The foundations of the US Postal Service go back in the early years of the North American colonies. Many attempts were made for creating a reliable postal service. These early attempts were of small scale and usually involved a colony, Massachusetts Bay Colony, for example, setting up a location in Boston where one could post a letter back home to England. Other attempts focused on a dedicated postal service between two of the larger colonies, such as Massachusetts and Virginia, but the available services remained limited in scope and disjointed for many years. For example, informal independently-run postal routes operated in Boston as early as 1639, with a Boston to New York City service starting in 1672.
The first central postal organization was introduced to the colonies in 1691 when Thomas Neale received a 21-year grant from the British Crown for a “North American Postal Service”. On February 17, 1691, a grant of letters patent from the joint sovereigns, William and Mary, empowered him: “to erect, settle, and establish within the chief parts of their majesties’ colonies and plantations in America, an office or offices for receiving and dispatching letters and pacquets, and to receive, send, and deliver the same under such rates and sums of money as the planters shall agree to give, and to hold and enjoy the same for the term of twenty-one years.”
The official post office was created in 1792 as the Post Office Department (USPOD), in the form of a Cabinet department officially from 1872 to 1971. It was headed by the Postmaster General. Postmaster General John McLean, in office from 1823 to 1829, was the first to call it the Post Office Department rather than just the “Post Office.” The Postal Service Act signed by President George Washington on February 20, 1792, established the Department. It was based on the Constitutional authority empowering Congress “To establish post offices and post roads”.
The 1792 law provided for a greatly expanded postal network and served editors by charging newspapers an extremely low rate. The law guaranteed the sanctity of personal correspondence and provided the entire country with low-cost access to information on public affairs while establishing a right to personal privacy.Postmaster General John McLean, in office from 1823 to 1829, was the first to call it the Post Office
It was based on the Constitutional authority empowering Congress “To establish post offices and post roads”. The 1792 law provided for a greatly expanded postal network and served editors by charging newspapers an extremely low rate. The law guaranteed the sanctity of personal correspondence, and provided the entire country with low-cost access to information on public affairs while establishing a right to personal privacy.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) as we know it today was created in 1971, as an independent agency under the Postal Reorganization Act.
During this long period of history, from the colonial days, up to modern times, the United Sates mail service changed a lot. They changed the way they work, and besides other things, they changed the vehicles they used for delivering the letters and packages to people. Until the iconic trucks that are used today were introduced, the postal service experimented with a lot of different means of transportation. Here are you can see 10 vehicles that were used by the old Post Office Department (USPOD). The vehicles date from 1885 up to 1955.
1. Handcarts used for collecting and transporting mail in cities (1885)
2. Mail wagon manufactured by Studebaker Brothers. This wagon used to patrol the streets of Chicago and collect mail from sidewalk mailboxes. (1890)
3. Rural Free Delivery (RFD) carriers were encouraged to replace horses and wagons with electric-motored vehicles. The vehicle shown below is from 1910 and it doesn’t look very capable. Horses and wagons were still a better option.
4. Three-wheeled mail collection motorcycle in Washington, D.C. (1912)
5. A postman collecting mail from a sidewalk mail collection box, together with his trusty truck. (1915)
We hope you are enjoying The Vintage News. Please consider helping us with our journey to bring popular historical content to everyone by becoming a supporter today. Thanks.