Putting a Stamp on Postal History - Washington
Letter writing was an expensive proposition through the early decades of the 19th century. By the 1840s, newspapers, franked Congressional mail, and other items that traveled at discounts or for free made up the bulk of the United States mail. In 1845, Congress reduced postage rates, making letter writing more affordable. Two years later, Congress authorized the issuance of general issue postage stamps.
This ten-cent stamp celebrating George Washington was one of the first two such stamps issued in the United States. Senders applied the stamp to their letters to show proof that the postage had been paid. Postmasters made marks on stamps attached to deposited mail to prevent their reuse.