The New Student's Reference Work/Express Companies

Express Companies. This is an American system organized for the speedy transmission of parcels or merchandise of any kind and their safe delivery in good condition. It began in the trip made from Boston to New York by William Frederick Harnden (1813-45), the first “express-package carrier,” on March 4, 1839. The plan recommending itself to business men, competing companies sprang up rapidly, and express lines were established in all directions. Adams & Company's California express was started in 1849; Wells, Fargo & Company's in 1852; the American-European Company in 1855. As railroads extended, the early “pony express” disappeared, and individual companies made contracts with the railroad companies, their business over these routes being held to be entitled to the protection of the courts against any efforts to dispossess them. Many of the rival companies united, and now are joint-stock institutions, employing capital amounting to over $50,000,000. A feature of the system is the “collect on delivery” business—goods to strangers being marked C. O. D., with the amount to be collected, the express company making the collecting and forwarding “returns” to the shipper. Money-orders also are issued, payable at any of the numerous offices throughout the United States. They are received at banks from depositors, and are often preferred as cheaper and safer than checks or postal orders for small remittances by mail. See A. L. Stimson's History of the Express Business.