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The Early History of the Colonial Post-Office   By:

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In Mary E. Woolley's The Early History of the Colonial Post-Office, the author delves deep into the intriguing origins of one of the most essential institutions of our modern world – the post office. With meticulous research and a captivating narrative style, Woolley paints a vivid picture of the earliest years of mail delivery in colonial America.

Drawing from a wide range of primary sources, Woolley offers a comprehensive account of the challenges faced by the colonial post office and the remarkable individuals who played key roles in its establishment. From the pioneering efforts of Benjamin Franklin to the struggles faced by postmasters in the face of limited resources and vast distances, Woolley skillfully weaves together a compelling story of determination and innovation.

One of the notable strengths of this book is the way in which Woolley contextualizes the colonial post office within the broader social, political, and economic landscape of the time. By examining the impact of events such as the French and Indian War, the Stamp Act, and the Revolutionary War, she effectively demonstrates how the evolution of the post office mirrored and influenced the development of colonial America.

Furthermore, Woolley's prose is both accessible and engaging, making this historical work a pleasure to read. Despite dealing with a subject matter that could potentially be dry, she injects a sense of narrative tension that keeps the reader engrossed throughout. In addition, her meticulous attention to detail ensures that even the most avid history buffs will find new and fascinating information within these pages.

However, one minor drawback of the book is the occasional repetition of certain facts and anecdotes. Though seemingly a result of Woolley's effort to provide a comprehensive account, this repetition may, at times, feel redundant to readers who have already absorbed the information. Nevertheless, this minor flaw does not overshadow the overall quality and substance of the work.

In conclusion, The Early History of the Colonial Post-Office is an invaluable resource for those interested in American history, the development of communication networks, and the foundational role of the post office in shaping the nation. Through her meticulous research and engaging storytelling, Mary E. Woolley demonstrates her expertise and passion for the subject. This book is a truly enlightening and enjoyable read for scholars and history enthusiasts alike.

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Transcriber's Note:

In the plain text versions of this book, superscripted letters are represented with curly brackets, as in W{m}. For detailed information about this transcription, please see the end of the text.

Papers from the Historical Seminary of Brown University

Edited by J. FRANKLIN JAMESON, Ph. D., Professor of History




Reprinted from the Publications of the Rhode Island Historical Society



A letter written in 1652, by Samuel Symonds of Ipswich, to John Winthrop, Jr., at Pequot, says: "I cannot say but its besides my intentions that I write not more frequently unto you; I can onely plead this for my excuse (soe farr as it will goe) ... and the uncertainty when and how to convey letters."[1]

[1] Mass. Historical Collections , 4th Series, Vol... Continue reading book >>

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