The War of 1812: USS Constitution
The War of 1812, sometimes called “the forgotten conflict,” was a two-and-a-half year confrontation with Great Britain that brought the United States to the verge of bankruptcy and disunion. With this stamp, the Postal Service commemorates the bicentennial of a war that ultimately helped forge our national identity and gave us our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The United States declared war on Great Britain on June 18, 1812. In his war message to Congress, President James Madison charged the British with violating the nation’s sovereignty by restricting American trade with Europe and by removing seamen from American merchant ships and making them serve in the Royal Navy.
The War of 1812 was also fueled by a desire among frontier settlers to force the British out of Canada and end their support of Indians in the Old Northwest. Many Americans, including expansionist “War Hawks” in Congress, alleged that the British supplied arms to Indians and incited them to raid settlements on the frontier.
For this design, the Postal Service selected a long-admired painting of the famed USS Constitution by Michele Felice Cornè, circa 1803. Constitution acquired the nickname “Old Ironsides” during a victorious battle with HMS Guerriere in August 1812, two months into the war. It scored another victory in December over HMS Java. Such stunning successes against the world’s mightiest navy helped sustain American morale during a time the U.S. Army was suffering major setbacks.
Greg Breeding served as art director and designer for the stamp.
The War of 1812: USS Constitution stamp is being issued as a Forever® stamp. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.