On April 16, 1900, the U.S. Postal Service issued the first book of stamps.
Stamp collecting used to be a popular hobby, and getting mail was the highlight of many people’s day. Benjamin Franklin was the first U.S. Postmaster, and operating a postal service is one of the few jobs specifically laid out in the Constitution. The need for an efficient postal delivery system was one of the justifications for the Federal government to get into the highway business. And today, the U.S. Post Office has a legal monopoly on ordinary mail.
Today, however, the post office is under threat. It runs deficits more often than not, and continues to struggle as competitors deliver more and more packages, and regular mail continues to be displaced by digital communication.
- Do you think delivering the mail should continue to be the sole right of the Post Office? Or do you think other organizations should be allowed to compete?
- When is the last time you wrote a letter?
- In the past, people put great time and effort into their letter writing, and some great literature has been found in letters (and some literature has been written as a series of letters). Can you imagine someone making a book out of your text messages? Would others want to read them? What has been lost (or gained) by the substitution of digital communication for letters?
- Finally, what do you think of Brewster’s decision to destroy the stamp?
9, April 2018, B Free Franklin Stamp, 2006 [Digital image]. Retrieved from <revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com>.