United States Post Office Department

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United States
Post Office Department
Seal of the United States Department of the Post Office.svg
Postal system overview
FormedFebruary 20, 1792 (1792-02-20)
DissolvedJuly 1, 1971 (1971-07-01)
Superseding agency
Headquarters Washington, D.C., U.S.
Postal system executive

The United States Post Office Department was the predecessor of the United States Postal Service, in the form of a Cabinet department officially from 1872 to 1971. It was headed by the Postmaster General.

United States Postal Service independent agency of the U.S. federal government responsible for providing postal service

The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government responsible for providing postal service in the United States, including its insular areas and associated states. It is one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by the United States Constitution.

Cabinet of the United States Advisory body to the President of the United States

The Cabinet of the United States is part of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States. The Cabinet's role, inferred from the language of the Opinion Clause of the Constitution, is to serve as an advisory body to the President of the United States. Additionally, the Twenty-fifth Amendment authorizes the Vice President, together with a majority of certain members of the Cabinet, to declare the president "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office". Among the senior officers of the Cabinet are the Vice President and the heads of the federal executive departments, all of whom—if eligible—are in the line of succession. Members of the Cabinet serve at the pleasure of the President, who can dismiss them at will for no cause. All federal public officials, including Cabinet members, are also subject to impeachment by the House of Representatives and trial in the Senate for "treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors".

United States Postmaster General chief executive officer of the United States Postal Service

The Postmaster General of the United States is the chief executive officer of the United States Postal Service; Megan Brennan is the current Postmaster General.

Contents

The Postal Service Act signed by U.S. President George Washington on February 20, 1792, established the Department. 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 organization received a boost in prestige when President Andrew Jackson invited his Postmaster General, William T. Barry, to sit as a member of the Cabinet in 1829. [1] The Post Office Act of 1872 (17  Stat.   283) elevated the Post Office Department to Cabinet status. [2]

The Postal Service Act was a piece of United States federal legislation that established the United States Post Office Department. It was signed into law by President George Washington on February 20, 1792.

President of the United States Head of state and of government of the United States

The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

George Washington 1st president of the United States

George Washington was an American political leader, military general, statesman, and Founding Father who also served as the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797. He led Patriot forces to victory in the nation's War of Independence, and he presided at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 which established the new federal government. He has been called the "Father of His Country" for his manifold leadership in the formative days of the new nation.

During the American Civil War (1861–1865), postal services in the Confederate States of America were provided by the Confederate States of America Post-office Department, headed by Postmaster General John Henninger Reagan.

American Civil War Civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865

The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North and the South. The most studied and written about episode in U.S. history, the Civil War began primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people. War broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights to uphold slavery.

Confederate States of America (de facto) federal republic in North America from 1861 to 1865

The Confederate States of America, commonly referred to as the Confederacy, was an unrecognized country in North America that existed from 1861 to 1865. The Confederacy was originally formed by seven secessionist slave-holding states—South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas—in the Lower South region of the United States, whose economy was heavily dependent upon agriculture, particularly cotton, and a plantation system that relied upon the labor of African-American slaves.

John Henninger Reagan American politician

John Henninger Reagan was an American politician from the U.S. state of Texas. A Democrat, Reagan resigned from the U.S. House of Representatives when Texas seceded from the Union and joined the Confederate States of America. He served in the cabinet of Jefferson Davis as Postmaster General. After the Confederate defeat, he called for cooperation with the federal government, an unpopular position. He was elected to Congress in 1874, after his predictions of harsh treatment for resistance were proved correct. He also served in the U.S. Senate from 1887 to 1891, and as chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission. He was among founders of the Texas State Historical Association.

The Postal Reorganization Act was signed by President Richard Nixon on August 12, 1970. It replaced the cabinet-level Post Office Department with the independent United States Postal Service on July 1, 1971. The regulatory role of the postal services was then transferred to the Postal Regulatory Commission.

Postal Reorganization Act

The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 was a law passed by the United States Congress that abolished the then United States Post Office Department, which was a part of the cabinet, and created the United States Postal Service, a corporation-like independent agency with an official monopoly on the delivery of mail in the United States. President Richard Nixon signed the Act in law on August 12, 1970.

