How the Post Office Created America
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|Author||: Winifred Gallagher|
A masterful history of a long underappreciated institution, How the Post Office Created America 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—then “the media”—imposed the federal footprint on vast, often contested parts of the continent and transformed a wilderness into a social landscape of post roads and villages centered on post offices. 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 for positions in public life. 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, however, it failed to transition from paper mail to email, which prescient observers saw as its logical next step. Now the post office is at a crossroads. 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. Gallagher argues that now, more than ever before, the imperiled post office deserves this effort, because just as the founders anticipated, it created forward-looking, communication-oriented, idea-driven America.
|Author||: Devin Leonard|
|Editor||: Open Road + Grove/Atlantic|
“[The] book makes you care what happens to its main protagonist, the U.S. Postal Service itself. And, as such, it leaves you at the end in suspense.” —USA Today Founded by Benjamin Franklin, the United States Postal Service was the information network that bound far-flung Americans together, and yet, it is slowly vanishing. Critics say it is slow and archaic. Mail volume is down. The workforce is shrinking. Post offices are closing. In Neither Snow Nor Rain, journalist Devin Leonard tackles the fascinating, centuries-long history of the USPS, from the first letter carriers through Franklin’s days, when postmasters worked out of their homes and post roads cut new paths through the wilderness. Under Andrew Jackson, the post office was molded into a vast patronage machine, and by the 1870s, over seventy percent of federal employees were postal workers. As the country boomed, USPS aggressively developed new technology, from mobile post offices on railroads and airmail service to mechanical sorting machines and optical character readers. Neither Snow Nor Rain is a rich, multifaceted history, full of remarkable characters, from the stamp-collecting FDR, to the revolutionaries who challenged USPS’s monopoly on mail, to the renegade union members who brought the system—and the country—to a halt in the 1970s. “Delectably readable . . . Leonard’s account offers surprises on almost every other page . . . [and] delivers both the triumphs and travails with clarity, wit and heart.” —Chicago Tribune
|Author||: Philip F. Rubio|
|Editor||: Univ of North Carolina Press|
This book brings to life the important but neglected story of African American postal workers and the critical role they played in the U.S. labor and black freedom movements. Historian Philip Rubio, a former postal worker, integrates civil rights, labor, and left movement histories that too often are written as if they happened separately. Centered on New York City and Washington, D.C., the book chronicles a struggle of national significance through its examination of the post office, a workplace with facilities and unions serving every city and town in the United States. Black postal workers--often college-educated military veterans--fought their way into postal positions and unions and became a critical force for social change. They combined black labor protest and civic traditions to construct a civil rights unionism at the post office. They were a major factor in the 1970 nationwide postal wildcat strike, which resulted in full collective bargaining rights for the major postal unions under the newly established U.S. Postal Service in 1971. In making the fight for equality primary, African American postal workers were influential in shaping today's post office and postal unions.
|Author||: Richard R. JOHN,Richard R John|
|Editor||: Harvard University Press|
In the seven decades from its establishment in 1775 to the commercialization of the electric telegraph in 1844, the American postal system spurred a communications revolution no less far-reaching than the subsequent revolutions associated with the telegraph, telephone, and computer. This book tells the story of that revolution and the challenge it posed for American business, politics, and cultural life. During the early republic, the postal system was widely hailed as one of the most important institutions of the day. No other institution had the capacity to transmit such a large volume of information on a regular basis over such an enormous geographical expanse. The stagecoaches and postriders who conveyed the mail were virtually synonymous with speed. In the United States, the unimpeded transmission of information has long been hailed as a positive good. In few other countries has informational mobility been such a cherished ideal. Richard John shows how postal policy can help explain this state of affairs. He discusses its influence on the development of such information-intensive institutions as the national market, the voluntary association, and the mass party. He traces its consequences for ordinary Americans, including women, blacks, and the poor. In a broader sense, he shows how the postal system worked to create a national society out of a loose union of confederated states. This exploration of the role of the postal system in American public life provides a fresh perspective not only on an important but neglected chapter in American history, but also on the origins of some of the most distinctive features of American life today. Table of Contents: Preface Acknowledgments The Postal System as an Agent of Change The Communications Revolution Completing the Network The Imagined Community The Invasion of the Sacred The Wellspring of Democracy The Interdiction of Dissent Conclusion Abbreviations Notes Sources Index Reviews of this book: "[A] splendid new book...that gives the lie to any notion that 'government' and 'administration' were 'absent' in early America." DD--Theda Skocpol, Social Science History "This well-researched and elegantly written book will become a model for historians attempting to link public policy to cultural and political change...