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Interpreting the Evidence

Benjamin Franklin Statue at Philadelphia Post Office

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Era:

    Revolution and New Nation (1754 - 1820s)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    American Revolution
    Colonial America

  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Benjamin Franklin Statue at Philadelphia Post Office in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Seated figure of Benjamin Franklin by John J. Boyle in front of post office at Ninth and Chestnut Streets in Philadelphia. Statue completed in 1899. Photograph taken in 1912.
Historical Context
On July 26, 1775, the Continental Congress appointed Benjamin Franklin the first Postmaster General of the American colonies.  He had previous experience as postmaster in Philadelphia, and he used his skills and experience to organize the system that is now the U.S. Postal Service.  As Postmaster General, Franklin set standard postage rates and postal routes and dramatically reduced the amount of time it took mail to reach its destination.  Because of his position with the post office, Benjamin Franklin did not have to pay to mail his own letters, which he signed "B. Free Franklin."  

In 1847, the Postal Service issued a postage stamp featuring Benjamin Franklin. Since then, Franklin has appeared on many U.S. postage stamps.  The only person who has appeared on more postage stamps than Franklin is George Washington.

Essential Question
How do individuals influence the development of a society?
Check for Understanding
Describe the object in the photograph and evaluate the impact of Benjamin Franklin's life on the development of American society.
Historical Challenges
Research the history of stamps featuring Benjamin Franklin throughout the years and write an essay on your findings.
Where is the statue in this photograph located today?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: How old was Benjamin Franklin when he became Postmaster General? How many years passed between Franklin's death and the first postage stamp bearing his image?
Art: Design a new postage stamp featuring Benjamin Franklin. Include one of his famous inventions or contributions in your design.