A surprising number of important historical, political, and cultural figures have contributed to the success of the USPS. Some of course are more surprising than others, but each carried a vision of distributing information precisely. Without their help and without the help of countless other unsung postal workers, direct mail would not be the trusted institution as we know it today. In this post, we profile some surprising and not-so-surprising figures who have helped create the postal service system that we rely on today.
Immortalized as a Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin also helped shape the USPS as we know it today. Before serving as the United States’ Postmaster General from 1775-76, Franklin acted (PDF) as Postmaster of Philadelphia from 1737-1753 and Joint Postmaster General from 1753-74, building the infrastructure for mail delivery that would be built upon over the following two centuries.
The president who abolished slavery and reassembled the Union after the Civil War found his governmental start in the post office. From 1833-36, he carried out the position of Postmaster in New Salem, Illinois. Interestingly, and true to his character, Lincoln would go the extra mile to hand-deliver the mail himself if an addressee did not receive their mail.
The Mississippi-born novelist has for the past half-century been considered deeply and firmly part of the American canon. But before his literary celebrity, he was a postmaster at the University of Mississippi. Typifying the contrarian voice found in many of his characters, his resignation letter enjoys a legacy of its own today.
In Littleton, Massachusetts in 1985, a young Steve Carell served the USPS as a rural letter carrier. Before his major successes in shows like The Office and films like The Forty-Year-Old Virgin, Carell worked for four months as a mail carrier. In recent years, he has since claimed that the job was the hardest he’d ever worked.
As the lead singer and guitarist for the band the Alabama Shakes, Brittany Howard has received a Grammy for Best Alternative Album in 2016. Before she experienced this massive success in her musical career, she delivered the mail in Athens, Alabama. Speaking to the Rolling Stone, she stated that she has “so much respect for mail carriers.”
While the cultural and historical figures featured in this article have clearly left their mark on the fabric of our society, each of them got their start in the post office. Postal workers may not experience the same levels of success, but each of them contribute to successfully circulating our mail pieces. United Mail honors post office employees across the board because of their integral role in the direct mail marketing life cycle.
By: Michael Phillips