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 George S. Bangs

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George S. Bangs

United States Postal Service Official. While serving as General Superintendent of the Railway Mail Service during the administration of President Ulysses S. Grant, he developed the railroad mail car and the concept of "fast Mail", improving mail service from several weeks to several days, regardless of where in the country the letter was bound. Born in Akron, Ohio, after finishing schooling, he was apprenticed as a printer's aide for the "Akron Beacon" newspaper. Tiring of this trade, he moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he was in the boot and shoe making business, until his business partner stole all of their money and disappeared. He then moved to Aurora, Illinois, in 1851, where he spent the next eighteen years. He became a successful strawberry farmer, while also working on the "Aurora Beacon". In 1858, he bought the "Aurora Republican" newspaper, which he then consolidated with the Beacon, becoming senior editor for the paper, and making it one of the leading newspapers in the state. While watching the famed 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates between United States Senate candidates Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, he saw Lincoln as a future politician and was one of the first to suggest him as a candidate for United States President in 1860, heavily advocating Lincoln's nomination. When the Civil War started, he helped recruit the 36th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and would serve as a Colonel on the staff of Illinois Governor Richard Yates. In the meantime, President Lincoln appointed him as Postmaster for Aurora, a job he kept until April 5, 1869, and during which he familiarized himself with all aspects of postal operations. He became of a good friend of George B. Armstrong, then head of the Chicago mail system, and when Armstrong was promoted to General Superintendent for the United States Post Office, Armstrong promoted Bangs to Assistant Superintendent of the Chicago Postal Service. It was said that with his great memory, Bangs knew almost all of the postal workers by name, and with his nice disposition, he was greatly admired by his subordinates. When Armstrong retired in 1871, he suggestion to President Grant that Bangs should replace him. While the spoils system was the order of the day, Bangs revised the United States Postal Service to place ability and devotion to duty ahead of political patronage, reorganized the service so that a system of checks would find bottlenecks in the mail delivery routes to eliminate, and held district and division superintendents responsible for the efficiency of mail delivery. In 1875, he created the Fast Mail service, establishing special trains that traveled between the major cities overnight to deliver the mail quickly to the major mail hubs. His first such train ran 900 miles between New York City, New York and Chicago, Illinois overnight, an almost unheard of delivery speed. The next year, President Grant offered Bangs the position of Postmaster General, but since this job was a political appointment and Grant's term of office was ending, Bangs declined. The new President, Rutherford B. Hayes, replaced Bangs with a political appointee, and appointed him Assistant Treasurer of the United States, where he served for the next eleven years. He died six months after retiring from the position. His concrete grave marker, paid for by postal clerks and other officials who thought highly of Bangs, consists of a shattered oak tree, with a mail train going through a tunnel, symbolizing his life's work.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 20 Feb 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 4581
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for George S. Bangs (20 Feb 1823–21 Nov 1877), Find A Grave Memorial no. 4581, citing Rosehill Cemetery and Mausoleum, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .