US Stamps

By Michael Baadke

Born May 10: Montgomery Blair

May 10, 2015 12:00 PM

The 15¢ airmail stamp issued May 3, 1963 (Scott C66), commemorates the 100th anniversary of the first International Postal Conference, which was the forerunner of the Universal Postal Union.

The stamp design also depicts Montgomery Blair, a lawyer and politician who was born May 10, 1813. The stamp, therefore, also commemorates Blair upon the 150th anniversary of his birth.

Blair, who was postmaster general under President Abraham Lincoln, is represented on the stamp design for his commitment to establish what is now the UPU, an international body facilitating cooperation between international postal operators.

After graduating from West Point and a stint in the Army, Blair became a successful lawyer and was elected mayor of St. Louis, Mo. He was among the lawyers who represented Dred Scott in the federal case for the slave who unsuccessfully sued for his freedom in 1857. The decision in that case was a factor leading to the election of Lincoln and the beginning of the Civil War.

Blair was named Postmaster General in 1861, and established free city delivery and the sale of money orders in post offices.

He served in the president's Cabinet until 1864, and died at age 70 in 1883.