This Day in History… May 18, 1863

Siege of Vicksburg

US #4787 pictures an 1863 Currier and Ives lithograph titled Admiral Porter’s Fleet Running the Rebel Blockade of the Mississippi at Vicksburg.

On May 18, 1863, the key Siege of Vicksburg Began.

Vicksburg, Mississippi, was called the “Gibraltar of the West” because cannons mounted on the bluffs kept enemy ships from passing by on the Mississippi River while narrow ridges and deep ravines protected the city from a land attack. North and South both knew the importance of controlling the key position.

Continue reading

Posted in May 2018, This Day in History | 4 Comments

This Day in History… May 17, 1954

Brown vs. Board of Education 

US #3937j from the More Perfect Union sheet.

On May 17, 1954, the US Supreme Court ordered the desegregation of schools as a result of the case of Brown vs. Board of Education.

Decades earlier, a precedent had been set in the case of Plessy vs. Ferguson. That case ruled that as long as the separate facilities for separate races were equal, they didn’t violate the 14th Amendment of equal protection.

Continue reading

Posted in May 2018, This Day in History | 4 Comments

This Day in History… May 16, 1919

First Transatlantic Flight 

Marshall Islands #666a pictures the NC-4 that completed this journey.

On May 16, 1919, Albert Cushing Read departed Newfoundland, beginning first transatlantic flight.

As early as 1910, aviators hoped to be the first to fly across the Atlantic. Then in 1913, British newspaper publisher Lord Northcliffe issued a challenge – 10,000 pounds to the first person to fly across the Atlantic in 72 hours. Around the world, aviators scrambled to be the first. In the US, Glenn Curtiss was among the hopefuls.

Continue reading

Posted in May 2018, This Day in History | 2 Comments

This Day in History… May 15, 1918

First US Airmail Flight 

US #C3 was the first airmail stamp, used on the first flights 100 years ago today.

On May 15, 1918, America’s airmail service began when two Curtiss Jenny’s departed New York and Washington, DC.

As a new form of transportation, early flight was a pioneering effort that suffered from a near-complete lack of precedent. More than a decade after Orville Wright’s historic 1903 flight, aircraft mechanics, instructors, and flight schools were still virtually non-existent. But as World War I engulfed the globe, many were soon convinced that air supremacy was the key to victory.

Continue reading

Posted in May 2018, This Day in History | 4 Comments

This Day in History… May 14, 1918

Discovery of the Inverted Jenny 

U.S. #4806a – A 2013 Inverted Jenny printed with the original dies.

On May 14, 1918, stamp collector William Robey discovered the now sought-after Inverted Jenny, #C3a.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing was in a rush to produce America’s first airmail stamp. Because the stamps were to be bi-colored, each sheet would be fed through the press twice – once to print the red frame and a second pass to print the blue vignette. In the rush, nine of the 20,000 sheets printed had been hand-fed through the printing press upside down. The mistake created an inverted vignette and positioned the plate number on the bottom selvage. At some point, eight sheets were found in the BEP office and destroyed. However, a single sheet made its way to the New York Avenue post office branch in Washington, DC.

Continue reading

Posted in May 2018, This Day in History | 5 Comments

This Day in History… May 13, 1884

Death of Cyrus McCormick 

US #891 from the Famous Inventors issue.

Inventor and businessman Cyrus McCormick died on May 13, 1884, in Chicago, Illinois.

Cyrus Hall McCormick was born on February 15, 1809, in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. He was the oldest of eight children born to inventor Robert McCormick, Jr.  Around the same time Cyrus was born, his father began working on a design for a mechanical reaper. He would spend 28 years working on the design but never managed to make it right. So Cyrus would go on to take up the project himself.

Continue reading

Posted in May 2018, This Day in History | 2 Comments