Long before we had internet, phones, and emails humans had to rely on letter carriers. They had to cover vast distances and sometimes inhospitable areas. Sometimes the letter wouldn’t reach its destination and sometimes the carrier was even killed. Their wages were low and their duties long and arduous. Technology has given us so many comforts and gifts we often forget how difficult previous generations may have had it. However, it’s important we remember our past. It teaches many valuable lessons about our present and our future.
Here’s a great resouce on where to buy stamps.
In the beginning, envelopes were made of cloth and animal skins. The messages were wrapped in clay that was then baked and hardend. This kept the scripts dry and safe from the outside world.
The Next Step
By 1653, travel had become more accessible people began to spread out. People, wanting to continue staying in contact with loved ones began sending more letters than ever before. Unfortunately, there was no mass postal system working at the time. There was a gap in the market that needed to be filled. A Frenchman established the first postal system in Paris, France. He set up mailboxes throughout the city and had the letters delivered assuming the paid the price.
Unfortunately, his competition destroyed his business and stifled progress.
The First Problem
Besides traveling a long distance, the other major issue was how to verify payments were made. Would be postmen needed an inexpensive and easy way to verify that the sender had paid for the postage. This is where stamps first came into invention and found their purpose.
The Invention of The Postage Stamp
A gentleman from England, Rowland Hill, was the first to solve the problem of simple, verified postage payment. He invented the adhesive postage stamp in the year of 1837. He also proposed price be based on the weight of the parcel, rather than size. For this, he was knighted for his efforts and contributions to the field of communications.
The Postal Service & USPS
The United States was one of the first states to really push the idea of fast, safe, and reliable communications. This came about mostly due to the American Revolution and the new way of fighting wars. The Second Continental Congress, while planning the defense of the colonies, spoke at length of the importance of letters and intelligence. They were hugely important to fight against the British. A committee was formed to create the first American postal system. Its members included Samual Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Richard Lee, Thomas Lynch, Thomas Willing, and Philip Livingston.
Within two months the committee had agreed upon the necessity and urgency of a postal system. Benjamin Franklin was named the Postmaster General and was put in charge of the new institution.
At this point, the postal service was used solely for communications between armies and Congress. Postmasters rode day and night to deliver messages. Often through dangerous territory and to be put to death as spies if found by the British. Without them, the United States of America may still be a member of the Commonwealth.
To this day this same postal service is still running. The name is now the United States Postal Serivce or, USPS for short, and their mission remains largely the same. Except for large expansions into the public sector.
If you’d like to purchase postage stamps, you can find a list of locations by clicking the link.