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Brazilian Postal History

Postal History
From first letters to Correio-Mor
Nationalization of services and Correios General Administration
Imperial Period
Correios in First Brazilian Republic
DCT period
ECT period

Postal History

This is a short summary of an adventure that has begun along with Brazil. For more information on this history, please refer to Correios National Museum, which, in addition to pieces, books and documents collection on the subject, counts on a multidisciplinary team, with professionals graduated in History, Museology, Architecture, Journalism, Library Science and Information Storage, among others. Contact by email museu@correios.com.br.

Correios history in Brazil corresponds to the country historical transformation, and that is why the main facts connected to postal services implantation and improvement provide a view of Brazilian history.  During the past centuries, Correios development is closely tied to public administration and technology evolution in our country. 

Since the beginning of postal services until today, Correios have assumed the role of approximating people, always seeking improvement of services and products, so as to become one of the most respectful institutions in Brazil. 

From first letters to Correio-Mor

The origin of postal services in colonial Brazil is related to Portugal and its action in the new land. Letters were the only communication means in long distances and were frequently used since the first steps of colonization process, and depended on private people.  Official postal services have arrived with Sea Letters Correio-Mor assistance. With the slow inland peopling, accelerated after gold mines discovery, the new businesses flow required that these services were taken to new frontiers.   The Portuguese crown, however, interested in controlling information on colony wealth, has prohibited Correio-Mor action in the country inland since 1730.  These facts have led to the creation of the first postal transportation lines organized by Portuguese state representative, though in a very rudimentary way.

Brazil “baptism certificate” is Pero Vaz de Caminha letter, which has announced to Portugal king the discovery of the new land. What most people don’t know is that Gaspar de Lemos vessel, which has transported the letter, also transported another important letter, by Mestre João Faras, the first scientific document about our country, in addition to samples collected. So, it can be considered the first postal connection between Brazil and Portugal.

Luiz Homem, by Royal Charter from November, 6th, has received from D. Manuel I the responsibility to explore postal services in Portugal, being appointed to the position of first Correio-Mor in the kingdom.

With Luiz Homem death, Luiz Afonso was appointed to the position of second Correio-Mor in the kingdom (1532/1575). In Brazil was created the village that would become São Vicente city, in São Paulo.

After Manoel de Gouvea death (1598), fourth Correio-Mor in the kingdom, and after a period in which the position was temporarily exerted, king Felipe III from Spain (Felipe II from Portugal) decided to sell it to Luiz Gomes da Matta, making it officially hereditary.

Due to the war against Spain and the difficulty of connection in land, Portugal king decided to create a new position, Sea Letters Correio-Mor, specially dedicated to correspondences transported by sea.  This position is acquired by the kingdom Correio-Mor, who has unified, in practice, the two assignments.  Sea letters Correio-Mor was also in charge of correspondences exchanged with colonies, except for India, with plans to institute assistants in main colonies, including Salvador, Rio de Janeiro and Recife.

During the second semester of 1662, the process for assignment of the first assistants to Correio-Mor to Brazil has finally followed legal channels, ending up with the royal charter from December 19th, which has ordered colonies’ governors the consideration of such assignments. In a time of slow travels and news João Cavalheiro Cardoso, then second lieutenant took effective office as new assistant of Correio-Mor in Rio de Janeiro on July 30, 1663. That is how postal service has officially begun in the country.

Due to a tradition that started to be fixed in the 19th century and has consolidated in the 20th century, Correio-Mor creation date in Rio de Janeiro is celebrated on January 25, which became known as the “Postman day”. This tradition source is a book from the beginning of the 19th century, "Memórias Históricas do Rio de Janeiro" (Historic Memories of Rio de Janeiro), by Monsignor José de Sousa Azevedo Pizarro e Araújo, who affirms to have initiated "(...) no Brasil o estabelecimento do Correio pelos anos de 1663, com um regimento datado de 25 de janeiro" (in Brazil, the establishment of Post Office in 1663, with a regiment dated from January 25). Though contemporary documental research does not confirm a factual base for the choice of this date, it is being kept, as well as other celebration dates, like Christmas, which, though not having historic exactness, are consolidated by tradition and solid symbolic aspect. 

Antônio Alves da Costa was appointed to Rio de Janeiro captaincy Correio-Mor assistant position. For the first time, there was an official expectation that assistants could be appointed to Brazilian inlands, in regions like Minas Gerais and São Paulo. The work of the new post office was received by mining villages, which marked the beginning of the new service, performed until 1715, when Rio de Janeiro governor prohibited it, probably due to his intention to control information on the new riches discovered.

In a correspondence destined to Brazil Vice-King and to main captaincies governors, king D. João V permanently forbids the creation by the Correio-Mor of connections to Brazilian inlands, though assignments to so called sea letters were maintained. The prohibition is aligned to other control acts performed by the Portuguese crown along the 18th century, aiming to restrain the circulation of new ideas and to control news about the gold mines.  
Since then, in order to fill government administrative needs and communication among businessmen, some isolated initiatives occurred to create postal lines under the protection of some captaincies governments.  In this same year, for instance, there are records that João Lopes de Lima, in mutual agreement with governor Arthur de Sá Menezes, would have established a moving post office line in Rio-São Paulo-Mariana circuit.

