Regardless of the century, information has always been invaluable. The Post Office Department was absolutely vital to the exchange of information during the American Revolution, and the U.S. Postal Service once delivered more than holiday cards meant to induce guilt and shame.
Through rain, snow, and Lobsterbacks
Early American colonists didn’t send too many letters between colonies. More letters made the long hop over the pond to and from England. However, a little spat over independence changed that.
When attempting to stick it to the hoity-toity rulers of your ragtag bunch of colonies, it helps to know more than they do and sooner. To that end, the Continental Congress appointed Benjamin Franklin the first postmaster general in 1775. Franklin already had experience as a postmaster general for the colonies under British rule. Big surprise, he had been fired for his revolutionary activities in 1774.
It’s OURS now
Franklin had already made major improvements to the system before he was fired, including slashing delivery time between New York and Philadelphia in half. In addition to that, he had been able to determine and select which routes were the shortest using an early odometer.
During the war, most of the mail carried by the post was communications between Congress and the army. There’s no doubt the British armies really felt the impact of Franklin’s improvements to the flow of information.
Keep a good thing going
After the war, it made sense to keep this exchange of information and goods going. It would support the growth of the new nation and help strengthen connections between the former colonies. In 1789, the Consitution granted Congress the power to establish post offices and roads, paving the way towards establishing the Post Office Department in 1792 as well as a right to privacy.