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who was the first postmaster general

Who was the first Postmaster General?

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Who was the first Postmaster General?
Who was the first Postmaster General?

 

United States Postmaster General

The United States Postmaster General (PMG) is the chief executive officer of the United States Postal Service (USPS). The PMG is responsible for managing and directing the day-to-day operations of the agency.

The PMG is selected and appointed by the Board of Governors of the Postal Service, the members of which are appointed by the president of the United States, with the advice and consent of the United States Senate.

The postmaster general then also sits on the board. The PMG does not serve at the pleasure of the president, and can be dismissed by the Board of Governors. The appointment of the postmaster general does not require Senate confirmation. The governors and the postmaster general elect the deputy postmaster general.

The current officeholder is Louis DeJoy, who was appointed on June 16, 2020.

List of Postmasters General

Under the Continental Congress

Name Date appointed
1 Benjamin Franklin July 26, 1775
2 Richard Bache November 7, 1776
3 Ebenezer Hazard January 28, 1782

 

U.S. postal system established

On July 26, 1775, the U.S. postal system is established by the Second Continental Congress, with Benjamin Franklin as its first postmaster general. Franklin (1706-1790) put in place the foundation for many aspects of today’s mail system.

During early colonial times in the 1600s, few American colonists needed to send mail to each other; it was more likely that their correspondence was with letter writers in Britain. Mail deliveries from across the Atlantic were sporadic and could take many months to arrive. There were no post offices in the colonies, so mail was typically left at inns and taverns.

In 1753, Benjamin Franklin, who had been postmaster of Philadelphia, became one of two joint postmasters general for the colonies. He made numerous improvements to the mail system, including setting up new, more efficient colonial routes and cutting delivery time in half between Philadelphia and New York by having the weekly mail wagon travel both day and night via relay teams. Franklin also debuted the first rate chart, which standardized delivery costs based on distance and weight.

In 1774, the British fired Franklin from his postmaster job because of his revolutionary activities. However, the following year, he was appointed postmaster general of the United Colonies by the Continental Congress. Franklin held the job until late in 1776, when he was sent to France as a diplomat.

He left a vastly improved mail system, with routes from Florida to Maine and regular service between the colonies and Britain. President George Washington appointed Samuel Osgood, a former Massachusetts congressman, as the first postmaster general of the American nation under the new U.S. constitution in 1789. At the time, there were approximately 75 post offices in the country.

Today, the United States has over 40,000 post offices and the postal service delivers more than 200 billion pieces of mail each year to over 144 million homes and businesses in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, the American Virgin Islands and American Samoa. Postal service is the nation’s largest civilian employer, with roughly 500,000 career workers.

The postal service is a not-for-profit, self-supporting agency that covers the majority of its expenses through postage (stamp use in the United States started in 1847) and related products. The postal service gets the mail delivered, rain or shine, using everything from planes to mules.

 

Who was the first Postmaster General?
Who was the first Postmaster General?

 

How Ben Franklin Established the US Post Office?

During the Revolutionary War, when there wasn’t any internet or telephones to provide instantaneous communication over long distances, the connective tissue that held the American colonies together was mail that was transported by horseback riders on the rough-hewn roads between cities and towns.

Making sure that the mail was delivered as quickly and dependably as possible was critical to the colonies’ survival. That’s why three months after the battles of Lexington and Concord, the Continental Congress turned to Benjamin Franklin to establish a national post service as the first Postmaster General.

“When he was appointed postmaster general for the American confederation in 1775, it clearly showed the extent to which he was trusted by American leaders to have Americans’ best interests at heart,” explains Carla J. Mulford, a professor of English at Penn State University and author of an upcoming book, Benjamin Franklin’s Electrical Diplomacy.

Franklin already had years of experience in the business of delivering mail.

In 1737, by age 31, Franklin had already built a prosperous business as a printer, shopkeeper and publisher of a newspaper, The Pennsylvania Gazette. That year he was appointed postmaster of Philadelphia, after British authorities removed his predecessor for failing to submit financial reports.

As Devin Leonard notes in his book Neither Snow Nor Rain: A History of the United States Postal Service, being a local postmaster didn’t pay mucha 10 percent commission on customers’ postage—but it came with a big fringe benefit.

Franklin had franking privileges, which enabled him to mail his newspaper to readers at no cost. That helped Franklin build a big circulation and turn the Pennsylvania Gazette into one of the colonies’ most successful publications.

In a similar way that modern politicians and celebrities rely on Twitter, Franklin used the mail for self-promotion. As Leonard notes, Franklin’s ability to send his own letters without paying postage—he instead simply inscribed them with “Free.B.Franklin”—enabled him to correspond with other intellectuals in Europe.

That helped to publicize Franklin’s achievements, “thereby helping to make Franklin into one of the world’s most admired Americans,” as Leonard writes. Stanford University historian Caroline Winterer, who has studied the 20,000 letters left behind by Franklin, describes him as “a man with a dynamic social network” comparable to our interconnected world today.

List of Postmasters General

Dates prior to 1900 are the dates the Postmasters General were appointed or commissioned; dates after 1900 are the dates they took office.  Appointments by the U.S. President were made with the advice and consent of the Senate.