[It] will engage not only historians of the early republic, but all scholars interested in the relationship between state and society." DD--John Majewski, Journal of Economic History "The strength of the book is...the author's ability to untangle the thousands of social, political, economic, and cultural threads of the postal fabric and to rearrange them into a clear and compelling social history." DD--Roy Alden Atwood, Journal of American History "Richard R. John provides an insightful cultural history of the often-overlooked American postal system, concentrating on its preeminent status for long-distance communication between its birth in 1775 and the commercialization of the electric telegraph in 1844...John effectively draws upon government documents, newspapers, travelogues, and contemporary social and political histories to argue that the postal system causes and mirrors dramatic changes in American public life during this period...John focuses his study on the communication revolution of the past, yet his meticulous analysis of the complex motives forming the postal institution and its policies relate to such current controversies as those that surround the transmission of information in cyberspace. These contemporary disputes highlight the power of the government in shaping the communication of the people. John privileges the postal institution as the reigning communication system, yet he links it with the developing ideology of the nation, and the scope of his study ensures its value--in the disciplines of communication studies, literature, history, and political science, among others--as a history of the past and present." DD--Sarah R. Marino, Canadian Review of American Studies "Spreading the News exemplifies the kind of sophisticated and nuanced research that US postal history has long needed. Richard R. John breaks from the internalist, antiquarian tradition characteristic of so many post office histories to place the postal system at the centre of American national development." DD--Richard B. Kielbowicz, Business History "[John] presents a thoroughly researched and well-written book...[which will give] insight into the history of the post office and its impact on American life." DD--Library Journal "It is surely true that in Richard John the post has had the good fortune to have found its proper historian, one capable of appreciating the complex design and social importance of the means a people use to distribute information. He has also accomplished the impressive feat of gathering together the pieces of a postal history present elsewhere as so many tiny fragments. John has drawn into a coherent design the stories of postal patronage, the decisions about postal privacy, the incidents along post roads used by others as illustrative anecdotes. John's work has inspired in him a deep appreciation for the accomplishments of the post." DD--Ann Fabian, The Yale Review "John's book explains how the letters and newspapers sent through the post were really the glue that held the early 13 states together and that embraced additional states as the nation expanded westward...It is a splendid attempt to show the importance of mail service in the years before the telegraph or the telephone made at least brief news transmission possible. The postal system of the 19th century really was a factor, perhaps the major factor, in making the United States one nation." DD--Richard B. Graham, Linn's Stamp News "This book traces the central role of the postal system in [its] communications revolution and its contribution to American public life. The author shows how the postal system influenced the establishment of a national society out of a loose union of confederated states. Richard John throws light onto a chapter in American history that is often neglected but sets up the origins of some of the most distinctive features of American life today...The book is a comprehensive study on an important American institution during a critical epoch in its history." DD--Monika Plum, Prometheus [UK] "John has produced an original, well-documented, and thoughtful study that offers alternative and enticing interpretations of Jacksonian policies and public institutions." DD--Choice
|Author||: Charles Bukowski|
|Editor||: Harper Collins|
"It began as a mistake." By middle age, Henry Chinaski has lost more than twelve years of his life to the U.S. Postal Service. In a world where his three true, bitter pleasures are women, booze, and racetrack betting, he somehow drags his hangover out of bed every dawn to lug waterlogged mailbags up mud-soaked mountains, outsmart vicious guard dogs, and pray to survive the day-to-day trials of sadistic bosses and certifiable coworkers. This classic 1971 novel—the one that catapulted its author to national fame—is the perfect introduction to the grimly hysterical world of legendary writer, poet, and Dirty Old Man Charles Bukowski and his fictional alter ego, Chinaski.
