August 15, 2016

the Battle of the Saintes

In 1975 the postal authority of the island of Barbuda issued a set of four stamps commemorating the Battle of the Saintes. The stamps were issued on the 30th of May, 1975 and are perforated 13.5 x 14.

This was an important naval battle that was fought between the British under Admiral Sir George Rodney and the French under the Comte de Grasse between April 9th, 1782 and April 12th, 1782, during the Anglo-French War. The Battle was fought off the Island of Dominica and was named after the group of islands between Gaudeloupe and Dominica which were collectively known as the "Saintes".

This battle was important to the British forces as the fleet was responsible for the blockade of Yorktown and was responsible in part for the British surrender.  With the British surrender at Yorktown, the next phase of the French/Spanish plan was to invade Jamaica.

On April 7, 1782 the French left Martinique to rendezvous with 12 Spanish ships of the line and to embark 15,000 troops.  On hearing this Admiral Rodney left in pursuit of the French fleet the next day.

April 9th saw the British fleet catch the French fleet and the two sides sailed in line for the next few days while repairing damage to their respective ships.

At 7:40 am on the 12th, the British began to engage the French fleet and the two sides engaged each other in broadsides.  Due to shifting winds, the British ships broke the line and delivered a devastating attack on the French fleet.  Eventually with the French fleet in disarray, the Ville de Paris, struck her colours and the Comte de Grasse surrendered to the British.

Ships of the Line.
The strength of the British fleet was 36 ships of the line, the French fleet consisted of 33 ships of the line.
H.M.S. Ramillies.
 At the conclusion of the battle the total casualties for the British were 243 dead and 816 wounded with no loss of ships.  In contrast the French suffered 3,000 dead or wounded. 5,000 captured, 4 ships of the line captured and 1 destroyed.

Bonhomme Richard firing broadside. 
As a result of the loss, the French/Spanish plan to invade Jamaica was ruined and British dominance of the seas was again re-established.  

The French ship of the line L'Orient burning.

August 06, 2016

Samuel Gompers

Samuel Gompers was born in London, England in 1850.  At the age of 10 he was sent to work as a cigar maker apprentice to help out his impoverished family.

In 1863 the Gompers' immigrated to the US and settled into Manhattan's Lower East Side.  For the first year and a half in New York, Samuel assisted his dad manufacture cigars at their home.

The US issued a stamp commemorating Samuel Gompers on January 27, 1950.  The image above at right courtesy of Amazon.  

In 1864 Samuel Gompers joined the Cigarmakers'  Local 15 Union became active in it's activities.  In 1875 Gompers became president of Local 114 of the Cigarmakers' union and introduced high dues to cover the cost of implementing out of work benefits, sick benefits and death benefits for members in good standing.  In 1886 Gompers was elected as second vice-president and in 1896 first vice-president of the Cigarmakers' International Union.  He continued on as first vice-president with them until his death in 1924.

In 1881 he helped form the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, which went on to become the American Federation of Labor in 1886.  Gompers was its president from its inception until his death in December of 1924, with the exception of 1895.

A cover addressed to Samuel Gompers when he was President of the AFL.