This Day in History

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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This Day in History… February 4, 1932

First U.S. Winter Olympics 

US #716 is the first US stamp issued for the Olympics.  Click image to order. 

On February 4, 1932, the first Winter Olympics held in the United States opened in Lake Placid, New York.

Bringing the Winter Olympics to the US in 1932 was a major goal of Godfrey and Melvil Dewey.  Melvil was the inventor of the Dewey Decimal System and had established the Lake Placid Club in New York in 1895.  The club became the first continuously operating winter resort in the US and would host the 1932 Winter Olympics.

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This Day in History… February 3, 1990

Short-Lived Mini-Scapes Series 

US #2443 was the first postcard-rate stamp issued only in booklet form.

On February 3, 1990, the USPS issued the first of three stamps in the brief Mini-Scapes series.

This series has its roots in the summer of 1988 when members of the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) sought to give mailers an alternative to “bewhiskered unknowns” and Flag-over-Capitol-type scenes on definitives.  The USPS had also tried picturing landmarks such as Yosemite National Park, but some felt those didn’t work well on the small scale of definitive stamps.

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This Day in History… February 2, 1925

The Great Race of Mercy 

US #2135 from the Transportation Series.  Click image to order. 

On February 2, 1925, a sled dog team took the Iditarod Trail to deliver a much-needed diphtheria antitoxin to Nome, Alaska, following a deadly outbreak.

Settlers flocked to Alaska in the 1920s following a gold strike.  They traveled to coastal towns by boat, but the forbidding winter closed roads to the goldfields.  The only way to travel in the winter was in sleds pulled by dog teams.  The Iditarod Trail soon became the major thoroughfare, carrying people, supplies, and mail much like the Pony Express once did.

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