This Day in History… December 7, 1941

U.S. #2559i was based on a U.S. navy photo picturing the West Virginia and the Tennessee.

“A date which will live in infamy”

On December 7, 1941, Japanese bombers attacked American troops at Pearl Harbor, catapulting the U.S. into World War II.

Imperial Japan had visions of controlling Southeast Asia. They needed the natural resources there to continue their war efforts, but the military presence of the United States prevented them from expanding their territory. And so, they began planning a surprise attack, targeting battleships in an effort to eliminate America’s influence in the region.

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This Day in History… December 6, 1865

U.S. #902 – The 13th Amendment declared, “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude” would be allowed in the U.S.

13th Amendment Frees Slaves

Almost two years after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, the 13th Amendment was passed, freeing all slaves in America.

When the Civil War began in 1861, it was more an issue of state’s rights than slavery. Lincoln didn’t enter office planning to outlaw slavery, even though he personally opposed it. But as the war passed into its second year and the fighting grew more violent, Lincoln realized that he would need to put an end to slavery. In September 1862, he warned the South of his Emancipation Proclamation, declaring all slaves in the Confederacy to be free on January 1, 1863. However, the Confederacy didn’t recognize the proclamation – as they considered themselves their own nation – and it went largely ignored in the South.

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This Day in History… December 5, 1870

U.S. #2869g – In 1971, Bill Pickett became the first black cowboy to have his memory enshrined in the National Rodeo Hall of Fame.

Birth of Bill Pickett

Cowboy and showman Bill Pickett was born on December 5, 1870.

Born in Travis County near Taylor, Texas, Bill Pickett was the second of 13 children. He left school in the fifth grade to work as a ranch hand and was one of the 5,000 early African American cowboys to work on the western ranches. It was during his days as a cowhand that he developed the technique of “bulldogging” – a skill for which he became internationally famous. Galloping alongside a steer, he would seize the animal by its horns and twist its head up until he could sink his teeth into its upper lip, causing the beast to drop to the ground in pain.

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This Day in History… December 4, 1956

U.S. #2724 – Elvis was the biggest star at the time of the recording, having appeared on television and in his first movie.

The Million Dollar Quartet’s Only Session

Music history was made on December 4, 1956 when Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash met coincidentally at Sun Studios.

One of the greatest musical collaborations of all time happened purely by chance. That December day, Carl Perkins, who’d gained fame for “Blue Suede Shoes,” went to the Memphis studio with his brothers to record some new songs. Sam Phillips, owner of Sun Records, had invited Jerry Lee Lewis (relatively unknown outside of Memphis at the time) to play piano for Perkins’ session.

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This Day in History… December 3, 1818

U.S. #1339 – “Illinois” is a French twist on the Inoka tribe name.

Illinois Becomes the 21st State

On December 3, 1818, President James Monroe signed legislation admitting the state of Illinois to the Union.

In 1673, the governor-general of the French colonies in Canada, Louis de Buade, Compte de Frontenac, sent Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet to explore the Mississippi River. Marquette and Jolliet were most likely the first Europeans to reach Illinois. The men traveled south along the western border of the state and then returned north up the Illinois River. In 1675, Marquette founded a mission at an Indian village near present-day Ottawa. In 1699, French priests established the first permanent European settlement in Illinois, at Cahokia.

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This Day in History… December 2, 1823

U.S. #325 commemorates Monroe’s role in acquiring the Louisiana Territory.

James Monroe Announces Monroe Doctrine

On December 2, 1823, President James Monroe introduced the foreign policy doctrine that bears his name.

The last President of the “Virginia Dynasty” (four out of the first five Presidents were from Virginia), James Monroe was a level-headed and respected force throughout his political career. He participated in the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, negotiated the Louisiana Purchase, and implemented the Missouri Compromise. He diligently worked to maintain peace and unity, and to keep America free from foreign oppression.

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