Tuesday, October 01, 2019

The Manifest Postal Destiny

In 1775 Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first Postmaster General. Since that date the United States Postal Service has become one of the most important public institutions in the country. In fact the postal service has grown as the United States has grown and over the years as the US expanded westward so has the United States Postal Service.

You can view an animated map showing the westward growth of the United States Postal Service on Wikipedia. Visualizing US expansion through post offices is a short video which shows the opening of post offices across the country by date. As the video plays you can see the expansion of America reflected in the spread of the postal service, as new post offices are opened in the new settlements of the Midwest and the West.

Stanford University's The Geography of the Post: U.S. Post Offices in the Nineteenth-Century West maps the 14,000 post offices opened between 1847-1902 west of the hundredth meridian. A bar chart, which runs along the bottom of the map, shows the number of post offices opened by year. If you hover over a post office on the map you can view its name and the year that it was established. Its years of operation are also highlighted on the timeline bar chart.

You can learn more about the westward growth of the United States on another interactive map. Manifest Destiny - The Story of the US Told in 141 Maps tells the story of the United States from the Declaration of Independence right up to the present day. Manifest Destiny uses small multiple maps to show how the territory of the United States has grown throughout its history. The first of the 141 maps in Manifest Destiny comes from March 4 1789. This is the date when the Constitution of the United States came into effect forming a new nation. The last map in the series is from August 21 1959. The date when Hawaii became the 50th state.

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