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Benjamin Franklin Statue at Philadelphia Post Office

Benjamin Franklin - Franklin Statue in front of the Post Office
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_1101
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.
Why was this statue placed in front of a post office in Philadelphia?
Is it a large statue or a small statue?  How can you tell?
Why do you think Benjamin Franklin signed his mail "B. Free Franklin"?
Considering all the important figures in U.S. history, why did Benjamin Franklin’s image appear on so many postage stamps?
How did Franklin improve the postal system in the American colonies?
In what ways has the U.S. Postal Service changed since Franklin's time?
Do you think it should be the job of the government to run the mail?  Explain.
What other ways can you send mail today if you don't use the U.S. Postal Service?
What advantages or disadvantages does the U.S. Postal Service have compared to other businesses that deliver mail?
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.
Adler, David. B. Franklin: Printer. New York: Holiday House, 2001. ISBN: 0823416755
Fleming, Candace. Ben Franklin's Almanac: Being a True Account of the Good Gentleman's Life. New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2003. ISBN: 0689835493
Giblin, James. The Amazing Life of Benjamin Franklin. New York: Scholastic, 2000. ISBN: 0590485342
Harness, Cheryl. The Remarkable Benjamin Franklin. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2005. ISBN: 0792278828

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.