Notes from the Past

Assassination of a President

The Pan-American stamps are linked in the minds of many philatelists with the untimely death of President William McKinley, at the hands of an anarchist, while on a visit to the Buffalo Exposition, in 1901.  I was recently reading through some philatelic magazines published about the turn of the century and was much interested and impressed with the number of suggestions that were offered to do honor to the memory of the assassinated President.

There was immediate agitation for a special memorial stamp, followed by a proposal to overprint the current two-cent stamps with a black oval frame.  Next it was felt that a new stamp should be designed and fitted into the then current general series, and this seems to have been a strong possibility for a while.  The customary free-franking privilege was granted to Mrs. McKinley, unaccompanied by the usual delay, and a suggestion in Congress to change the name of the Philippine Islands to the McKinley Islands met with wide approval.  The engraving of his likeness on a $10 bill was considered.  Within a comparatively short time, however, an available space was found for him and his portrait was placed on the new 1 postal card of 1902.  It was also decided that he would appear on one of the stamps which were being planned for the projected Louisiana Purchase Exposition and when this issue subsequently materialized in 1904, a fine portrait of President McKinley was used on the 5 denomination.  

- George B. Sloane
Sloane's Column
Stamps
August 24, 1940

Posted September 23, 1999

Index of 508 Notes from the Past

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