On The Tradition Of Mailing Letters

Timothy Jacobson at The New Criterion:

To write a letter or a postcard meant, relatively speaking, going slow. This was particularly so if one wrote by hand, but true too with a typewriter or word processor and printer. People have always liked to complain about the speed of the mail, but today the once-noble medium has been denigrated to the point of being deemed “snail mail.” Contracts to carry the mail once were prestigious and coveted things and underwrote our evolving national transportation system. The concept of a “post road” dates to colonial times. The Old Boston Post Road, which began as a forest trail in 1673 and eventually became part of US Route 1, is a common reference still in the vernacular of southern New England. Waterways, filling up with mail-carrying canal boats and paddlewheel steamers, were declared post roads in 1823. The Pony Express, though it operated only for eighteen months in 1860 and 1861, quickly entered the mythology of the Old West.

more here.