On this day – July 26, 1775 – the U. S. Postal Service was established by the Second Continental Congress and Benjamin Franklin was installed as its first Postmaster General. According to history.com, Franklin was experienced having served a the postmaster of Philadelphia. Some persepective on mail in the colonies and Ben Franklin’s legacy:
During early colonial times in the 1600s, few American colonists needed to send mail to each other; it was more likely that their correspondence was with letter writers in Britain. Mail deliveries from across the Atlantic were sporadic and could take many months to arrive. There were no post offices in the colonies, so mail was typically left at inns and taverns. In 1753, Benjamin Franklin, who had been postmaster of Philadelphia, became one of two joint postmasters general for the colonies. He made numerous improvements to the mail system, including setting up new, more efficient colonial routes and cutting delivery time in half between Philadelphia and New York by having the weekly mail wagon travel both day and night via relay teams. Franklin also debuted the first rate chart, which standardized delivery costs based on distance and weight. In 1774, the British fired Franklin from his postmaster job because of his revolutionary activities. However, the following year, he was appointed postmaster general of the United Colonies by the Continental Congress. Franklin held the job until late in 1776, when he was sent to France as a diplomat. He left a vastly improved mail system, with routes from Florida to Maine and regular service between the colonies and Britain. President George Washington appointed Samuel Osgood, a former Massachusetts congressman, as the first postmaster general of the American nation under the new U.S. constitution in 1789. At the time, there were approximately 75 post offices in the country.
Today the postal service gets the mail delivered, rain or shine, using everything from foot to plane to mule to service about 144 million homes and businesses in the United States and its territories. With over 40,000 offices and a delivery burden of over 212 billion pieces of mail, the USPS – a not-for-profit, self-supporting agency that covers its expenses through postage and related products – is the nation’s largest civilian employer, with over 700,000 career workers. Today it struggles with a “red ink” debt that needs to be controlled. Proposals for closings post offices are on the desk of current Postmaster General Patrick Donohue who will hold a press conference later today to release a long-awaited “post office study list” of potential closings nationwide.