Reason for the Founding of the Pony Express

At this point in his career Russell revealed the fact that he possessed a keen instinct for advertising values and methods. In this he was at least half a century ahead of his time. To him it was clear that something more was necessary than the mere organization of a new company to take over the assets and assume the liabilities of the defunct Leavenworth & Pike’s Peak Express Company, however much news of the new firm might be trumpeted abroad. In fact, something had to be done to offset the effect of the failure of that concern on Congress and the public mind. The device he adopted was the Pony Express. On January 28, 1860, he announced the inauguration of Pony Express service from the Missouri River to Sacramento, California, in ten days. More than a year later, when the going had become rough, he explained to Waddell why he founded the institution. “I was compelled,” he said, “to build a world-wide reputation, even at some considerable expense … ” The implication here is plain. Through the operation of the Pony Express he meant to gain prestige for himself, advertise and popularize the Central Overland California & Pike’s Peak Express Company, prove that the Central Route was suitable for use the year round, and wrest the great mail contract away from Butterfield’s Overland Mail Company. The reason for the founding of the Pony Express was that simple. Today it would be called an intensive national advertising campaign to influence the public and Congress. It was a plain, legitimate business proposition from first to last. Patriotic motives, which some writers ascribe to the promoters, had nothing to do with it. The partners meant to faithfully render a needed public service, but in so doing they intended also to preserve their own legitimate interests.