Rural Free Delivery 1896

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Rural Free Delivery brings the mail directly to Minnesota farms. Service develops slowly, but within five years, 134 routes are serving 67,000 people.

A 1900 U.S. postmaster general report shows that RFD increases correspondence, postal receipts, and the circulation of newspapers and periodical literature; it also stimulates road improvement.

There is a downside, however. Rural Free Delivery threatens some merchants and several small towns who are used to having farmers come in occasionally just to get their mail (making local post offices centers of social and political life). In the coming years RFD contributes to the closing of many fourth-class post offices and the disappearance of some small villages.*

The introduction of Rural Free Delivery in Minnesota is such a perfect example of how change, even well-intentioned, can wreak havoc on human relationships. We are capable of adjusting to change, but the period of adjustment is often messy. Here we…

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