Ben Franklin Takes Charge of the Mail in Postal Service Milestone


Young Printer Ben

Young Printer Ben

Franklin Stamp 1866-69

Franklin Stamp 1866-69

On This Date In History: The US Postal Service was founded on this date in 1775 with Ben Franklin as the first Postmaster General. Franklin was the best choice since he had experience. See, he was the Postmaster General of the colonies(or deputy postmaster) for the crown beginning in 1753. Under Franklin, delivery time for mail was cut in half. He is credited with great improvments and innovations that even continue to the present.

Franklin Milepost Near Boston

Franklin Milestone Near Boston

He started by making a tour of all the postal facilities, which was a tough task at that time due to the difficulty of travel. He had routes surveyed and established the shortest and most efficient routes between cities.   Milestones had been used on roadways in the colonies since the early part of the 18th century.  But, Franklin expaned the use of milestones greatly to better determine the delivery distance that any particular piece of mail .  The legacy of the milestone lives on today inf the form of milemarkers on highways.  Ben improved mail service between New York and Philadelphia by scheduling mail wagons for both night and day. Of course, Franklin had other interests and used his position to his own advantage.  He was able to markedly increase the circulation of his Gazette (either Philadelphia Gazette or Pennsylvania Gazette, depending on the source) by delivering the paper using the postal service to make his delivery. As it turns out, the previous postmaster of Philadelphia had been a competitor of Franklin’s so I guess turnabout is fair play.

Surveyor Goddard's ID Pass signed by Franklin 1776

Surveyor Goddard's ID Pass signed by Franklin 1776

As crown postmaster, old Ben established the rate chart, which determined postal rates by distance and weight. Today, the postal service has a new rate for a standard box in which weight is not a sole determinant of the price. But, in general, the practice of using weight to determine the rates continue and I haven’t figured out why because the volume of the package seems to be more important as it takes up more space.   I suppose that it has something to do with the cost of jetfuel.  Anyway, its all Franklin’s fault and the system he initiated became standard. But, for all the good he did the crown, he was dismissed from his position in 1774 because the old King wasn’t too thrilled with his vocal enthusiasm for independence. Fired from one job, he was quickly rehired by the fledgling colonial government on July 26 1775.

I’ll let you look at the postal service history as told by the postal service. Its probably a good idea to look for outside sources if you want the whole story because the USPS will tell you what the USPS wants you to know. Anyway, here’s the link:

http://www.usps.com/postalhistory/welcome.htm

An interesting tidbit is that the USPS is not a direct governmental agency anymore. It became and independent agency, partly as a conclusion to a postal worker strike,  under the Executive Branch in 1971 and stopped receiving subsidies in the early 1980’s. I think that means it is not accurate to yell at the postman and tell him he works for you or that your tax dollars pay his salary.

Weather Bottom Line:   Nothing too exciting here.  A cold front came through as expected but the energy associated with it was mainly to the north and activity farther south did not get going until the afternoon.  Hence, rain chances were a bit over blown.  In spite of the fact we had a cold front (there’s no such thing as a “cool front”)  our tempertures will still be pretty warm…after all…it’s summer.  But, the edge will be taken off the heat and humidity.  Highs for the next several days will be lurking around the 90 degree mark instead of the mid 90’s.  The front will more or less wash out just to our south and there should be enough instability left over that we get isolated t’storms roaming about each afternoon.  My postulation that the remnant of Bonnie might rotate around the ridge into the Tennessee Valley and perhaps in our neck of the woods looks to be off the board.  I think that the ridge is actually expanding because most of the modeling suggests that Bonnie’s leftovers will be moving across Texas.

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