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The United States Postal Service: A History

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The USPS has had an illustrious history. With Benjamin Franklin as the first Postmaster General way back in 1775, working for the USPS means being a part of an organization with a rich and colorful past. From the Pony Express to delivering mail by steamboats, motorcycles, rail, and air, the USPS has evolved with technology reaching the nation faster and connecting people and businesses better than ever.

Unique feats are not unusual within the most extensive mail organization in the U.S., with such delivery methods as missile mail and pneumatic mail tubes. Although mail rates have changed over the years from the time there was free city delivery in 1863 and rural free delivery in 1896, one thing remains the same: Working for the US Mail has become a badge of honor for people who made it to the workforce.

How the Railway Mail Service, which was inaugurated in 1869, proved just how skilled postal workers were back then: When rail cars became used to sort and distribute mail, RMS employees did their job ‘on the fly; that is, they did their job during the journey. This postal job required such skill and dexterity since the RMS sorter had to be able to separate the mail quickly into compartments based on its final destination before they arrived in their first destination. At this rate, they had to sort at the rate of 600 pieces of mail an hour! Because of the rigid demands of the job, RMS postal employees were tested regularly for speed and accuracy.

While the inauguration of the parcel post service in 1913 called for more efficient sorting and delivery methods, the fact remains that postal jobs still require efficient and dedicated personnel. Because the United States Postal Service delivers nearly 200 billion mail pieces each year, speed and accuracy are still important. In fact, the postal battery exam is a required entry-level test for those who wish to work in the postal service. The most common test, the postal exam 473/473-e is a time-pressured exam that tests a candidate’s ability to check addresses, complete forms, and code. Only those who get at least a score of 70 will pass the 473/473-e but a score in the 90s or higher is a must if you want to get to the next level of the hiring process which is the interview.

Indeed, even as the USPS has grown, met, and improved their services with the use of technology, employing skilled postal workers still remain a core element in ensuring that they continue to provide the same efficient level of service. To learn more about the rich history of the United States Postal Service, go to the Postal History page of their website at


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