How Did People Communicate in the 1700s?

In the 1700s, people primarily communicated by writing letters; however, sending letters was a slow and unreliable process. Senders had few ways of knowing if their messages were ever received unless they received a letter in return.

Letters, prior to the postal system, were typically sent with friends, servants, acquaintances, slaves or travelers. Sending a letter 100 miles away took as long as two weeks. Many times, multiple letters were sent out with multiple carriers to increase the chance that at least one copy made it to its final destination.

Benjamin Franklin was appointed Postmaster of Philadelphia in 1737 and Postmaster of the United States in 1775. He worked to help organize and produce a working postal system, with offices centered around major intersections with large amounts of traffic. Senders were charged a postal fee according to weight of the package.

With the postal system greatly improving, other things, such as the publication and distribution of newspapers, grew greatly. Newspapers became a public space, publishing more than just news and events. Fiction, almanac excerpts, recipes and catalogues were published inside newspapers. Pamphlets were produced in great numbers to share information about slavery, politics, science, education and a wide variety of other topics.