The tumultuous history of the U.S. Postal Service—and its constant fight for survival

Over the course of more than 250 years, the U.S. Postal Service has gone through many shifts to keep up with technology and culture—including switching its focus from newspapers to letters to package delivery service. That flexibility has kept the institution relevant and solvent in the face of change.

Now the postal service faces what may be an existential crisis: The coronavirus has sent the nation’s already-declining mail volume into a new nadir. The U.S. House of Representatives Oversight committee recently warned the service might have to cease operations by June. In a joint statement, committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and Representative Gerry Connolly, who chairs the subcommittee that oversees the Postal Service, urged their colleagues to intervene. “Every community in America relies on the Postal Service to deliver vital goods and services, including life-saving medications,” they said. “The Postal Service needs America’s help, and we must answer this call.”

 

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