China Resistance Stamp
On July 7, 1942, the US issued its first stamp with foreign characters as part of the design.
US #906 was issued to commemorate the fifth anniversary of China’s resistance against the Japanese Empire in the early days of World War II. The 5¢ denomination would have paid for a first-class letter to China.
The stamp pictures Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Sun is considered the father of the Republic of China and was the country’s first president. His Three Principles (nationalism, democracy, and people’s livelihood) were inspired by the last portion of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, “Of the people, by the people, for the people.” Both inscriptions are written under the respective statesman, Sun Yat-sen’s in Chinese characters, a first for a US stamp.
A map of China and the Republic’s national symbol, a sun, are also pictured on the stamp. In addition, the date of the beginning of the war and the Chinese motto “Fight the War and Build the Country” are inscribed in the sun.
The stamp was issued in Denver, Colorado because Sun Yat-sen was visiting that city in 1911 when he received word China was free from the Qing Empire. He immediately returned to China to become the president.
In working on this stamp, the Post Office had considered designs with and without Lincoln but ultimately decided to include him. The stamp symbolized hands reaching across the sea – a partnership between the two nations and pictured men who were both emancipators that fought for freedom. The Post Office also worked with the Chinese embassy to ensure the sun symbol and Chinese characters were accurate.
Upon its release, the stamp received mixed reviews. Some complained that the map of China wasn’t accurate or didn’t understand their national symbol. Others suggested that George Washington would have been a more fitting choice than Lincoln. There were others though that supported the design, and an editor from The Chicago Sun urged people to send planes and donations to China Relief.
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