A Continental Congress was organized at Philadelphia in May 1775 to establish an independent government. If that sounds expensive, it was, and starting in 1923 many local postmasters winnowed local deliveries to one a day, although that cost-saving move wasn't universal until 1950. Paper envelopes, known as chih poh, were used to store gifts of money. HISTORY. In 2004, the company was re-launched as an e-commerce business. But as the postman picketh up, he also delivereth. In practice, the post offices of these days did not generally deliver mail to households or businesses directly, but only from post office to post office. Chicago and Cleveland gateway mail was dispatched by plane from New York to Cleveland, where it was placed on trains that left New York the evening before, thus saving about 16 hours in time to the Middle West and 24 hours to the coast. Most mail was still being transported the same way in the middle of the 19th century, when stagecoaches carried letters and packages to the West coast. The first authorized U.S. Mail flight took place in 1911, when aviator Earle Ovington piloted his Bleriot monoplane between Garden City and Mineola, New York. In 1926 the first Montgomery Ward retail store opened in Plymouth, Indiana. Chapter I. Government mail delivery in Chicago began in 1831 with the appointment of a fur trader as the first postmaster. However, due to the efficiency of the postal service, there was a tremendous increase in mail volume, and the postal service began to implement a number system to help with delivery called the Zoning Improvement Plan, or the ZIP Code. Prior to RFD, individuals living in remote homesteads had to pick up mail themselves at sometimes distant post offices or pay private carriers for delivery. But post-card saviors are few and far between, and ever since, the Post Office has been slimming down its delivery options while it fights off deficits through innovation and automation alongside the steady ratcheting up of postage. Whether that’s the actual genesis in the U.S. or not, by 1863 Congress approved free home delivery – which included a knock at the door and carrier-to-recipient delivery -- in cities where the local revenue for mail would support the additional cost of salaried mail carriers. Some companies offer unofficial naming rights for purchase. Mary Bellis covered inventions and inventors for ThoughtCo for 18 years. Between 1861 and 1940, for example, the Post Office was in the black only eight times; the last time it wasn’t in the red was the 2006 fiscal year, and it cites public polls and its own research showing most Americans would prefer to kill Saturday delivery if it saved both money and the post office. Through his efforts, the first postage stamp system in the world was issued in England in 1840. According to the USPS: Postmasters, groups of citizens, or city authorities could petition the Post Office Department for free delivery service if their city met population or postal revenue requirements. The history of postal systems, a mail or courier service to pass messages from one person in one place to another person in another place, starts with the invention of writing and may well have been one of the reasons writing was invented. Expanding Western settlement in the mid-19th century prompted the need for a reliable means of mail delivery, which was initially met by overland stagecoach companies on one of several routes and by steamship routes that either went around South America or included an overland transfer across the Isthmus of Panama or the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico. One of the first things the breakaway colonies did in 1775 – even before such tiddles as, say, approving a Declaration of Independence --was to recognize their own competing postal system with Benjamin Franklin at its head. The start of writing occurs in Mesopotamia at least 9,500 years ago, and it involved the use of clay tokens, blobs of baked clay which had dots or lines incised in them representing quantities of goods. Think of it as a Bronze Age bill of lading. Later in Rome, a service called cursus publicus (or “the public way”) was created by Emperor Augustus to transport messages, public officials, and taxes. Within a year, 65 cities had home delivery. That, coupled with the fact that 4 out of 5 households with Internet access now pay bills online, has left mail … At such times there is good reason to suppose papers and small packages are taken away by persons present at the opening of the portmanteau, to whom they are not directed, but without the knowledge or privity of the postmasters or carriers of the mail.”