5 Things You Didn't Know About The Postal Service

On February 20, 1792, President George Washington signed an act creating the U.S. Post Office. Here are five interesting facts you may not know about the U.S. Postal Service...

ADVERTISEMENT

Ben Franklin Wasn't the Only "Celebrity" Postmaster While Benjamin Franklin was the first Postmaster General in the United States, there have been several other big-names that have also served in the United States Postal Service. President Abraham Lincoln was himself a postmaster in his home state of Illinois. And according to the Postal Service's website, other famous former employees include Bing Crosby, William Faulkner, Walt Disney, Charles Lindbergh, and Adlai Stevenson. That's quite the dream team of mail delivery folks!

Mailboxes Turned Blue in 1971 People who have been around since before 1971 probably recall that mailboxes weren’t always blue. Collection boxes for the U.S. mail were green or red originally. Most were painted a uniform dark green around 1909 with the idea that the color would not be confused with fire or emergency equipment. The boxes changed to a drab olive green following World War I because the paint had been donated to the U.S. Postal Service by the U.S. Army. Later collection boxes were painted a patriotic, red, white and blue starting in 1955.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Postmaster General Used to be in The Line of Succession to The Presidency President Jackson decided that the Postmaster General should sit in the Cabinet, thereby putting the office on the same level as the Secretaries of War, Treasury, and State—and putting the PG in contention to be the Commander in Chief. Although, the Postmaster General was last in line, it still put him or her a heartbeat, or dozen, away. The Postmaster General was finally removed from the Cabinet and from succession in 1971.

Mail Delivery Is by Mule Still Exists in One Location The creed of the U.S. Postal Service is “"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." This is especially true for the residents of Supai, Arizona, who have their mail delivered by mule.  Supai lies at the Grand Canyon’s bottom, where members of the Havasupai tribe receive their mail. The route is an eight-mile trip taken by mules and horses.

Recipients—Not Senders—Had to Pay For Postage Until the mid-19th century, recipients—not the senders—usually had to pay for postage on the letters they received. As a result, people tended to refuse so many letters in order to escape paying for them, which caused the post office to spend an inordinate amount of time returning mail to senders. Postage stamps—which were prepaid—were introduced in America in 1847 and eliminated this problem.