Issue Date: January 12, 1968City: Jeffersonville, INPrinted By: Bureau of Engraving and PrintingPrinting Method: Rotary PressColor: Green
The Prominent Americans Series recognizes people who played important roles in U.S. history.Officials originally planned to honor 18 individuals, but later added seven others.The Prominent Americans Series began with the 4¢ Lincoln stamp, which was issued on November 10, 1965.During the course of the series, the 6¢ Eisenhower stamp was reissued with an 8¢ denomination and the 5¢ Washington was redrawn.

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A number of technological changes developed during the course of producing the series, resulting in a number of varieties due to gum, luminescence, precancels and perforations plus sheet, coil and booklet formats.Additionally, seven rate changes occurred while the Prominent Americans Series was current, giving collectors who specialize in first and last day of issue covers an abundance of collecting opportunities.
Thomas Jefferson was born in Goochland (now Albemarle) County, Virginia.His father died when Thomas was 14, and as the oldest boy, Jefferson became head of the family.He inherited more than 2,500 acres of land, and between 20 and 30 slaves.He received a first-rate education at William and Mary College in Williamsburg, and then studied law with George Wythe, one of the greatest law teachers in America.Jefferson practiced law from 1767 until 1774, when the American Revolution closed the courts.From 1769 to 1775, he served in the House of Burgesses, where he showed his great talents as a committeeman and skillful draftsman.
In 1768, Jefferson began planning his now-legendary mansion home, Monticello, and construction began in 1770.In 1772, Jefferson married Martha Wayles Skelton (1748-1782), a wealthy widow.The couple moved into Monticello, which was not fully completed until 1809.The Jeffersons had five children.Only two survived into adulthood – Martha (1772-1836) and Mary (1778-1804).Mrs. Jefferson died in 1782, after 10 years of marriage.Jefferson raised his two daughters and never re-married.
From the very start of the struggle with Britain, Jefferson was an outspoken leader for the Colonial cause.Jefferson represented Albemarle County at the First Virginia Convention, which was held to elect Virginia delegates to the First Continental Congress.However, he became ill and was unable to attend, but sent a letter stating his beliefs.Jefferson held the view that settlers in America had used their “natural rights.”These settlers owed allegiance only to the king, with whom they chose to stay loyal, and not to the British Parliament.He compared the first English settlers to the Saxons, who had left the area of present-day Germany and settled England hundreds of years before.He claimed the British Parliament had no more right to govern America than German leaders had to govern England.Jefferson published his views in a pamphlet titled A Summary View of the Rights of British America in 1774.

On January 25, 1819, Thomas Jefferson succeeded in securing a charter for his beloved University of Virginia (UVA).
Jefferson had long wanted to establish a school in Virginia. He had attended The College of William and Mary but grew unhappy with its religious stances and lack of science courses.

In 1800, while still serving as Vice President, he wrote to scientist Joseph Priestley, “We wish to establish in the upper country of Virginia, and more centrally for the State, a University on a plan so broad and liberal and modern, as to be worth patronizing with the public support, and be a temptation to the youth of other States to come and drink of the cup of knowledge and fraternize with us.” And as president, Jefferson continued to muse over the idea of the university, writing it would be “on the most extensive and liberal scale that our circumstances would call for and our faculties meet.”
Jefferson resolved to establish his own school in Virginia and spent several years planning and gaining support. In 1817, he and fellow presidents James Monroe and James Madison met with John Marshall and 24 other dignitaries to select a site for the school. They chose Charlottesville, where James Monroe had purchased a plot of land years before. The Board of Visitors purchased the land and laid the first cornerstone later that same year. At the time, they called the school Central College.
Then on January 25, 1819, the Virginia General Assembly voted to grant the school a charter as the University of Virginia.Over the next several years, Jefferson was involved in all aspects of the school’s creation, from drawing the plans for its buildings to hiring faculty. The building was one of the largest construction projects in the history of North America at the time. On March 7, 1825, Jefferson had the pleasure of seeing the university open its doors to its first class of students.
At the time of its opening, UVA was quite different from the other schools of the day. At the time, most schools offered study in a single course, such as medicine, law, or divinity. But at UVA, students could study in up to eight different independent schools – medicine, law, mathematics, chemistry, ancient languages, modern languages, natural philosophy, and moral philosophy.Another major difference was that the school wasn’t centered on religion. In fact, while most schools had a chapel at their heart, UVA had a library.
After the school opened, Jefferson remained intensely involved. He hosted Sunday dinners at his Monticello home for both students and teachers.Jefferson saw UVA as one of his greatest accomplishments and it was one of his most beloved achievements. So much so, that he insisted it be included on his gravestone.
During the Civil War, UVA was one of the few colleges in the South to remain open during the fighting. At one point, Union troops captured Charlottesville, but the school’s faculty convinced George Armstrong Custer to spare the school because it was such a large part of Jefferson’s legacy. He agreed and they left days later, and classes were able to continue.
In 1875, a grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia made it so that all Virginians could attend the school for free. The school was unique in that it had no president, as directed by Jefferson. However, that changed in 1904 when Edwin Alderman became the school’s first president.He was a significant fund-raiser and helped reform and modernize the school. He also created new departments in geology, forestry, education, and commerce.

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Over the years, several notable Americans have attended UVA, including President Woodrow Wilson, explorer Richard Byrd, poet Edgar Allan Poe, Senators Robert, and Teddy Kennedy, and US Secretary of the Treasury John Snow.