Note: The following is part of a series of columns looking at the history of the postal service in Georgia and Bulloch County.
The nation’s postal system rapidly expanded: while in 1800 there were 20,817 miles of post roads, in 1830 the number had grown to 94,052 miles.
In fact, at this time just the post office’s 8,700 postmasters made up 3/4 of the entire civilian work-force of the U.S. “federal” government.
The “franking privilege,” or the ability to send mail for free, was an important fringe benefit of being a postmaster. As a result, postmasters sent and received more letters than most Americans. It is written that many postmasters who were merchants found that they could conduct all of their business, and also collect almost all of their debts at no cost.
The first American postage stamps were printed in 1842 by a private mail service, the City Dispatch Post in New York City. These 3-cent stamps bore the image of George Washington.
The post office introduced more services: a registry service (1855), second and third class mail services (1863), free (select) city mail delivery by carriers (1863), postal money orders (1864), and one-penny “postal cards” (1873).
The first American postage stamps were printed in 1842 by a private mail service, the City Dispatch Post, in New York City. Their 3-cent stamps bore the image of George Washington.
“The Statutes at Large of the Provisional Government of the Confederate States of America” (1864) reveal that after the South seceded and the Confederacy was formed, they formed their own Post Office Department on Feb. 21, 1861.
The statutes declared “For every single sealed letter (mailed) within the Confederate States of America, not exceeding 500 miles (the cost was) 5 cents…exceeding 500 miles (it was) double that rate.”
With the onset of the Civil War, the mails were carried between the Union and the Confederacy border cities by the riders of the Adams Express Company and the American Letter Express Company. All Northern mail was sent to Louisville, Kentucky, while all Southern mail was sent to Nashville, Tennessee. On August 26, 1861, the cross-border mail traffic ceased by order of the U.S. Post Office Department.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. Email Roger at email@example.com.