On this day in 1775, the Second Continental Congress establishes the U.S. postal system, per the recommendations of a committee chaired by Benjamin Franklin, including Samuel Adams and others. As one could imagine, the effective conveyance of letters and intelligence was vital to the cause of liberty.
Franklin had been postmaster of Philadelphia as well as joint postmaster general of the colonies. However, the British fired Franklin in 1774 as a result of the Hutchinson Letters Affair. In brief, Franklin helped publicize incriminating letters from Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson to the British which suggested “an abridgment of what are called English liberties.”
Another key figure involved was, of course, Samuel Adams. It’s a fascinating whistleblower story.
Appropriately, Benjamin Franklin became the first United States Postmaster General and served until November 7, 1776. That’s when he left for Paris to garner French support for the American Revolution.
In 1847, the first stamp ever issued honors and depicts the Patriot and Postmaster:
In 1785, Franklin returned to Philadelphia where he attended the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Then, he lived long enough to see the Constitution of the United States of America adopted in May 1789. However, he died less than one year later on April 17, 1790.
It was at that Convention where an 81 year old Benjamin Franklin famously stated:
“I have lived a long time, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?”
That quote in addition to Franklin’s own illustration of one of his inventions, the bifocals, inspired Our shirt: