the regulation of communication between different parts of a country, or different countries, including especially the forwarding and delivering of letters, newspapers and small packages, and the establishment of a registry system for the transfer of money and the transaction of other financial business. In some countries the use of the telephone and the telegraph forms a part of the postal service.
Though the conveyance of letters is the primary work of the postoffice, many other branches of business have been assumed by it. The word "post" has its particular application from the posts, or stages, at which on the roads of the Roman empire couriers were maintained for the purpose of conveying news and dispatches.
Under the terms of a treaty concluded at Berne, Oct. 9, 1874, the object of which was to secure uniformity in the treatment of correspondence, and the simplification of accounts, as well as the reduction of rates within certain limits, and whose provisions were carried into operation generally July 1, 1875, the whole of Europe, the United States, Egypt, British India, and all the colonies of France were at the outset, or shortly thereafter, included in the union and many other countries and colonies have since joined it. The international accounts in respect of postages are based on a month's return of correspondence taken every third year.
At the present time the postal establishment of the United States is the greatest business concern in the world. It handles more pieces, employs more men, spends more money, brings more revenue, uses more agencies, reaches more homes, involves more details and touches more interests than any other human organization, public or private, governmental or corporate. Though the postal service of England, France, and Germany includes the telegraph, the postal business of the United States surpasses the service of any of those countries.
Since Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Philippines have come under the authority of the United States, it has become necessary to reconstruct the mail system in those islands, and already a vast improvement has been made in the service.
Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.