A Brief History of the United States Postal Service

When we put a letter into a mailbox, we rely on it to arrive quickly at its intended destination. We take our national postal service for granted, never stopping to consider its long and significant history. The United States Postal Service is based on the principle that every person in this country has the right to equal accessibility to mail service that is affordable, efficient, and secure lightblue.

Roots of the Postal Service

The Postal Service has long roots, stretching back to 1755. A committee comprised of notable Americans including Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, Philip Livingston, Richard Henry Lee, and Thomas Lynch was established to consider creating a postal system. Conveying intelligence and letters were considered essential to liberty during this time. The committee made its report to Congress in July 1775 and its recommendations were agreed to the following day.

Benjamin Franklin was named the first Postmaster General and the postal system focused on transporting communications between Congress and the armies fighting for independence from Britain. When the Declaration of Independence was created in July 1776, Franklin still held his postal role, making him the first Postmaster General in the United States. The system that Franklin developed is still evident in current Postal Service operations.

The Postal Service and the Law

Postal issues have been addressed in multiple pieces of legislation beginning with the Articles of Confederation ratified by Congress in 1781. As the population stretched westward, east-west postal routes were established. Postmaster General Ebenezer Hazard introduced mail routes via stagecoach. The Constitution provided Congress with the power to establish postal roads and Post Offices and the Act of September 22, 1789, made the President responsible for directing the Postmaster General. Samuel Osgood was appointed the first Postmaster General under the Constitution by President George Washington.

When the government seat moved to Washington, D.C., in 1800, all postal supplies, records, and furniture were transported by two horse-drawn wagons. Over the years, mail has been moved by steamboats, horses, railway, truck, and airplane. The 20th century saw the Post Office Department become the United States Postal Services and the population change from rural to urban and industrial.

We have come a long way from the 2,400 miles of post roads and service to four million people that existed in 1789. In 2006, 27,318 U.S. Post Offices handled more than 213 billion pieces of mail. As new technologies develop, the Postal fights to retain its place in American society. Every day, millions of us help it survive.

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