How The Post Office Created America

Author: Winifred Gallagher
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 0399564039
Size: 76.82 MB
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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. From the Hardcover edition.

How The Post Office Created America

Author: Winifred Gallagher
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 0143130064
Size: 23.53 MB
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The Post Office, Winifred Gallagher argues, has been not just a witness to, but a foundational influence on, much of the history of the USA, particularly for women and African-Americans who participated in the nation's formation via the Post Office in pivotal ways. How the Post Office Created America tells this story, tracing the role of a unique institution and its leaders. Taking in all the major events in American history, from the Declaration of Independence to the Civil War to the advent of the Internet, Gallagher tells a vitally important story.

Neither Snow Nor Rain

Author: Devin Leonard
Publisher: Open Road + Grove/Atlantic
ISBN: 0802189970
Size: 44.12 MB
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The United States Postal Service is a wondrous American creation. Seven days a week, its army of 300,000 letter carriers delivers 513 million pieces of mail, forty percent of the world’s volume. It is far more efficient than any other mail service—more than twice as efficient as the Japanese and easily outpacing the Germans and British. And the USPS has a storied history. Founded by Benjamin Franklin, it was the information network that bound far-flung Americans together, fostered a common culture, and helped American business to prosper. A first class stamp remains one of the greatest bargains of all time, and yet, the USPS 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 air mail 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. An exciting and engrossing read, Neither Snow Nor Rain is the first major history of the USPS in over fifty years.

Spreading The News

Author: Richard R. JOHN
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 0674039149
Size: 22.52 MB
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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

Wall To Wall America

Author: Karal Ann Marling
Publisher: U of Minnesota Press
ISBN: 9780816636730
Size: 13.67 MB
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The Postal Age

Author: David M. Henkin
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226327221
Size: 55.95 MB
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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.

A People S History Of The United States

Author: Howard Zinn
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1317325303
Size: 18.74 MB
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This is a new edition of the radical social history of America from Columbus to the present. This powerful and controversial study turns orthodox American history upside down to portray the social turmoil behind the "march of progress". Known for its lively, clear prose as well as its scholarly research, A People's History is the only volume to tell America's story from the point of view of - and in the words of - America's women, factory workers, African-Americans, Native Americans, the working poor, and immigrant laborers. As historian Howard Zinn shows, many of America's greatest battles - the fights for fair wage, an eight-hour workday, child-labor laws, health and safety standards, universal suffrage, women's rights, racial equality - were carried out at the grassroots level, against bloody resistance. Covering Christopher Columbus's arrival through the Clinton years A People's History of the United States, which was nominated for the American Book Award in 1981, is an insightful analysis of the most important events in US history.

New

Author: Winifred Gallagher
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 1101559349
Size: 60.61 MB
Format: PDF
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Why are we attuned to the latest headline, diet craze, smartphone, fashion statement? Why do we relish a change of scene, eye attractive strangers, develop new interests? How did Homo sapiens survive near-extinction during an environmental crisis 80,000 years ago, while close cousins very like us have died out? Why is your characteristic reaction to novelty and change the key to your whole personality? Why do we enjoy inexpensive pleasures, like fresh flowers or great chocolate, more than costly comforts, like cars or appliances? How can a species genetically geared to engage with novelty cope in a world that increasingly bombards us with it? Follow a crawling baby around and you’ll see that right from the beginning, nothing excites us more than something new and different. Our unique human brains are biologically primed to engage with and even generate novelty, from our ancestors’ first bow and arrow to the latest tablet computer. This “neophilia” has enabled us to thrive in a world of cataclysmic change, but now, we confront an unprecedented deluge of new things, from products to information, which has quadrupled in the past 30 years and shows no sign of slowing. To prevent our great strength from becoming a weakness in today’s fast-paced world, we must re-connect with neophilia’s grand evolutionary purpose: to help us learn, create, and adapt to new things that have real value and dismiss the rest as distractions. In New: Understanding Our Need for Novelty and Change, Winifred Gallagher, acclaimed behavioral science writer and author of Rapt, takes us to the cutting-edge laboratories and ancient archeological sites where scientists explore our special affinity for novelty and change. Although no other species can rival our capacity to explore and experiment with the new, we individuals vary in how we balance the conflicting needs to avoid risk and approach rewards. Most of us are moderate “neophiles,” but some 15 per cent of us are die-hard “neophiliacs,” who have an innate passion for new experiences, and another 15 per cent are cautious “neophobes,” who try to steer clear of them—a 1-5-1 ratio that benefits the group’s well-being. Wherever you sit on the continuum, New shows you how to use this special human gift to navigate more skillfully through our rapidly changing world by focusing on the new things that really matter.

The Prairie Post Office

Author: K. Amy Phillips
Publisher:
ISBN: 9780911042924
Size: 41.17 MB
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"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.

The Caliph S House

Author: Tahir Shah
Publisher: Bantam
ISBN: 0553902318
Size: 68.75 MB
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In the tradition of A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun, acclaimed English travel writer Tahir Shah shares a highly entertaining account of making an exotic dream come true. By turns hilarious and harrowing, here is the story of his family’s move from the gray skies of London to the sun-drenched city of Casablanca, where Islamic tradition and African folklore converge–and nothing is as easy as it seems…. Inspired by the Moroccan vacations of his childhood, Tahir Shah dreamed of making a home in that astonishing country. At age thirty-six he got his chance. Investing what money he and his wife, Rachana, had, Tahir packed up his growing family and bought Dar Khalifa, a crumbling ruin of a mansion by the sea in Casablanca that once belonged to the city’s caliph, or spiritual leader. With its lush grounds, cool, secluded courtyards, and relaxed pace, life at Dar Khalifa seems sure to fulfill Tahir’s fantasy–until he discovers that in many ways he is farther from home than he imagined. For in Morocco an empty house is thought to attract jinns, invisible spirits unique to the Islamic world. The ardent belief in their presence greatly hampers sleep and renovation plans, but that is just the beginning. From elaborate exorcism rituals involving sacrificial goats to dealing with gangster neighbors intent on stealing their property, the Shahs must cope with a new culture and all that comes with it. Endlessly enthralling, The Caliph’s House charts a year in the life of one family who takes a tremendous gamble. As we follow Tahir on his travels throughout the kingdom, from Tangier to Marrakech to the Sahara, we discover a world of fierce contrasts that any true adventurer would be thrilled to call home. From the Hardcover edition.