Richard Nixon 37th president of the United States

Richard Milhous Nixon was an American politician who served as the 37th president of the United States from 1969 until 1974, when he resigned from office, the only U.S. president to do so. He had previously served as the 36th vice president of the United States from 1953 to 1961, and prior to that as both a U.S. representative and senator from California.

Postal Regulatory Commission

The United States Postal Regulatory Commission, formerly called the Postal Rate Commission, is an independent regulatory agency created by the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970. Like the Postal Service, it was defined in law as an independent establishment of the executive branch.

History

Foundations

In the early years of the North American colonies, many attempts were made to initiate a 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.

Thirteen Colonies British American colonies which became the United States

The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of British colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America founded in the 17th and 18th centuries. They declared independence in 1776 and formed the United States of America. The Thirteen Colonies had very similar political, constitutional, and legal systems and were dominated by Protestant English-speakers. They were part of Britain's possessions in the New World, which also included colonies in Canada, the Caribbean, and the Floridas.

Boston Capital city of Massachusetts, United States

Boston is the capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States. The city proper covers 48 square miles (124 km2) with an estimated population of 685,094 in 2017, making it also the most populous city in New England. Boston is the seat of Suffolk County as well, although the county government was disbanded on July 1, 1999. The city is the economic and cultural anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area known as Greater Boston, a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) home to a census-estimated 4.8 million people in 2016 and ranking as the tenth-largest such area in the country. As a combined statistical area (CSA), this wider commuting region is home to some 8.2 million people, making it the sixth-largest in the United States.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

A central postal organization came 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 III and Mary II, empowered him:

Thomas Neale English politician

Thomas Neale (1641–1699) was an English project-manager and politician who was also the first person to hold a position equivalent to postmaster-general of the North American colonies.

Letters patent type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order

Letters patent are a type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch, president, or other head of state, generally granting an office, right, monopoly, title, or status to a person or corporation. Letters patent can be used for the creation of corporations or government offices, or for the granting of city status or a coat of arms. Letters patent are issued for the appointment of representatives of the Crown, such as governors and governors-general of Commonwealth realms, as well as appointing a Royal Commission. In the United Kingdom they are also issued for the creation of peers of the realm. A particular form of letters patent has evolved into the modern patent granting exclusive rights in an invention. In this case it is essential that the written grant should be in the form of a public document so other inventors can consult it to avoid infringement and also to understand how to "practice" the invention, i.e., put it into practical use. In the Holy Roman Empire, Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary, imperial patent was also the highest form of generally binding legal regulations, e. g. Patent of Toleration, Serfdom Patent etc.

William III of England 17th-century Stadtholder, Prince of Orange and King of England, Scotland and Ireland

William III, also widely known as William of Orange, was sovereign Prince of Orange from birth, Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland and Overijssel in the Dutch Republic from 1672 and King of England, Ireland and Scotland from 1689 until his death in 1702. As King of Scotland, he is known as William II. He is sometimes informally known in Northern Ireland and Scotland as "King Billy".

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. [3]

The patent included the exclusive right to establish and collect a formal postal tax on official documents of all kinds. The tax was repealed a year later. Neale appointed Andrew Hamilton, Governor of New Jersey, as his deputy postmaster. The first postal service in America commenced in February 1692. Rates of postage were fixed and authorized, and measures were taken to establish a post office in each town in Virginia. Massachusetts and the other colonies soon passed postal laws, and a very imperfect post office system was established. Neale's patent expired in 1710, when Parliament extended the English postal system to the colonies. The chief office was established in New York City, where letters were conveyed by regular packets across the Atlantic.

The American Revolution

Before the Revolution, there was only a trickle of business or governmental correspondence between the colonies. Most of the mail went back and forth to counting houses and government offices in London. The revolution made Philadelphia, the seat of the Continental Congress, the information hub of the new nation. News, new laws, political intelligence, and military orders circulated with a new urgency, and a postal system was necessary. Journalists took the lead, securing post office legislation that allowed them to reach their subscribers at very low cost, and to exchange news from newspapers between the thirteen states. Overthrowing the London-oriented imperial postal service in 1774–1775, printers enlisted merchants and the new political leadership, and created a new postal system. [4] The United States Post Office (USPO) was created on July 26, 1775, by decree of the Second Continental Congress. [5] Benjamin Franklin headed it briefly.

