The B&O’s Tom Thumb

August 28, 1830 – The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad’s new Tom Thumb steam locomotive races a horse-drawn car, presaging steam’s role in US railroads.

Designed and constructed by Peter Cooper in 1830, it was built to convince owners of the newly formed B&O to use steam engines and not intended to enter revenue service. In the race between the horse and the Tom Thumb, the horse was the winner after the locomotive suffered a mechanical failure. However, the demonstration was successful; and in the following year, the railroad committed to the use of steam locomotion and held trials for a working engine. (Wikipedia)

In 1987, The Commonwealth of Dominica issued a 45-cent stamp commemorating the race (Michel Catalog #DM 1055):

Tom-ThumbTrain - Dominica


Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844 – 1900

August 25, 1900:  German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche passed away.  Nietzsche was not an anti-Semite and did not condone anti-Semitism. His biggest problem with Judaism was that it gave birth to Christianity, a religion he reportedly detested.  In Human, All Too Human, Nietzsche derided the attempt to blame the Jews for all of society’s ills.  There were Jews with many disagreeable traits and habits, but then this was true of all groups. He canceled at least one magazine subscription because of its anti-Semitic tone.  He was extremely upset when his sister married a rabid anti-Semite with whom he declared that he had nothing in common.  Unfortunately for Nietzsche, the Nazis misappropriated some of his ideas.  They were aided in this corruption by Nietzsche’s sister who received a state funeral by order of Adolph Hitler himself. (Mitchell A. Levin)

Germany issued a stamp in 2000 honoring the 100th anniversary of Nietzsche’s death:

friedrich nietzsche - germany 2000

Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture

August 20, 1882 – Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture debuts in Moscow, Russia.

The Year 1812, the festival overture in Eb major, Op. 49, popularly known as the 1812 Overture, is an overture written in 1880 by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to commemorate Russia’s defense of its motherland against Napoleon’s invading Grande Armee in 1812.

The overture was conducted by Ippolit Al’atani under a tent near the then-unfinished Cathedral of Christ the Savior, which also memorialized the 1812 defense of Russia.  The overture was also conducted by Tchaikovsky himself in 1891 at the dedication of Carnegie Hall in New York City.  The overture is best known for its climactic volley of cannon fire, ringing chimes, and brass fanfare finale. It has also become a common accompaniment to fireworks displays at outdoor concerts throughout the world. The 1812 Overture went on to become one of Tchaikovsky’s most popular works.

In 1940, Russia issued a 2-stamp set (Scott Nos. 790 & 791) with 20-kopek and 30-kopek values, portraying composer Tchaikovsky.


T.E. Lawrence, 1888 – 1935

August 16, 1888: Birthdate of T.E. Lawrence, known to history as “Lawrence of Arabia.”  In the popular mind, Lawrence is remembered as a driving force behind Arab nationalism.  However, Lawrence was not anti-Zionist.  In “The Changing East” he wrote of the way in which the Zionist settlers would help improve the economic and social condition of the Arab population.  “In 1919 he drafted a letter for Emir Feisal for a meeting with Felix Frankfurter, a leader of American Zionists. In his letter Feisal wished ‘the Jews a hearty welcome home’ and asserted ‘our two movements complete one another.’ ‘There is room in Syria for both of us’ he concluded.”  (Mitch Levin)

T.E. Lawrence was honored in a souvenir sheet commemorating the Red Cross role in World War I, issued by Mozambique in 2013:

t.e. lawrence souvenir sheet - mozambique


Jamaica’s Independence – 1962

August 6, 1962 – Jamaica becomes independent from the United Kingdom.

As World War II came to a close, a sweeping movement of decolonization overtook the world. British Government and local politicians began a long transition of Jamaica from a crown colony into an independent state. The political scene was dominated by PNP and JLP, with the houses of legislature switching hands between the two throughout the 1950s.

After Norman Manley was elected Chief Minister in 1955, he sped up the process of decolonization via several constitutional amendments. These amendments allowed for greater self-government and established a cabinet of ministers under a Prime Minister of Jamaica.

Under Manley, Jamaica entered the West Indies Federation, a political union of colonial Caribbean islands that, if it had survived, would have united ten British colonial territories into a single, independent state. Jamaican’s participation in the Federation was unpopular, and the results of the 1961 West Indies referendum held by Premier Manley cemented the colony’s withdrawal from the union in 1962. The West Indies Federation collapsed later that year following the departure of Trinidad and Tobago.

In the elections of 1962, the JLP defeated the PNP, resulting in the ascension of Alexander Bustamante to the premiership in April of that year. On July 19, 1962, the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the Jamaica Independence Act, granting independence as of August 6th. On that day, the Union Jack was ceremoniously lowered and replaced by the Jamaican flag throughout the country.  Princess Margaret opened the first session of the Parliament of Jamaica on behalf of her sister.  The first Jamaica Independence Festival was held.  (from Wikipedia)

The stamp pictured nearby (Scott No. 181), was one of many stamps issued by the Postal Corporation of Jamaica celebrating the country’s independence from the U.K.:


Israel Rokach, 1896 – 1959

August 5, 1947: Israel Rokach, the future Mayor of Tel Aviv is imprisoned in the prison at Latrun.

Israel Rokach, was an Israeli politician, Knesset member, and second mayor of Tel Aviv from November 15, 1936 to April 13, 1953.

During his tenure, Tel Aviv expanded rapidly and its population tripled. Jaffa, Rokach’s birthplace, was merged into the city in 1949, giving it a significant population boost, despite Rokach’s initial opposition to the merger.

The 1936 – 1939 Arab Revolt, World War II and the 1948 Arab-Israeli War all occurred during his tenure, including Operation Hametz – the capture of Jaffa from Arab hands. During this period, Tel Aviv was bombed from the air multiple times, the first being by the Italian Air Force in 1940. After this, underground shelters and loudspeaker systems were built, which also served the population in 1949, when Egyptian Spitfires made strafing runs on the city. On August 5, 1947, Rokach and other municipal leaders were imprisoned in Latrun for aiding Jewish underground organizations. He was released in September 1947.

Israel Post issued a stamp in 2008 honoring Rokach:

israel rokach - israel