The Butterfield Overland Mail

The Butterfield Overland Mail

The Butterfield Overland Mail

The Butterfield Overland Mail

Excerpt

Contemporary accounts of travel on the Overland Mail Company's stage line during the years 1858 to 1861, when it was operating between St. Louis and Memphis, the two eastern terminals, and San Francisco, are all too few. The best narrative consists of a series of eight articles by Waterman L. Ormsby, published in six numbers of the New York Herald************* at intervals from September 26 to November 19, 1858. Ormsby, a special correspondent of the Herald, was the only through passenger on the first westbound stage. His articles, here reprinted, supply a graphic picture of the country through which he passed from St. Louis to San Francisco. They furnish a full and accurate account of the controversy that raged over the various proposed transcontinental routes for a mail-andpassenger stage line, which had been authorized by an act of Congress in March, 1857. They also give the Postmaster-General's reasons for selecting the "thirty-second parallel route," with an eastern bifurcation, and awarding the contract to John Butterfield and his associates.

Ormsby says in his first article that, "in view of the importance of 'this enterprise at this time, and the bearing which it has upon the future destinies of this country, I propose to give you a condensed account of the origin and history of the contract and the claims of the competing routes." From the information presented concerning . . .

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