By Frederick S. Lane
A sweeping tale of the precise to privateness because it sped alongside colonial postal routes, telegraph wires, and today’s fiber-optic cables on a collision direction with presidents and programmers, librarians and letter-writers.
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Extra resources for American Privacy: The 400-Year History of Our Most Contested Right
The Seven Years’ War between Britain and France (which ran from 1756 to 1763) had spilled over to the American continent from Europe. In the New World, it became better known as the French and Indian War, due to the fact that Britain was fighting a fierce coalition of French soldiers and American Indian tribes, including the Algonquin, the Ojibwa, and the Shawnee, for control of North America. In general, colonial support for Britain’s military efforts was strong, in part because the mostly Protestant colonists feared the imposition of religious restrictions by the Catholic Church following a French victory, and in part because the colonists were eager for the economic opportunities offered by a British takeover of the French territories in the New World.
Postal Politics, Purity, and Privacy Sa c r i f i c i n g P e r s o n a l P r i va c y f o r Sp e e d Of the two inventions that Daguerre and Morse discussed in Paris, it was actually the humble telegram—notwithstanding its truncated syntax and flimsy feel—that had the most immediate impact on personal privacy. More than anything else, Morse’s telegraph convincingly illustrated that the average person was willing to trade the widely assumed and legally guaranteed privacy of personal communication by mail for speed and convenience.
Her confidence is unbounded in the integrity of postmen and bell-boys, while the latter may be seen any morning, sitting on the doorsteps of apartment houses, making merry over the post-card correspondence. The criticisms of epistolary curmudgeons notwithstanding, Americans demonstrated remarkable enthusiasm for the postcard. S. Post Office offered concrete evidence of just how popular postcards had become: for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1908, its postal carriers delivered 677,777,798 postcards—at a time when the entire population of the United States was less than 90 million.