Make your own free website on


Significant Dates in Postal History
United States Postal Systems
The Postal Role in U.S. Development (Part 1)
The Postal Role in U.S. Development (Part 2)
The Postal Role in U.S. Development (Part 3)
Postal Reform (Part 1)
Postal Reform (Part 2)
Rates (Part 1)
Rates (Part 2)
Stamps (Part 1)
Stamps (Part 2)
Postmasters General
Governors of the United States Postal Service
Postal Insignia (Part 1)
Postal Insignia (Part 2)
Research Resources
Bibliography and Credits
USPS History
Postal Insignia (Part 1)

History of the United States Postal Service 1775-1993


Contrary to popular belief, the United States Postal Service has no official motto. However, a number of postal buildings contain inscriptions, the most familiar of which appear on postal buildings in New York City and Washington, D.C.

General Post Office, New York City, 8th Avenue and 33rd Street

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

This inscription was supplied by William Mitchell Kendall of the firm of McKim, Mead & White, the architects who designed the New York General Post Office. Kendall said the sentence appears in the works of Herodotus and describes the expedition of the Greeks against the Persians under Cyrus, about 500 B.C. The Persians operated a system of mounted postal couriers, and the sentence describes the fidelity with which their work was done.
Professor George H. Palmer of Harvard University supplied the translation, which he considered the most poetical of about seven translations from the Greek.

Former Headquarters Building, Pennsylvania Avenue, between 12th and 13th Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C., now the Ariel Rios Building

The Post Office Department, in its ceaseless labors, pervades every channel of commerce and every theatre of human enterprise, and, while visiting, as it does kindly, every fireside, mingles with the throbbings of almost every heart in the land. In the amplitude of its beneficence, it ministers to all climes, and creeds, and pursuits, with the same eager readiness and equal fullness of fidelity. It is the delicate ear trump through which alike nations and families and isolated individuals whisper their joys and their sorrows, their convictions and their sympathies, to all who listen for their coming.

These words, used by Postmaster General Joseph Holt in his Annual Report of 1859, were inscribed on the postal headquarters building dedicated in 1934.

Former Washington, D.C., City Post Office, Massachusetts Avenue and North Capitol Street, now the site of the Smithsonian Institution's National Postal Museum

Messenger of Sympathy and Love
Servant of Parted Friends
Consoler of the Lonely
Bond of the Scattered Family
Enlarger of the Common Life
Carrier of News and Knowledge
Instrument of Trade and Industry
Promoter of Mutual Acquaintance
Of Peace and of Goodwill Among Men and Nations

The original of this inscription, called "The Letter," was written by Dr. Charles W. Eliot, former president of Harvard University. President Woodrow Wilson changed the text slightly before the inscription was carved in the white granite of the postal building.