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B. Free Franklin Post Office
The B. Free Franklin Post Office and Museum is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is the only colonial-themed post office still operated by the United States Postal Service. That’s because it is the oldest and original Post Office in the United States and founded by Benjamin Franklin when he served as Postmaster General. There are many strange things about this post office. It is the only one in the country that does not wave an American Flag because when the B. Free Franklin first opened they did not have a flag waving. The B. Free Franklin Post Office also does not have a Zip Code and it has many rules for those who work there! The post clerks who work in the B. Free Franklin Post Office have to wear Colonial-style clothing, and they aren’t allowed to use ballpoint pens. Instead, they have to use quills in inkwells.
The postmark "B. Free Franklin" is from when Ben Franklin was still the Postmaster General. Instead of using stamps, people wrote their names in the top corner of the envelopes. The people who received the letters at the time paid for the postage and not those who sent them. Ben Franklin used to sign his envelopes as B. Free Franklin as a way to protest British rule over the colonies.
If you go inside the B. Free Franklin Post Office today you will see may postal artifacts, including figurines and photographs.
Betsy Ross House
The Betsy Ross House is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is believed to be the location where Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag. There are many who believe and many who don't, that this is where Betsy Ross was living when she, as a seamstress and flag-maker, sewed the first American flag, usually called a Betsy Ross flag. The reason why many people believe that the current house is one that belonged to her is because her grandchildren and current descendants say it was. But, most historians believe that the actual house would have been next to the one that is here today. The traditional story told is that Betsy Ross met with George Washington and Robert Morris, a relation of hers, and they discussed the need for a new flag. Betsy Ross accepted the challenge and created the iconic early American flag. The reason why most historians do not believe that Betsy Ross was responsible for creating the first American flag is because records of her doing this did not show up in history until around the time of the Centennial, or 100th anniversary of the United States, in 1876. Her two grandsons, William J. and George Canby, wrote a letter to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1870 claiming that their grandmother had made the flag herself. Many historians believe that she was one of many who helped create the flag, and that her most lasting alteration was to change the stars from having six-points to five-points.
Known as the “Birthplace of Old Glory”, the house that stands there today was in very rough shape in the 1930s. In 1937, a radio mogul named A. Atwater Kent offered a large sum of money to have the house restored so that it could be brought back to its original glory. Much of the original structure was salvaged. Workers also used parts from demolished houses from the same period for the reconstruction. In 1941, Kent offered the house to the City of Philadelphia as a present so that it could become a museum and tribute to Betsy Ross. During the United States Bicentennial in 1976, the remains of Betsy Ross and her third husband, John Claypoole, were moved to the courtyard of the house. A Bicentennial is a 200th anniversary.
Carpenter's Historic Hall
Carpenter’s Hall is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in an area known today as the U.S. Historic District. Not only is the house important on its own, it also is part of the reason the area of Philadelphia is considered to be so historic. The Carpenter’s House started construction in 1770 and wasn’t finished for five years. It was built to be the Meeting Hall for the Carpenter’s Company of the City and County of Philadelphia, which is the oldest craft guild in the United States. A guild is a group of workers who all do the same job who come together to work towards a common goal. But, Carpenter’s Hall was also the location of the First Continental Congress in 1774, where British Colonial citizens first met to discuss the potential of becoming an independent nation.
The First Continental Congress met in Carpenter’s Hall starting on September 5th in 1774 until October 26th of 1774. The reason the group could not meet in Independence Hall at the time was because more moderate members of the Pennsylvania colonial government were meeting. It was in Carpenter’s Hall that the First Continental Congress decided to bar the import of slaves to the colonies, and to discontinue the slave trade within the colonies. During the Revolutionary War, Carpenter’s Hall was used as a hospital by both British and American soldiers, and weapons and equipment were stored in the basement. After the war, in 1791, the first floor of the building was used as the First Bank of the United States under Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton.
Today, Carpenter’s Hall is one of the many historic sites that make up Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia.
Photo by Xiquinho Silva
Christ Church Burial Ground
Christ Church Burial Ground is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is an early-American cemetery that is also the final resting ground of Benjamin Franklin and his wife, Deborah. Christ Church cemetery belongs to Christ Church, an Episcopal church, located in downtown Philadelphia. Christ Church was founded in 1695 and in the time before and during the American Revolutionary War was the church where many famous participants of the war effort practiced their faith, including George Washington.
