When Alexis de Tocqueville toured America in the early 1830's to gather observations that he would later put on the pages of Democracy in America, he was impressed with the efficiency of our American Postal Service.
Distrustful of the growing centralized government in his home country of France, de Tocqueville was stunned by the "astonishing circulation of letters and newspapers among these savage woods" and surprised that Americans didn't censor our news.
In 1831, America had five times the post offices as France and twice as many as the U.K. Both nations were much bigger and more powerful than the fledgling America at that time, yet we were the world’s first superpower in communications - possibly not an accident that the Internet was born here.
The U.S. Postal Service was one of our earliest experiments in democracy. The vast transportation networks that led to more than 30,000 post offices remain at the heart of many communities and still reach into the most remote parts of our country. Did I mention the mule train that takes you to the post office in Supai, Arizona that sits at the bottom of a canyon?
Today, the past, present and future of the post office.
This show is the 17th show in our Radio for the Deaf series. Watch a simulcast of signers from Source Interpreting interpreting our radio broadcast in American Sign Language on Facebook Live.
- Winifred Gallagher - Author of several books including How the Post Office Created America: A History. She has contributed to numerous publications including The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times.
- Evan Kalish - Self-proclaimed postal tourist and creator of Postlandia: a Photo Journal of Post Offices and Places. He manages the world’s largest curated collection of post office building photographs and has visited over 8,000 post offices.
- Amanda Martinez - Market Research Analyst at United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General Risk Analysis Research Center
Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show, which originally aired on December 14, 2017.