|Author||: Cameron Blevins|
|Editor||: Oxford University Press|
A groundbreaking history of how the US Post made the nineteenth-century American West. There were five times as many post offices in the United States in 1899 than there are McDonald's restaurants today. During an era of supposedly limited federal government, the United States operated the most expansive national postal system in the world. In this cutting-edge interpretation of the late nineteenth-century United States, Cameron Blevins argues that the US Post wove together two of the era's defining projects: western expansion and the growth of state power. Between the 1860s and the early 1900s, the western United States underwent a truly dramatic reorganization of people, land, capital, and resources. It had taken Anglo-Americans the better part of two hundred years to occupy the eastern half of the continent, yet they occupied the West within a single generation. As millions of settlers moved into the region, they relied on letters and newspapers, magazines and pamphlets, petitions and money orders to stay connected to the wider world. Paper Trails maps the spread of the US Post using a dataset of more than 100,000 post offices, revealing a new picture of the federal government in the West. The western postal network bore little resemblance to the civil service bureaucracies typically associated with government institutions. Instead, the US Post grafted public mail service onto private businesses, contracting with stagecoach companies to carry the mail and paying local merchants to distribute letters from their stores. These arrangements allowed the US Post to rapidly spin out a vast and ephemeral web of postal infrastructure to thousands of distant places. The postal network's sprawling geography and localized operations forces a reconsideration of the American state, its history, and the ways in which it exercised power.
|Author||: Winifred Gallagher|
A riveting history of the American West told for the first time through the pioneering women who used the challenges of migration and settlement as opportunities to advocate for their rights, and transformed the country in the process Between 1840 and 1910, hundreds of thousands of men and women traveled deep into the underdeveloped American West, lured by the prospect of adventure and opportunity, and galvanized by the spirit of Manifest Destiny. Alongside this rapid expansion of the United States, a second, overlapping social shift was taking place: survival in a settler society busy building itself from scratch required two equally hardworking partners, compelling women to compromise eastern sensibilities and take on some of the same responsibilities as their husbands. At a time when women had very few legal or economic--much less political--rights, these women soon proved they were just as essential as men to westward expansion. Their efforts to attain equality by acting as men's equals paid off, and well before the Nineteenth Amendment, they became the first American women to vote. During the mid-nineteenth century, the fight for women's suffrage was radical indeed. But as the traditional domestic model of womanhood shifted to one that included public service, the women of the West were becoming not only coproviders for their families but also town mothers who established schools, churches, and philanthropies. At a time of few economic opportunities elsewhere, they claimed their own homesteads and graduated from new, free coeducational colleges that provided career alternatives to marriage. In 1869, the men of the Wyoming Territory gave women the right to vote--partly to persuade more of them to move west--but with this victory in hand, western suffragists fought relentlessly until the rest of the region followed suit. By 1914 most western women could vote--a right still denied to women in every eastern state. In New Women in the Old West, Winifred Gallagher brings to life the riveting history of the little-known women--the White, Black, and Asian settlers, and the Native Americans and Hispanics they displaced--who played monumental roles in one of America's most transformative periods. Like western history in general, the record of women's crucial place at the intersection of settlement and suffrage has long been overlooked. Drawing on an extraordinary collection of research, Gallagher weaves together the striking legacy of the persistent individuals who not only created homes on weather-wracked prairies and built communities in muddy mining camps, but also played a vital, unrecognized role in the women's rights movement and forever redefined the "American woman."
|Author||: David M. Henkin|
|Editor||: University of Chicago Press|
Americans commonly recognize television, e-mail, and instant messaging as agents of pervasive cultural change. But many of us may not realize that what we now call snail mail was once just as revolutionary. As David M. Henkin argues in The Postal Age, a burgeoning postal network initiated major cultural shifts during the nineteenth century, laying the foundation for the interconnectedness that now defines our ever-evolving world of telecommunications. This fascinating history traces these shifts from their beginnings in the mid-1800s, when cheaper postage, mass literacy, and migration combined to make the long-established postal service a more integral and viable part of everyday life. With such dramatic events as the Civil War and the gold rush underscoring the importance and necessity of the post, a surprisingly broad range of Americans—male and female, black and white, native-born and immigrant—joined this postal network, regularly interacting with distant locales before the existence of telephones or even the widespread use of telegraphy. Drawing on original letters and diaries from the period, as well as public discussions of the expanding postal system, Henkin tells the story of how these Americans adjusted to a new world of long-distance correspondence, crowded post offices, junk mail, valentines, and dead letters. The Postal Age paints a vibrant picture of a society where possibilities proliferated for the kinds of personal and impersonal communications that we often associate with more recent historical periods. In doing so, it significantly increases our understanding of both antebellum America and our own chapter in the history of communications.
|Author||: K. Amy Phillips,Steven R. Bolduc,Kevin Carvell|
"Save our post office!" This was the plea when the USPS determined to restructure or close post offices across the United States, including 76 locations in North Dakota. In response, authors Amy Phillips and Steven Bolduc set out to explore the contemporary role of post offices in North Dakota and document an essential institution. Includes a history of northern Dakota Territory and North Dakota rural postal services by Kevin Carvell and 100+ color photos by Wayne Gudmundson.
