A hand-made model sorter was tested at postal headquarters in Ottawa in 1953. RFD became a political football, with politicians promising it to voters and using it themselves to reach voters. The U.S. has a rough track record with how it treats new parents, but there are reasons to believe that this could soon be a thing of the past. First day of scheduled airmail service, Belmont Park, New York, 1918 Courtesy Library of Congress Introduction. The start of writing occurs in Mesopotamia at least 9,500 years ago, and it involved the use of clay tokens, blobs of baked clay which had dots or lines incised in them representing quantities of goods. The loss on second-class mail matter has been increasing for many years until it now amounts to more than $64,000,000. Expanding Western settlement in the mid-19th century prompted the need for a reliable means of mail delivery, which was initially met by overland stagecoach companies on one of several routes and by steamship routes that either went around South America or included an overland transfer across the Isthmus of Panama or the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico. But the voices of certain communities are often left behind. While an unfunded pension liability is a big reason for the USPS’ current distress, the post office could just as easily added “deficits” to the “rain, sleet, and snow” that it routinely overcomes. The delivery of mail and packages has a long and illustrious history, with records of the earliest postal services dating back to c.550BC, when we hear of the Persian system through the biography of Cyrus the Great (c.559-529 BCE) compiled by Greek author Xenophon. The foundations of this service were laid in the European countries long before its experimental stage in the United States. The Stourbridge, a locomotive built in England, made the first run in Hondesdale, Pennsylvania. One of the first questions before the delegates was how to convey and deliver the mail. A second train, the Tom Thumb, became the first steam-powered locomotive to be used for delivery in 1830. At such times there is good reason to suppose papers and small packages are taken away by persons present at the opening of the portmanteau, to whom they are not directed, but without the knowledge or privity of the postmasters or carriers of the mail.”. Other industrial counties have already axed Saturday delivery – Australia and Canada, for example, are two geographically large and yet urban-centric nations that only deliver on weekdays (Canada does increase to six days during certain preset mail-heavy periods). Canadian electronics scientist Maurice Levy invented an automatic postal sorter in 1957 that could handle 200,000 letters an hour. He was previously a senior staff writer for Pacific Standard and online editor at the Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy. One of these postal riders was Israel Bissell , one of the riders commissioned to alert the colonies that the British troops were moving in the early stages of the American War for Independence. Mail carriers could always drop off a piece or two at localities “by the way” along their routes. In practice, the post offices of these days did not generally deliver mail to households or businesses directly, but only from post office to post office. To give a flavour of this 500-year history, Royal Mail has produced a time-line which picks out the key moment’s in the institution’s development (illustrated with some of the pictures from the online gallery). These Mesopotamian envelopes called bullae were intended to deter fraud, so that the seller could be certain that the correct amount of goods would get to the buyer. Right, a woman receives a letter, 1940. The Grumman LLV Postal Truck (Image/ Wikipedia ) A number of companies submitted designs but, in the end, the Post Office chose the Grumman LLV—and acronym that stood for “ L ong L ife V ehicle.” According to the USPS: Postmasters, groups of citizens, or city authorities could petition the Post Office Department for free delivery service if their city met population or postal revenue requirements. He set up mailboxes and delivered any letters placed in them if they used the postage pre-paid envelopes that he sold. The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the U.S. federal government and has been responsible for providing postal services in the U.S. since its start in 1775. It ran a little over 10mph and was actually outran by a horse. In 1923, for example, the same year that once-a-day city delivery reared its head, new homes were required to have a box or slot for the carrier to slip mail into; no more knocking and waiting to hand deliver the post. Vecchio / Getty Images A large group of mail carriers leaving the General Post Office early in the morning to start their rounds in New York City at Christmas, 1955. Prior to establishing the United States postal service, mail