Before the Revolution, individuals like Benjamin Franklin and William Goddard were the colonial postmasters who managed the mails then and were the general architects of a postal system that started out as an alternative to the Crown Post.

The official post office was created in 1792 as the Post Office Department (USPOD). 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. [6]

Rufus Easton was appointed by Thomas Jefferson first postmaster of St. Louis under the recommendation of Postmaster General Gideon Granger. Rufus Easton was the first postmaster and built the first post office west of the Mississippi. At the same time Easton was appointed by Thomas Jefferson, judge of Louisiana Territory, the largest territory in North America. Bruce Adamson wrote that: "Next to Benjamin Franklin, Rufus Easton was one of the most colorful people in United States Postal History." It was Easton who educated Abraham Lincoln's Attorney General, Edward Bates. In 1815 Edward Bates moved into the Easton home and lived there for years at Third and Elm. Today this is the site of the Jefferson Memorial Park. In 1806 Postmaster General Gideon Granger wrote a three-page letter to Easton, begging him not to partake in a duel with vice-president Aaron Burr. Two years earlier it was Burr who had shot and killed Alexander Hamilton. Many years later in 1852, Easton's son, Major-General Langdon Cheves Easton, was commissioned by William T. Sherman, at Fort Union to deliver a letter to Independence, Missouri. Sherman wrote: "In the Spring of 1852, General Sherman mentioned that the quartermaster, Major L.C. Easton, at Fort Union, New Mexico, had occasion to send some message east by a certain date, and contracted with Aubrey to carry it to the nearest post office (then Independence, Missouri), making his compensation conditional on the time consumed. He was supplied with a good horse, and an order on the outgoing trains for exchange. Though the whole route was infested with hostile Indians, and not a house on it, Aubrey started alone with his rifle. He was fortunate in meeting several outward-bound trains, and thereby made frequent changes of horses, some four or five, and reached Independence in six days, having hardly rested or slept the whole way." [7]

To cover long distances, the Post Office used a hub-and-spoke system, with Washington as the hub and chief sorting center. By 1869, with 27,000 local post offices to deal with, it had changed to sorting mail en route in specialized railroad mail cars, called Railway Post Offices, or RPOs. The system of postal money orders began in 1864. Free mail delivery began in the larger cities in 1863. [8]

19th century

The postal system played a crucial role in national expansion. It facilitated expansion into the West by creating an inexpensive, fast, convenient communication system. Letters from early settlers provided information and boosterism to encourage increased migration to the West, helped scattered families stay in touch and provide assistance, assisted entrepreneurs in finding business opportunities, and made possible regular commercial relationships between merchants in the west and wholesalers and factories back east. The postal service likewise assisted the Army in expanding control over the vast western territories. The widespread circulation of important newspapers by mail, such as the New York Weekly Tribune, facilitated coordination among politicians in different states. The postal service helped integrate established areas with the frontier, creating a spirit of nationalism and providing a necessary infrastructure. [9]

The Post Office in the 19th century was a major source of federal patronage. Local postmasterships were rewards for local politicians—often the editors of party newspapers. About three quarters of all federal civilian employees worked for the Post Office. In 1816 it employed 3341 men, and in 1841, 14,290. The volume of mail expanded much faster than the population, as it carried annually 100 letters and 200 newspapers per 1000 white population in 1790, and 2900 letters and 2700 newspapers per thousand in 1840. [10]

The Post Office Department was enlarged during the tenure of President Andrew Jackson. As the Post Office expanded, difficulties were experienced due to a lack of employees and transportation. The Post Office's employees at that time were still subject to the so-called "spoils" system, where faithful political supporters of the executive branch were appointed to positions in the post office and other government corporations as a reward for their patronage. These appointees rarely had prior experience in postal service and mail delivery. This system of political patronage was replaced in 1883, after passage of the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act. [11]