|Author||: Winifred Gallagher|
A revolutionary look at how what we pay attention to determines how we experience life Acclaimed behavioral science writer Winifred Gallagher's Rapt makes the radical argument that much of the quality of your life depends not on fame or fortune, beauty or brains, fate or coincidence, but on what you choose to pay attention to. Rapt introduces a diverse cast of characters, from researchers to artists to ranchers, to illustrate the art of living the interested life. As their stories show, by focusing on the most positive and productive elements of any situation, you can shape your inner experience and expand your world. By learning to focus, you can improve your concentration, broaden your inner horizons, and most important, feel what it means to be fully alive.
|Author||: Stephen Bown|
|Editor||: Doubleday Canada|
NATIONAL BESTSELLER A thrilling new telling of the story of modern Canada's origins. The story of the Hudson's Bay Company, dramatic and adventurous and complex, is the story of modern Canada's creation. And yet it hasn't been told in a book for over thirty years, and never in such depth and vivid detail as in Stephen R. Bown's exciting new telling. The Company started out small in 1670, trading practical manufactured goods for furs with the Indigenous inhabitants of inland subarctic Canada. Controlled by a handful of English aristocrats, it expanded into a powerful political force that ruled the lives of many thousands of people--from the lowlands south and west of Hudson Bay, to the tundra, the great plains, the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific northwest. It transformed the culture and economy of many Indigenous groups and ended up as the most important political and economic force in northern and western North America. When the Company was faced with competition from French traders in the 1780s, the result was a bloody corporate battle, the coming of Governor George Simpson--one of the greatest villains in Canadian history--and the Company assuming political control and ruthless dominance. By the time its monopoly was rescinded after two hundred years, the Hudson's Bay Company had reworked the entire northern North American world. Stephen R. Bown has a scholar's profound knowledge and understanding of the Company's history, but wears his learning lightly in a narrative as compelling, and rich in well-drawn characters, as a page-turning novel.
|Author||: Christopher W. Shaw|
Christopher Shaw, the book's author said, "Through preferential postage rates for nonprofits the Postal Service facilitates civic involvement and a healthy democracy." Nader also noted, "Postal employees are fairly remunerated in an increasingly low-wage, low benefit 'Wal-Mart' economy." According to Nader, "Post offices serve as the heart of community life in neighborhoods and towns nationwide and the presence of postal workers on community streets make them safer, as the many beneficiaries of their frequently heroic efforts attest." "The lack of citizen-consumers' involvement in the recently passed postal reform legislation has highlighted the need for a public dialogue about the future of our postal system. The book provides a starting point for that conversation," stated Nader.
|Author||: John F. Ross|
Hailed as the father of today's elite special forces, Robert Rogers was North America's first authentic celebrity. Biographer John F. Ross reconstructs the extraordinary achievements of this fearless and inspiring leader whose exploits in the New England wilderness read like those of an action hero and whose innovative principles of unconventional warfare are still used today. As a child, Rogers learned to survive in New England's dark and deadly forests, grasping that a new world required new forms of warfare. Rogers' Rangers earned a deadly fame among their most formidable French and Indian enemies for their ability to appear anywhere at any time, burst out of the forest with overwhelming force, and vanish just as quickly. The Rangers laid the groundwork for the colonial strategy later used in the War of Independence. Rogers later wrote two seminal books whose vision of a unified continent would influence Thomas Jefferson and inspire Lewis and Clark.--From publisher description.
|Author||: James Webb|
|Editor||: Random House|
More than 27 million Americans today can trace their lineage to the Scots, whose bloodline was stained by centuries of continuous warfare along the border between England and Scotland, and later in the bitter settlements of England's Ulster Plantation in Northern Ireland. When hundreds of thousands of Scots-Irish migrated to America in the eighteenth century, they brought with them not only long experience as rebels and outcasts but also unparalleled skills as frontiersmen and guerrilla fighters. Their cultural identity reflected acute individualism, dislike of aristocracy and a military tradition; and, over time, the Scots-Irish defined the attitudes and values of the military, of working-class America and even of the peculiarly populist form of American democracy itself. Born Fighting is the first book to chronicle the epic journey of this remarkable ethnic group and the profound but unrecognised role it has played in shaping the social, political and cultural landscape of America from its beginnings through to the present day.
