On July 1, 1847, the United States Post Office issued its first general issue postage stamp External, a five-cent stamp honoring Benjamin Franklin, the first postmaster general under the Continental Congress, and a ten-cent stamp honoring George Washington. The first U.S. postal cards were issued in 1873, the first commemorative stamps in 1893, and the first airmail stamps in 1918.
Stamp collecting became a popular hobby, practiced by a wide variety of people from school children to Presidents. Franklin Roosevelt was famous for his stamp collecting, a hobby he began at age eight. He told people he liked stamps for their link with geography and history. In 1946, his collection contained more than a million stamps. As President, he often received stamps from White House visitors.
While many postage stamps commemorate people, they also feature places, and events. The image featured on the Homestead Act stamp was derived from a photograph of the John Bakken sod house External in Milton, North Dakota. Bakken was born to Norwegian immigrants in 1871 in Benson, Minnesota.
To find additional images related to stamps and postal service, search across the collections of photos and prints on terms such as postage stamps, postal service, or letter.
Search on the term post route in Collections with Maps for maps of postal routes that include rail routes, post offices, and more.
The Battle of Gettysburg began on July 1, 1863. Emboldened by his victory at Chancellorsville, Confederate General Robert E. Lee had decided to invade the North. In September of the previous year, he had ventured north into Maryland where, at Antietam, the bloodiest day of the war occurred. Although the battle was a draw, Lee’s invasion was turned back, but the next summer he made another foray northward.
…he can still remember the peaches on the trees across the field, and the corn being knee high, and how hot it was the day they fought.
On June 30, General John Buford of the Union’s Army of the Potomac and his cavalry had taken possession of Seminary Ridge west of Gettysburg. Union General George Reynolds arrived with the First Corps on July 1 to assist Buford. Reynolds opened the battle but was struck by a bullet and killed before noon. His death set the tone for the day. Both armies suffered devastating losses on the first day of the battle, but Union losses proved much greater. While the first day of the battle was counted as a Confederate victory, the tide turned on July 2 and the battle came to be viewed as the turning point of the Civil War.
So it ends, this lesser battle of the first day,
Starkly disputed and piecemeal won and lost
By corps-commanders who carried no magic plans
Stowed in their sleeves, but fought and held as they could.
It is past. The board is staked for the greater game
Which is to follow…
Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown’s Body (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Doran, 1928), 294.
William Munroe Graves recalls the stories his fellow veterans told at the seventy-five-year reunion of the Battle of Gettysburg:
Maj.- Gen. O.R. Gillette who was in Davis Brigade, Heaths Division, the Army of Northern Virginia… told of how… the Army of Northern Virginia rolled northward… to strike at Harrisburg and Philadelphia to find shoes for the rebel soldiers bare feet, and food to fill the knapsacks which were almost empty of parched corn rations. He remembered how Lee’s war-tired men came out of the valley of the Shenandoah to meet Meade’s army of the Potomac as it reached out along the roads that centered like the spokes of a wheel at Gettysburg, and how they met and fought and forgot they ever needed shoes…
See the Today in History features for the second and third days of the Battle of Gettysburg. Search Today in History on the keyword Gettysburg or the names of other battles or key figures of the Civil War to find related pages.
Mathew Brady’s and his colleague’s photographs document the sites and the carnage of the battles of the war quite powerfully. However, due to the long exposure times necessary to make readable images, capturing action on film was difficult if not impossible. The public relied on images rendered by sketch artists, printed in the news publications of the day, to get a sense of the battles.
On July 1, 1898, Theodore Roosevelt and his volunteer cavalry, the Rough Riders, stormed Kettle Hill, then joined in the capture of the San Juan Hill complex. Thus they helped to secure a U.S. victory in the Battle of Santiago, the decisive battle of the short-lived Spanish-American War. Two days after the battle, the Spanish fleet fled the harbor at Santiago, effectively surrendering control of Cuba. The first U.S. Marines had landed on the island on June 10.
A flamboyant personality with a taste for adventure and an appetite for competition, Roosevelt argued vociferously for war against Spain while serving as President McKinley’s assistant secretary of the navy. When McKinley declared war in 1898, Roosevelt resigned his position, organized a volunteer cavalry unit, and took it to Cuba where he could be in the thick of action. The Rough Riders generated widespread publicity and made a national hero of the future president.
Most soldiers found their experiences in the Spanish-American War considerably less glamorous than the widely-depicted exploits of the Rough Riders. In American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940, a veteran recalls his very different experiences in the war:
We spent most of our time in Chickamauga Park [in Georgia]…and it was nothing but a…fever swamp. They lost more men there than they did in Cuba, a hell of a lot more. They died like flies at Chickamauga. Just because it was a battle site and a park they made it into a military camp and it killed off their own troops by the thousand. All the fighting we did was in rough-and-tumble street brawls with the southerners, still fighting the Civil War. We had some tough battles with them all along the line. They still hated Yankees, especially Yanks in uniform.
Theodore Roosevelt was the first U.S. president to have his career and life chronicled on a large scale by motion picture companies (even though his predecessors, Grover Cleveland and William McKinley, were the first to be filmed). Search on the term rough riders in Theodore Roosevelt: His Life and Times on Film to see, for example, members of the Rough Riders escorting Roosevelt during the Inaugural Ceremony in 1905.
The Spanish-American War in Motion Pictures contains motion pictures of the war and the subsequent Philippine Revolution that were produced between 1898 and 1901. The Spanish-American War was the first U.S. war in which the motion picture camera played a role. The Edison Manufacturing Company and the American Mutoscope & Biograph Company made these films that consist of actualities filmed in the U.S., Cuba, and the Philippines.The films show troops, ships, notable figures, and parades, as well as reenactments of battles and other war-time events and include films of Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders. A special presentation, The Motion Picture Camera Goes to War, presents the motion pictures in chronological order together with brief essays that provide a historical context for their filming.