Space Cover 310: Celestia - Nation of Celestial Space
Celestia, The Nation of Celestial Space is based in Evergreen Park, Ilinois, USA. Founded by James Thomas Mangan, the Prime Minister, who laid claim to all space in January 1949. Chartered in December 1948.
It all began on December 12, 1948, when Mangan, a resident of Evergreen Park, gave birth to Celestia, "claiming all space in the sky as its sovereign territory", in part because "we all travel through the sky 1,500,000 miles each day; and we are basically sky people — not earth people." Mangan appeared in the office of the Recorder of Deeds and Titles of Cook County that day to file his claim to outer space and setting up the Nation of Celestial Space, he was surrounded by a host of news reporters and, radio and TV men (including Life magazine). At his side was Edwin Lotko who had prepared all the legal papers. Mangan had the title of Premier of Celestia while Lotko was the attorney general.
To say the recorder was baffled by the request was putting it mildly. It was reported at the time that all work stopped in the office and many of the 250 employees crowded around as Mangan and Lotko presented their case. One newspaper even reported one woman fainted from the magnitude of the proceedings.
Though legally presented, the recorder was bewildered as to what action to take. After much debate Mangan was told he could not file or record the claim. Mangan was not to be denied! He took the matter to court. John Boyle, then attorney of Cook County, issued a 2,000 word opinion finding Mangan's claim to be legal and instructing the recorder to record the claim.
Immediately after the recording was completed, Mangan dispatched letters to the secretaries of 74 nations informing them of the establishment of the new nation and requesting official recognition. He also applied for a seat in the United Nations.
Mangan had laid claim to space on behalf of humanity to ensure that no one country might establish a political hegemony there. At its foundation Celestia claimed to have 19 members, among them Mangan's daughter Ruth. A 28-page December 1958 booklet entitled "State of the Sky; Second Report to the Universe" chronicles the entire history of this entity up until its 10th anniversary. At that point in time, they had 19,057 participants according to their census, a far cry from the 19 with which they started. These "persons of unassailable magnanimity" indomitably cling to their thesis: "A wholesome search of the human heart reveals the time-heavy longing of all men for a country clean & free of the world's pressures & poisons."
During its earliest years, Celestia "formally and repeatedly informed the State Department of every established Nation on earth of its existence, its claims, its rights, its intentions, its nationhood." Their first Map was drawn in 1956 at a scale in which one-tenthousandth of an inch equaled 250,000,000 light years. In 1957, the U.S. Patent Office certified the name Celestia, making it the sky's legal designation. Because Celestia completely "owns all space", they peacefully protested several uses/abuses of the starry firmament as violations of their sovereignty. In 1949, they notified the United States, Soviet Union, United Kingdom and the United Nations that Celestia had "ruled against all further atom explosions (atmospheric nuclear tests)". Their charter publicly forbade the use of the regions beyond our atmosphere to any artificial object/activity (this would come to include radio and television broadcast signals) without permission. However, the U.S. was the only nation for which this ban was lifted. In 1957, it was "granted a special license to send up man-made satellites". It was also given exclusive authorization to make the first expedition to the Moon.
But despite Celestia's strenuous objections to Andrei Gromyko (Foreign Minister) and Nikita Kruschev (who was warned by cable), the USSR committed an act of trespass by launching Sputnik I. As a testament to his concerns over national security, Mr. Mangan in 1958 even "spent one hour and a half in spirited debate over the space claims" with the Second Secretary of the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Later, as the space race got underway in earnest he sent angry letters of protest to the leaders of the Soviet Union and United States on the occasions that their early space flights encroached upon his "territory" - although he later waived these proscriptions to allow for satellite launches by the latter.
While Mangan and Celestia were politely ignored by the superpowers, there is evidence that at least some others were prepared to entertain his claims with a greater level of seriousness. On behalf of his heavenly cause, he toiled with "inflexible perseverance", lobbying and petitioning higher-ups in all levels and branches of the government (Senators, Congressmen, Committees, the Pentagon, the President, the FCC, etc...). But in his quest, he remained a pro-American patriot who stood "ready to turn his claim to all space over to the United States of America." As Head of State, he would make "an outright gift" of Celestia if it were to be used for national defense. The first unfurling of the Celestian flag - featuring a blue hatch symbol within a white disc against a blue field - was broadcast in June 1958 to a television audience of millions across the US. The next day, in front of the U.N. Building in New York City, it was flown alongside all the flags of its member nations. In July of that year, they "issued a Proclamation to the World, declaring the Moon, Mars, and her Two Moons, and the Planet Venus protectorates" of the Nation of Celestial Space. Mr. Mangan did so specifically to safeguard these bodies against unsanctioned "rocket shots" intended for them. Individual copies were conveyed to all the countries belonging to the United Nations. Despite these efforts, the Nation of Celestial Space is thought to have become defunct with the death of its founder.
James Thomas Mangan's descendants include his son, James C. Mangan (deceased), his daughter Ruth Mangan Stump, "Princess of the Nation of Celestial Space", and three grandsons, Glen Stump, "Duke of Selenia", Dean Stump, "Duke of Mars", and Todd Stump, "Duke of the Milky Way".
Its only surviving legacy is the series of gold and silver coins and stamps issued in its name by Mangan from the late 1950s through to the mid 1960s. A single Celestia stamp was issued in sheet format. The stamps were produced with the first day of issue of Dec. 21, 1963. The stamps are in dark blue, azure blue and white, and carry the legend "OUTER SPACE MAIL, Nation of Celestial Space, 100,000 Ergs of Celestia Energy." The flag of the nation was incorporated in the design. It portrays the proofreader's symbol for space #. The stamp was designed by Raymond DaBoll.
Could his choice of plate number 12048 have been for the chartering of Celestia in December 1948?
I have never seen a FDC for this stamp but the FDI cancel has "CELESTIA --- UNIVERSE OF SPACE, Dec. 21, 11 A.M., 1963". The cancels were done by Mangan in his "celestial mailing room," who as head of state appointed himself Acting Postmaster General. The FDCs had to then be sent by US mail as Celestia was not a member of the Universal Postal Union - though Mangan had applied for membership.The FDCs sold for 40 cents, with sheets of stamps being sold for $2.50. Any one have a scan of a FDC or other cover with this stamp? If so, please post a scan.
More than likely you may have seen passports for traveling through space which Mangan sold for $1. Pictured above is part of a passport I think is related to Mangan — if you have one specifically known to be from him please post a scan of it. Mangan sent one of his passports to each of the astronauts at NASA.
Here is a response from John Glenn to Mangan for sending a passport to him — the response is dated January 10, 1962.
The coins of Celestia appeared in a collectSPACE post in 2007.