How the Post Office Created America

How the Post Office Created America

A History

Book - 2016
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"A history of the U.S. Post Office traces its origins and leaders and describes its role in every major event in American history, from the Revolutionary War to the dawn of the Internet age,"--NoveList.
A masterful history of a long underappreciated institution, this book examines the surprising role of the postal service in our nation's political, social, economic, and physical development. The founders established the post office before they had even signed the Declaration of Independence, and for a very long time, it was the U.S. government's largest and most important endeavor--indeed, it was the government for most citizens. This was no conventional mail network but the central nervous system of the new body politic, designed to bind thirteen quarrelsome colonies into the United States by delivering news about public affairs to every citizen--a radical idea that appalled Europe's great powers. America's uniquely democratic post powerfully shaped its lively, argumentative culture of uncensored ideas and opinions and made it the world's information and communications superpower with astonishing speed. Winifred Gallagher presents the history of the post office as America's own story, told from a fresh perspective over more than two centuries. The mandate to deliver the mail imposed the federal footprint on vast, often contested parts of the continent and transformed a wilderness into a social landscape. The post was the catalyst of the nation's transportation grid, from the stagecoach lines to the airlines, and the lifeline of the great migration from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It enabled America to shift from an agrarian to an industrial economy and to develop the publishing industry, the consumer culture, and the political party system. Still one of the country's two major civilian employers, the post was the first to hire women, African Americans, and other minorities. Starved by two world wars and the Great Depression, confronted with the country's increasingly anti-institutional mind-set, and struggling with its doubled mail volume, the post stumbled badly in the turbulent 1960s. Distracted by the ensuing modernization of its traditional services, it failed to transition from paper mail to email. Before deciding its future, Americans should understand what this grand yet overlooked institution has accomplished since 1775 and consider what it should and could contribute in the twenty-first century.--Adapted from dust jacket.
Discover the surprising role of the postal service in our nation's political, social, economic, and physical development. The founders established the post office before they had even signed the Declaration of Independence, and for a very long time it represented the government for most citizens. The post became the catalyst of the nation's transportation grid, from the stagecoach lines to the airlines, and the lifeline of the great migration from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Gallagher traces its origins and leaders and describes its role in every major event in American history, from the Revolutionary War to the dawn of the Internet age.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2016.
ISBN: 9781594205002
1594205000
Branch Call Number: 383.4 GALLAGHER
Characteristics: 326 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm

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EmilyEm
Sep 06, 2016

Author explores the ‘post’—delivering letters, newspapers and advertising—from the founding of our country to the current time.

I collected stamps as a girl so this title caught my attention. There’s some on ‘commeoratives,’ but much more on how mail delivery influenced our transportation systems. Amazing. Who knew.

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patcarstensen
Jul 27, 2016

A better book would have longer and more detailed portraits of the characters who worked for the PO. There is too much background general history that just repeats what most of us learned in high school.

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