Yesterday I worked on a lesson in America the Beautiful. I came upon a statement saying that America issued its first postage stamp during Polk’s presidency. I didn’t want simply to say: “The United States issued its first postage stamp in 1847.” I needed more than that, so I went sleuthing. Here’s what I found out.
The world’s first postage stamp was Great Britain’s Penny Black, issued in 1840. It had a profile of Queen Victoria. I was surprised at how much it looks like British postage stamps today. They always include at least a tiny profile of Queen Elizabeth II. The British began to send more and more letters and postcards. They also began to send more Christmas cards.
The United States issued its first postage stamps on July 1, 1847. The ten-cent stamp had a picture of George Washington. The five-cent stamp had a picture of Benjamin Franklin.
When the U.S. Post Office decided to issue stamps, it chose a firm that engraved banknotes. The postmaster general asked the firm to design the five-cent stamp with an image of President Andrew Jackson, who had recently died. However, the firm decided to create a design with the image of Benjamin Franklin. Franklin had been postmaster general during part of the American Revolution.
The firm sent a letter stating why they had made the change. The U.S. experienced great political upheaval in the 1830s and 1840s. The powers that be at the engraving firm believed that an image of Franklin would bring more unity to the country. Since then, the U.S. Post Office, now the U.S. Postal Service, has issued more than 130 stamps with Franklin’s picture!
The postmaster general didn’t get what he ordered, but he was evidently okay with that. If only we could be that flexible when things don’t turn out exactly the way we had imagined they would. God grant us the mercy to trust Him.
How blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
Who greatly delights in His commandments. . . .
Light arises in the darkness for the upright;
He is gracious and compassionate and righteous.
It is well with the man who is gracious and lends;
He will maintain his cause in judgment.
For he will never be shaken;
The righteous will be remembered forever.
He will not fear evil tidings;
His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Psalm 112:1, 4-7