A Burgeoning Service

Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
–Adapted from Herodotus

Farmer reading Progressive Farmer
RFD service gave rural Americans access to news and information from across the country.

As true as this saying described the ancient messengers of Herodotus’ time, the same truth resonated with the mail carriers of the Rural Free Delivery (RFD) service. First experimented with under President Grover Cleveland in 1896, RFD enabled an important line of communication for the rural families of America. Rather than having to make long, tedious trips to the nearest town to pick up mail, families could receive their mail at home—the same luxury that urban-dwellers possessed. Initially, Congress thought it impractical to try investing in mail delivery to the backwoods of America. These families often isolated and hard to reach, and located where both terrain and inclement weather challenged mail delivery. However, the significance of connecting the rural America to the bustling cities outweighed any doubts, and with six years of experimenting with mail routes and delivery, the United States was ready to bring RFD to fruition, potentially “bind[ing] the nation, West to East, and South to North, in one perpetual union.”(1)

Family stading in front of home with mailbox
Rural Free Delivery became critical to keeping rural Americans feeling connected to the rest of the country.

1) Fuller, Wayne E. RFD: The Changing Face of Rural America. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1964