was delivered by friends and unofficial messengers. Deliveries were made Monday through Saturday, and usually multiple times a day – in 1905 Baltimore or Philadelphia, for example, a carrier could visit as often as seven times a day. In the more than two centuries since Benjamin Franklin was appointed our first Postmaster General in 1775, the Postal Service™ has grown and changed with America, boldly embracing new technologies to better serve a growing population. She is known for her independent films and documentaries, including one about Alexander Graham Bell. One of the first things the breakaway colonies did in 1775 – even before such tiddles as, say, approving a Declaration of Independence --was to recognize their own competing postal system with Benjamin Franklin at its head. The first authorized U.S. Mail flight took place in 1911, when aviator Earle Ovington piloted his Bleriot monoplane between Garden City and Mineola, New York. Both the Pony Express and Wells Fargo served as private mail carriers; it’s worth noting the Pony Express was never expected to make money. Think of it as a Bronze Age bill of lading. Michael Todd is the social science communications manager for SAGE Publications. The money-saving move will only be staved off if Congress intervenes, and despite frequent suggestions from Postal Service brass dating back to 1976, legislators have been loath to cut Saturday delivery in the past. California desert town takes back the night, wins rare "Dark Sky" award. The rate was lowered to 16 cents on airmail July 15, 1918, and to 6 cents on December 15 (without special delivery). But not even the fastest delivery speeds--at one time, mail was dropped off up to four times a day--could stop what would spell catastrophe for the USPS: e-mail, which is faster, easier and free. HISTORY OF THE RURAL FREE MAIL DELIVERY IN THE UNITED STATES. However, due to the efficiency of the postal service, there was a tremendous increase in mail volume, and the postal service began to implement a number system to help with delivery called the Zoning Improvement Plan, or the ZIP Code. It could process mail at a rate of 30,000 letters per hour, with a missort factor of less than one letter in 10,000. It worked, and a prototype coding and sortation machine, capable of processing all of the mail then generated by the City of Ottawa, was built by Canadian manufacturers in 1956. Mail delivery in the United States began, in fact, before the U.S. itself did. By 3500–3100 BCE, the Uruk-period Mesopotamian trade network had ballooned, and they wrapped their clay tokens in thin sheets of clay that were then baked. The loss from rural delivery, a service begun hardly a dozen years ago, and of unprecedented growth, reaches nearly $28,000,000.”Critics on both sides quickly began sparring over the question of second-class mail and America’s prodigious consumption of magazines and periodicals, but few demonstrated an inclination to attack the Rural Free Delivery. A postal service can be private or public, though many governments place restrictions on private systems. Looking back over the history of mail, society in general has come a long way from delivering a message by horseback or ship and awaiting the arrival which could take weeks, to the nearly instantaneous sending of birthday card, bills, and correspondence with the click of a mouse. The Canadian Post Office Department had commissioned Levy to design and supervise the building of a new, electronic, computer-controlled, automatic mail sortation system for Canada. The first mail order catalog was distributed in 1872 by Aaron Montgomery Ward (1843–1913) selling goods primarily to rural farmers who had difficulty making it out to the big cities for commerce. Explore the past, glimpse the future. Whether that’s the actual genesis in the U.S. or not, by 1863 Congress approved free home delivery – which included a knock at the door and carrier-to-recipient delivery -- in cities where the local revenue for mail would support the additional cost of salaried mail carriers. The city had to provide sidewalks and crosswalks, ensure that streets were named and lit, and assign numbers to houses. Proof of payment is usually in the form of an adhesive postage stamp, but a postage meter is also used for bulk mailing. The mail or post is a system for physically transporting postcards, letters, and parcels. In addition, there were undoubtedly state-sponsored messages transported along the Silk Road, between traders in different empires, probably since its inception in the 3rd century BCE. A courier might bring tokens to a seller for so many bushels of grain, or so many jars of olive oil, and the seller would send the tokens with the goods back to the buyer. A schoolmaster from England, Rowland Hill (1795–1879), invented the adhesive postage stamp in 1837, an act for which he was knighted. Why Does the US Postal Service Lose Money? Hill