Many of New England’s lighthouses guarded the Eastern shorelines before the U.S. became a country. Since then, they have become beloved landmarks to seafarers and “landlubbers” alike. In Colonial times, the British established beacons at the busy ports of Boston and New London. During the American Revolution, the lighthouses were destroyed then rebuilt by opposing forces.
When the nation gained independence, President George Washington understood the significance of the New England lighthouses and commissioned the first keepers, contracts for oil, and completion of a new station in Portland Head, Maine. The role of lighthouses in history continued during the War of 1812. In Boston Harbor, the keeper and his wife witnessed the battle when American Captain James Lawrence declared, “Don’t give up the ship!” The lamps from Rhode Island’s Point Judith station were stolen by the British, and later found in Bermuda, returned, and reinstalled. In the 20th century, the lanterns were extinguished along New England’s rocky coast to prevent the nation’s enemies from navigating the waterways and busy harbors.
The five lighthouses honored in 2013 are: Portland Head, Cape Elizabeth, Maine Portsmouth Harbor, New Castle, New Hampshire Point Judith, Narragansett, Rhode Island New London Harbor, New London, Connecticut Boston Harbor, Boston, Massachusetts Howard E. Paine and Greg Breeding used Howard Koslow’s original paintings for the 2013 lighthouse stamps. Koslow’s paintings have been used on all of the stamps in the lighthouse series since 1990.