In 1823, ten years after the Post Office had first begun to use steamboats to carry mail between post towns where no roads existed, waterways were declared post roads. [12] Once it became clear that the postal system in the United States needed to expand across the entire country, the use of the railroad to transport the mail was instituted in 1832, on one line in Pennsylvania. [13] All railroads in the United States were designated as post routes, after passage of the Act of July 7, 1838. Mail service by railroad increased rapidly thereafter. [14]

~ Benjamin Franklin ~ George Washington ~
The First U.S. Postage Stamps
Issued 1847
The first stamp issues were authorized by an act of Congress and approved on March 3, 1847. The earliest known use of the Franklin 5C/ is July 7, 1847, while the earliest known use of the Washington 10C/ is July 2, 1847. These issues were declared invalid for postage on July 1, 1851. First US Stamps 1847 Issue.jpg
~ Benjamin Franklin ~ George Washington ~
The First U.S. Postage Stamps
Issued 1847
The first stamp issues were authorized by an act of Congress and approved on March 3, 1847. The earliest known use of the Franklin 5¢ is July 7, 1847, while the earliest known use of the Washington 10¢ is July 2, 1847. These issues were declared invalid for postage on July 1, 1851.

An Act of Congress provided for the issuance of stamps on March 3, 1847, and the Postmaster General immediately let a contract to the New York City engraving firm of Rawdon, Wright, Hatch, and Edson. The first stamp issue of the U.S. was offered for sale on July 1, 1847, in New York City, with Boston receiving stamps the following day and other cities thereafter. The 5-cent stamp paid for a letter weighing less than 1 oz (28 g) and traveling less than 300 miles, the 10-cent stamp for deliveries to locations greater than 300 miles, or twice the weight deliverable for the 5-cent stamp.

In 1847, the U.S. Mail Steamship Company acquired the contract which allowed it to carry the U.S. mails from New York, with stops in New Orleans and Havana, to the Isthmus of Panama for delivery in California. The same year, the Pacific Mail Steamship Company had acquired the right to transport mail under contract from the United States Government from the Isthmus of Panama to California. In 1855, William Henry Aspinwall completed the Panama Railway, providing rail service across the Isthmus and cutting to three weeks the transport time for the mails, passengers and goods to California. This remained an important route until the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. Railroad companies greatly expanded mail transport service after 1862, and the Railway Mail Service was inaugurated in 1869. [13]

Rail cars designed to sort and distribute mail while rolling were soon introduced. [13] RMS employees sorted mail "on-the-fly" during the journey, and became some of the most skilled workers in the postal service. An RMS sorter had to be able to separate the mail quickly into compartments based on its final destination, before the first destination arrived, and work at the rate of 600 pieces of mail an hour. They were tested regularly for speed and accuracy. [17]

Parcel Post service began with the introduction of International Parcel Post between the US and foreign countries in 1887. [18] That same year, the U.S. Post Office (predecessor of the USPS) and the Postmaster General of Canada established parcel-post service between the two nations. [18] A bilateral parcel-post treaty between the independent (at the time) Kingdom of Hawaii and the USA was signed on 19 December 1888 and put into effect early in 1889. [19] Parcel-post service between the US and other countries grew with the signing of successive postal conventions and treaties. While the Post Office agreed to deliver parcels sent into the country under the UPU treaty, it did not institute a domestic parcel-post service for another twenty-five years. [20]

20th century

The advent of Rural Free Delivery (RFD) in the U.S. in 1896, and the inauguration of a domestic parcel post service by Postmaster General Frank H. Hitchcock in 1913, greatly increased the volume of mail shipped nationwide, and motivated the development of more efficient postal transportation systems. [21] Many rural customers took advantage of inexpensive Parcel Post rates to order goods and products from businesses located hundreds of miles away in distant cities for delivery by mail. [22] From the 1910s to the 1960s, many college students and others used parcel post to mail home dirty laundry, as doing so was less expensive than washing the clothes themselves. [23]

After four-year-old Charlotte May Pierstorff was mailed from her parents to her grandparents in Idaho in 1914, mailing of people was prohibited. [22] In 1917, the Post Office imposed a maximum daily mailable limit of two hundred pounds per customer per day after a business entrepreneur, W. H. Coltharp, used inexpensive parcel-post rates to ship more than eighty thousand masonry bricks some four hundred seven miles via horse-drawn wagon and train for the construction of a bank building in Vernal, Utah. [24] [25]

The advent of parcel post also led to the growth of mail order businesses that substantially increased rural access to modern goods over what was typically stocked in local general stores.