created the first uniform postage rates that were based on weight, rather than size. He set up mailboxes and delivered any letters placed in them if they used the postage pre-paid envelopes that he sold. The catalogs then expanded into illustrated books. Even after the Postal Department came to be, most mail was delivered on foot or by horseback, but it has been delivered by many modes of transport since. Mail, consisting mostly of government dispatches, was carried from place to place by horse or horse-drawn wagon in ancient Egypt and Persia. In a case of deux ex machina unlikely to be repeated, Gifford demonstrates that an unprecedented craze for souvenir post cards – especially from rural outposts – gave the system breathing room to get its fiscal house in order and turn deficits into surpluses. A newspaper delivery vehicle for the Sunday Mail in Brisbane, Australia (Wikimedia Commons). If that sounds expensive, it was, and starting in 1923 many local postmasters winnowed local deliveries to one a day, although that cost-saving move wasn't universal until 1950. Delivery, mail, and courier services date back to the Persian Empire in the 6 th century BCE, when King Cyrus the Great formalized a postal service. This time is different, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe explained to reporters, because in all the parade of budget circus tricks emanating from the Capitol Hill menagerie, the usual rider (a fixture since 1984) mandating Saturday delivery is missing. despite frequent suggestions from Postal Service brass dating back to 1976, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe explained to reporters, Smithsonian’s Daniel Gifford pointed out last year. Between 1861 and 1940, for example, the Post Office was in the black only eight times; the last time it wasn’t in the red was the 2006 fiscal year, and it cites public polls and its own research showing most Americans would prefer to kill Saturday delivery if it saved both money and the post office. Within a year, 65 cities had home delivery. As the Smithsonian’s Daniel Gifford pointed out last year, by 1909 the Post Office was deeply in the red: From the very beginning in 1909 when the $17 million shortfall was announced, Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock kept the blame on two specific causes: “Recent investigations have shown that the two great sources of loss to the postal revenues are second-class mail matter and rural delivery. A new report concludes that the Graham-Cassidy proposal would reduce federal funding to states by $215 billion by 2026. The history of postal systems, a mail or courier service to pass messages from one person in one place to another person in another place, starts with the invention of writing and may well have been one of the reasons writing was invented. 1784 Mail Delivery by Coach In 1784, a plan to speed up mail delivery and make it more reliable was devised by John Palmer, a proprietor of the Bath theater. Some companies offer unofficial naming rights for purchase. Hill's stamps made the prepayment of postage both possible and practical. Money and mail have always been in uneasy cahoots. The story goes that a Cleveland, Ohio postal employee by the name of Joseph William Briggs was so torn up by seeing women lined up in the cold to see if a letter had arrived from a son or husband at the front lines that he started delivering mail to homes -- at no extra cost. The International Astronomical Union has established a committee to finalize a list of official star names. The first catalog consisted of a single 8- by 12-inch sheet of paper with a price list showing the merchandise for sale with ordering instructions. After the Boston riots in September 1774, the colonies began to separate from the mother country. By 1832, contracts were granted to use rail tra… We hope you enjoy exploring our rich history. Later in Rome, a service called cursus publicus (or “the public way”) was created by Emperor Augustus to transport messages, public officials, and taxes. ROYAL MAIL TIME-LINE. Since the mid-19th century, national postal systems have generally been established as a government monopoly, with a fee on the article prepaid. And for years, a city had to have a population of 10,000 or $10,000 in gross postal receipts before it could officially qualify for home delivery. Not until the Civil War did home delivery enter into the equation. A system of posting letters was in place by the next year, serving the Atlantic seaboard from New Hampshire to Virginia, and it was doing well enough that in 1707 the British government, smelling profits to be made, took proprietorship of the system. In 1926 the first Montgomery Ward retail store opened in Plymouth, Indiana. 3 The Army stepped in to deliver the mail, for a time but was ill prepared to fill the role of the companies that had been jilted. 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