The first United States mail between Boston and Barnstable, commenced
running in 1792, when John Thacher, of Barnstable, contracted with the government
to perform the service, and made the first trip October first of that year.
Timothy Pickering of Pennsylvania was Postmaster General and Jonathan Hastings,
Postmaster at Boston. The arrangement was made through the influence of
Shearjashub Bourne, the then member of Congress for this District.
The post rider used to start on horseback from Barnstable, and, arriving
at Plymouth in the evening, stop in that town over night. The next night
he arrived in Boston, at the sign of the Lion on Washington street, and delivered
his mail to the postmaster. Starting from Boston Thursday morning, he arrived
at Barnstable on Friday night. The mail was easily carried in one side of
a pair of saddle-bags. The other side was devoted to packages.
For this service, the contractor was paid one dollar per day while in
actual service, four dollars a week. This sum looks pretty niggardly beside
the amounts now paid for government service, but small as it was, it was
severely censured then for its extravagance. Moses Hallett, who seems to
have been a champion in his day of reform and retrenchment, thought the sum
paid exorbitant, and predicted that the government would go to ruin. But
his opposition was unavailing, and it is safe to assert that a less sum never
was paid for this service.
[Note that the comparison between "then" and "now" was made in 1872.]
Source: Allen, D. W. Genealogy, and Biographical Sketches, of the Descendants of Thomas and Anthony Thacher, From Their Settlement in New England, June 4th, 1635. Vineland, NJ: Independent Printing House, 1872.