 

Postmasters General appointed by the Continental Congress

Postmaster General Date Appointed
Benjamin Franklin July 26, 1775
Richard Bache November 7, 1776
Ebenezer Hazard January 28, 1782

 

Postmasters General appointed by the President

Postmaster General Date Appointed by President …
Samuel Osgood September 26, 1789 George Washington
Timothy Pickering August 12, 1791 George Washington
Joseph Habersham February 25, 1795 George Washington
Gideon Granger November 28, 1801 Thomas Jefferson
Return J. Meigs, Jr. March 17, 1814 James Madison
John McLean June 26, 1823 James Monroe
William T. Barry March 9, 1829 Andrew Jackson
Amos Kendall May 1, 1835 Andrew Jackson
John M. Niles May 19, 1840 Martin Van Buren
Francis Granger March 6, 1841 William Henry Harrison
Charles A. Wickliffe September 13, 1841 John Tyler
Cave Johnson March 6, 1845 James K. Polk
Jacob Collamer
March 8, 1849
Zachary Taylor
Nathan Kelsey Hall July 23, 1850 Millard Filmore
Samuel D. Hubbard August 31, 1852 Millard Filmore
James Campbell March 7, 1853 Franklin Pierce
Aaron V. Brown March 6, 1857 James Buchanan
Joseph Holt March 14, 1859 James Buchanan
Horatio King February 12, 1861 James Buchanan
Montgomery Blair March 5, 1861 Abraham Lincoln
William Dennison September 24, 1864 Abraham Lincoln
Alexander W. Randall July 25, 1866 Andrew Johnson
John A. J. Creswell March 5, 1869 Ulysses Grant
James W. Marshall July 3, 1874 Ulysses Grant
Marshall Jewell August 24, 1874 Ulysses Grant
James N. Tyner July 12, 1876 Ulysses Grant
David M. Key March 12, 1877 Rutherford B. Hayes
Horace Maynard August 26, 1880 Rutherford B. Hayes
Thomas L. James March 5, 1881 James A. Garfield
Timothy O. Howe December 20, 1881 Chester A. Arthur
Walter Q. Gresham April 3, 1883 Chester A. Arthur
Frank Hatton October 14, 1884 Chester A. Arthur
William F. Vilas March 6, 1885 Grover Cleveland
Don M. Dickinson January 16, 1888 Grover Cleveland
John Wanamaker March 5, 1889 Benjamin Harrison
Wilson S. Bissell March 6, 1893 Grover Cleveland
William L. Wilson March 1, 1895 Grover Cleveland
James A. Gary March 5, 1897 William McKinley
Charles Emory Smith April 21, 1898 William McKinley
Henry C. Payne
January 15, 1902
Theodore Roosevelt
Robert J. Wynne October 10, 1904 Theodore Roosevelt
George B. Cortelyou March 7, 1905 Theodore Roosevelt
George von L. Meyer March 5, 1907 Theodore Roosevelt
Frank H. Hitchcock March 6, 1909 William H. Taft
Albert S. Burleson March 5, 1913 Woodrow Wilson
Will H. Hays March 4, 1921 Warren G. Harding
Hubert Work March 4, 1922 Warren G. Harding
Harry S. New March 5, 1923 Warren G. Harding
Walter F. Brown March 6, 1929 Herbert Hoover
James A. Farley March 6, 1933 Franklin D. Roosevelt
Frank C. Walker September 11, 1940 Franklin D. Roosevelt
Robert E. Hannegan
June 30, 1945
Harry S. Truman
Jesse M. Donaldson December 16, 1947 Harry S. Truman
Arthur E. Summerfield January 21, 1953 Dwight D. Eisenhower
J. Edward Day January 21, 1961 John F. Kennedy
John A. Gronouski September 30, 1963 John F. Kennedy
Lawrence F. O’Brien November 3, 1965 Lyndon B. Johnson
W. Marvin Watson April 26, 1968 Lyndon B. Johnson
Winton M. Blount January 22, 1969 Richard M. Nixon

 

 

Who was the first Postmaster General?
Who was the first Postmaster General?

 

Postmasters General appointed by the USPS Board of Governors

Postmaster General Date Took Office …
Winton M. Blount July 1, 1971
E. T. Klassen January 1, 1972
Benjamin F. Bailar February 16, 1975
William F. Bolger March 15, 1978
Paul N. Carlin January 1, 1985
Albert V. Casey January 7, 1986
Preston R. Tisch August 16, 1986
Anthony M. Frank March 1, 1988
Marvin T. Runyon July 6, 1992
William J. Henderson May 16, 1998
John E. Potter June 1, 2001
Patrick R. Donahoe December 6, 2010
Megan J. Brennan February 1, 2015
Louis DeJoy June 15, 2020

 

The United States Post Office USPO

Before the American Revolution, very little official mail was exchanged throughout the colonies. However, when things began to heat up in the 1760s, a much greater need arose for a more organized postal service. When the Stamp Act of 1765 sent an uproar through the colonies, the citizens began planning to overthrow the British Imperial Post and open up a purely American one.

The United States Post Office (USPO) was ordered by the Second Continental Congress on July 26, 1775. Benjamin Franklin oversaw its creation as head of the department for a short while.

The Post Office Department (USPOD)

In 1789, George Washington appointed Massachusetts resident Samuel Osgood as first American Postmaster General. At the time, there were 75 official post offices and more than 2,000 miles of post roads.

The Post Office Department hired post riders who would take desolate roads hundreds of miles through treacherous conditions to deliver the mail to the various post offices. One of these postal riders was Israel Bissell, one of the riders commissioned to alert the colonies that the British troops were moving in the early stages of the American War for Independence.

The first official Congressionally recognized Post Office Department opened in the United States in 1792, it’s central hub being Philadelphia. Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 of the newly ratified United States Constitution empowered Congress to establish Post Offices and Roads under the supervision of the executive branch.

 

 

 

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