POSTAL INSPECTORS: THE SILENT SERVICE
An Exhibit at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum
 
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FROM SURVEYORS TO INSPECTORS





William Goddard, surveyor of the post
William Goddard, surveyor of the post

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Image:

William Goddard, surveyor of the post

In 1776 William Goddard became the first in the long line of postal inspectors. His duties included investigating prospective postal routes and ensuring that postmasters operated lawfully. His pass, signed by Postmaster General Benjamin Franklin, gave Goddard the authority to travel as necessary in his new position.

 

Postal Inspectors, originally known as surveyors, were responsible for ensuring that mail moved securely and swiftly. By 1830 the surveyors were placed under the Office of Instructions and Mail Depredations and were known as special agents. Special agents investigated a range of crimes against the mail, as well as post office robberies and employee assaults. In 1880 Congress established the position of chief postal inspector and the special agents became known as post office inspectors. To emphasize that the inspectors’ duties ranged beyond those related to post offices, they were named postal inspectors in 1954.

 
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