This pair of miniature portraits of the first Postmaster General Samuel Osgood and his wife Maria Bowne Osgood descended through six generations of the Osgood family. The portraits were probably painted close to the time of his appointment in 1789. The portraits, along with a watch that was given to Osgood by Benjamin Franklin in 1785, were loaned to an exhibition at a small private museum in Idaho in 1965 by Samuel Warburton Osgood, Jr. (b. 1918). According to family tradition, Franklin gave the gold watch to Samuel Osgood upon Osgood's visit to France in 1785.
Samuel Osgood (1748-1813) was born in Andover, Massachusetts and attended Harvard College, graduating in 1770. Upon his return to Andover, Osgood began his career as a merchant and joined the local militia. He was elected to represent Andover in the colonial assembly and in 1775 was elected to the provincial congress. Osgood led a company of minutemen in the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775, and following his promotion to Colonel, he chose to leave the army and return to the provincial congress. In 1779-1780 Osgood served as a delegate to Massachusetts in the constitutional convention. He served as a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1782 to 1784.
In 1785 Osgood moved to New York City when he was elected Treasurer by the National Congress. President Washington appointed Osgood the first Postmaster General under the new U.S. Constitution in 1789. Osgood resigned his post in 1791 and remained in New York, serving on the New York State Assembly from 1800-1803. In 1812, Osgood was elected as the first President of City Bank of New York, which later became Citigroup.