Mineral Wells, Texas, post office, built between 1911 and 1913 Historic Post Office in Mineral Wells, Texas.JPG
Mineral Wells, Texas, post office, built between 1911 and 1913

In 1912, carrier service was announced for establishment in towns of second and third class with $100,000 appropriated by Congress. [26] From January 1, 1911, until July 1, 1967, the United States Post Office Department operated the United States Postal Savings System. An Act of Congress of June 25, 1910, established the Postal Savings System in designated Post Offices, effective January 1, 1911. The legislation aimed to get money out of hiding, attract the savings of immigrants accustomed to the postal savings system in their native countries, provide safe depositories for people who had lost confidence in banks, and furnish more convenient depositories for working people. The law establishing the system directed the Post Office Department to redeposit most of the money in the system in local banks, where it earned 2.5 percent interest.

The system paid 2% interest per year on deposits. The half-percent difference in interest was intended to pay for the operation of the system. Certificates were issued to depositors as proof of their deposit. Depositors in the system were initially limited to hold a balance of $500, but this was raised to $1,000 in 1916 and to $2,500 in 1918. The initial minimum deposit was $1. In order to save smaller amounts for deposit, customers could purchase a 10-cent postal savings card and 10-cent postal savings stamps to fill it. The card could be used to open or add to an account when its value, together with any attached stamps, amounted to one or more dollars, or it could be redeemed for cash. At its peak in 1947, the system held almost $3.4 billion in deposits, with more than four million depositors using 8,141 postal units. [27]

On August 12, 1918, the Post Office Department took over airmail service from the United States Army Air Service (USAAS). Assistant Postmaster General, Otto Praeger, appointed Benjamin B. Lipsner to head the civilian-operated Air Mail Service. One of Lipsner's first acts was to hire four pilots, each with at least 1,000 hours' flying experience, paying them an average of $4,000 per year ($66.6 thousand today). The Post Office Department used new Standard JR-1B biplanes specially modified to carry the mail while the war was still in progress, but following the war operated mostly World War I surplus military de Havilland DH-4 aircraft. [28]

During 1918, the Post Office hired an additional 36 pilots. In its first year of operation, the Post Office completed 1,208 airmail flights with 90 forced landings. Of those, 53 were due to weather and 37 to engine failure. By 1920, the Air Mail service had delivered 49 million letters. [28] Domestic air mail became obsolete in 1975, and international air mail in 1995, when the USPS began transporting First-Class mail by air on a routine basis.

The Post Office was one of the first government departments to regulate obscene materials on a national basis. When the U.S. Congress passed the Comstock laws of 1873, it became illegal to send through the U.S. mail any material considered obscene or indecent, or which promoted abortion issues, birth control, or alcohol consumption. [29]

On March 18, 1970, postal workers in New York City—upset over low wages and poor working conditions, and emboldened by the Civil Rights Movement—organized a strike against the United States government. The strike initially involved postal workers in only New York City, but it eventually gained support of over 210,000 United States Post Office Department workers across the nation. [30] While the strike ended without any concessions from the Federal government, it did ultimately allow for postal worker unions and the government to negotiate a contract which gave the unions most of what they wanted, as well as the signing of the Postal Reorganization Act by President Richard Nixon on August 12, 1970. The Act replaced the cabinet-level Post Office Department with a new federal agency, the United States Postal Service, [31] and took effect on July 1, 1971. [32]

