This Day in History

This Day in History… August 8, 1829

The First Steam Locomotive in the U.S.

US #2362 – from the 1987 Locomotives issue

On August 8, 1829, the Stourbridge Lion became the first steam locomotive to be operated in the United States.

The locomotive had been built for the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company (D&H).  The company had been founded in 1823 to construct canals between the coalfields near Carbondale, Pennsylvania, and New York City.  In 1825, the project’s engineers began to consider using trains to transport the coal to the canal.

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This Day in History… August 7, 1904

Birth of Ralph Bunche 

US #1860 – from the Great Americans Series

Ralph Johnson Bunche was born on August 7, 1904, in Detroit, Michigan.

In his youth, Bunche and his family moved around a bit, spending time in Toledo, Ohio; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Los Angeles, California.  He was a bright student, a member of the debate team, and the valedictorian of his high school class.

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This Day in History… August 6, 1965

Voting Rights Act of 1965

US #3937b features a photo of young protesters at the Selma March.

On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law, prohibiting racial discrimination in voting.

The 15th to the United States Constitution says the right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”  However, Southern registration boards used poll taxes, literacy tests, and other strategies to deny this right to blacks.

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This Day in History… August 5, 1914

First Electric Traffic Light

US #1272 was issued to publicize the importance of traffic safety.

On August 5, 1914, the first electric traffic light was installed in Cleveland, Ohio.

London was home to some of the first non-electric gas-lit traffic lights.  They were installed in December 1868 outside the Houses of Parliament.  The devices were created because an overflow of horse-drawn traffic forced large numbers of pedestrians to walk in front of the Houses of Parliament.

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This Day in History… August 4, 1821

The Saturday Evening Post 

US #2839 – Rockwell’s Triple Self-Portrait appeared on the February 1, 1960, cover.

On August 4, 1821, The Saturday Evening Post published its first issue.

According to the Post’s official history, it has a neat connection to Benjamin Franklin!  In 1728, Franklin had the idea to create The Pennsylvania Gazette, an informative magazine. However, before he had a chance to begin work on the paper, his partner, Samuel Keimer, stole the name and idea.  Luckily for Franklin, the paper failed within a year, and he and Hugh Meredith took over production.

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This Day in History… August 3, 1900

Birth of Ernie Pyle

US #1398 is a definitive from 1971.

Journalist and war correspondent Ernest Taylor Pyle was born on August 3, 1900, in Dana, Indiana. 

Pyle grew up on his family’s farm, but didn’t want to follow the family business – he wanted something more adventurous.  After graduating from high school, he joined the US Navy Reserve and served three months of active duty before the end of World War I.

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