The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 29, July 1925 - April, 1926 Page: 2
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Southwestern Ilistorical Quarlterly
This "Great Overland Mail" service has been treated briefly by
several historians, and the romance and adventure associated with
the two years and a half of its history have not been overlooked
by the writers of more popular works. Nevertheless, it seems that
a more detailed study of this great pioneer enterprise looking into
its significance as a passenger and news route to California, set-
ting forth the various difficulties its promoters were obliged to
overcome, and noting the bearing it had on the development of
the frontier it traversed, may be of interest to students of the
The law authorizing the service allowed the Postmaster General
the widest discretion in selecting the route. The only substantial
requirements were that the route connect some point on the Mis-
sissippi with San Francisco; that the mail be carried in four-horse
stage coaches so as to give accommodation to passengers; and that
the trip be made within twenty-five days. The service might be
semi-monthly, weekly, or semi-weekly, and the maximum amount
that might be paid for each was specified.3
Several bids were received, specifying nearly as many different
routes. However, in defense of the choice of route Mr. Brown
finally made, it may be said that two of the bidders prescribed sub-
stantially the one later selected. After he let it be known that
he would consider none other than the southern route all bids were
allowed to stand as applicable to this route. The contract was
awarded to Messrs. John Butterfield of Utica, New York, G.
Fargo and several others, all of New York state, except Hamilton
Spencer, of Bloomington, Illinois.4 They were to furnish a semi-
weekly service and were to receive $600,000 per year for a period
of four years. There was not much difference in the price set
by the different parties bidding, and Brown said the award was
made to Butterfield and others "after considering the amount pro-
posed and the ability, qualifications, and experience of the bidders
to carry out a great mail service like this."
The contract provided that there should be two eastern termini,
Saint Louis and Memphis. The trails from these two points
should converge at Little Rock, Arkansas; thence the line should
'Others in the firm were: William B. Dinsmore, New York City; J. V.
P. Gardner, Utica, New York; Marcus L[. Kinyon, Rome, New York;
Alex. Holland, New York City.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 29, July 1925 - April, 1926, periodical, 1926; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117141/m1/10/: accessed May 1, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.