The History of the Postal Service

mail sorting
These two men sorted mail in 1924. Today, machines do the final step in sorting the mail.

National Postal Workers Day is July 1st. On that day, we thank the postal workers who bring us our mail. But how much do you know about the postal service?

The postal service in the United States dates back to colonial times. Many people sent mail to Great Britain. The mail delivery was by ship. It was very slow. People who sent letters didn’t know when they would get there.

The British made Benjamin Franklin postmaster general [the person in charge of the postal service]. He made many improvements to the colonial postal service. The British dismissed him for supporting the American Revolution. In 1775, the Continental Congress asked Franklin to create a postal system. Communication within the colonies was important to winning the war.

In 1792, George Washington appointed Samuel Osgood as the first postmaster general under the Constitution of the United States. The postal service was known as the United States Postal Department.

In 1970, postal workers went on strike. They wanted more pay and better working conditions. The president, Richard M. Nixon, made the postal service independent. The department became the part of the government we still have today, the USPS—United States Postal Services.

What Do You Think? How does the postal service help you? Why is it important?

Photo Credit: Library of Congress, U.S. News & World Report Magazine Collection, [LC-DIG-ds-00883]