It was established, on September 1st, the first overland postal communication between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, a courier service created by São Paulo captaincy governor, the Morgado de Mateus, D. Luís de Sousa Botelho Mourão.

Kingdom and Dominions Correio-Mor position was extinct and reincorporated to the Crown by means of Permit on March 16.  With D. Rodrigo de Souza Coutinho appointment for Marine and Overseas State Minister, the need by the State to claim to the Crown the Postal Services Administration was evidenced; Luis Pinto de Souza took office as first Correios director.

Nationalization of services and Correios general administration

In this new phase, the postal service is transferred to Crown direct administration, and in Brazil the service official internalization process starts. With the coming of the royal Family to Brazil, the post office obtains importance, and Rio de Janeiro becomes the Portuguese monarchy capital.

By means of Permit from January 20, 1798, the process of postal organization of overland mails was instituted and regular sea postal connection between Brazil and Portugal was established (Rio de Janeiro and Lisbon, initially). 

The post office administration was installed in Rio de Janeiro, at future Paço Imperial building, beside the Court of Appeal and Brazil Mint, where letters that came from Portugal were distributed; its first administrator was Antônio Rodrigues da Silva.

The internal postal service was regulated, and initiated with the creation of the first official postal agency inland, in Campos, Rio de Janeiro.

The Provisional Regulation for the New Establishment of the Post Office dates from April 1st, which instituted overland and overseas administrations. .
The calculation of charges was defined based on the correspondence weight and on the distance travelled to deliver. 

Creation, in Rio de Janeiro, of Mailbox service and institution of registered orders service inland.

The Portuguese Royal Family, along with a large entourage, arrived in Brazil on March 7, and the country, from colony, became the seat of Portuguese government, located in Rio de Janeiro.

The Provisional Regulation of the Crown and Rio de Janeiro Province Post Office General Administration, considered the first Postal Regulation in Brazil, was instituted on November 22, by D. Fernando José de Portugal, Marquês de Aguiar.

Expedition, on September 23, of Note defining postages and determining appointments of post office agents in the country.

Imperial Period

During this period, D. Pedro I has re-organized the post office in independent Brazil and has initiated the process of creation of administrations in provinces.  Under D. Pedro II, postal reforms went further: previous payment of unified franchise; launching of the first postal stamps; creation of postman boxes, collection boxes and postals and domiciliary distribution of correspondence at the court and provinces. The telegraphic service was established and Brazil joined, by means of treaties, to newly created international telecommunications bodies. Initially, postal and telegraphic services were administratively conducted by different sections.

Paulo Bregaro, considered patron of postmen in Brazil, has delivered to D. Pedro, on September 7th, at Ipiranga streamlet margins, correspondences informing about the new Portugal requirements from Brazil. Upon receiving them, D. Pedro reacted to the Court impositions and declared Brazil Independence; and that was how the post office service is connected to this outstanding moment in the country history.

José Clemente Pereira, Minister and Secretary of Empire Businesses, has presented the proposal for re-organization of postal services, made formal by Decree on September 30. 

The March 5 Decree determines the unification of all existing postal lines in one general administration, the “Post Office Administration”, as well as the creation of province administrations.

Suppression of post office general director position, with direction and inspection, at Court, by empire minister; and in province by presidents.

Adoption of home delivery of correspondence; use of uniform and two mail bags: one with letters to be delivered and another to place letters from passers-by.

In 1840, Rowland Hill had created in England the first sticking postal stamp, Penny Black, as part of English Postal Reform, which determined that correspondence payment should be made by the mailer, not by the addressee, as occurred until then, and the stamp should be the voucher to such payment.  
In August 1st, 1843, the first Brazilian postal stamps are issued, denominated Olhos-de-Boi, at the following prices: 30, 60 and 90 réis. That is why this date is celebrated in Brazil as the “Stamp Day”. Brazil was the second country worldwide to adopt this solution in the whole territory. 

Installation of the first Empire Collection Boxes, in Rio de Janeiro. 

Installation of electric telegraph in Brazil. The goal was to contribute to the fight against slave trade. The first official transmission happened between the Army General Headquarters, in Rio de Janeiro, and the imperial residence at Quinta da Boa Vista.

Creation of State Secretariat for Agriculture and Commerce Businesses and Public Works, with which overland and overseas mails were linked.   Conventions that regulated correspondences exchanges with foreign countries were promulgated.

Postal Order service is initiated in the whole Brazilian territory.

1º de Março Agency is inaugurated in Rio de Janeiro, first building specially built to Correios do Brasil services, according to the most advanced architectural techniques of the time.

Brazil adherence to the treaty related to the creation of União Geral dos Correios (General Union of Mails) – future Universal Postal Union – celebrated in Bern Swiss, in 1874.

Edition of Brazil Empire Postal Guide.

Promulgation of Decree 9912, of March 26, instituting Empire Correios Regulation.

