Friday, July 26, 2013

Today marks the day in 1775 that the US postal system was established, by the Second Continental Congress, with Ben Franklin as the first postmaster general. In the 1600’s, few colonists needed to mail letters to each other. And, mail going across the Atlantic was sporadic, and took many months to arrive.

As there were no post offices, mail was generally left at inns and taverns, but the new systems established specific days, routes, rates. It was revolutionary! Franklin held the job for a year, then he was called to service as a diplomat to France. Later, President Washington appointed former Massachusetts congressman Sam Osgood to serve as the first postmaster general of the United States. By that time there were 75 post offices in the nation!

Today, the US has over 40,000 offices and delivers over 200 billion pieces of mail each year to over 140 million homes and businesses in the nation, and territories. Wow! Of course, the cost of doing business keeps escalating and what was once considered a high price for mailing a piece of paper, a couple cents or so, has jumped to 46 cents an ounce. Obviously, this makes email even more attractive, though there’s nothing quite like getting an actual letter in your mail box.

Recently, there has even been talk about disbanding mail delivery for every day of the week. Can you imagine? Instead of the system getting more efficient over time, it is now looking at ways to stem the possibility of bankruptcy. Ouch!

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