Government postal services signed contracts with shipping lines to subsidize

Government postal services signed contracts with

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Government postal services signed contracts with shipping lines to subsidize the carriage of mail across seas and oceans on the fastest ships available. In India, where non-governmental mail had traditionally been handled by travelers or private couriers, the British established a uniform postal system in 1837 and introduced railway mail service in the 1850 s. In China and the Ottoman Empire, where mail service remained slow and unreliable, foreign- ers opened branches of their national postal services to serve their needs. China did not establish an Imperial Postal Service until 1897 . That left the problem of cost. Until the 1840 s, governments saw private letters as a source of revenue, and charged the recipient by the number of pages and the distance covered, introducing delays and inef fi ciencies. In 1837 the Englishman Rowland Hill proposed charging the sender not the recipient one penny for any letter weighing half an ounce or less to anywhere in the British Isles. This reform, introduced in 1840 , caused an upsurge in mail and was soon imitated in the United States, France, and other countries. Correspondence, once a privilege of the wealthy, was now within the means of the poor, an incentive to mass literacy. The other revolution in communication was the electric telegraph. During the early nineteenth century, several inventors tried to use electricity to convey messages. Two practical systems emerged in 1837 : that of Charles Wheatstone and William Cooke in Britain, which used fi ve wires to move a pointer to letters of the alphabet on a dial, and that of the American Samuel Morse, which used a code of dots and dashes transmitted by a single wire with an earth return. Though the Wheatstone Cooke system was fast and reliable, the Morse system was cheaper, and eventually prevailed worldwide. The electric telegraph was at least ten times faster than the Chappe system and could work at night and in bad weather as well as on sunny days. Excess capacity persuaded governments to open telegraph service to the public, even in France where the government had long forbidden public access to the Transportation and communication, 1750 to the present 407 at http:/ . Downloaded from http:/ . UCLA Library, on 18 Nov 2016 at 06:05:05, subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available
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Chappe network. In the United States and (until the 1870 s) in Britain, the telegraphs were operated by private companies; elsewhere, they were government-run. Telegraph lines soon crisscrossed nations and continents. In Western nations, governments, newspapers, businesses, and private citi- zens eagerly took to the telegraph, stimulating the ow of commerce and the transmission of news. In exchange for free access to the telegraph, railways encouraged telegraph companies and administrations to erect lines along their tracks to coordinate trains and prevent accidents. Banks began to transfer funds instantaneously by telegraph, speeding up commerce.
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