Series of 1902-03 50¢ Jefferson
Issue Date: March 23, 1903
Quantity issued: 2,651,774 (estimate)
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Method: Flat plate
Watermark: Double line
The Series of 1902-03 50¢ stamp pictures Thomas Jefferson, a Founding Father and our nation’s third President. Businesses had called for a stamp with a denomination between 15¢ and 50¢, but were denied. U.S. #310 was used most often in blocks of four on packages destined to Chile or Bolivia. These examples are scarce and are even more desirable than mint blocks of four, which are only slightly more plentiful.
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and one of our nation’s most influential Founding Fathers. Under his administration, the United States acquired the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the size of our country. Jefferson was also a “polymath” – a genius on many levels.
The first President to be inaugurated in Washington, Thomas Jefferson was also the first to live in the so-called “President’s House.” Only partially built when he moved in, Jefferson helped design the east and west terraces and the north portico of what was later to become the White House.
President John F. Kennedy welcomed a group of 49 Nobel Prize winners to the White House by saying, “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House – with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.” Although he excelled in several academic fields, Jefferson’s legacy is his eloquent – often passionate – expression of democratic ideals.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” – excerpt from the Declaration of Independence
Series of 1902-03
In 1902, the Postmaster General commissioned an entirely new series of general issues. Until this time, the current regular issues had been in use since 1890 with relatively few changes.
The ornate new designs, however, were not the only addition to the 1902 series. The 13-cent denomination was added, and two new faces were introduced – Benjamin Harrison and Admiral David Farragut. For the first time in postal history, an American woman was honored.
A slight change was also made in the format. Each stamp in this series bears the inscription, “Series 1902.” This caused some concern abroad, as many European philatelists wondered whether the U.S. was planning on issuing new stamps each year. Many of the stamps, however, did not even reach post offices until 1903, and the next general issues were not produced until 1908.
Jefferson’s University Of Virginia
On January 25, 1819, Thomas Jefferson succeeded in securing a charter for his beloved University of Virginia (UVA).
Jefferson had long wanted to establish a school in Virginia. He had attended The College of William and Mary but grew unhappy with its religious stances and lack of science courses.
In 1800, while still serving as Vice President, he wrote to scientist Joseph Priestley, “We wish to establish in the upper country of Virginia, and more centrally for the State, a University on a plan so broad and liberal and modern, as to be worth patronizing with the public support, and be a temptation to the youth of other States to come and drink of the cup of knowledge and fraternize with us.” And as president, Jefferson continued to muse over the idea of the university, writing it would be “on the most extensive and liberal scale that our circumstances would call for and our faculties meet.”
Jefferson resolved to establish his own school in Virginia and spent several years planning and gaining support. In 1817, he and fellow presidents James Monroe and James Madison met with John Marshall and 24 other dignitaries to select a site for the school. They chose Charlottesville, where James Monroe had purchased a plot of land years before. The Board of Visitors purchased the land and laid the first cornerstone later that same year. At the time, they called the school Central College.
Then on January 25, 1819, the Virginia General Assembly voted to grant the school a charter as the University of Virginia. Over the next several years, Jefferson was involved in all aspects of the school’s creation, from drawing the plans for its buildings to hiring faculty. The building was one of the largest construction projects in the history of North America at the time. On March 7, 1825, Jefferson had the pleasure of seeing the university open its doors to its first class of students.
At the time of its opening, UVA was quite different from the other schools of the day. At the time, most schools offered study in a single course, such as medicine, law, or divinity. But at UVA, students could study in up to eight different independent schools – medicine, law, mathematics, chemistry, ancient languages, modern languages, natural philosophy, and moral philosophy. Another major difference was that the school wasn’t centered on religion. In fact, while most schools had a chapel at their heart, UVA had a library.
After the school opened, Jefferson remained intensely involved. He hosted Sunday dinners at his Monticello home for both students and teachers. Jefferson saw UVA as one of his greatest accomplishments and it was one of his most beloved achievements. So much so, that he insisted it be included on his gravestone.
During the Civil War, UVA was one of the few colleges in the South to remain open during the fighting. At one point, Union troops captured Charlottesville, but the school’s faculty convinced George Armstrong Custer to spare the school because it was such a large part of Jefferson’s legacy. He agreed and they left days later, and classes were able to continue.
In 1875, a grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia made it so that all Virginians could attend the school for free. The school was unique in that it had no president, as directed by Jefferson. However, that changed in 1904 when Edwin Alderman became the school’s first president. He was a significant fund-raiser and helped reform and modernize the school. He also created new departments in geology, forestry, education, and commerce.
Over the years, several notable Americans have attended UVA, including President Woodrow Wilson, explorer Richard Byrd, poet Edgar Allan Poe, Senators Robert, and Teddy Kennedy, and US Secretary of the Treasury John Snow.
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