September 7th Neither Rain Nor Snow Day

Today we celebrate those men and women who deliver our mail. They work hard and deserve some recognition for all they do. I remember the last hurricane we had, we had no electric, little water and no phone service but the mail was still delivered!

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The motto; :”Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”, is often attributed to the Pony Express.  It was not they that came up with it. It was not Benjamin Franklin who helped create the modern day postal service, and it was not the New York Post Office building opened in 1914 (On September 7th) with the motto inscribed on it’s foundation.

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It actually came from the Herodotus Histories about the couriers serving in 500 B.C. Persia. But the idea is basically the same. It seems that the postal service was very instrumental in the formation of the United States. The American postal service was one of the first functions the states put in the hands of the Federal Government, even before the Federal Government existed!

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The service was required to unite the differing states against England who had just enacted the Stamp Act. It’s actually all pretty interesting… and apparently very political since 1830. But I’ll let you catch up on that on your own.

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How to celebrate – Read about the postal service. Thank your mail person for all they do. Buy some stamps!

September 7th Neither Rain Nor Snow Day

Today is the day to honor your postal delivery person. You may get aggravated that they show up when they do, don’t bring the mail you want them to bring or that letters get lost but you have to admit, they do a pretty good over-all job.

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Their actual motto reads, “Neither snow nor rain not the heat nor gloom of night, stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” We can once again thank Benjamin Franklin for helping to create the modern day postal service. Of course, the first post office was in Philadelphia, where Franklin lived for so many years.ls

And of course there was the Pony Express, perhaps one of the most famous mail courier groups in American history. The basic message in the post office’s motto is taken from the Pony Express, “The mail must go through”.

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But did you know that the post office in America was private owned until 1914? It may, or may not, have been better before the government confused things (As they usually do). Those Pony Express riders, Ben Franklin and anyone else prior to 1914 delivered the mail for profit. Today the post offices losses money hand over fist, it is hard to understand how except that with email, the telephone and those still privately owned forms of mail delivery, have reduced the US Mail Service income.

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The first official government office opened in New York City, 1914. Today we celebrate the carriers more than the office itself, although you cannot have one without the other. Like them or not, you have to admire the job they do. They work very, very hard with long hours in all sorts of weather to bring you something you probably didn’t really need in the first place.

How to celebrate – Thank your postal carrier today. Use the post office as much as you can to support their work. Study the history of the US postal service.

 

April 3rd Pony Express Opened for Business

On April 3rd, 1860, the Pony Express opened for business delivering mail from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California.  William H. Russell, William Bradford Waddell and Alexander Majors added a governmental contract to their freight and Drayage business to deliver mail in 10 days or less, 1,800 miles in all.  Their route would take them through Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Nevada ending up at California before starting the return trip.

The company started with 120 riders, 184 stations and 400 horses.  Each rider would make a run of 75-100 miles, each horse 10 to 15 miles.  Riders were paid $25.00 a week, the horses got all the food and water they could eat and drink.  The biggest celebrity to work for the Pony Express was “Buffalo Bill” Cody.

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The fastest trip on record was the deliver of President Lincoln’s inaugural address which made the trip in 8 days.  $5.00 a half-ounce was charged for mail delivered.  Each rider carried 20 pounds of mail, a water sack, a Bible, a horn to tell of the riders approach and a revolver.

Each rider was forced to sign an oath for their pay, $25.00 a week was pretty good pay back then considering the average pay was between 43 cents and $1.00 a day in 1860.  Here is the oath, “I (name) do hereby swear, before the Great and Living God, that during my engagement, and while I am an employee of Russell, Majors and Waddell, I will, under no circumstances, use profane language, that I will drink no intoxicating liquors, that I will not quarrel or fight with any other employee of the firm, and that in every respect I will conduct myself honestly, be faithful to my duties, and so direct all my acts as to win the confidence of my employers, so help me God.”

We have to wonder how many of these rules were forgotten when a rider was on the plains, in the rain and being chased by Indians. They didn’t have long to deal with their oath though as the Pony Express went out of business in October of 1861 when the 1st transcontinental telegraph went into use.