Early Postal Delivery Through the
Mississippi Territory
This information has been extracted from The Post System, by J. S. Duke.  Publisher J.D.B. DeBow;  Published in DeBows Review Vol. 5, Issue 2; New Orleans; February 1848.

This material resides in the Public Domain.  Private individuals may download this file for personal non-commercial use only.

Prepared for Early SW MS Territory by Ellen Pack

"In a report communicated to Congress on the 17th December, 1803, by Mr. Thomas, Chairman of the Committee of Post Offices and Postroads, will be found the first proposition for the establishment of a direct post route from Washington to New Orleans.  At that time the mail was conveyed on a circuitous route to Knoxville and Nashville in Tennessee, and thence through the wilderness [presummably via the Natchez Trace] by Natchez to New Orleans, 'a distance of more than fifteen hundred miles.'  A more direct route was proposed in the report to which we have referred "to pass through or near the Tombigbee Settlement in the Mississippi territory, and thence to New Orleans.'

"In 1805, Mr. Jefferson, then President, in a communication to Congress, on the 1st February, called the attention of that body to a route, in progress of survey, by Isaac Briggs, one of the Surveyors General of the United States, 'extending from Washington, by Fredericksburg, Carterville, Lower Sauratown, Salisbury, Franklin Co. H. in Georgia, Tuckanbatchee, Fort Stoddart and the mouth of Pearl River to New Orleans.'

"By reference to the letters which accompanied this message, we become assured of the almost incredible difficulties, fatigues and dangers to which the Surveyor General and his party were subjected.  Travelling [sic] for days through a wilderness unmarked by human footsteps, climbing over precipices, wandering through swamps, and crossing deep and difficult water courses, sufficiently tested the patriotism of the stout hearts who had engaged in the enterprise.  Mr. Bridggs says:  "I had an idea that I could pass through the country without a path or a guide, but when I mentioned it on the frontiers of Georgia, it was scouted and laughed at, and I am now firmly of opinion that, in this way, it would be at least a four months passage from Georgia to New Orleans.

"In another letter from New Orleans, bearing date 26th November, 1804, we find the following:  'On the 29th [???] we left Tombigbee, passing through the town of Mobile;  we crossed Pascagoula river, through the Rigolets and lake to New Orleans.  On this part of out route (as distance of about 200 miles) we were 25 days.'

"The observations he had made suggested to him the following points, to be established on the mail route;  and they were accordingly submitted to Congress by the President.  Fredericksburg, Carterville, and Danville in Virginia, Salisbury in North Carolina, Athens in Georgia, Point Comfort, southeastern-most projection of Tallapoosa river (Creek nation), Mobile river, just below the confluence of Alabama and Tombigbee, and New Orleans.

"Numerous suggestions [were] submitted to Congress, many of which [were] taken into consideration and reported upon, by the committees properly charged with all matters of reform in this department of the government.  The necessity of an armed guard, for the protection of the mails, was once advocated with some warmth, but reported against by Mr. Stokes, the Chairman of the Committee of Post Offices and Postroads, on the 16th February, 1819.  In the previous year Mr. Ingham, from the same committee, reported against the expediency of establishing a branch of the general post office in any part of the United States."

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