. The International Astronomical Union has established a committee to finalize a list of official star names. By the next year, however, a speedier locomotive appeared, running a then-impressive 30mph. In some cities you could either pay an extra two cents for personal delivery (which was pretty much how mail carriers made a living) or have a private outfit bring mail to you. The rate was lowered to 16 cents on airmail July 15, 1918, and to 6 cents on December 15 (without special delivery). Why Does the US Postal Service Lose Money? Mail Delivery By Rocket Never Took Off A Brief History of Post Office Cats Editor's Note, December 21, 2016 Listen to the Smithsonian perspective … Vecchio / Getty Images A large group of mail carriers leaving the General Post Office early in the morning to start their rounds in New York City at Christmas, 1955. A courier might bring tokens to a seller for so many bushels of grain, or so many jars of olive oil, and the seller would send the tokens with the goods back to the buyer. A 1796 report to the House gives some flavor of what a dog’s breakfast this system could be: “All the papers and packages delivered to distant customers and to be left at different offices and places, are put loose into the portmanteau with others, for subscribers less distant, and as often as the mail is opened the newspapers are thrown together out of the portmanteau in order to find the individual paper and package to be left at such office or place. Origins of Royal Mail 1516: Henry VIII knighted Brian Tuke, the first Master of the Posts. The Post Office Department hired post riders who would take desolate roads hundreds of miles through treacherous conditions to deliver the mail to the various post offices. - By sending invitations to subscribe through postal mail. Explore the past, glimpse the future. Other industrial counties have already axed Saturday delivery – Australia and Canada, for example, are two geographically large and yet urban-centric nations that only deliver on weekdays (Canada does increase to six days during certain preset mail-heavy periods). The earliest surviving piece of mail is also Egyptian, which dates back to 255 BCE, recovered from the Oxyrhynchus papyri cache. Today, the Universal Postal Union, established in 1874, includes 192 member countries and sets the rules for international mail exchanges. These Mesopotamian envelopes called bullae were intended to deter fraud, so that the seller could be certain that the correct amount of goods would get to the buyer. It worked, and a prototype coding and sortation machine, capable of processing all of the mail then generated by the City of Ottawa, was built by Canadian manufacturers in 1956. Michael Todd is the social science communications manager for SAGE Publications. The delivery of mail and packages has a long and illustrious history, with records of the earliest postal services dating back to c.550BC, when we hear of the Persian system through the biography of Cyrus the Great (c.559-529 BCE) compiled by Greek author Xenophon. The foundations of this service were laid in the European countries long before its experimental stage in the United States. By 3500–3100 BCE, the Uruk-period Mesopotamian trade network had ballooned, and they wrapped their clay tokens in thin sheets of clay that were then baked. Postal Service announced this morning. A schoolmaster from England, Rowland Hill (1795–1879), invented the adhesive postage stamp in 1837, an act for which he was knighted. The first envelopes protecting such messages from prying eyes were made of cloth, animal skins or vegetable parts. In a case of deux ex machina unlikely to be repeated, Gifford demonstrates that an unprecedented craze for souvenir post cards – especially from rural outposts – gave the system breathing room to get its fiscal house in order and turn deficits into surpluses. The first mail order catalog was distributed in 1872 by Aaron Montgomery Ward (1843–1913) selling goods primarily to rural farmers who had difficulty making it out to the big cities for commerce. Canadian electronics scientist Maurice Levy invented an automatic postal sorter in 1957 that could handle 200,000 letters an hour. HISTORY OF THE RURAL FREE MAIL DELIVERY IN THE UNITED STATES. California desert town takes back the night, wins rare "Dark Sky" award. The loss on second-class mail matter has been increasing for many years until it now amounts to more than $64,000,000. But the voices of certain communities are often left behind. Rural delivery was a hit – most of the articles about today’s announcement cite the impact on rural communities – but it came at a price. Even if Saturday delivery does end, the world itself won’t. She is known for her independent films and documentaries, including one about Alexander Graham Bell. The money-saving move will only be staved off if Congress intervenes, and despite frequent suggestions from Postal Service brass dating back to 1976, legislators have been loath to cut Saturday delivery in the past. The Canadian Post Office Department had commissioned Levy to design and supervise the building of a new, electronic, computer-controlled, automatic mail sortation system for Canada. A newspaper