Series of 1861-62 90¢ Washington
Earliest Known Use: November 27, 1861
Quantity issued: 388,700 (estimate)
Printed by: National Bank Note Company
Method: Flat plate
U.S. #72 is the 90¢ Washington stamp and the highest denomination in the Civil War issues of 1861-62. Many postally used #72 stamps are known with destinations that include Hong Kong, China and Marseilles, France. Given the delicate nature of negotiations with foreign countries that were occurring during the early months of the Civil War, one can only wonder what important correspondence these foreign mails could have carried.
College Of William And Mary
On February 8, 1693, a royal charter officially established the College of William and Mary. Today it’s the second-oldest college in America (behind Harvard).
Virginia’s first English settlers arrived in 1607 at Jamestown. One of their early goals was to establish a school for Native Americans and the sons of colonists. Plans for such a school were first drawn up in 1618.
Funding and plans to build the school progressed for a few years, but then the school’s planner was killed and an Indian uprising broke out. The school was abandoned altogether in 1624 when the charter was revoked and Jamestown became a royal colony. Little progress would come over the next several decades.
Then in 1690, a new proposal for the college emerged. The General Assembly tasked Reverend James Blair, a representative of the Bishop of London, with traveling to England to meet with the king and queen and request a grant for a charter. Blair succeeded in his mission, and on February 8, 1693, King William III and Queen Mary II granted a royal charter. The document officially established the College of William and Mary in Virginia to “make, found, and establish a certain Place of Universal Study, a perpetual College of Divinity, Philosophy, Languages, and the good arts and sciences…to be supported and maintained, in all time coming.”
The charter made Blair the school’s first president and funding was provided by tobacco taxes and profits from the Surveyor-General’s Office. Land for the school was purchased in December 1693 in Middle Plantation (later renamed Williamsburg). The school operated out of temporary buildings while new ones were constructed in 1794. As Williamsburg served as the capital of Virginia from 1699 to 1780, the school served as a law center with many lawmakers using the buildings.
While the initial goal of educating Native Americans never came to be, the College of William and Mary educated many notable Americans in its early years. This included three future presidents; Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and John Tyler. Other prominent students included Henry Clay, John Marshall, and George Wythe, who would later become the nation’s first law professor.
The College of William and Mary severed ties with England during the Revolutionary War and the Divinity and Indian Schools were closed. The school closed during the Civil War because so many students enrolled in the Confederate Army. The buildings were used as a Confederate barracks and later a hospital used by both sides. The school reopened in 1865, but suffered financially and closed in 1881. The state eventually granted funds and the college reopened in 1888. Three decades later, the school was one of the first in Virginia to admit women.
The Series of 1861-62
In 1860 and 1861, eleven Southern states left the Union and formed the Confederate States of America, an action that resulted in the beginning of the Civil War. On April 12, 1861, the war erupted at Fort Sumter. Less than two months later, the United States discontinued postal services to the South. However, numerous stamps were still in the hands of postmasters of seceding states.
Fearing that these stamps would be sent to the North and sold (thus providing money for the Confederate states) the United States sent a proclamation to all postmasters, requesting that the remainders be sent to Washington. When this order was largely ignored, the government made arrangements for designing new issues and demonetizing the old issues.
The process of demonetizing rendered the old stamps invalid, while at the same time replacing them with the newly designed stamps. The new 1861 stamps were sent to post offices along with a notice that required an exchange period of six days be announced in local newspapers. During the exchange period, old stamps could be exchanged for new new ones. After the six-day exchange period, the old stamps were no longer accepted as postage.
While the designs and color of the new issues differed from the old ones, the Postal Service wanted to be certain there would be no confusion between the two. They felt a change that could be easily recognized was necessary, and so the 1861 issues have the values expressed in numerals instead of being written out.
The Confederates, concerned that the Federal Government would use the postal system to spread anti-Southern propaganda, quickly set up their own postal service.