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Independence Day

The history of the nation and the founding of the postal system are linked

John Trumbull’s 1818 painting depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence was featured on four 13-cent stamps in 1976.

Thursday, July 4, is Independence Day, the federal holiday that commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

The day is meaningful for all Americans but has added significance for the Postal Service, whose history is inextricably linked with the nation’s fight for independence.

On July 26, 1775, the Second Continental Congress established “a line of posts” from Maine to Georgia, understanding how crucial it was to create a network of communications that kept Colonists’ messages from falling into the British Crown’s hands.

Benjamin Franklin was selected as the first postmaster general. Franklin had served the Crown for decades as joint postmaster general of British North America, but was dismissed in 1774 for being deemed too sympathetic to the Colonies.

He was an obvious choice to lead the Colonists’ new organization, and while his tenure was brief — he served only a few months after adding his signature to the Declaration of Independence — his deep understanding of geography and transportation and his innovative approach to business laid the foundation for today’s organization.