Making Way

Steamship Mail in the 19th Century
Research Article
sketch of the California steamship
Steamship California of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, launched May 1848.

By Ellyse Stauffer

Steamship mail in the mid-19th century was a remarkable feat of American enterprise. Carrying newspapers, freight, intelligence and mail, these steamers supported the westward expansion of the United States and gave quick passage to pioneers and prospectors following the economic promise of the rich western territory.