It’s impossible to separate the history of the United States from the history of its post office. After all, Benjamin Franklin was appointed the nation’s first postmaster general all the way back in 1775, after his fellow colonists rebelled against Britain’s Royal Mail and established the Post Office Department, the forerunner of the United States Postal Service (USPS).

Pony Express

Those looking for a speedier delivery could, for a short time, at least, turn to the Pony Express, a private service that began running between St. Joseph, Missouri and California in April 1860. Riders rode specially selected horses an average of 75 to 100 miles daily, changing horses at relay stations set at 10-15 mile intervals along the nearly 2,000-mile route; the trip took about 10 days, about half of the time of the regular overland mail. The post office contracted with the Pony Express for only a few months before the service shut down in October 1861, shortly after the completion of the transcontinental telegraph line.

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