On today’s date, July 26 in 1775, the Second Continental Congress the U.S. postal system was established Benjamin Franklin was appointed as its first postmaster general. Franklin (1706-1790) put in place the foundation for many facets of the mail system as we know it today.
The Mail of Colonial Days
Back in colonial times here in America most mail whether business or private was carried by hand along roads that were not well marked or well kept. Often it was carried by sea along the coastal routes. And the carriers could be sailors, sea captains, slaves or simply travelers along the route. Needless to say, this was neither a very efficient, nor reliable way to move correspondence around. And the “post office” was often a local inn, a tavern or a coffee house in the area. And time it would take for delivery could vary from several days or weeks between points on land to one to three months from overseas.
Ben Franklin Fixes the Mess in the Postal Service
Benjamin Franklin was appointed Postmaster of Philadelphia in 1737, Joint Postmaster General of the colonies for the Crown in 1753, and Postmaster for the United Colonies in 1775. And it was due mostly to Franklin efforts that the time of delivery was cut by 50%. He had already made many improvements to the postal service between the colonies by the time of his appointment on today’s date. He had already set up standard routes for postal delivery between the colonies,
and had the mail wagon traveling day and night by way of relay teams. Franklin standardized the cost of delivery by basing all the mail expenses on weight and distance over which it was to be carried. Franklin made tours of each of the major post offices to inspect their operations and suggest improvements. And routes were surveyed and were set up to be more direct from point to point. He left his post late in 1776 to serve as the U.S. Minister to France but left in place a system that ran all the way from Florida to Maine and all points in between.
Sam Houston Dies
And a brief note marking the passing of one more casualty of the Civil War. Sam Houston (below) had been one of if not THE founding father of the state of Texas. He had lead her through her War of Independence from Mexico (1835 – 1836), served two terms as President of the Republic of Texas (1836-1846), and helped guide her into statehood with the United States (1846). He was Governor of the
State of Texas as the winds of civil war began blowing across the south and into his state. But he wanted no part of secession talk. He was an unshakable supporter of the Union, and saw only misery for his state from joining the Confederacy: “In the name of the constitution of Texas, which has been trampled upon, I refuse to take this oath. I love Texas too well to bring civil strife and bloodshed upon her.” was what he said when refusing to take the oath of loyalty to the Confederacy. As a result, he was deposed from office on March 15, 1861. He died on today’s date in 1863. He had said of his approaching death:
“…(I) ask that He who buildeth up and pulleth down nations will, the mercy preserve and unite us. For a Nation divided against itself cannot stand. I wish, if this Union must be dissolved, that its ruins may be the monument of my grave, and the graves of my family. I wish no epitaph to be written to tell that I survive the ruin of this glorious Union.”
Sam Houston :