|Author||: T. R. Fehrenbach|
Describes the culture and history of the Comanches, one of the most powerful Native American tribes, from their prehistoric beginnings through their gradual disintegration as an independent nation. Reprint. 10,000 first printing.
|Author||: Philip F. Rubio|
|Editor||: UNC Press Books|
For eight days in March 1970, over 200,000 postal workers staged an illegal "wildcat" strike--the largest in United States history--for better wages and working conditions. Picket lines started in New York and spread across the country like wildfire. Strikers defied court injunctions, threats of termination, and their own union leaders. In the negotiated aftermath, the U.S. Post Office became the U.S. Postal Service, and postal workers received full collective bargaining rights and wage increases, all the while continuing to fight for greater democracy within their unions. Using archives, periodicals, and oral histories, Philip Rubio shows how this strike, born of frustration and rising expectations and emerging as part of a larger 1960s-1970s global rank-and-file labor upsurge, transformed the post office and postal unions. It also led to fifty years of clashes between postal unions and management over wages, speedup, privatization, automation, and service. Rubio revives the 1970 strike story and connects it to today's postal financial crisis that threatens the future of a vital 245-year-old public communications institution and its labor unions.
|Author||: Mehrsa Baradaran|
|Editor||: Harvard University Press|
The United States has two separate banking systems today—one serving the well-to-do and another exploiting everyone else. How the Other Half Banks contributes to the growing conversation on American inequality by highlighting one of its prime causes: unequal credit. Mehrsa Baradaran examines how a significant portion of the population, deserted by banks, is forced to wander through a Wild West of payday lenders and check-cashing services to cover emergency expenses and pay for necessities—all thanks to deregulation that began in the 1970s and continues decades later. “Baradaran argues persuasively that the banking industry, fattened on public subsidies (including too-big-to-fail bailouts), owes low-income families a better deal...How the Other Half Banks is well researched and clearly written...The bankers who fully understand the system are heavily invested in it. Books like this are written for the rest of us.” —Nancy Folbre, New York Times Book Review “How the Other Half Banks tells an important story, one in which we have allowed the profit motives of banks to trump the public interest.” —Lisa J. Servon, American Prospect
|Author||: Sven Beckert|
"The epic story of the rise and fall of the empire of cotton, its centrality in the world economy, and its making and remaking of global capitalism. Sven Beckert's rich, fascinating book tells the story of how, in a remarkably brief period, European entrepreneurs and powerful statesmen recast the world's most significant manufacturing industry combining imperial expansion and slave labor with new machines and wage workers to change the world. Here is the story of how, beginning well before the advent of machine production in 1780, these men created a potent innovation (Beckert calls it war capitalism, capitalism based on unrestrained actions of private individuals; the domination of masters over slaves, of colonial capitalists over indigenous inhabitants), and crucially affected the disparate realms of cotton that had existed for millennia. We see how this thing called war capitalism shaped the rise of cotton, and then was used as a lever to transform the world. The empire of cotton was, from the beginning, a fulcrum of constant global struggle between slaves and planters, merchants and statesmen, farmers and merchants, workers and factory owners. In this as in so many other ways, Beckert makes clear how these forces ushered in the modern world. The result is a book as unsettling and disturbing as it is enlightening: a book that brilliantly weaves together the story of cotton with how the present global world came to exist"--Résumé de l'éditeur.
|Author||: Stephen Ferguson|
|Editor||: Merrion Press|
This is the first complete history of the Irish Post Office, an institution which has been at the heart of Irish life for over 300 years. It tells the story of how a small letter office grew into one of the greatest departments of State, influencing developments in areas of life which ranged from transport and communications to economics, technology and national identity. From the early days of postboys and packet ships to the introduction of the telegraph and telephone, the Post Office has played a vital role in communications, delivering mail to all parts of the island, maintaining precious links between Ireland and its emigrants, and representing, through the friendly face of a local postman or postmistress, an approachable facet of Government. Always a commercial enterprise as well as a public service, the Post Office has had to deal with the tensions that arise in that relationship and which today pose particularly serious challenges. At the heart of the book are the men and women whose fascinating stories and sympathetic characters have moulded the shape of the department and ensured its survival in the face of personal turmoil, rebellion and political intrigue. Drawing on much unpublished material, The Post Office in Ireland: An Illustrated History reveals an organisation that has been quietly influential in the development of Irish society and pays tribute to those who have faithfully served it. From letters and telegrams, to railways, radio and the GPO itself – this history of the Irish Post Office tells the story of our nation and its people in a unique and accessible way.