The History of Shipping — Part 1: The US Postal Service
There is a great deal to say about the history of shipping in the US. There has been remarkable growth and a bounty of changes throughout shipping’s history, so this week we are going to focus on quite possibly the most ubiquitous aspect of it all: the US Postal Service.
The history of shipping all began with the idea for the first postal service system. The postal service system has evolved to include a copious amount of characteristics that all improve the efficiency of the system, making it easier than ever to have any product shipped right to your door overnight. Today we have tons of inventions that contribute to the ease of shipping. Just to name a few, some of the numerous products include:
What is the USPS and Why is it Important?
The USPS (United States Postal Service) is a United States federal government agency formed July 1, 1971 that is legally in charge of providing a postal service system to the entire country regardless of geographic location. The USPS is one of the only government agencies explicitly authorized by the United States Constitution.
The USPS has established a countrywide empire with well over 600,000 current employees. The USPS has done a lot for the United States in terms of our country’s national expansion. If you think about, postal service systems are what really helped facilitate expansion into the West by creating an inexpensive, fast, and convenient communication system.
When did Postal Systems and the USPS Begin?
The USPS was formed in 1971, but many other forms of mail service organizations preceded it. In the very beginning years of the North American colonies, several attempts were made to initiate some type of postal service. The earliest attempt involved Massachusetts Bay Colony which set up a location in Boston where one could send a letter back home to England.
Another early attempt at a postal service (mid 1600s or so) included postage between two larger colonies, such as Massachusetts and Virginia. Services were very limited though, and many factors obstructed the success of the system. For example, informal independently-run postal services began operating in large cities like Boston and New York City.
Then in 1775, Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first postmaster general and highly elevated the postal service system. This was basically around the same time the American Revolution was beginning, and mail services became necessary. Political information, news, laws, and military orders were urgent to circulate, which is the same explanation for the introduction of newspapers. Shortly after the Revolution ended, Franklin’s operation expanded immensely and he created the Post Office Department in 1792.
In 1972, the USPS became an independent agency under the Postal Reorganization Act. The Postal Reorganization Act was a law passed by Congress and signed by President Nixon that abolished the United States Post Office Department and replaced it with the United States Postal Service which we use today.
How does the USPS Operate?
Now how’s that for your daily history lesson?
*Make sure to stay tuned to learn more about the history of shipping, including the history of: