Development Of Communication

Development Of Communication

Communication has been central to the development of the American economy since the past. It has made businesses more easy to transact, and managing resources to be cheaper. Moreover, the world has become a global village since the establishment of the communication. People can access their associates from whichever point in the world without necessarily traveling to those parts.

However, with the changes being experienced in technology, most of the earliest communication systems which laid the foundation for the future growth of the communication sector have diminished and faded into oblivion. This essay seeks to analyze such communication systems. Its goal is to trace the development of the earliest forms of communication including the pony express, postal system and the telegraph during the late eighteenth and mid nineteenth century. Furthermore, it will examine how the postal system worked, how many mails were sent out and how technology affected the system during that particular period. Specifically, it will use the works of Richard John and Glenn Bradley in analyzing its concepts. Hopefully, it will refresh our memories on some of the most important dates in communication development.


TOC o “1-3” h z u Development of communication in the late eighteenth to early nineteenth century PAGEREF _Toc377110049 h 2How did the postal system work? PAGEREF _Toc377110050 h 3How much mails went out and what were the costs? PAGEREF _Toc377110051 h 3How did technology affect the Postal System? PAGEREF _Toc377110052 h 3Bibliography of Primary Sources PAGEREF _Toc377110053 h 4

Richard John, author of the book ‘Spreading the News’ has decried the public’s failure to appreciate these early forms of communication especially the postal system. He feels that these forms and their study have been neglected of late because people tend to associate them with the old politics and ways of life. Glen Bradley on the other hand, in his book ‘The Story of the Pony Express’, believes these early forms of communication have been integral to the American economy for decades since their establishment. Therefore, they should be conserved or even furnished with new technology to keep up with the current generation.

Development of communication in the late eighteenth to early nineteenth centuryThis period witnessed the development of the postal system, telegraph and the telephone. The postal system for instance was created in the year seventeen seventy five under the watchful eye of the then postmaster general. Benjamin Franklin. However, it is the Postal Office Act of seventeen seventy two that Richard John believes was the building block of the postal system impact of the on the lives of many citizens of America. This act authorized newspaper spread via mails, established a base for the spread of the system throughout the whole of America and provided security for the mail users. The pony express on the other hand, came into being during the post gold discovery era in California in the eighteen sixties. It was meant to serve the increasingly growing population in the states of California, Oregon, Nevada and Utah. The people involved in its establishment were the likes of William Waddell, Alexander Majors and Russell Williams. Pony express was the earliest quick transit and mail line from the Coast of the Pacific to River Missouri. In this system, messages were carried by people riding on horse backs across the jungles and even deserts. However, it lasted for only sixteen months as the invention of the telegraph ran it out of business. The non electric telegraph was invented in seventeen ninety two by Claude Chappe however, with the invention of electricity many telegraphs came into being such as the ones made by Samuel Soemmering in eighteen hundred and William Sturgeon in eighteen twenty five.

How did the postal system work?During the early nineteenth century, the Post Office department used stagecoaches to ferry mails and commuters along the post roads to their eventual destinations. In towns linked by rivers, steam boats were used to transport the mails. Especially, in eighteen twenty three waterways became more dominant mail transport routes because they were relatively safer and less prone to accidents. Ships sailing from New York, transported mails all the way to Panama. From there, they were moved through the isthmus into San Francisco. This process was supposed to take up to four hours. Alternatively, horses over short distance while overland mail delivery was effected between San Francisco, Missouri and Tripton. Mails were normally delivered ones or twice a day in areas where the routes were busy and once every week in small towns

How much mails went out and what were the costs?The exact numbers of mails transported through various systems have been difficult to trace. This might have been due to the erosion of some of the data collected. However, the actual costs can be given. In eighteen forty three, the cost of transferring a single page letter which had an average weight of about twenty five ounce was about fifteen cents. The average cost of ferrying mails via the stage coaches was about four cents per mile compared to about three and a half cents charged for using a horse. Apparently, the cost of using railroads was a bit higher. The regulators charged about five and a half cents per ton, per mile for using the rail. This is because it was relatively safer and less prone to accidents.

How did technology affect the Postal System?With the invention of automobiles and steam ships both overland transport and sea transport of mails were made possible. Transport also became faster such that deliveries could be made within a single day in easily accessible areas. The use of horses to transport mails also became lesser with time because using a horse was more demanding and cumbersome. With the invention of electricity, more effective telegrams emerged thereby accelerating the collapse of the Pony Express system. The invention of the telephone by Graham Bell in the late nineteenth century made it possible for the monitoring of mail movements along transport routes.

Old communication systems still remain very essential assets to our economy. They not only provide templates for the design of better communication systems but also have preserved our culture and heritage. We should therefore learn to appreciate them.

Bibliography of Primary SourcesGlen Bradley: The Story of The Pony Express, 1913, University of Toledo. Press, 1997

Richard John. Spreading the News: The American Postal System from Franklin to Morse

Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1995.

Chapman, Arthur. The Pony Express: The Record of a Romantic Adventure in Business. New

York. Publishers, 1932

Fuller. W: The American Mail: Enlarger of the Common Life. Chicago: University of

Chicago Press, 1974.

 Stimson, A.L: The History of the Express Business. New York: A.L. Stimson Press.1851.

Paul Martin Lester, Visual Communication with Infotrac: Images with Messages, Thomson

Wadsworth Press, 2005

Munro, John: Heroes of the Telegraph, London: The Religious tract society, 1891

Baker, Burton H: The Gray Matter: The Forgotten Story of the Telephone, Telepress, St.

Joseph, MI, 2000

Cliffs, N.J: Growth and Welfare in the American Past. Englewood Prentice-Hall House,


Spooner, L: The Collected Works of Lysander Spooner. Weston Mass, M&S Press, 1971.