Ben Franklin Appointed America’s First Postmaster General
As America waged war with the United Kingdom in the summer of 1775, the need arose for an independent mail service, not controlled by the British. On July 26, 1775, the Second Continental Congress established America’s first postal system and selected Benjamin Franklin as its first leader.
Franklin had a long history with mail service in the colonies and was an obvious choice. In 1753, he had been appointed deputy postmaster general of the American Colonies. He greatly improved the frequency and reliability of mail service. By 1761, the post office showed a profit for the first time. Under Franklin’s supervision, the Colonial post office continued to be profitable for several years. But he was dismissed from the office in 1774 due to his views on Britain’s “taxation without representation.”
When he was made America’s first postmaster general Franklin continued to revolutionize mail service in the colonies. He established routes between Florida and Maine as well as regular service to and from Britain. Franklin also arranged for overnight postal travel between the major cities of New York and Philadelphia. Additionally, Franklin set standardized rates based upon weight and distance that would remain in effect beyond his tenure. Though Franklin only held the office for a little over a year, his contributions were enormous and earned him the honor of being pictured on America’s first postage stamp – which is reproduced on this neat mint sheet.
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