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.
Whoever chose the title was really reaching, but missed.
Received ebook copy free for review from NetGalley.
Winifred Gallagher traces the founding of the US postal service from colonial days to the present and shows how the institution was an integral prt of the growth and settlement of the country. In fact the post office was established before the Declaration of Independence was signed as the founders recognized the need for reliable communications between the colonies.
AFter independence was won, the post office was responsible for building roads for the mail to travel on. It also subsidized the railroads and early airline industry through it's contracts to carry the mail from one part of the country to another. It gave women and minorities meaningful employment opportunities before any other industry , and made the mail order business possible. At one point in the early 20th Century the US post office handled more mail than all the rest of the countries of the world combined!
Unfortunately, the service did not keep up with it's success, refusing to spend the necessary funds to modernize it's equipment and it's distribution methods until there was a massive system meltdown in the 1970's (what most people remember of the USPS even today). Congress has been the system's worst enemy saddling the service with unrealistic labor expenses and hampering the implementation of cost saving measures.
A the end of the book, the author shows how the postal service missed opportunity after opportunity to leverage the digital revolution to renewed success. And she outlines how the service could enhance the distribution of broadband services today to remain relevant to the country. It's hard to imagine any of her recommendations being implemented in today's political climate and that's too bad because the story of the post office is the story of a country that dared to do big things. It would be nice if we did so once again.