delivery vehicle for the Sunday Mail in Brisbane, Australia (Wikimedia Commons). It is one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by the U.S. Constitution. ROYAL MAIL TIME-LINE. These two latter routes were utilized to advance delivery of mail in connection with train service, and this was accomplished in the following manner. As the Smithsonian’s Daniel Gifford pointed out last year, by 1909 the Post Office was deeply in the red: From the very beginning in 1909 when the $17 million shortfall was announced, Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock kept the blame on two specific causes: “Recent investigations have shown that the two great sources of loss to the postal revenues are second-class mail matter and rural delivery. Instead of picking an off-the-shelf vehicle and tailoring it to mail delivery, the USPS called for a unique truck suited exclusively for the task. To give a flavour of this 500-year history, Royal Mail has produced a time-line which picks out the key moment’s in the institution’s development (illustrated with some of the pictures from the online gallery). There’s been government-run or officially sanctioned postal service in North America since at least 1692, when Britain’s monarchy specifically appointed a proto-postmaster, Thomas Neale, to set up a system in the colonies. The loss from rural delivery, a service begun hardly a dozen years ago, and of unprecedented growth, reaches nearly $28,000,000.”Critics on both sides quickly began sparring over the question of second-class mail and America’s prodigious consumption of magazines and periodicals, but few demonstrated an inclination to attack the Rural Free Delivery. On July 26, 1775, the U.S. postal system is established by the Second Continental Congress, with Benjamin Franklin as its first postmaster general. But not even the fastest delivery speeds--at one time, mail was dropped off up to four times a day--could stop what would spell catastrophe for the USPS: e-mail, which is faster, easier and free. Founding father Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first postmaster general. By moving first, the USPS is telling Congress to put up or shut up on the issue. The catalogs then expanded into illustrated books. Proof of payment is usually in the form of an adhesive postage stamp, but a postage meter is also used for bulk mailing. Congress authorized airmail postage of 24 cents per ounce, including special delivery. Introduction. A postal service can be private or public, though many governments place restrictions on private systems. In the more than two centuries since Benjamin Franklin was appointed our first Postmaster General in 1775, the Postal Service™ has grown and changed with America, boldly embracing new technologies to better serve a growing population. Mail carriers could always drop off a piece or two at localities “by the way” along their routes. We hope you enjoy exploring our rich history. Most forms of Saturday mail delivery will end in August, the U.S. Right, a woman receives a letter, 1940. The first documented use of a postal system—state-sponsored, designated couriers who were trusted to transport messages—occurred in Egypt about 2400 BCE, when Pharaohs used couriers to send out decrees throughout the territory of the state. The Stourbridge, a locomotive built in England, made the first run in Hondesdale, Pennsylvania. And when the fledgling United States adopted the Constitution in 1783, the document called for Congress “to establish post offices and post roads” but was silent on any other services. The story goes that a Cleveland, Ohio postal employee by the name of Joseph William Briggs was so torn up by seeing women lined up in the cold to see if a letter had arrived from a son or husband at the front lines that he started delivering mail to homes -- at no extra cost. In 1775, before the colonists signed the Declaration of Independence to break away from English rule, they established the postal service as a way to rebel against the costly, unfair rules enacted by the Royal Mail System. In addition, there were undoubtedly state-sponsored messages transported along the Silk Road, between traders in different empires, probably since its inception in the 3rd century BCE. Deliveries were made Monday through Saturday, and usually multiple times a day – in 1905 Baltimore or Philadelphia, for example, a carrier could visit as often as seven times a day. Food policy experts weigh in on the possibilities of individual diet choices and sustainable production methods. The proposal to … The Grumman LLV Postal Truck (Image/ Wikipedia ) A number of companies submitted designs but, in the end, the Post Office chose the Grumman LLV—and acronym that stood for “ L ong L ife V ehicle.” It ran a little over 10mph and was actually outran by a horse. He set up mailboxes and delivered any letters placed in them if they used the postage pre-paid envelopes