How much do you know about the United States Postal Service, better known as the USPS? This public service was established on July 26, 1775, and has a rich and interesting history. The USPS plays a huge role in your everyday life, but do you know much about the rest of the story?
Keep reading to learn some interesting facts about the United States’ oldest mail delivery service.
1. Early American History
The very first post office was established in 1639 in a tavern. The tavern, owned by Richard Fairbanks, served as a pick-up location for any mail that arrived from overseas. People would come from all around to this location for news from home and reply with their own news.
During the American Revolution, Congress needed a system to be able to send communications from them to the various armies. A committee was formed to create a Postal Service that would be in charge of delivering these letters. The committee consisted of Benjamin Franklin, Sam Adams, Richard Henry Lee, and several others.
Benjamin Franklin was the first Postmaster General and developed a system for delivering these letters and other correspondence. Our modern-day postal service is still using many of the systems that he helped create.
2. Originally No Home Delivery
The original postage stamps featured Benjamin Franklin for five cents and George Washington for 10 cents. These were issued before 1847 and the cost of the stamp only guaranteed that your mail would be delivered to the post office. From there you had to go and collect it.
In 1863, in Cleveland, Ohio, a postal worker noticed that most of his customers were females. They would trek to the post office and stand in the freezing cold line hoping to get news from their loved ones who were fighting in the Civil War.
He hated seeing them go through this process so he decided to personally deliver their mail to their home. This new service became so popular and news spread quickly to other towns, soon their post offices were also adding the new service.
3. Special Delivery
In 1913, there was no law specifying what was and wasn’t allowed to travel through the mail. Parents of young children soon realized that they could mail their kids to their grandparents simply by packaging them up and putting a stamp on their clothing.
The children would then travel with the postman until they made it to their destination. This practice was finally outlawed in 1920.
Most mail these days is delivered using mail trucks but there is one special place in the U.S. that uses an unusual delivery method. In Arizona, horses and mules are used to deliver mail, food, and other supplies on an 8-mile trail down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the Havasupai Indians.
This government agency is under the executive branch of the United States government but it is run as an independent. It is similar to how NASA and the CIA are controlled.
It is also entirely self-funded and doesn’t rely on tax dollars to manage its business. The USPS uses the sales of mailing products, postage stamps, and services to employ its workers, run its facilities, and operate their delivery methods.
This wasn’t always the case, however. Congress used to establish the postal rates and also appointed the postmaster general who would also serve in the president’s cabinet. This system changed in 1971.
5. Help for the Hungry
Every year on the second Saturday of May, the National Association of Letter Carriers holds a food drive. This food drive is the second largest in the nation and more than 10,000 cities across the country participate.
This food drive, known as “Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive” will donate all nonperishable food items and provide them to local shelters, pantries, and food banks. In order to help contribute to a city that participates, simply leave your donation items in a bag or box next to your mailbox. Your mail carrier will take it from there.
6. Avoid Lost or Damaged Mail
When you are packaging something up to be mailed, whether it is a letter or a boxed item, it is important that you package it correctly. Your mail carrier is unable to take any mail that doesn’t have the correct postage or is labeled incorrectly.
You should verify that the address provided is correct before putting your item in the mailbox. This will help ensure that it arrives successfully at its intended destination.
If you are mailing a large item make sure you secure the item inside with some protective packaging such as newspaper or bubble wrap. Also, you should use a sturdy box that will hold up during the delivery process. Your package will be passed through several different hands and pass through different facilities before it reaches you.
These days it might seem that two-day shipping is the only option and is a great selling feature for businesses to get their product to you faster. However, this rush can lead to items getting lost or damaged due to the hectic nature of needing to get them to you fast.
As a consumer, you should consider accepting a longer shipment time. Not only does this help keep your package from getting damaged but it is also environmentally friendly. You can read more about green shipping options here.
7. Postmaster General
The postmaster general is an important position within the United States Postal Service. At one point, this position made the person a member of the Cabinet which put them at the same level as the Secretary of State, War, and Treasury. This meant that the postmaster general was in the line of succession should anything happen to the President of the United States.
The postmaster general is also one of the highest-paid employees in the federal government, ranking third after the president and the vice-president.
Learn More About the U.S. Mail Delivery Service Today
These are just some of the many interesting facts about the oldest mail delivery service in the United States. The service was founded during the early days of colonial America and has seen some drastic changes over time.
From having to travel to the post office to pick up your mail, shipping gifts to your loved ones, and two-day delivery times, who knows what will come next?
If you would like to learn more interesting facts be sure to visit our website daily!