Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Last Stamp of the Philatelic President

Probably the greatest single person to influence the world on the joys of stamp collecting died on April 12, 1945. In Warm Springs, Georgia, Franklin Delano Roosevelt succumbed to a fatal cerebral hemorrhage after 12 years as the 32nd President of the United States, a feat unmatched and unmatchable due to constitutional changes.

United States, 1945 (Scott #928)
United Nations Conference
Roosevelt had been an avid stamp collector since the age of eight. Having a wealthy family with worldwide connections gave him the opportunity to acquire stamps from all over the world.

Tragedy struck Roosevelt at the age of 39 when he was struck down by a paralytic disease widely thought to be polio, although recent evidence supports a diagnosis of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Whichever disease it was, Roosevelt was permanently paralyzed.

During his long periods of recuperation Roosevelt delved deeply into his stamp collection. The collection brought him solace during those difficult days. Studying, organizing and mounting stamps was an enduring relief for Roosevelt.

Upon entering the White House as President, Roosevelt brought his stamp collection with him. He also brought to the office an expertise in philately that hadn't been seen before or since. He was active in postal activities, suggesting stamps, approving designs, and offering direction to the Post Office. He has been nicknamed the "Philatelic President".

His active participation in stamp collecting was evident up to his final day. On the morning of April 12, 1945, while resting in Warm Springs, Georgia, he arose and worked on his collection. He then looked over a design for a new stamp to recognize the founding of the United Nations. A few weeks earlier, Roosevelt had suggested a stamp design, and the Postmaster General had a mock-up design created for the President's review. It was this design that he approved that fateful morning.

Later that day, at 1:15 PM, Roosevelt collapsed from a cerebral hemorrhage. He died two hours later. The nation and the world had lost an avid collector. His love for philately and his popularity on the world's stage caused many people to take up stamp collecting.

The stamp that he approved on the morning of his death was altered very slightly before it was released a few weeks later. The Postmaster General put Roosevelt's catch-phrase "Toward United Nations" and the date in quotation marks, along with identifying the President by name.

The stamp, illustrated above, is Scott #928 for the United States. The stamp is widely available for a very low cost.

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