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Postal Evolution

Postal Evolution image
Parent Issue
Day
28
Month
August
Year
1896
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

It seems alinost incredible, in view of the wonderful labyrinth of postal routes all over the world today, that there ever could have been a time when there were no postoffices, no letter carrier, no rnail facilities at all. But, of course, there had to be some means of cornrnunicatiou even in the earliest ages, though these were confined for centuries to emperors and kings and other great rulers. The emperors of Egypt, of Persia, of Assyria and of Rome held many lesser kings and satraps as their vasr.als. With these it was necessary to coruninmcate with ccrtainty and regularity, and therefore couriers were einployed to carry dispatches and reports to and from the more distant provinces. Of course no one man or one horse could traverse the wholo route, so stations were established along the roads at certain intervals, whero couriers were always in readiness to relieve weary brothers, and carry on the dispatches with uniform speed. These stations were called "posts, " from the Latin word positum - fixed or placed - whenee comes the name of our modern postal system. In the Old Testament are frequent references to the posts. In II Chronicles you will find, "So the poses went with the letters," and "So the posts passed from city to city. " In.Esther also and in Job and Jeremiah you will find other allusions to the posts. But they were never for the use of the common people. The Roman Emperor Augustus was the first to establish a system of posts suggestive of the present system. You have heard the saying, "All roads lead toEome." This was the origin of it: From Eome as a center post roads were built, called "royal highways, " extending all over Europe. After the decline of the Roman empire these post roads were abandoned by degrees, and during the dark ages they almost entirely disappeared. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, however, their need began to be so strongly feit that posts between different parts of the same country were establisbed, and soon these were extended into other countries. These posts were carried first by foot runners and then a little later by men on horseback. It was not long, though, before the post privilege was extended, and it was found impossible for horseback riders to carry the increasing mail, so wheeled conveyances were provided, and the next step was for these conveyances to carry passengers as well as the mail. Ana thus trom me post was evoiveu the mail coach. What this meant to our hitherto shut in ancestors it is hard for ua of the present day to realize even faintly. But it is safe to say that the evolution of the public post and the mail coach did more than any other on e thing to hasten civilization. In the reign of the Emperor Frederick III, Prancis von Laxis, whose grandf ather is said to have established a postal service across the Tyrol and Styria, entered the service of the house of Hapsburg and became the founder of the modern postal system. Through Von Laxis the emperor established regular josts throughout his kingdom between he years 1440 and 1493, and at the beginning of the sisteenth century the Austrian post became the international Dost of the Hapsburg dynasty. In France the University of Paris organized a postal service in the thirteenth century which flourished until 1719. In some parts of Europe there were brotherïoods and mercantile guilds which established posts and postoffices subject to the government. In England, in 1653, Rowlaud Hill started a private post, but Cromwell's heavy hand came down on the enter - prise, and the men who carried the letters were trampled down and killed -by his soldiers. Later on Mr. Hill came to the front again, instituted many reforms in the service, and at last gave to England a real andeffective postal service. Louis XI of France f ounded a postal system in 14G4, wbich was greatly improved by Charles IX in 1565. But it was not alone the Christian nations that feit the need of a postal service. When the Spaniards invaded South America, they found a regular system of posts in operatiou, so that the newsof tfaeir landiugvvas carried to the inca with incredible swif tness, the postraen being runners, who carried around theirwaists knotted cords, a code of signáis or sign writiug. Coaaing dowu to our own countrj', suppose we take a peep at the mail methods in vogue in its earlier days. Let us take as a type the postal service between Boston and New York, where, in 1762, a post was established "to goe inonthly. ' ' Post riders, starting at the same hour from each end of the route, carried the mails. Leaving on Monday morning, they met and exchanged bags at Saybrook, Conn., on the following Saturday. Then each man returned to his starting point, which, of course, took nearly another week. It was Benjamin Frauklin that, in 1775, suggested the plan for a postal iervice on which our present system is founded. In the early days of this system rates were charged that seem outrageous to us of the present day - between Boston and New York, 18% cents, and 25 cents for points beyond. Of course this led to swindling the government and the stnusgling of letters. Private parties carried mail secretly at lower rates, and in 1839 Harnden's express entered the field, carrying letters concealed in bundies and other packages at less than legal rates. But as soon as the government low,;red its charges all these smugglers dropped out of the race. There was no snoney iu it then. -

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Subjects
Ann Arbor Argus
Old News