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Benjamin Franklin
Date Issued: 1887-06-01
Postage Value: 1 cents

Benjamin Franklin

The first postmaster general of the United States appeared on the first stamp
issued by the country.

Benjamin Franklin's career, however, was much more than overseeing the movement
of mail in the  fledgling nation.

At the age of 17, he moved to Philadelphia, where he utilized his experience as
a printer's apprentice and found work as a printer.  A year later, he went to
England, where he became a master printer.

Back in Philadelphia in 1726, at age 20, he owned his own newspaper and later
began to print Poor Richard's Almanack.  His business prospered to the point
where he was able to retire at age 42.

In 1727 he organized a group of tradesmen as the Junto.  The group then founded
a library, a fire company, a college (which became the University of
Pennsylvania), an insurance company, and a hospital.

In 1740, Franklin invented the Pennsylvania fireplace, which later became known
as the Franklin stove.  It was at this time that he did his experiments with
electricity, including the fabled kite-fly during a thunderstorm.  As a result
of the experiments, he invented lightning rods, which quickly appeared on
buildings in America and Europe.

Elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1751, he began a 40-year stint as a
public servant.  Ever so slowly Franklin changed his view from that of not
wanting separation of America from English control to the need for

From April 1775 to October 1776, he served on the Pennsylvania Committee of
Safety and in the Continental Congress.  He also submitted articles of
confederation for the united colonies, proposed a new constitution for
Pennsylvania, and helped draft the Declaration of Independence.  He was 70
years old when he signed the Declaration.

In October 1776, he sailed for France to seek French aid for the Revolutionary
War.  After signing, with the other two American commissioners, the French
alliance, Franklin became the first American minister to France.

For seven years, then, he acted as diplomat, purchasing agent, recruiting
officer, loan negotiator, admiralty court, and intelligence . . . and all of
this for a man over the age of 70 at that time in history!

Franklin made secret contact with peace negotiators from England after the
British loss at Yorktown.  He proposed treaty articles near to what finally was
agreed upon.  Together with John Jay, Franklin represented the United States in
signing the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783.

He returned to America in 1785.  Though 80 years old and in declining health,
he still accepted election for three years as president of Pennsylvania.  At
the Constitutional Convention of 1787, although too weak to stand, his gift for
compromise helped prevent bitter disputes among delegates.

Franklin's final public pronouncements advocated the ratification of the
Constitution.  He died in 1790.

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