In Times Past —It’s in the mail—

“Whether great or small, a post office was the visible form of the Federal Government in every community and to every citizen. Its hand is the only one that touches the local life, the social interests, and business concerns of every neighborhood.”—John Wanamaker, Postmaster General, 1889-1893.
In 2019, the U.S. Postal Service delivered 143 billion pieces of mail to 160 million addresses, including 46 million rural destinations. Additionally, it operated 31,000 local post offices.
That year at least 1.3 billion of those pieces of mail were Christmas cards, and many of the packages held Christmas gifts. In 2020, about 64 million were ballots, representing a pivotal role in the recent General Election.
This column, the first of two on the subject, explores the development of the postal system, including its impact on local communities. The information comes from newspapers, books and online sources on the history of both the national postal system and those of our two states.