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The face of Luis de Unzaga y Amézaga appears on a new set of stamps. SUR
Malaga man who gave the United States of America its name honoured with postage stamp

Malaga man who gave the United States of America its name honoured with postage stamp

HISTORY ·

The Spanish post office, Correos, has issued stamps in memory of soldier Luis de Unzaga, who was born near the city's cathedral

Ana Pérez-Bryan

Malaga

Tuesday, 28 February 2023, 12:57

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They say that great soldiers continue to win battles after they are dead, at least in memory. Now, some 230 years after his death, the face of Luis de Unzaga y Amézaga, who was born in Malaga on 6 April 1717 and died in the city on 21 June 1793, appears on a new postage stamp released by the Spanish post office, Correos. The 124,000 stamps worth two euros 10 cents each «on gummed, coated and phosphorescent paper» were released on 21 February according to the Correos website.

The stamp is part of a series of 'personajes' or prominent Spaniards and it is thanks to the hard work and dedication of Frank Cazorla and Rosa García Baena. The two professors are responsible for recovering the memory of Luis de Unzaga and for discovering that it was in fact the soldier from Malaga who gave his name to the United States. Cazorla and Baena included the facts in their biography 'Governor Luis de Unzaga - Precursor in the birth of the USA and in liberalism', a volume edited by the Malaga Foundation and presented at City Hall in November 2019.

Luis de Unzaga's signature on the letter he wrote to US president George Washington. SUR
Imagen principal - Luis de Unzaga's signature on the letter he wrote to US president George Washington.

During their intense research, Cazorla and Baena, along with Professor José David Polo Rubio, found a missive from 1776 in which President George Washington addresses his right-hand man, Joseph Reed, to comment on the details of the «very flattering» letter he had just received from Unzaga himself: «He gives me the title of 'General of the United American States', which is a tolerable step towards declaring himself our ally in positive terms». This is said to have pleased the president so much that, from that moment on, the name of 'the 13 states' or 'the 13 united states' - as the United States was known in the Declaration of Independence - became the United States of America, thanks to Unzaga.

The soldier joined the army when he was just 13 years old and worked his way up until he was elevated to commander and, later, governor of the Louisiana states. Among other feats he created the forerunner of the CIA, was the pioneer of free trade on the Mississippi river and the driving force behind the introduction of the dollar as the official US currency.

Known for his diplomatic skills he was known as 'The Conciliator' and Unzaga was the brother-in-law of American Independence soldier Bernardo de Gálvez, who was also born in Malaga province; in the Axarquía village of Macharaviaya.

Malaga's Alameda in the 19th century with Génova fountain, which Unzaga ordered to be placed in front of his house at number 12. SUR
Imagen principal - Malaga's Alameda in the 19th century with Génova fountain, which Unzaga ordered to be placed in front of his house at number 12.

At the age of 70 and with an extensive diplomatic and military career behind him, Luis de Unzaga returned to Malaga where he was involved in the construction of the Alameda and the houses on both sides of what would become the city's first great aristocratic thoroughfare. It was at number 12 that he took up residence with his wife until his death on 21 June 1793. Malaga city council placed a commemorative plaque in memory of Luis de Unzaga on the façade of the house in April 2022.

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