More from Tukufu on the history of U.S. Mail.
Like many of our federal agencies, the birth of the U.S. mail has its roots in war.
In 1775, the colonies were fighting for independence, and it was crucial to move information and intelligence throughout the country.
The second Continental Congress appointed Ben Franklin postmaster general, and the U.S. Post Office was born.
Today, with coast-to-coast instant e-mail, it is hard to imagine how geography isolated early Americans.
Getting mail to sparsely populated outposts was an expensive proposition, so the post office sought out the cutting-edge technology of the day.
Lucrative contracts helped build the steamboats that carried mail up the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, opening up routes for settlers and the supplies they needed.
While the 15-mile-an-hour steam-driven engine was being denounced by some as a device of Satan, the U.S. Post Office was investing in railroad technology.
In 1911, the U.S. mail took to the skies.
A mail carrier flew a daily route across New York's Long Island, dropping his mailbags to the ground where they were picked up by a local postmaster.
The willingness of the post office to embrace progressive technology paved the way for a modern infrastructure that eventually became America's great highways, rail lines, and airways.