Wanamaker was a successful Philadelphia merchant who pioneered the development of department stores. For many years John Wanamaker & Company was one of the largest department stores in the U.S. His paternalistic attitude towards his employees made his company an early leader in employee benefits. Benjamin Harrison appointed Wanamaker postmaster general in recognition of Wanamaker's contributions to Harrison's election. As postmaster general, Wanamaker advocated numerous services that were later adopted. Always very religious, Wanamaker contributed heavily to churches throughout his lifetime.