control of the strategic Tennessee River.  They installed large guns, placed underwater mines, and stationed 17,000 troops there. This effectively cut off northern shipping to the south.

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This Day in History… February 5, 1918

First U.S. Aerial Victory 

US #3183i from the Celebrate the Century – 1910s sheet.  Click image to order. 

On February 5, 1918, US pilot Stephen W. Thompson shot down a German aircraft, making him the first person in the American military to shoot down an enemy plane.

Born in Missouri, Thompson was a senior at the University of Missouri when the US entered World War I.  His school then announced that seniors that joined the military before graduation would receive their diplomas in June.  So Thompson enlisted in the Army and went for training at the Coast Artillery Corps.  On the train there, he saw an airplane flying overhead for the first time.

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