See also

Notes and references

  1. "The United States Postal Service: An American History 1775 – 2002". United States Postal Service. September 2003. Archived from the original on October 30, 2004.
  2. "Indexes to Rosters of Railway Postal Clerks, ca. 1883 - ca. 1902". National Archives and Records Administration.
  3. Huebner, Francis C. (1906). "Our Postal System". Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington, D.C. 9: 126–174. JSTOR   40066939.
  4. Joseph M. Adelman, "'A Constitutional Conveyance of Intelligence, Public and Private': The Post Office, the Business of Printing, and the American Revolution," Enterprise & Society (2010) 11#4 pp 709–752. in Project MUSE
  5. "The history of the United States Postal Service:1775–2006". USPS. May 2007. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  6. Richard John, "How the Post Office Made America," New York Times Feb 8, 2013
  7. "For Which Stand; The Life and Papers of Rufus Easton," by Bruce Campbell Adamson and Professor William Foley; See William T. Sherman's Memoirs
  8. Leonard D. White, The Republican Era: A study in administrative history: 1869–1901 (1963), p 259
  9. William H. Bergmann, "Delivering a Nation through the Mail," Ohio Valley History (2008) 8#3 pp 1–18.
  10. Richard John, Spreading the News (1995) pp 3–4
  11. "Classbrain"<! -- Bot inserted parameter. Either remove it; or change its value to "." for the cite to end in a ".", as necessary. -->
  12. "Steamboat Subjects on United States Postage Stamps – Who We Are – USPS". United States Postal Service. Retrieved 2017-01-28.
  13. 1 2 3 "National Postal Museum". SI. Archived from the original on June 22, 2008. Retrieved October 25, 2008.
  14. History of the United States Postal Service 1775–1993, p. 1
  15. "Publication 100: U.S. Postage Stamps". An American History 1775 – 2006. USPS. November 2012. Retrieved 2014-04-18.
  16. Scotts US Postage Stamp Catalogue
  17. "National Postal Museum". Postalmuseum.si.edu. Archived from the original on May 26, 2008. Retrieved October 25, 2008.
  18. 1 2 The New York Times . "The Parcel Post System". 24 April 1887
  19. "Post Office In Paradise, Mail Rates During the UPU Period". Post Office in Paradise. 10 July 2000. Retrieved 11 December 2008.
  20. "Parcel Post: Delivery of Dreams: Introduction". Smithsonian Institution Libraries. 2004. Retrieved 11 December 2008.
  21. "Parcel Post: Delivery of Dreams". Sil.si.edu. Retrieved October 25, 2008.
  22. 1 2 "Parcel Post: Delivery of Dreams: Introduction". Smithsonian Institution Libraries. 2004. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  23. Heidelbaugh, Lynn (September 2007). "Laundry Box". National Postal Museum, The Smithsonian. Archived from the original on September 14, 2012. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  24. "Precious Packages—America's Parcel Post Service". National Postal Museum. 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  25. Servies, Tony (11 July 2008). "The Bank That Was Sent Through the Post Office". stampsofdistinction.com. Archived from the original on 2012-04-28. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  26. "One hundred years ago this month: September 20". Emmitsburg News-Journal. September 2012.
  27. ""Postal Savings System" by HISTORIAN, UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, JULY 2008" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-07-18.
  28. 1 2 "The Post Office Flies The Mail". U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission. Archived from the original on 2012-01-06. Retrieved 2014-04-18.
  29. "Comstock Law of (1873)". Law.jrank.org. Retrieved October 25, 2008.
  30. "The Great 1970 Mail Strike that Stunned the Country". Labor History Articles. American Postal Workers Union. March 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  31. Boyd, Deanna; Chen, Kendra (2019). "Postal Strike and Reorganization: Reinventing the System". The History and Experience of African Americans in America’s Postal Service. National Postal Museum . Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  32. Piazza, Daniel (15 April 2008). "8-cent Postal Service Emblem". Smithsonian National Postal Museum . Retrieved 22 April 2019.


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Franking refers to any devices, markings, or combinations thereof ("franks") applied to mails of any class which qualifies them to be postally serviced. Types of franks include uncanceled and precanceled postage stamps, impressions applied via postage meter, official use "Penalty" franks, Business Reply Mail (BRM), and other permit Imprints (Indicia), manuscript and facsimile "franking privilege" signatures, "soldier's mail" markings, and any other forms authorized by the 191 postal administrations that are members of the Universal Postal Union.