Another prominent name in American history buried in Christ Church burial ground is Benjamin Rush. Not only was Benjamin Rush a signer of Declaration of Independence, he is also considered to be the father of American Psychiatry”. In 1773, Dr. Rush also founded Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Also buried there is Commodore William Bainbridge, who became very well known during the War of 1812 as the captain of “Old Ironsides”, the USS Constitution.
Today Christ Church is available for visitors to Philadelphia to go and see for a small fee. The burial site of Benjamin Franklin is visible from the street. One of the most popular things to do when visiting Benjamin Franklin’s grave site is to leave pennies.
Photo by angela n.
Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is one of the most important buildings in American history. It is the building where both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were signed. Today it is part of Independence National Historic Park in Philadelphia and is visited by more than 500,000 people each year.
Independence Hall was constructed in 1753 to be the home of the colonial Pennsylvania Legislature. For many years it was actually used as the capitol building until the capital of Pennsylvania was moved to Lancaster in 1799. During the American Revolutionary War, Independence Hall was where the Continental Congresses met to discuss the founding of a new nation as well as a new government for the former British Colonies.
On June 14th, 1775, the Second Continental Congress gathered inside of Independence Hall and voted for George Washington to be the Commander-in-Chief of the newly formed Continental Army. At the same time, the Continental Congress named Benjamin Franklin as the very first Postmaster General. A little more than a year later, the Declaration of Independence was signed which officially proclaimed that the American Colonies would be leaving the British crown. In 1787, the Constitution of the United States was drafted and adopted after the Articles of Confederation failed. The Constitution created the laws for how the United States would be governed.
Photo by Xiquinho Silva
The Liberty Bell is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is seen by many people as being the symbol of American independence from Great Britain. The Liberty Bell is famous for a couple of reasons, and it is easy to recognize because it is cracked. Bells were used before cell phones and sirens to let people know something important was happening. Some bells were rung to let people know there was a fire, and at times they were rung when someone important had died. Sometimes bells were rung to let people know good things had happened. When the Declaration of Independence was read out loud to the people of Philadelphia on July 8th of 1776, the Liberty Bell was one of the many bells that were rung in celebration.
The first time the Liberty Bell cracked was on its first ringing in America. It had been purchased by the city of Philadelphia from a metal workshop, called a foundry, in London, England. They paid 199 dollars for the bell, and it was brought over by ship to America in 1752. The very first time the bell was rung, the rim of the bell cracked. The government of Philadelphia tried to send the bell back to England on the ship it arrived on, but they would not take it back with them. Two metal-workers in Philadelphia offered to fix the bell, instead. Their names were John Pass and John Stow. Neither of them had fixed a bell before, and on their first try they didn’t do very well. When the townspeople rang the bell, it sounded funny so John Pass and John Stow had to try again.
During the Revolutionary War, people in Philadelphia were afraid that the bells in their city would be melted down by the British to become round bullets to be used in musket guns. To stop this from happening, the Liberty Bell was put on a horse-drawn wagon and taken to Allentown, Pennsylvania and hidden under the floor of a church. The Liberty Bell didn’t go back to Philadelphia until after the British were gone, in 1778. Today, the Liberty Bell is in its own building next to Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was signed.
There are a lot of different stories about how the bell became cracked the second time. Most people think it happened when Chief Justice John Marshall died, and the bell was rung in his memory in 1835. Other people think it happened between 1841 and 1845 when celebrating the birthday of George Washington, or on the 4th of July. Either way, the crack in the bell has never been fixed and you can still see the crack today.
Photo by William Warby
I was a successful newspaper editor and printer in Philadelphia in the 1700's. I published the Pennsylvania Gazette when I was 23. Later, I would publish Poor Richard's Almanack, a yearly book filled with weather information, recipes, and predictions. I would often write articles for my newspapers but I wouldn't always use my real name.
I was selected to be the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army by the Second Continental Congress in 1775. I led the army of the United Colonies from June 1775 to December 1783. Four years later, I became the President of the United States.