Sir Rowland Hill came from a family of progressive educationalists, and in 1819 he helped his family to establish a school in Edgbaston based on the ideals of representative democracy and competitive capitalism. In 1837 Hill formulated a set of proposals for postal reform, published as Post Office Reform: its Importance and Practicability. He argued that the existing system was too complicated and hindered the expansion of trade and ideas. Hill suggested a uniform postage rate irrespective of distance that was paid in advance by the sender, not the recipient, and proposed a device that became known as the postage stamp. Hill's ideas were implemented in 1840, propelling him from relative obscurity to being a nationally known figure.
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National Portrait Gallery, London
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