History of United States postage rates

Initial United States postage rates were set by Congress as part of the Postal Service Act signed into law by President George Washington on February 20, 1792. The postal rate varied according to "distance zone", the distance a letter was to be carried from the post office where it entered the mail to its final destination. Rates were adopted in 1847 for mail to or from the Pacific Coast and in 1848 for mail sent from one place in the west to another place in the west. There were double and triple rates as a letter's size increased. There were ship fees which were also added. The ship fee, including the ship rate on letters for delivery at the port of entry, were on a per letter basis, rather than weight. The United States issued its first postage stamps in 1847. Before that time, the rates, dates and origin of the letter were written by hand or sometimes in combination with a handstamp device.

American Letter Mail Company

The American Letter Mail Company was started by Lysander Spooner in 1844, competing with the presumed legal monopoly of the United States Post Office.

Military mail

Military mail, as opposed to civilian mail, refers to the postal services provided by armed forces that allow serving members to send and receive mail.

U.S. Special Delivery (postal service)

U.S. Special Delivery was a postal service paid for with additional postage for urgent letters and postal packets which are delivered in less time than by standard or first class mail service. Its meaning is different and separate from express mail delivery service. Essentially it meant that a postal packet was delivered from a post office to the addressee immediately once it arrived at the post office responsible for delivering it, rather than waiting for the next regular delivery to the addressee.

Sri Lanka Post

The Department of Posts, functioning under the brand name Sri Lanka Post(Sinhala: තැපැල් දෙපාර්තමේන්තුව, ශ්‍රී ලංකා Tæpæl Departhamenthuwa, Shri Lanka), is a government operated postal system in Sri Lanka. The postal headquarters is the General Post Office which is located in Colombo. The department itself comes under the purview of the Ministry of Telecommunications and Posts. It was formerly known as the Ceylon Post and Telecommunications Department and is one of the oldest Government departments in existence today.

Official mail

Official mail is mail sent from, or by, an authorized department of government, governmental agency or international organization and normally has some indication that it is official; a certifying cachet, return address or other means of identity, indicating its user. In some countries, postage stamps have been issued specifically for official mail.

Airmails of the United States

Airmails of the United States or U.S. Air Mail was a service class of the United States Post Office Department and its successor United States Postal Service delivering mail flown by aircraft within the United States and its possessions and territories. Letters and parcels intended for air mail service were marked as "Via Air Mail", appropriately franked, and assigned to any then existing class or sub-class of the Air Mail service.

The Barbados Postal Service (B.P.S.) is the national postal operator of Barbados and operates as a department within the Government of Barbados where it reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Barbados Postal Service (B.P.S.) is headed by the Postmaster General, Margaret Ashby, who is responsible for maintaining the island’s postal services, subject to the laws of the island. In 1852, the Postal services for Barbados were reconstituted following the passage of local legislation enabling the delivery of inland postage.

Mail bag package for carrying posted objects

A mail bag or mailbag is a generic term for a type of bag used for collecting, carrying, categorizing, and classifying different types of postal material, depending on its priority, destination, and method of transport. It is oftentimes used by a post office system in transporting these different grades of mail. The mailbag is carried by some means of transporting like a mail carrier, animal, or a mobile post office. Letters and printed material delivered by mail in the seventeen-hundreds were carried by horse in a saddle bag. There are several different types of mailbags for different purposes (e.g., transporting mail to and from post offices, delivering mail to businesses and homes. These different styles of mailbags depend on its size and purpose. It can range from "a large bag used for transporting mail on a truck, plane, etc." to a simple "postbag" used by a mail carrier to deliver mail.

U.S. Parcel Post stamps of 1912–13

The U.S. Parcel Post stamps of 1912–13 were the first such stamps issued by the U.S. Post Office Department and consisted of twelve denominations to pay the postage on parcels weighing 16 ounces and more, with each denomination printed in the same color of "carmine-rose". Their border design was similar while each denomination of stamp bore its own distinctive image in the center (vignette). Unlike regular postage items, whose rates were determined by weight in ounces, Parcel Post rates were determined and measured by increments in pounds. The new stamps were soon widely used by industry, farmers and others who lived in rural areas. Partly owing to some confusion involving their usage, their exclusive use as Parcel Post stamps proved short lived, as regular postage stamps were soon allowed to be used to pay parcel postage rates.