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How The Post Office Created America

Winifred Gallagher

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Post Office was the first, and for a long time, the only institution to give jobs to women, and then, after the Civil War, to African Americans.

Benjamin Franklin opened print shop in Philadelphia, then became the city's postmaster (1737) and finally postmaster-general for whole of North America (1753). Colonial printers keen to be postmasters, bc job had crucial perks - BF cd send his newspapers and magazines via the mail free. He was able to give away his paper and prosper just from the advertising.

It wasn't until 1758, after he'd made his fortune, that he ordered that all newspapers shd be carried by the mail at special low rate.

After Independence, newspapers carried for a penny each, prompting an explosion of issues. 1792 Post Office Act also guaranteed right to secure, private correspondence.

Problem of theft from mail, particularly since no other way of getting money from one place to another. There was only one safe way: cut a bank note in half, wait until receipt acknowledged, then send other half.

1761 first stage coach replaced open farmer's carts, and by 1785 PO was subsidizing coach lines to carry mail as well as passengers. Without that subsidy, coach lines would not have run routes into some of far flung parts of country.

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