Arago: 10-cent Webster

10-cent Webster

The Second Bureau Issue's 10-cent stamp pays tribute to lawyer, orator, and statesman Daniel Webster (1782–1852). An ardent Federalist, Webster was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1812 and served three terms. A practicing Massachusetts lawyer, he won major constitutional cases before the Supreme Court. He returned to Congress in 1823 as U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. Webster, a champion of American nationalism, made an unsuccessful bid for the presidency on the Whig ticket in 1836.

President William Henry Harrison named Webster secretary of state in 1841. He is credited with settling a dispute with Great Britain over the Maine-Canada boundary. When Harrison suddenly died in office, Webster continued as secretary of state under John Tyler but retired in 1843 and returned to the Senate. Webster served as secretary of state once again, being appointed by President Millard Fillmore in 1850.

Over the course of his long political career, Webster debated some of the most important legislation of the nineteenth century. He ardently attempted to prevent the Civil War by urging the North and South to compromise over the issue of slavery. Opposed to slavery himself, he nonetheless supported the 'Fugitive Slave' law.

The 10-cent pale red brown stamp was issued February 5, 1903, only in sheet format printed from plates of four hundred and sold in panes of one hundred stamps with gauge 12 perforations. The stamp, designed by R. Ostrander Smith after a daguerreotype by John Adams Whipple, was engraved by Marcus W. Baldwin (portrait), Robert F. Ponickau (frame) and George U. Rose Jr. and Lyman F. Ellis (lettering and numerals). On either side of the portrait are fasces, the ancient symbol of authority in the Roman Republic. A bundle of sticks bound together represents the idea that, while one stick breaks easily, a bundle will not, and the axe in the center represents military strength.

The single 10-cent stamp could be used to pay the eight-cent registry fee plus the two-cent domestic first-class letter rate. A single stamp could also pay a two time U.P.U. foreign five-cents-per-half-ounce letter rate. When special delivery stamps were no longer required to secure that service on Mar. 2, 1907, the Webster stamp was used to pay the ten-cent special delivery fee. A 10-cent stamp also paid the domestic and foreign registry fee when that fee increased to ten cents, November 1, 1909.


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