that he sold. First day of scheduled airmail service, Belmont Park, New York, 1918 Courtesy Library of Congress Hill's stamps made the prepayment of postage both possible and practical. Since the mid-19th century, national postal systems have generally been established as a government monopoly, with a fee on the article prepaid. The Mail is Arriving Way too Late, Watchdog Reports, "Long-Distance Trade and Economy before and During the Age of Empires, Developments in Egypt's Early Islamic Postal System (with an Edition of P.Khalili Ii 5), The History of the Postal Monopoly in the United States, The Postal Service and the Hour as a Unit of Time in Antiquity, Spies and Mailmen and the Royal Road to Persia. He set up mailboxes and delivered any letters placed in them if they used the postage pre-paid envelopes that he sold. Ward started his Chicago-based business with only $2,400. He was previously a senior staff writer for Pacific Standard and online editor at the Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy. Postal authorities often have function A new report concludes that the Graham-Cassidy proposal would reduce federal funding to states by $215 billion by 2026. A system of posting letters was in place by the next year, serving the Atlantic seaboard from New Hampshire to Virginia, and it was doing well enough that in 1707 the British government, smelling profits to be made, took proprietorship of the system. Ancient and Medieval Service Prior to establishing the United States postal service, mail was delivered by friends and unofficial messengers. Hill created the first uniform postage rates that were based on weight, rather than size. Not until the Civil War did home delivery enter into the equation. The city had to provide sidewalks and crosswalks, ensure that streets were named and lit, and assign numbers to houses. History of the Transportation of Mail. Long before the operations of the legendary Pony Express, trains were the main mode of transportation for mail. De Valayer's business did not last long when a devious person decided to put live mice in the mailboxes scaring away his customers. Courier services have evolved from carrier pigeons and horseback mailmen to air freightshipping and drone monitored delivery. The same type of courier service was likely used to administer taxes and keep up to date on far-flung reaches of most empires, such as the Persian empire in the Fertile Crescent (500–220 BCE), the Han dynasty in China (306 BCE–221 CE), the Islamic Empire (622–1923 CE) in Arabia, the Inca empire in Peru (1250–1550 CE), and the Mughal empire in India (1650–1857 CE). In 1934, monopolistic contract disputes between the post office and the airmail carriers came to a head, resulting in President Roosevelt ordering the total cancellation of all contracts for air mail delivery services in what became known as the Air Mail Scandal. Rural Free Delivery is a service that began in the United States in the late 19th century to deliver mail directly to rural farm families. Left, mail carrier Arthur LeBlanc from Berlin, New Hampshire, delivering post from his horse-drawn sled, 1950. Both the Pony Express and Wells Fargo served as private mail carriers; it’s worth noting the Pony Express was never expected to make money. Mail, consisting mostly of government dispatches, was carried from place to place by horse or horse-drawn wagon in ancient Egypt and Persia. The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the U.S. federal government and has been responsible for providing postal services in the U.S. since its start in 1775. The Birth of Modern Mail Systems In 1653, Frenchman Jean-Jacques Renouard de Villayer (1607–1691) established a postal system in Paris. History of The United States Postal Office, History of the United States Postal Service, A Look at the 6 Technologies That Revolutionized Communications, Abbreviations for Provinces and Territories in Canada. While an unfunded pension liability is a big reason for the USPS’ current distress, the post office could just as easily added “deficits” to the “rain, sleet, and snow” that it routinely overcomes. This time is different, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe explained to reporters, because in all the parade of budget circus tricks emanating from the Capitol Hill menagerie, the usual rider (a fixture since 1984) mandating Saturday delivery is missing. Prior to that time, letters and newspapers had occasionally found their way to the military post at Fort Dearborn, carried by military couriers on a route that linked Fort Dearborn with Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Green Bay, Wisconsin. A hand-made model sorter was tested at postal headquarters in Ottawa in 1953. Delivery, mail, and courier services date back to the Persian Empire in the 6 th century BCE, when King Cyrus the Great formalized a postal service. 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