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This is the only government agency that is explicitly authorized by the United States Constitution. Commonly referred to as the “Post Office”, “U.S. Mail”, or “Postal Service”, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is the one responsible for providing postal service for the whole country. Known as an independent agency in the United States, the USPS was established in 1775 by decree of the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. Part of the United States Cabinet the Post Office Department was created in 1972 courtesy of Benjamin Franklin. The office was transformed into its present form in 1983 which is under the Postal Reorganization Act. Postal services were already in existent way before the establishment of the United States government.
The history of the postal service in the United States can be trace back to King William and Queen Mary when they granted Thomas Neale to establish as suitable office to receive and send mail in all parts of their plantations in America for any amount that the plantation workers would agree to pay. This was agreed upon for the term of 21 years. Then after the war of the Americans and the British Empire, the new post office was founded in Philadelphia under Benjamin Franklin with the name of United States Post Office. This was by decree of the Second Continental Congress on July of 1775 which later on became the United States Post Office Department on the year of 1792. The law empowers the Congress to establish post offices and post roads. The USPOD was also part of the Presidential cabinet and was the last person for the US Presidential line of successors.
The post office had reorganization in the year 1971 as a quasi-independent corporation of the US government. In the same year they also changed the name from United States Post Office Department to United States Postal Services. And because of the reorganization the Postmaster General, which is the head of the post office, is not anymore part of the presidential successors.
Because of the help of President Andrew Jackson, the USPS expanded its business but this also entailed some difficulties that the USPS had to experience. Among these difficulties is the lack of manpower and transportation vehicles for the delivery of mails. And most of the employees were by appointment as a reward for their patronage, these employees never even had any experience in delivering mails which made the post office even more inadequate in their services. But then this changed when the Pendleton Act was passed, this is a Civil Service Reform Act that prohibits appointing inadequate individuals in government offices.
And due to the lack of post roads during those times, they had to deliver mail using steamboats which takes a long time to wait for the mail. Then it dawned on them to extend the postal services to the whole country which made them establish a railroad transport for mails on the year 1832 starting on one line in Pennsylvania to see how it goes. Then it was declared that all railroad in the United States will be appointed as post roads.
The Postal Service of today
The main office of the USPS is in Washington D.C. The USPS delivers mail to all parts of the United States, employing more than half a million workers and using more than 200,000 vehicles for each delivery. With all this manpower it is considered as the second for the largest civilian nongovernment employer with Wal-Mart as the first in the business. It is also the largest nongovernment fleet of vehicles in the whole world. Regardless of the location, the USPS is obligated to give uniform price and to render equal service to all Americans. Nowadays there are many postal services that rival the USPS but the USPS is the only postal service that has exclusive access to letter boxes with the mark U.S. Mail. It also operates on 32,741 post offices that delivers as much as 600 million mails in 142 million different locations for delivery.
Being the largest nongovernment vehicle fleet in the world, the USPS uses the Chevrolet/Grumman Long-Life Vehicle (LLv) and the newer vehicle the Ford/Utilitimaster Flex-Fuel Vehicle (FFV), when people see these kinds of vehicles the first thing that comes to mind is the mailman is coming. The vehicles used by the post office has their own seven digit numbers to identify each vehicle but they do not have a license plate number.
But after the big reorganization of the postal services, it has become an independent from the US government which means that they are not receiving money from the taxpayers to sustain their office since the early 1980s. The only money for the post office taken from the taxes was for the cost subsidies for the disabled and overseas voters but now it is borrowing money from the US treasury for the payment of all their deficits. With the increase of the use of the Internet and emails, the First Class mail volume declined from the year 1998 to 2007 by 22%. Because of the popularity and convenience of using the internet, most people are now using emails instead of sending a snail mail which would sometimes get lost in the postal service.
Mail volumes and advertising was also affected when there was a general economic slowdown last 2008. If they continue to get low volumes then it would be hard for the post office to fuel their daily services. This problem has prompted the USPS to think of other ways and means to increase revenue and have cost cutting implementations to have a financial stabilization in the organization. The post office started to increase their productivity each year starting on the year 2000 up to 2007 by increasing their automation, consolidating their facilities and re-optimizing the delivery routes. They also made use of the popularity of the Internet by making a domain and by 2008 has attracted at least 159 million site visits based on a survey conducted by Compete.com.
