US Stamps

Two Mississippi covers related to desegregation in the early 1960s

May 3, 2021, 6 PM

U.S. Stamp Notes — By John M. Hotchner

The state of Mississippi can properly be labeled a part of the Deep South, and as such there have been periods of time when it was not in agreement with the policies of the national government in Washington, D.C.

Certainly that was the case in 1861 when Mississippi seceded from the United States on Jan. 9 and joined the Confederacy on Feb. 4. I didn’t realize there was a later secession, but the April 1, 1963, cover shown nearby seems to argue otherwise.

The cover bears two stamps: the 1¢ George Washington of the 1938 Presidential issue (Scott 804) and the 1964 4¢ Range Conservation commemorative (1176). The 1¢ stamp has MISSISSIPPI printed diagonally in reddish purple on it, and the 4¢ has REPUBLIC OF MISSISSIPPI printed horizontally in the same ink.

Also, “Republic of Mississippi” is included in both the address and the return address.

I doubt this cover went through the U.S. mails, but I am sure the postal service of 1963 would not have blinked at the Republic of Mississippi address. Instead, the problem would have been the generality of the address (Republican Underground, Oxford) with no street or building number.

Nevertheless, courtesy of Linn’s reader Ray Cartier, I now have a companion piece: an Oct. 22, 1962, cover canceled in Baldwyn, Miss., and franked with the 1948 3¢ Gettysburg Address stamp (Scott 978). A blue handstamp on the cover reads MAILED IN OCCUPIED MISSISSIPPI.

In September 1962, U.S. Marshals had been sent to assure that the University of Mississippi would be desegregated.

On the 40th anniversary in 2002, the U.S. Marshals were commemorated as part of a symposium at the university. The history section website of the U.S. Marshall said: “History is often made when one person stands his ground and demands his dream. But history needs its enforcers. And when James Meredith sought to legally become the first black person to attend the University of Mississippi 40 years ago the duty of upholding the federal law allowing him to do so fell upon the shoulders of 127 deputy marshals from all over the country who risked their lives to make his dream a reality.

Connect with Linn’s Stamp News: 

    Sign up for our newsletter
    Like us on Facebook
    Follow us on Twitter

“The University of Mississippi looks much different in 2002 than it did in 1962. Since the work of those deputy marshals who enforced the court ordered desegregation of the University of Mississippi in 1962 was never celebrated — and rarely mentioned — state and university officials recently made up for lost time by honoring them as well as other law enforcement and military personnel who were involved in safeguarding James Meredith’s right to attend classes at the University of Mississippi.”

These two covers also serve as reminders of that period in the Civil Rights movement.