George Washington envisioned a nation bound together by a system of post roads and post offices. Starting the System documents America's increasing need for a mail system to ensure the free flow of information between citizens and their government.
Starting the System
William Goddard (1740-1817) was one of several publishers who used private carriers to get their news past the prying eyes of the Crown post. Goddard experienced the abuse of authority by British firsthand in Philadelphia after forming a partnership with Benjamin Franklin to publish the Pennsylvania Chronicle—a paper sympathetic to the revolutionary cause. The local Crown postmaster failed to deliver out-of-town newspapers to him, depriving Goddard of a critical source of information. The Chronicle was subsequently driven out of business when the Crown post refused to accept it in the mails. Goddard retaliated by designing a distinctly American postal system to challenge the Crown post founded upon the constitutional principles of open communication, freedom from governmental interference, and the guaranteed free exchange of ideas.
Goddard presented his plan to Congress on October 5, 1774—nearly two years before the formal declaration of independence from England. Congress tabled Goddard's plan until after the battles of Lexington and Concord in the Spring of 1775. On July 26, 1775 the plan, now known as the "Constitutional Post" was adopted and implemented, ensuring communication between patriots and keeping the general populace informed of events during the American Revolution. Goddard also achieved a measure of personal revenge as the revolutionary post forced the Crown post out of business in America on Christmas day, 1775 and becoming the foundation of the United States' postal system.