The Motto That Didn't Come From Where You Think it Did

Companies and organizations often use mottos or catchphrases to get people to think about the company or organization that uses the motto. Some of the phrases can be remarkably effective at getting people to remember the company or organization. Most people would be surprised to learn about the background of some of the mottos, though.

For example, many Americans are acquainted with this motto:

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds

For so many, this gets people to think of the US Postal Service. Would it surprise you to find out that it isn’t the motto of the USPS? For a lot of Americans, the answer would be yes since it is commonly perceived to be the motto of the US post office. In fact, it is chiseled in stone at the New York City Post Office on 8th Avenue. Still, it isn’t the motto of the postal service.

In the first place, the postal service actually doesn’t have any official motto. In the second place, the saying is a wee bit older than the US Postal Service.

The Chinese, Egyptians, Persians, and Romans all had organized and efficient postal systems. These were around long before King Henry VIII of England established the Royal Mail in 1512, which was for official business only; the first ‘modern’ postal service. 

The phrase was also quite old by the time King Henry VIII started the postal service. It was written by the Greek historian named Herodotus. He wrote it sometime between 500 B.C. and 449 B.C. At that time, the Greeks were at war with the Persians. As mentioned, the Persians had a well-organized and efficient postal system. Herodotus was actually writing in praise of the Persian postal workers and their postal system.

As it turns out, it isn’t the motto for the US Postal Service and it isn’t even an American saying. For that matter, it isn’t a British saying, either. It was originally written around a thousand years before the Royal Mail was even established.


What do you think?


Written by Rex Trulove

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