Narrator: In 1775, the Second Continental Congress appointed Benjamin Franklin Postmaster General and gave him the power to appoint as many deputies as needed to insure a postal system that would bind together the fledgling nation.
Then, as now, the speed and security of transporting the mail was critical to the postal system.
By 1788, stagecoaches delivered mail to 75 post offices around the country.
With America's rapid expansion the postal system grew.
To keep the growing nation connected, the postal system subsidized increasingly speedy modes of transportation.
Trains were great for quickly getting mail between the big East Coast cities.
But without a transcontinental rail people had at least six-week wait while the steamships made their way to the West Coast.
Faster methods were required.
In 1858, the Butterfield Overland Mail Service ran stage coaches from Missouri and Arkansas to California in 21 days.
For 18 months, beginning on April 3rd 1860, privately-run Pony Express riders carried mail from misery to California in 10 days.
After the Civil War, railway post offices quickly became the backbone of American mail transportation.
Clerks aboard these train cars processed mail as trains sped from town to town, all across the country.
By the end of the 19th century the post office was hand delivering mail to every American's mailbox no matter where they lived, no matter what it took to get it there.
Always the first to harness innovations in transportation, the postal system experimented with the horseless wagon in the early 20th century, and then took to the air paving the way for commercial aviation in the US.
The postal system has come so far.
Riding the cutting edge of technology, the US Postal Service has delivered the United States into the future while never forgetting its past.
The preservation of US Postal History officially began in 1886 with the donation of a sheet of ten-cent Confederate postage stamps to the Smithsonian Institution.
What started as a humble assortment, eventually grew into an impressive collection numbering in the millions.
In 1993, the National Postal Museum found its own home here in the historic city post office building.
With its rare and expensive collection, the museum is a living legacy to the colorful, innovative history of the United States Postal Service.