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George Washington & Andrew Jackson
Date Issued: 1994-08-19
Postage Value: $5.00

George Washington & Andrew Jackson

This diamond-shaped stamp was developed from a design created 125 years ago. Even after exhaustive research, the exact source of the design still remains a mystery. It is speculated that the original design, a 3-cent stamp, was prepared by one of the security printing firms interested in bidding on the 1869 U.S. stamp printing contract. Efforts to locate original copies of the "essay" (unaccepted stamp design) were unsuccessful.

The reproductions used as the source for the new stamp are based on published accounts by Clarence Wilson Brazer, who published extensive works on 19th U.S. stamp essays in the 1930s and 1940s.

Born in Virginia, George Washington was dissuaded from a career at sea by his mother. After turning to surveying, he was appointed to survey Lord Fairfax's lands in the Shenandoah Valley. At the beginning of the French and Indian War in 1753, Washington was dispatched by Virginia Governor Dinwiddie to warn the French commander of Fort Le Boeuf against further encroachment on British territory.

On his way to establish a post at the forks of the Ohio (now Pittsburgh), Washington learned that the French already had built a fort there and were advancing on British holdings. He attempted to check the advance and was defeated. However, he was allowed to remove his troops to Virginia as part of the surrender. Later he was part of General Braddock's failed expedition to expel the French from Fort Duquesne, as well as General John Forbes's successful campaign that resulted in Fort Duquesne's becoming Fort Pitt. Washington left the military in 1758 and returned to Mount Vernon.

In 1759, he began a 15-year tenure in the Virginia legislature and married Martha Dandridge Custis. He was a delegate to both the First and Second Continental Congresses, although he did not participate actively. In 1775, he became Congress's unanimous choice as commander in chief of the Continental forces. After meeting with several defeats early in the Revolutionary War, Washington joined with French forces to overcome General Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1783. One of his great strengths was his unquestioned integrity.

After the war, Washington returned to Mount Vernon. In 1787, he headed the Virginia delegation to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and was unanimously elected presiding officer. Two years later he was elected president of the new United States. His presidency was replete with crises, including the feud between the factions led by Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Washington was reelected president in 1792, a year before the greatest crisis of his tenure. Washington was dismayed by excesses in the French Revolution and angered by the attempts of the French minister to the United States to interfere in American politics.

In 1797, at the end of his second term as president (he refused a third term), George Washington again returned to Mount Vernon. In his farewell address he warned the United States against forming permanent alliances abroad.

A frontier general and Indian fighter, Andrew Jackson's military career began in 1781 when, at only fourteen years of age, he fought in a Revolutionary War skirmish. After practicing law in Tennessee, becoming involved in state politics, and serving as a state superior court judge, Jackson retired to his plantation in 1804. A major general in the Tennessee militia, he was soon called to march against pro-British factions of the Creek nation. He not only crushed the resistance but forced all of the Indians of the region--ally and foe--to hand over large tracts of land in Alabama and Georgia to the United States. The federal government then placed Jackson in charge of the defense of New Orleans.

In the famed battle of January 8, 1815, he wiped out an invading British army, only to learn a few days later that the British and Americans had ended the war two weeks before the battle. Jackson was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1823 and was a candidate for president the following year. He nearly won a close election that had to be decided by the House of Representatives. Jackson won the next election, in 1828, under the banner of the new Democratic Party.

Jackson's two terms as seventh president were marked by a series of bitter controversies. He considered himself a proponent of states rights but did not carry out his policies consistently. Although he vetoed a road project in Kentucky, home of his rival Henry Clay, he aided the western states by increasing federal spending for harbor and road construction. Jackson's followers were divided on the issue of protective tariffs. Southerners opposed the tariffs, which hurt their primarily agricultural economy, but Jacksonians in other areas supported the measures. In 1832 his administration approved an increase in duties that provoked South Carolina--acting on the doctrine of nullification--into declaring U.S. tariff laws null and void in the state.

Jackson forcefully asserted the federal government's power to enforce its laws in the state, but he secretly sympathized with South Carolina's complaint. He encouraged the quick passage of a compromise tariff, and the crisis of nullification was averted for a time. Jackson supported the Texas rebellion against Mexico, but he did not recognize the Texas republic until the day before he left office in 1837. During his presidency the power of the office was strengthened considerably, as was the Democratic Party. He considered himself the people's president and was not afraid to wield the power of the veto. His twelve vetoes during two terms were more than those of his six predecessors put together.

Topics: Military (458)  Portrait (895)  President (287)  

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