Postal Age

1081 Words Dec 14th, 2015 5 Pages
Book Review: The Postal Age

Henkin, David M., The Postal Age. Chicago: Chicago Press, 2006.
“Many of us may not realize that what we now call snail mail was once just as revolutionary as e-mail and text messages are today.” Today’s generation may not be quite aware of the long journey Americans have traveled from the Postal Age up to what we now call the Information Age. As an examination of the rise of the American postal system in the middle decades of the 19th century, David M Henkin’s, The Postal Age offers up a fascinating blend of intellectual and thematic history. In his book, Henkin highlights new practices and new expectations as ordinary Americans swiftly turned something novel into something normal-into habit, into culture.
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Due to its lower cost compared to letters, senders would mail newspapers with disguise through concealments. By making certain marks or drawing pictures in the margins they would convey basic information, as their form of coding. Once the postal bureaucracy became aware of this practice, Congress passed a postal price reduction in 1845 that cut the price of letters. Thankfully, Henkin skimmed through much of the political legislation or campaigns behind critical postal reforms. Personally I did not care enough to want to know about the intricate background history of every postal age milestone. I am convinced that a plethora of those references would derail the books flow and progress. Henkin also discusses the growing transitory movements during the middle of the century, and in particular how letters and familial correspondence played a role in morally anchoring men. When one was away from home, letters from loved ones had the power to secure, support and protect them from sin and harm. It was a channel by which one would be remembered of the responsibilities, obligations, and duties they left behind. Increased mobility enhanced the appeal, use, and economic practicality of a medium that would be redefined in the United States around the desire of ordinary people to communicate with those who lived elsewhere. The book distinctly mentions the men who had to migrate during the

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