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.
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.'
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.
[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."