Sun or downpour, mail is at your door


Ben Franklin attempted to establish a mail service prior to the American Revolution; however, from 1753-1757, this type of venture in an unsettled country without passable highways, was not practical.

Lack of reliability also may have created doubts.

During the first years of postal service in the eastern states, Franklin traveled more than 1,000 miles inspecting the attempted service and routes. He changed schedules hoping to aid transportation, sought to increase service from England and attempted road development.

Franklin was reassigned to London in 1757 as an agent for the Province of Pennsylvania. During his tenure there, the postal service declined due to the lack of Franklin’s constant and close supervision.

High rates. Postage rates were quite high, therefore, many folks disliked the use of such service. To top it off, some even though postal charges were a tax, and at that time, around 1775, any tax without representation was not accepted by most people.

As the problem of taxes increased, post riders were inclined to pocket monies to deprive London of profits and gain. The general public even approved of such action, and the riders defied their superiors when asked for due monies.

Franklin was fired from his post as deputy post master general in 1774 as being “too American” to be trusted in a position of authority under the crown.

After Franklin’s dismissal, the Parliamentary Post declined as a functioning service in the colonies south of Canada.

William Goddard, publisher and editor of an active anti-British newspaper in Baltimore, attempted to establish a postal service for the colonies in 1774. Goddard set up his own service between Baltimore and New York to deliver his papers. He did this due to the royal service forbidding his use of their riders.

Finally. After Franklin’s return to the colonies, he joined Continental Congress, and with the assistance of six members, a postal service was set up. The U.S. Postal Service was officially established July 26, 1775. Franklin was unanimously elected as post master at a salary of $1,000 per year.

Costs of the postal service were more than expected. In the beginning, the rate was 20 percent less than London’s original charge. Less than three months after the postal service inception, postal rates were equal with the London set price. By 1777, rates were increased 50 percent. Rates doubled in 1779. Less than a year later, service was multiplied by 20, and then by mid-1780 rates were doubled again.

A complete revision of postal law was passed by Congress in January 1782. The new statute pooled all postal regulations and clarified that only the central government controlled postal service nationwide and interstate.

It was made unlawful for any private mail service, even in within states borders. This included stage lines’ private postal services and the free exchange of newspapers from publisher to publishers. Soon the post master general created foes in the stage and newspaper business and was replaced.

New general. George Washington was elected president and named Samuel Osgood as the postal general, responsible for 75 post offices covering 2,000 miles of post roads.

The postal service has changed tremendously since 1789. Since the beginning of the Post Office Department, it has often been the only visible representation of federal government that folks can observe daily.

During the formative years, the postal roads developed along with western migration and the news it carried was often the only outside source many communities had with one another.

Eventually the administration was requiring trained personnel in that service. Congress came to the realization that such business better be left with knowledgeable people. Congress relinquished rights and control over all business aspects of the postal service in 1971.

Similar to any other agency, it has problems. People sometimes are not satisfied with the system; however, it is a lot faster than the plodding pace of oxen along those old New England highways.


Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!