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Charles Connell

Charles Connell (1810-1873) was a Canadian politician, now remembered mainly for his image on a 5 cent postage stamp. Born in the then-British colony of New Brunswick to a family of Loyalists, who fled the American Revolution, he entered politics in 1846, serving in the colony's Legislative Assembly and House of Assembly.

In 1858, Connell was appointed postmaster general of the colony, at a time when increasing trade with the United States was forcing the British colonies to reconsider their currencies and institute a decimal system that would be more familiar to their American neighbors. New Brunswick adopted a decimal currency in 1859, and in the following year, Connell issued the first series of postage stamps in the new denomination. While few people had problems with the new currency, they were outraged that Connell chose to depict himself on the 5 cent stamp, instead of Queen Victoria. In an effort to stem the criticism and charges of extreme arrogance, he offered to buy up all the stamps and burned them publicly on the front lawn of his house. It is unknown how many stamps survived, but they number no more than a few dozen and are now extremely rare.

Despite the episode, Connell continued to serve in the colonial legislature up until 1867. An ardent supporter of Canadian Confederation, he was elected to the first two Canadian parliaments.

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