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William Goddard and the Constitutional Post

illustration of William Goddard

William Goddard (1740-1817) was one of several publishers who used private carriers to get their news past the prying eyes of the Crown post. Goddard experienced the abuse of authority by British firsthand in Philadelphia after forming a partnership with Benjamin Franklin to publish the Pennsylvania Chronicle—a paper sympathetic to the revolutionary cause. The local Crown postmaster failed to deliver out-of-town newspapers to him, depriving Goddard of a critical source of information. The Chronicle was subsequently driven out of business when the Crown post refused to accept it in the mails. Goddard retaliated by designing a distinctly American postal system to challenge the Crown post founded upon the constitutional principles of open communication, freedom from governmental interference, and the guaranteed free exchange of ideas. 

Constitutional Post plan handwritten

Constitutional Post

Goddard presented his plan to Congress on October 5, 1774—nearly two years before the formal declaration of independence from England. Congress tabled Goddard's plan until after the battles of Lexington and Concord in the Spring of 1775. On July 26, 1775 the plan, now known as the "Constitutional Post" was adopted and implemented, ensuring communication between patriots and keeping the general populace informed of events during the American Revolution. Goddard also achieved a measure of personal revenge as the revolutionary post forced the Crown post out of business in America on Christmas day, 1775 and becoming the foundation of the United States' postal system. 

Additional Imagery

  • a pass, signed by Franklin, allowed Goddard to travel as necessary in his new position
    The Second Continental Congress named Benjamin Franklin the first postmaster general of the Constitutional Post. William Goddard, the original creator of the post, was deeply disappointed at being passed over for the position. He reluctantly agreed to serve as Riding Surveyor for the Post. This pass, signed by Franklin, allowed Goddard to travel as necessary in his new position. 
  • letter from Joseph Warren
    Joseph Warren, a member of the Boston Sons of Liberty, wrote to the Rhode Island legislature on June 15, 1775, to emphasize the importance of maintaining peace with the American Indian tribes. Warren died two days later at the Battle of Bunker Hill. His letter bears the only surviving "Constitutional Post" endorsement.