Post route map by Abraham Bradley


Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

This "First Sheet Comprehending the Nine Northern States, With Parts of Virginia and the Territories North of Ohio" is the earliest known section of Abraham Bradley's map series.

Abraham Bradley, Jr., a lawyer and topographer from Connecticut, was hired as a clerk in the General Post Office by Postmaster General Timothy Pickering in 1791. Bradley quickly made his name as the office’s authority on postal routes and schedules, many of which he devised himself. When Bradley published the first "Map of the United States, Exhibiting the Post-Roads, the Situations, Connections, and Distances of the Post-Offices," it was barely fifteen years after the War of Independence had ended. Most citizens of the fledgling United States could not conceive of the magnitude of the new nation. They searched for a national culture and identity after the final and official separation from Great Britain. This colorful series of maps, on display in almost every large post office, showed the public a consolidated country with national borders.

Some of Bradley's maps included detailed charts listing stagecoach schedules along the nation's principle post road. The inclusion of these schedules promoted, encouraged, and broadened popular notions of time that were otherwise confined to seasonal and religious practices. Citizens began to consider (and later demand adherence to) weekly and daily notations of time as measured by the institution of regularly-scheduled mail service.

Museum ID: 0.293996.1

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