Smithsonian Museum T-Shirts, Posters & Gifts > Stamps > Ben Franklin 5-cent Stamp
The first United States general issue postage stamps, stamps for distribution throughout the country, were prepared under authorization of the Congressional Act of March 3, 1847. The first postage stamp instructed the firm of Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson, a banknote engraving firm, to use a portrait of recently deceased President Andrew Jackson on the 5-cent stamp. However Jackson was replaced by Benjamin Franklin, the first postmaster general appointed under the Continental Congress. Franklin’s portrait, based on artwork by James B. Longacre, would be more acceptable as a unifying icon for the divided nation because of his role in securing independence for the country. The Franklin stamp became valid for use on July 1, 1847. From the National Postal Museum, Smithsonian Institution.