Butterfield Wins the Bid

“The victory of advocates of an overland mail to the Pacific Coast, as represented by the passage of the Post Office Appropriation Bill and its amendments in 1857, appeared to offer an opportunity for the express companies not only to rid themselves of the obnoxious steamship monopoly but also to enter into the business of carrying the overland mail. Therefore the great companies, Adams, American, National, and Wells, Fargo & Company pooled their interests to form Butterfield & Company, or, as more commonly known, the Overland Mail Company . . .

Postmaster Aaron V. Brown, a Tennesseean, was strongly in favor of the [southern] route Butterfield named. On September 16, 1857, he awarded the contract to the Overland Mail Company for six years . . .

The line was gotten ready within the required time and service began September 5, 1858. The coaches ran regularly the year round and not great difficulties with Indians were encountered. The line rendered good service on a reasonably well kept schedule. Northern interests, anti-Administration newspapers, and friends of the Central Route, however, maintained an uproar of criticism and ridicule. Since they could find no fault with the efficiency of the service, their main complaint was against distance and time consumed. In reply, friends of the Southern Route, and even Butterfield himself, admitted that the Central Route was shorter but argued that it could not be traveled in winter time.”