In the midst of the Civil War, the U.S. Congress passed the Act of March 3, 1863, to revise postal rates for domestic mail. When the new rates went into effect on July 1, 1863, distance no longer affected rates. While the carrier fee in many large cities was abolished (paving the way for eventual free mail delivery across the United States), the fee for city letter delivery became two cents, and the registry fee increased from five to twenty cents.
The increased drop fee prompted the Post Office Department to issue a two-cent stamp, the first issued by the United States. No precedent existed regarding the design subject. A portrait of Andrew Jackson, one of the most revered U.S. presidents at the time, was chosen for the two-cent stamp. Although a Southerner, Jackson was considered a strong supporter of the ideals of a union of the states. He became the third president to appear on a U.S. postage stamp.
When the drop rate was returned to one cent in 1865, the 2-cent Jackson continued to be printed with 1861 Issue stamps through 1868. Although it had lost its use for single-weight rates, it could be used in combination with other stamps to pay several different, smaller rates or greater-weight domestic rates. National Bank Note Company printed approximately 256,566,000 stamps of the 2-cent Jackson (also known as ‘Black Jack’).