Arago: Rough Riders Issue

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Rough Riders Issue

On January 21, 1948, Congressman Richard F. Harless of Arizona introduced a resolution to Congress to issue a stamp honoring the Rough Riders. The stamp was issued October 27, 1948, at Prescott, Arizona, chosen because it was there that Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) organized the 1st US Volunteer Cavalry in 1898.

The stamp's controversial design, specified in the resolution, depicts the statue of Captain William Owen "Bucky" O'Neill (1860-1898), who was killed in action while leading troop A at the Battle of San Juan Hill, July 1, 1898. The statute stood at the north entrance to the Yavapai County courthouse in Prescott.

Critics objected to the fact that the stamp made no reference to Theodore Roosevelt, founder of the Rough Riders. Harry L. Lindquist, editor of STAMPS, summarized many people's concern about the stamp's design, writing, "Theodore Roosevelt, who resigned as Assistant Secretary of the Navy to organize the First United States Voluntary Cavalry, and who, as Colonel of the Regiment, led the famous charge up San Juan Hill, and whose name in the minds of the American people is forever synonymous with the very name 'Rough Riders' is entirely ignored in the stamp design. Presidential election year or no, it ill benefits any American administration to thus deprive great man of his heritage of memory among his countrymen of future generation." Ironically, the first day of issue, October 27, was the ninetieth anniversary of Teddy Roosevelt's birth!

Victor S, McCloskey, Jr., of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing designed the stamp. He used a photograph of the statue of Bucky O'Neill which had been sculpted by Gutzon Borglum, Mt. Rushmore's chief sculptor and designer. C.T. Arlt engraved the vignette, C.A. Brooks engraved the frame, and E.H. Helmuth engraved the outline frame and numerals.

References:

Bureau Specialist. West Somerville, Massachusetts: Bureau Issues Association, Inc. (October 1949).

Stamps. Hornell, New York: Lindquist Publications. (September 25, 1948), 467.

Western Stamp Collector. Mill City, Oregon. (September, 28, 1948); (October 19, 1948); (November 16, 1948).


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