Ever since the US postal service first became operational on July 26th, 1775, it has been one of the most important institutions. Not only that, but the US postal service is a valuable part of society. Throughout the years, the US implemented plenty of changes to make the postal service what it is today. Unfortunately, there was a time when the postal service was concerned obsolete, and it even faced being completely disbanded.
Even though the postal service is important, there are plenty of issues surrounding it. From faulty machines to failing to prevent mail-in voting fraud, here are the six surprising facts about the US postal service.
The Very First Office Was Set Up In A Local Bar
Although, officially, the US postal service became operational in 1775, the very first office dates back to 1639. At that time, America was a colony of Britain, and it needed a way to send and receive letters from the British Isles. So the colony set up an office at a local bar in Boston. The bar, or tavern as it was known back then, was owned by a man named Richard Fairbanks.
The tavern was legitimized by the colonial rulers and made Richard Fairbanks the first postmaster.
Newspapers Made Up the BUlk Of the US Mail
Do you know why newspapers exist? Most of you will probably say to keep citizens informed on the latest happenings. And while that statement is true, did you know that newspapers were sent by mail? The Post Office Act of 1792 made newspapers an essential part of American society. Newspapers were sent by mail and used to spread information. This act made it possible for every US citizen to read the news by acquiring it through the mail. The results were quite astonishing. By 1840, it was estimated that nearly 91% of US citizens could read.
Postal carriers were directly responsible for this by making newspapers available by mail.
Only The Recipient Used To Pay For Stamps
Every US citizen knows that the USPS (United States Postal Service) works through stamps. Stamps are necessary to send letters, packages, and parcels from one place to another. But did you know that back in the mid-19th century, only recipients paid for stamps? This means that if someone would send you something, you were supposed to cover the expenses.
This resulted in large amounts of letters, parcels, and packages being returned. The USPS was put under huge huge pressure to reorganize and return packages and letters. In 1847, the USPS introduced the Postage stamps. These were prepaid variants of the stamp that recipients would buy beforehand and stamp whenever they received something by mail.
Today, it doesn’t work like that. Nowadays, you need to use stamps if sending something via mail. For those of you who don’t know how many stamps you need to send via mail, you can find the answer to the question here.
The Postmaster General Was One Of the Most Important Offices in the Country
Some will say that USPS is a joke. It’s poorly run, badly managed, and numerous times it could have been obsolete. However, back in the days, the Postmaster General was in the line of succession to the Presidency. President Jackson was the person who decided that the Postmaster General’s office be on the same level as the Secretaries of War, Treasury, and State.
Fortunately, the Postmaster General was the last in line, but that still doesn’t take away the fact that the PG could, in theory, be the President under specific conditions. Another fortunate situation is that Richard Nixon removed the PG from the Cabinet and succession in 1971.
The Pony Express Was Never Part of the US Postal Service
Everyone knows what the Pony Express was. Back in the Wild West Days, the Pony Express was a private service that took on the dangerous and difficult task of bringing mail through the Wild West. If you wanted to send a letter from St. Joseph, Missouri, to San Francisco, the postal service would hire the Pony Express.
While on the subject of the Tony Express, here are a few interesting facts around it. The Pony Express would mostly employ orphans to do the job. There was an entire advertisement campaign to employ orphans for the job. Although the Pony Express shares an impressive reputation, it only existed for a year and a half – April 1860 to October 1861. It’s not known why the Pony Express seized to exist, but it makes for an interesting story.
To Get Your Mail, You Had To Go To the Post Office
This one isn’t as interesting as some other facts, but it is an interesting fact nonetheless. You might’ve heard that to get your mail you had to go to the post office. And that was certainly true until the Civil War changed everything.
The idea for the USPS to bring your mail to your home came from Joseph Briggs, a simple clerk working at the post office in Cleveland. Briggs said that the idea came to his mind once seeing the number of women waiting in line in the freezing winter, hoping to get news of their loved ones. The Civil War changed all that and enacted the Free City Delivery service. The Dre City Delivery started in Cleveland and quickly spread to other major cities due to its sheer popularity.