How was mail delivered before there were mail carriers?

In early colonial times, correspondents depended on friends, merchants, and Native Americans to carry messages among the colonies, either by foot or on horseback. However, most correspondence ran between the colonists and England, the Netherlands, or Sweden—their mother countries. These letters were carried overseas on ships. It was largely to handle this mail that, in 1639, the first official notice of mail service in the colonies appeared. The General Court of Massachusetts designated Richard Fairbanks’s tavern in Boston as the official repository of mail brought from or sent overseas, and people gathered there to collect letters from loved ones and business associates from faraway places.


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