1792: An Early and Key Turning Point for the United States’ Transportation Network

February 20, 1792

President George Washington signed into law the Postal Service Act of 1792. This measure would have far-reaching implications not only for the new country’s mail-delivery services but also its transportation network. The Postal Service Act of 1792, in addition to merely giving the General Post Office a two-year extension (a law passed in 1794 would at last put that agency on a much more permanent footing), ushered in a period of dynamic growth for the nation’s postal service and the roads it used through two key provisions. 

The first of these provisions authorized that era’s most popular source of information — newspapers — as a regular mail-delivery item at low rates to facilitate the exchange of information about national affairs. The other provision involved spelling out Congress’s constitutionally mandated role to create post roads and setting forth specific procedures to enlarge the scope of these routes well beyond their existing framework. American citizens were subsequently encouraged to submit official requests for new routes to Congress. 

The growth in post roads was significant, with the overall length for these routes expanding from approximately 5,600 miles (9,012.3 kilometers) to 114,000 miles (183,465.2 kilometers) between 1792 and 1828. Through those post roads and the information they carried, more Americans than ever before were in regular contact with each other and what was happening across the country. 

Image Credit: Public Domain

For more information on the Postal Service Act of 1792, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postal_Service_Act

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