They also opened up a joint operation with the Department of Defense to set up a postal service for the military called as the Army Post Office intended for the Army and Air Force. And for the Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps, they have made the Fleet Post Office.
The History of Stamps
A mail would be nothing without a stamp. So that leads me to the question, what is the origin of the stamp and what led to the idea of using stamp? The use of primitive message system has been around as man has been in existence. The use of messengers are widely practiced during the olden times, pigeons that carried notes and the use of smoke signals for Indians are just a few ways to communicate. But all these messages we carried out without the use of stamps or without going to the post office. The early practice of sending a letter is without the use of envelope. People believed that using an envelope will cost more to send so what they did is seal the letter without using the envelope and the let the person who received the letter pay for the delivery cost. Since delivery rates are very high at that time, many people refused to accept letters. Because of these many people developed a secret code in which they would write a secret message outside of the letter so they don’t have to accept and pay for it. For this reason, postal services turned to a means of prepaid postage.
The first recorded stamp can be traced back to May 6, 1840 when the Brits first issued their first stamp. This stamp is called the “Penny Black”, the world’s most popular stamp. So how it all started? In 1837, the “Post Office Reforms” were introduced by a British Postmaster General Sir Rowland Hill. This post office reform was launched anywhere in the British Isles using the same rate and following a new rule. It means that postage was to be paid by a sender, and not the addressee. The receipt of that payment is in form of a small piece of colored paper placed outside of the letters – thus the birth of the STAMP! After a huge debate about the use of the stamp it was enacted and instituted in 1840. Sir Rowland was the man behind the design of the first stamp, and since it was printed in black the 1 cent stamp was popularly known as the Penny Black. Since it was the first time to use the stamps, the first stamps had to be cut apart from the sheets of stamps and the first perforated stamps appeared in 1854 in Great Britain which was followed by the United States in 1857.
The popularity of stamps and this new system of sending mails become a worldwide phenomenon. Collecting the fee in advance seems to be the best option to get the mails on time, and in 1857 the United States Post Office printed its first stamp. For a 5-cent a piece, the US stamp was a picture of Benjamin Franklin and for a 10-cent a piece was a picture of George Washington. The collection of stamps became the newest trend and collectors around the globe were born which was later called the philatelists. Philatelist was taken from the Greek word “phileo” which means “I Love” and “ateleia”, meaning “free of charges”. Philatelist refers to the collection and study of postage stamps and since then the value of stamp became high as it goes older.
Types of USPS Stamps
Stamps are still the most versatile and convenient method of postage and in USPS there are several types of stamps that you can use. Here are the different types of stamps and the ways you can use them.
- First-Class Mail Stamps – These type of stamps are the used for everyday needs, like personal letters, bills, and other types of mails. This stamp offers the fastest and the most efficient service of first-class mail.
- Postcard Stamps – If you want the quickest and the easiest way to get your postcards in the mail then this stamp is the best stamp to use. By getting the right amount of postage you can be sure that your postcard will arrive on time.
- International Stamps – Mailing overseas is easy when you have the international stamps. Now you can send your mails with ease and confidence that it will arrive on time.
- Precancelled Stamp – Bulk mails? No problem! Now you can use precancelled stamps for Presorted Standard, Presorted First-Class and Nonprofit Standard Mail. But before using this kind of stamp you have to apply for a .precancelled stamp permit. This permit has no application fee and after signing up you will receive your permit number and receipt, then you can purchase and start using the precancelled stamps.
- Priority Mail Stamps – If you want a fast and affordable postage then using a priority stamp is the only way to do it. This stamp offers a great value to get your mail to its destination in just 2-3 days. With less than an overnight service, by using priority mail stamps you can take advantage a convenient flat rate for packages under one pound.
- Express Mail Stamps – Getting your mail to various destination overnight is now possible with Express mail stamp. By using this stamp for postage you can now enjoy the flat rate for express mail stamp.
- Penalty Mail Stamps – This is a type of official mail exclusively used by federal government for official business. Known as the official mail, the penalty mail stamp is authorized by federal law to be transmitted with no prepayment of postage.
- Nondenominated Postage Stamps – This kind of stamp adds variety to your mailings. This is the only stamp that does not show its price and comes with many values and styles to suit your postal needs. It can be used alone or in combination with other stamps.
- Customized Postage – Now you can unleash your creativity and style by customizing your own stamp. You can use own picture or your design to personalize your mail. You can check online on how you can design your stamp.