The Postal Service Begins

Three weeks after the battles of Lexington and Concord, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia in May 1775 to plan for the defense of the colonies against British aggression and “to take into consideration the state of America.”4 The conveyance of letters and intelligence was essential to the cause of liberty. A committee, chaired by Benjamin Franklin and including Samuel Adams, Richard Henry Lee, Philip Livingston, Thomas Lynch, and Thomas Willing, was named to consider the creation of a postal system.


The committee reported back to Congress on July 25, 1775. The Continental Congress agreed to the committee’s recommendations on the following day, creating the position of Postmaster General, and naming Franklin to it. Richard Bache, Franklin’s son-in-law, was named comptroller, and William Goddard was appointed surveyor.


Under Franklin and his immediate successors, the postal system mainly carried communications between Congress and the armies. Postmasters and post riders were exempt from military duties so service would not be interrupted.


Benjamin Franklin served as Postmaster General until November 7, 1776. He was in office when the Declaration of Independence created the United States in July 1776, making Franklin the first Postmaster General of the United States. America’s present Postal Service descends from the system Franklin placed in operation.