Birth of Johns Hopkins 

U.S. #2194 was issued as part of the Great Americans Series.

Johns Hopkins was born on May 19, 1795, in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

Hopkins was named after his grandfather (also Johns Hopkins) who took his mother’s last name (Margaret Johns) as his first when she married Gerard Hopkins.

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Hopkins was the second oldest of 11 children in a family of Quakers. After they emancipated their slaves in 1807, Hopkins worked on the farm, forcing him to take a break from his education. When he was 17 Hopkins went to Baltimore to work at his uncle’s grocery business. During the War of 1812, Hopkins’ uncle left him in charge of the shop, giving him the experience he needed to start his own business with Benjamin Moore.

U.S. #2252 – Hopkins used a Conestoga wagon to sell his wares in the Shenandoah Valley.

The business was short-lived, leading Hopkins to then go into business with three of his brothers, creating Hopkins & Brothers Wholesalers in 1819. The Hopkins’ traveled the Shenandoah Valley in Conestoga wagons selling a variety of items, accepting corn whiskey as payment from rural families in lieu of money. When he returned to the city, he sold the whiskey as “Hopkins’ Best.” Hopkins also found significant financial success with smart investments, most notably with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O). He later served as director of the railroad in 1847 and chairman of its Finance Committee in 1855. Hopkins also served as president of Merchants’ Bank and as the director of several other organizations. His financial successes were so great that he was able to retire in 1847 at the age of 52. But in addition to his business acumen, Hopkins was also extremely charitable. On more than one occasion he donated money to the city of Baltimore during financial crises and twice bailed the railroad out of debt.

Though he was a Maryland native, Hopkins was an avid abolitionist and supported the Union at the outbreak of the Civil War. His summer estate, Clifton, served as a meeting place for Union sympathizers during the war. He was also in frequent contact with President Lincoln, supporting his plans and offering the use of the use of the B&O Railroad for free.

U.S. #1006 was issued for the 125th anniversary of the B&O Railroad charter.

After the war, Hopkins was distraught by the toll it had taken on Baltimore. He was also moved by the yellow fever and cholera epidemics that had killed hundreds in the city several years before. So in 1870, he prepared his will, which set aside $7 million for the creation of a free hospital, medical training colleges, as well as an orphanage and university for African Americans. (This was the largest philanthropic gift in America up to that time.) As Hopkins described it, “I have had many talents given to me and I feel they are in trust. I shall not bury them but give them to the lads who long for a wider education.”

Item #M89-17A – Hopkins First Day Maximum Card.

After his death on December 24, 1873, Hopkins’ bequests were set into motion. Per his will, the Johns Hopkins Colored Children Orphan Asylum was to open first, in 1875. At the time, it was home to 24 children. The orphanage was later changed to a training school and later a home for crippled African American children and orphans. It eventually closed in 1924 and never reopened.

Johns Hopkins University was established in 1876, providing both higher education and scientific research. Two years later, the school began printing the Johns Hopkins Press, which is still produced today, making it the longest-running academic press in the country. The university is also frequently placed in the top 10 American colleges.

Item #55757 – Hopkins First Day Proof Card.

The Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing opened in 1889 and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine opened in 1893. Together, they form one of the nations leading teaching hospitals and biomedical research facilities. A number of medical traditions were begun there, including rounds, residents and house staff. And the hospital developed several medical specialties including neurosurgery, cardiac surgery, pediatrics, and child psychiatry. Today, the hospital is often considered one of the best in the world and was ranked the best in America for 21 consecutive years.

Johns Hopkins graduates include a number of people featured on U.S. stamps, including Virginia Apgar, Rachel Carson, John Dewey, Woodrow Wilson, Sidney Lanier.

Click here to view photos from the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

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  1. The first Colleges in America were started to train the clergy, e.g., Harvard and Yale. Through the 1800s many new colleges and universities were formed as educational institutions. But Johns Hopkins was the first American university to include research as an integral part of its educational program, copying the German model of Graduate Schools for research in different disciplines. In the 1800s, American scientists were trained in Europe, mostly in Germany. Johns Hopkins University led the way to the preeminent place of U.S universities as research institutions in the twentieth century.

  2. John Hopkins has certainly consecrated a lasting impact in American history in regards to his contributions and morals. Thanks to him, generations will continue to accumulate the knowledge in order to properly practice prime medicine. God bless the United States of America!

  3. It should be emphasized that Hopkins’ first name was Johns, not John. Prominent people make a mistake with this, including one U.S. President in a speech while I was a student at Johns Hopkins University.

  4. I was raised in Baltimore and lived there after I was married. Our daughter was born with 3 different medical visison problems. We took her to the Wilmer Eye Clinic at Hopkins where she recieved excellent care. It is very well respected and the best around for eye care. My grandmother also had her cataracts removed there and had no problems. Wilmer Eye Clinic treats all ages from all over. I enjoyed reading your review of Johns Hopkins today.

  5. From your most informative story today, I have learned that philanthropist, Johns Hopkins himself and the founding “Fathers” of Johns Hopkins University, Hospital and School of Medicine were true visionaries by including research goals from the very start. I knew since the sixties of last century as a Belgian visiting trainee in Paediatrics at Boston’s Children’s Hospital about the academic fame of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, I now learned the life story and about the value of the man whose name adorns his high quality institution. Thanks Mystic for this and many other valuable stories! The person who to me and to many colleagues in the US and elsewhere on the globe, brilliantly represented the Johns Hopkins Hospital and medical faculty, Dr. Victor A. McKusick, (1921-2008), co-founder of medical genetics as a science and a profession, fully deserves to be next in line to be a Johns Hopkins graduate and teacher, remembered and honoured also for future generations by a US postage stamp.

  6. I enjoy reading about your stories on stamps. But I is a proof reader , & saw errors, or some thing amiss in 2 places.
    Keep up the good work. Sunday was the 19th, mon was the 20, & 2day is the 22nd.
    I.some how missed the 21st read ings.
    Thank you .

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