The United States Postal Service through the years
Since the birth of America, people from every corner of the country have benefited from the Post Office. For rural communities, it has been a symbol of connection.
The U.S. Postal Service has been delivering mail since before America’s Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. In 1775, Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first Post Master General. One of Franklin’s first official duties was getting letters from Congress to the troops fighting the Revolutionary War.
In 1792, President George Washington signed the Postal Service Act, which created the first United States Post Office Department. It helped establish routes and made it illegal to open anyone’s mail.
In 1823, the department started using waterways to deliver mail, then railroads in 1832. Fifteen years later, the Post Office issued its first stamps.
The famous Pony Express debuted in 1860. Horse-mounted riders delivered messages, newspapers, and mail between Missouri and California. Despite its popularity, it went bankrupt after 18 months.
In 1896, the Post Office began delivering directly to farm families. Under the Rural Free Delivery Service residents no longer had to go to the town Post Office or pay private companies to get their mail.
By 1923, all houses were required to have a mail slot.
A postal strike in March 1970 forced unions and Congress to consider changes to the department. Months later, President Nixon signed the Postal Reorganization Act, which established the United States Postal Service as we know it today. The act replaced the cabinet level Post Office Department with a new federal agency.
The agency has an official monopoly on the delivery of letter mail in the U.S. After it phased out government subsidies in 1982, the Post Office has been operating without any tax payer money since.
Throughout the years, the Post Office survived several World Wars, the Great Depression, and even the internet.
You may also want to check out The History of Airmail.
You may also want to check out A History of the Postal Hat.