|Welcome to GeorgiaInfo | What's New | This Day in Georgia History | Instructional Handout Masters | Credits | Photos & Images | Georgia Trivia ||
Georgia's Ratifies the Constitution
On January 2, 1788, Georgia became the fourth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. To mark the 200th anniversary of that event, the U.S. Postal Service released this commemorative stamp on January 6, 1988. First day of issue ceremonies were held in the rotunda of Georgia's state capitol, with a special postmark created for canceling the stamp at a Post Service booth in the capitol. [Click here to see canceled stamp on a souvenir envelope.] The 22-cent stamp showed the Atlanta skyline faintly in the background, with Georgia's state tree -- the live oak -- in the foreground. The stamp's designer was Greg Harlin, a Georgia native then living in Maryland.
Georgia's stamp was one of thirteen issued from 1987 to 1990 by the Postal Service as part of its commemoration of the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution. In most cases, stamps were issued on the 200th anniversary of a state's ratification, but in five states the stamp was issued on a date other than the anniversary of its ratification. In the case of Georgia, January 2 fell on a Saturday, and Georgia's governor Joe Frank Harris could not participate in the first day ceremonies for the stamp until January 6.
Interestingly, the Postal Service identified the theme of the series of thirteen stamps as the "Statehood Bicentennial" series, and it described the Jan. 6 stamp as the "Georgia Statehood" stamp. Apparently, USPS staff were under the impression that statehood came when a state ratified the Constitution. An even greater historical error occurred in the official USPS souvenir program, which included this statement: "Georgia earned the honored status of statehood in 1788, when, as one of the original 13 colonies, it ratified the newborn U.S. Constitution and became the first southern state." However, this historical explanation of the stamp overlooks the fact the thirteen American colonies (excluding East Florida and West Florida, which did not break away from Britain) declared themselves "free and independent states" in 1776 as part of the Declaration of Independence. Each former colony adopted a new state constitution and government, and throughout the Revolution acted and considered themselves as states. Later, it was states -- not colonies -- that ratified the Articles of Confederation, and even later, the U.S. Constitution.
(c) Carl Vinson Institute of Government, The University of Georgia
|©2013 Digital Library of Georgia||UGA | GALILEO | Contact Us|