Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name





Postal service--History; Postal service--Southwest, Old


In every civilization of which any record has been preserved, there is known to have been some organized plan for maintaining communication by couriers who were either post runners or riders mounted. The relaying of these couriers was an obvious expedient for securing greater speed. The term post is derived from positus of the verb pono. The place where the relay was effected was marked by a "post." Hence post road, post office. The colonists brought to America no ideas of postal service from England. The General Post Office of Great Britain was no t established until 1657 and the service was not extensively developed until after the close of the seventeenth century. The colonists were separated by vast distances, and also by political and religious differences. There was scant desire for communication among them. For many years the only postal development took the form of crude arrangements for handling "Ship letters" and for sending and receiving official letters. In 1661 the Virginia assembly required that all letters, "Superscribed for the service of His Majesty or publique shall be immediately conveyed from plantation to plantation to the plan and person they are directed to, and a penalty of three hundred and fifty pounds of tobacco to each defaulter." This made every plantation a post office and forced every land owner to supply a mail courier at least as for as the next plantation.