The Office of the Postmaster General was established on July 26, 1775, with the appointment by the Continental Congress of Benjamin Franklin as Postmaster General for a term of 1 year. The position was continued by the Congress of the Confederation. Under the Federal Constitution, an act of September 22, 1789 (1 Stat. 70), provided for the temporary establishment of a General Post Office and authorized the appointment of a Postmaster General, who was subject to the directions of the President. The Postmaster General's duties, his salary, and the compensation paid to the assistant or clerk and to the deputy postmasters whom he appointed, as well as the regulations governing the Post Office Establishment, were to be the same as under the Congress of the Confederation. An act of February 20, 1792 (1 Stat. 232), provided in detail for the Post Office Department and the Postal Service. It gave the Postmaster General authority to appoint "an assistant, and deputy postmasters, at all places where such shall be found necessary." Subsequent acts made the Post Office Department a permanent agency and enlarged its duties.
The Post Office Department operated as a single, undifferentiated unit until the appointment of a Chief Clerk was assigned supervision of field operations, including mail contracts, inspections, activities of the special agents and of the topographer, disbursements, and measures to deal with mail depredations. As the Post Office Department began to perform more services, other functions of the Postmaster General were delegated to the Chief Clerk and to an Assistant Postmaster General. In 1830 the Postmaster General became a regular member of the Cabinet.
To be continued....