The Birth of Parcel Post and Air Mail

Thanks to the improvement of the mail delivery system to rural areas, Americans began to enjoy more conveniences, demanding for a means to deliver small packages of medications, food, dry goods, tobacco and other items that were not readily available to them. The implementation of a parcel post service was strongly opposed by merchants and express companies but rural residents comprised more than half of the population and were a potentially large market.

The Parcel Post
Parcel post was established in 1912 and began operating in 1913. This was after the issue underwent a series of debates in Congress and stockholders of an express company were paid out of a sizable dividend. When parcel became law, people across America used the service to mail thousands of items during its first week. It was a welcome jolt to the economy and gave birth to the mail-order industry. The product catalogs from Montgomery Ward and Sears, Roebuck and Co. became one of the most coveted items in the mail.

Banking on the postal service
Congress signed an Act in 1919 to establish a savings system using the nation's post offices. The system offered 2% interest p.a. for deposits starting at $1 up to $2,500. By 1929, Americans had deposited over $150 million on the Postal Savings System. By the end of the war, the amount had reached the billion-dollar mark. Deposits only decreased when banks began offering higher interest rates and insurance, along with high-interest savings products. The savings system ended its run in July 1967.

The US government didn't truly appreciate the potential of the airplane initially. Once again, it was the Post Office Department who would consider this new mode of transportation as an important tool for carrying mail. After the success of many experimental flights, Congress finally offered support to initiate a system involving planes for mail delivery. Radio stations were built on flying fields to help alert pilots about the weather, paving the way for the widespread use of radio communication in lieu of telegraphs. In 1921, night and day flights began to be scheduled for the San Franciso-New York route. In 1926, the first flight by a commercial airmail plane occurred and commercial airlines began to take over. As mail took to the skies, it also brought with it great innovations in technology and service, improving the lives of many Americans.

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