This Day in History… November 17, 1820

First Americans Sight Antarctica

US #2386 pictures Palmer, his sloop Hero, and an outline of Antarctica.

On November 17, 1820, Nathaniel Palmer and his crew became the first Americans to see Antarctica.

Born in 1799 in Stonington, Connecticut, Palmer had a life-long love of the sea. As a child, he played in his father’s shipyard and began working on his first ship at just 14 years old.

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This Day in History… November 16, 1908

Washington-Franklin Series 

US #332a – This booklet stamp was the first issue in the long-running Washington-Franklin series.

On November 16, 1908, the first stamp in the Washington-Franklin Series was issued.

When the 1902 series was issued, the Post Office Department received numerous complaints from collectors, as well as the public, concerning the stamps’ poor designs. One particular gentleman, Charles Dalton, even wrote to his senator! He severely criticized the Stuart portrait of Washington currently in use on the 2¢ stamp and suggested the profile, taken from the bust by Jean Antoine Houdon, be put back into use.

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This Day in History… November 15, 1864

US #257 – Prior to the war, Sherman had served in the South and considered it a second home.

Sherman’s March to the Sea

After burning Atlanta, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman embarked on his month-long March to the Sea on November 15, 1864.

Following his capture of Atlanta on September 2, 1864, Major General William T. Sherman turned his sights to Savannah, an important port city for the Confederacy. Traveling away from his supply lines, Sherman’s forces would forage area plantations for provisions. He wanted more from this campaign than to capture Southern land – he hoped to destroy the Confederacy’s ability to continue the war.

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This Day in History… November 14, 1832

First Streetcar in America

US #2059-62 – The same man designed three of the four streetcars pictured on these stamps.

On November 14, 1832, the John Mason inaugurated the first streetcar service in America.

One man dominated the history of streetcars in America in the early days of their use.  John Stephenson developed the first streetcar to run on rails.  In general, he presided over the evolution of streetcars as public transportation.

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This Day in History… November 13, 1856

Birth of Louis Brandeis

US #4422c from the Supreme Court Justices issue.

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis was born on November 13, 1856, in Louisville, Kentucky.

Brandeis grew up surrounded by books, music, and politics.  He was a serious student and graduated from high school at the age of 14.  He then left the country for a few years with his family and attended the Annenschule in Dresden, Saxony.

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This Day in History… November 12, 1954

Ellis Island Closes 

US #3182i from the Celebrate the Century: 1900s sheet.

On November 12, 1954, Ellis Island closed, after serving as America’s busiest immigration inspection station for over 60 years.

In 994 A.D., Native Americans began inhabiting what are now Liberty and Ellis Islands.  These islands were originally known as Oyster Islands, named for the many shell beds in the area.  Oysters were likely a major food source for the Native Americans during this time. When Europeans came to the Hudson River, disease and other factors forced the Native Americans to move north or west.

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