EXTRA, EXTRA - January 19, 2010 Special Election in Massachusetts


By Alexander Haimann, Collections Specialist

Today January 19, 2010, voters in Massachusetts will head to the polls in a special election to determine who will be the next Class 1 Senator from the "Bay State." The seat is currently held by Paul G. Kirk, who was appointed to the position by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick following the death of Senator Edward Kennedy. Kennedy was elected the Class 1 Senator from Massachusetts on November 7, 1962 in a special election following the retirement of Senator Benjamin A. Smith.

More about the Kennedy family's postage stamp legacy

The three candidates in the January 19, 2010 Massachusetts special election are Republican Scott Brown, Democrat Martha Coakley and Independent Joe Kennedy (no relation to former Senator Edward Kennedy).

Greetings from Massachusetts stamp
© United States Postal Service. All rights reserved.

One of the original thirteen colonies, Massachusetts has hosted many critical events in the history of the United States. On December 16, 1773, a group of American colonists boarded British ships in Boston Harbor and destroyed the tea being carried aboard by throwing it overboard. The Boston Tea Party, as it later became known, was in protest of the Tea Act. The Tea Act's tax was one of many levied by the British Government on the American colonies in the 1760s and 1770s. The Boston Tea Party sparked a patriotic fervor among Americans in all thirteen colonies that exploded sixteen months later in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts.

The Boston Tea Party and Lexington and Concord 1775 stamps
© United States Postal Service. All rights reserved.

In the early morning hours of April 19, 1775, seven hundred British soldiers began marching towards Concord, Massachusetts to capture munitions believe to be stored there by the local militia. Seventy-seven Lexington militiamen confronted the advancing British soldiers on Lexington Commons. It was here that the first shots of the American Revolution were fired. Unfortunately, the Lexington militiamen were dramatically unsuccessful in stopping the British on their way to Concord. Following the search of munitions at Concord, the British soldiers found themselves under attack from a growing number of Massachusetts militiamen. After a pitched battle, the British retreated back to Boston. With this first American victory, the Revolutionary War had begun!

John Quincey Adams, Daniel Webster and John Kennedy stamps
© United States Postal Service. All rights reserved.

The U.S. Senate seat being contested in the January 19, 2010 special election in Massachusetts has an incredible history. Three of the most important public figures in American history, John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster and John F. Kennedy, have held the Massachusetts Class 1 Senate seat and also been featured on U.S. postage stamps.

John Quincy Adams, son of 2nd American President John Adams, began his career in public service in 1794, when President George Washington appointed him Ambassador to the Netherlands. Adams would remain in an appointed or elected position within the United States government for most of the next fifty-four years. Adams served as the Class 1 Senator from Massachusetts between 1803 and 1808. Following his time in the U.S. Senate, Adams served for eight years as the U.S. Secretary of State under President James Monroe. In 1824, Adams was elected to be the 6th President of the United States. In 1830, less than two years after leaving the White House, Adams was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where he served until his death in 1848.

"The Great Orator" Daniel Webster began his career as an elected official in 1813 as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Webster became the Class 1 Senator from Massachusetts in 1827, where he remained until becoming the U.S. Secretary of State in 1841. Webster returned to his Class 1 Senate seat in 1845, but once again left it to serve as Secretary of State in 1850. Webster was a commanding figure in the Senate, working on many important issues of the Antebellum era including the Compromise of 1850, an attempt to save the Union.

Following heroic service in World War II, John F. Kennedy served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1947-1953. In 1954, Kennedy was elected the Class 1 Senator from Massachusetts. Kennedy leaped from the Senate to the Presidency in 1960 after beating Richard Nixon in the general election. Kennedy personified a new era in American history and spearheaded the creation of the Peace Corps and the NASA missions to the Moon. Tragically, on November 22, 1963, Kennedy became the fourth American President to be assassinated, when he was shot in Dallas, Texas.

Alex Haimann

About the Author
Alexander T. Haimann, Collections Specialist & Web Projects Developer at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, collects and writes primarily about the stamps and postal history of the U.S. during the first one hundred years of stamp production (1847-1947). Additionally, he develops internet based education projects and exhibits for the National Postal Museum. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Stamp Dealers Association, the Chair of the American Philatelic Society’s Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship and the publicist for the United State Philatelic Classics Society. His national and international society memberships include the American Philatelic Society, United States Stamp Society, Collectors Club of New York and the Royal Philatelic Society London.