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Benjamin Franklin

painting of Benjamin Franklin in an ornate gold frame

Benjamin Franklin was named postmaster of Philadelphia by the British Crown in 1737. The colonial post still carried mostly official and commercial correspondence, and most communications were transatlantic. Few residents of one colony needed to contact residents of another. But over the next three decades, a sense of common destiny began to unite the colonies in opposition to British rule. 

Benjamin Franklin brought form to the disorganized British colonial post. In 1753 Franklin became the Crown's joint postmaster general for the American colonies. He moved quickly to improve the fledgling service. After a 1,600-mile inspection of post offices, he organized a weekly mail wagon between Philadelphia and Boston. Franklin's postal riders traveled day and night by horseback in relays, using lanterns to light their way. The service cut mail delivery time between the cities in half, making the colonial post both efficient for colonists and profitable for the Crown. 

In 1774, the Crown dismissed Franklin from his position as joint Postmaster General because of his revolutionary activities. The next year, the Continental Congress appointed Benjamin Franklin postmaster general of the United Colonies.