Even when the national postal system served only a mere sliver of land of colonial settlements along the east coast, the key to ensuring the continued success of the system was finding the best and fastest transportation method available. A vehicle is essential to mail transportation, and it is also part of a larger mail processing and delivery system. Steamboats, for instance, might carry large amounts of mail, but that factor is of little use if the navigable rivers and waterways bypass too many towns or if steamboat captains routinely carried mail out of the postal system, absconding with both postal contract funds and private carrying fees. And for all of the public recognition of the 1860-1861 Pony Express service, riders could carry only a few letters at a time.
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