"First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen" is the well-known quotation describing the qualities of America's first president, George Washington.

Although Washington was first in many ways, where U.S. stamps are concerned, he's only No. 2 - in order of appearance, that is.The first U.S. stamp (A-1 in all catalogs) bears a portrait of Benjamin Franklin; the second stamp (A-2) features a bust of Washington. Nevertheless, the two stamps were issued simultaneously, on July 1, 1847, as the first postage stamps released by the United States.

Washington, maintaining his standing as the most-pictured and most-honored of all subjects for U.S. stamps, is featured on a new 25-cent commemorative marking the 200th anniversary of the executive branch of the federal government.

The first-day-of-issue ceremony was held recently at Washington's home in Mount Vernon, Va., from where, 200 years ago, Washington departed for New York and his inauguration. He left Mount Vernon on April 16 and encountered cheering crowds in every city and town along the route.

The new commemorative follows the format of Howard Koslow's design for the recently issued stamps saluting the U.S. House and Senate, the legislative branch.

The design of the new stamp features a head-and-shoulders detail from J.Q.A. Ward's bronze statue of Washington, which stands at New York's Federal Hall National Memorial, site of the first inauguration.

"Bicentennial" appears along the top of the stamp in white lettering on a red background. "Executive Branch" appears below it in red on a beige background, with "USA" and "25" just below and to the right.

First-day cancellations of the new stamp may be ordered in the usual two methods. In either case, the deadline is May 16.

Collectors may buy the stamps at local post offices and send their stamped, self-addressed covers to: Customer-Affixed Envelopes, Executive Branch Stamp, Postmaster, Mount Vernon, VA 22121-9991. No remittance is required. The Postal Service prefers collectors to use this method and gives these requests preferential service.

Those who want the Postal Service to affix the stamps should send their covers, along with a money order or personal check for 25 cents per stamp, to: Executive Branch Stamp, Postmaster, Mount Vernon, VA 22121-9992.

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South Dakota, the "Land of Infinite Variety," celebrates the centennial of its statehood with a 25-cent commemorative stamp.

Hailing the anniversary, the new stamp features an unusual design depicting a pioneer woman in white apron standing before her sod house as she surveys the surrounding grasslands. Two open blooms of lavender and pink pastel surround the yellow center of a pasque, South Dakota's state flower. In the upper left is "South Dakota 1889," while "USA 25" appears at the top right.

The illustration, by Sioux Falls artist Marian Henjum, captures the determination of frontier America. The artist created the design with colored pencils, basing the image on personal and historical photos.

South Dakotans are proud of the natural beauty of their land: the Black Hills, the highest mountains east of the Rockies; the Badlands, an eerie landscape in sandstone and clay; famed Mount Rushmore, with its four presidential sculptures by Gutzon Borglum; and the Glacial Lakes region, formed some 12,000 years ago.

First-day cancellations are available as follows:

Collectors who choose to affix their own stamps may buy them at local post offices and apply to their envelopes. The Postal Service encourages use of this method and gives these orders preferential service. Send stamped, self-addressed covers to: Customer-Affixed Envelopes, South Dakota Statehood Stamp, Postmaster, Pierre, SD 57501-9991. No remittance is required.

Those who would rather have the Postal Service affix the stamps should send their self-addressed covers along with a money order or personal check for 25 cents per stamp to: South Dakota Statehood Stamp, Postmaster, Pierre, SD 57501-9992.

Either way, the deadline is June 2.