Colonial Post Office N-10

Historical Marker Text
Here was Newpost, headquarters of Alexander Spotswood (Governor of Virginia, 1710-22), deputy postmaster general for the colonies, 1730-39. Spotswood also had an iron furnace here. [1928]

Extended Research
The English colonies did not have an official postal service until William and Mary appointed Thomas Neale to establish one in 1691. A regular service was established quickly in the northern colonies between the cities of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, while a southern postal service was accepted more slowly. Virginia and Maryland reasoned that all of the letters and packages that needed shipping between colonies could be transported using the tobacco ships, therefore there was no need for a separate costly service (Harrison 75). They also thought that there was less demand for inter-colony correspondence. Virginians were also concerned with the postal service becoming a monopoly where prices were not controlled by competition, but could fluctuate with the whims of its owners.

Virginia resisted an official post office until 1717. One was finally established with the the persistence of the Governor of Virginia, Alexander Spotswood. The first route was between Philadelphia and Williamsburg (Harrison 78). There was still considerable resistance within the colony even after its establishment.

Spotswood took over the position of Deputy Post Master General in 1730 (Cappon 13), after the resignation of John Hamilton for failing to turn a profit for the post office, and suffering accusations of extravagant spending. Spotswood’s post office, titled “General Post Office at New Post,” was located near the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg on land owned by himself (Harrison 84). His goal was to establish a better route from Annapolis to Williamsburg, and eventually further south to Charles Town, South Carolina (81). By 1739 he had succeeded in creating a route from Williamsburg to Charles Town (83).

After Spotswood’s death in 1740, the post office was maintained at New Post, Virginia until Benjamin Franklin took the office in 1753 and moved the headquarters to his native Pennsylvania (Harrison 88).

For further information on Alexander Spotswood and his iron furnace see: Spotswood’s Furnace

For Further Reference
Cappon, Lester J. “Introduction,” In Iron Works at Tuball by Alexander Spotswood, 3-16. Charlottesville, VA: The Tracy W. McGregor Library of the University of Virginia, 1945.

Harrison, Fairfax. “The Colonial Post Office in Virginia.” William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine. 4, no. 2 (April 1924): 73-92.

Department of Historic Resources map and directions

JF

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