The Politics of Mail Service to California

“Like every political question in America in the late 1850s, mail service to California was eclipsed by the slavery question. Although Americans in California, Oregon, and Utah repeatedly pleaded for better mail service, Congressmen couldn’t agree on a transcontinental mail route. Northerners and southerners each insisted on a route through their respective sections in anticipation of the very real prospect that the Union would split. Their stalemate, meanwhile, encouraged another prospect: that without reliable mail, California itself would split off from the Union.”