Correios in First Republic

In the same year of Republic Proclamation, 1989, the first Brazilian Postal Museum was inaugurated. Sometime afterwards, the Nation would join other nations from the continent in a Congress, which later became South American Postal Union.

The acquisition of new machines, enlarging of internal and external action area, evolution of transports and implantation of the first air connections characterized this period with outstanding development of Correios, which could expand their services to populations from all regions, thus greatly contributing to national integrations. So far, postal and telegraphic services were under separate managements. 

The first Brazilian Postal museum is created.

Postal Agency was subordinated to Public Instruction, Mail and Telegraph Ministry.

Brazil begins International Orders service (Colis Postaux). Issuance of the first series of commemorative stamps, referring to the fourth centenary of Brazil discovery. For the first time, postal stamps had human figures other than the emperor effigy.

Creation of international postal orders.

Edition of the first Postal Guide in republic period.

Postal Agency subordinated to Industry, Transport and Public Works Ministry.

First mail transportation by air, on February 1st.

Beginning of use of postage meter, manufactured by Universal Postal Frankess, from London.

First international air mail transported by Compagnie Généraled' Enterprises Aéronautiques (CGA).

Beginning of correspondence air transportation on a regular basis, between South America and Europe. As a trial, on November 24 of this year, the first air mail coming from Natal was received, conducted by CGA airplane 606.

Graff Zeppelin – airship that used to fly over Brazil sky transporting, delivering and receiving correspondences, initially connecting Europe and South America, and later including the United States -  start operation.

DCT (Department of Mail and Telegraph) Period

The Universal Postal Code, prepared in the IX Universal Conference in London, 1929, would legislate and present solutions to modern postal problems, inaugurating a new age in Correios history.

The so called ‘Revolução de 30’ has caused, at that moment, deep changes in the country political/administrative structure, which affected the postal sector.  Correios, of course, began to reshape, not just their structure, but their technical capacity to respond to communication needs, as well.

With the creation of DCT (Department of Mail and Telegraph), these services management was finally unified.

Creation of DCT, subordinated to Transport and Public Works Ministry.
The general post office administrations are now denominated Regional Directions, name used until today.
The Military Air mail is created, which led to National Air mail, which allowed delivery of correspondence to remote places in the country.

Escola de Aperfeiçoamento dos Correios e Telégrafos (Mail and Telegraph Training School)  was instituted. First use of sorting machine  "Transorma".

Under Law nº. 284 of October 28, DCT starts subordination to Transport and Public Works Ministry.

Creation of National Air mail by merger of Military Air mail and Naval Air mail.

Decree nº 200 institutes the Communications Ministry.

DCT begins subordination to Communications Ministry.

ECT period

With the development of productive sectors in Brazil, the reorganization of postal service was necessary using a model more modern than that of DCT, which did not have infrastructure compatible with users’ needs. 

Due to that, it was created on March 20, 1969, by Law nº. 509, Empresa Brasileira de Correios e Telégrafos (Brazilian company of mail and telegraphs) – ECT, a public company linked to Communications Ministry.

The creation of ECT corresponded to a new positioning, by public authorities, regarding communications importance, and, particularly, postal and telegraph services, to the country development.

During this period, ECT would consolidate its role as a significant agent of government social action, by operating the payment of pensions and retirements; school books distribution; transportation of donations in case of natural disasters; breast feeding campaigns; training of disadvantaged students and countless other situations.  

Creation, on March 20, of  Empresa Brasileira de Correios e Telégrafos (Brazilian company of mail and telegraph).

Launching of first express-mail – special service for delivery of documents (SEED) and Grouped Correspondence Service (SERCA) – as well as the first Road Trunk Lines (LTN), interconnecting the whole country.

Launching of the first Brazilian Postal Guide, with Zip codes represented by numerals.

Contract signatures with Sofrepost and Somepost, aiming the improvement of postal services.
Beginning of international operations of grouped correspondence, at ECT, by means of covenant with the United States.
Beginning of installation of new automatic sorting centers, resulting in fast handling of correspondences.

Installation of new collection boxes models, in fiberglass.

Beginning, in October, of Night Air Postal Network (RPN) to meet quality standards established for letters and other urgent correspondences.

Launching of the Messages Commutation Internal Network  (GENTEX) system, which added new technologies to telegrams processing.

Promulgation, on June 22, of Postal Decree 6.538, unifying legislation related to mail and telegraphs. Creation, on March 15, of Escola Superior de Administração Postal (college for postal administration) – ESAP, in Brasília.
Inauguration, in June, of ECT headquarters building, also in Brasília.

Inauguration of ECT Postal and Telegraphic Museum, in Brasília.

Creation of Correios Security Service (Postalis).

Implantation of National Express Order Service (SEDEX).

Creation of international accelerated mail service (Express Post), inaugurating a line of international express services.

Implantation of authorized stamping of letters (FAC), which provided a solution for delivery of large amounts of correspondences to legal entities.

Participation of ECT in Federal Government social priority program and in the distribution of school books and milk tickets. 

Creation of post-dated telegram.

Start of franchising system implantation at ECT agencies.

Correios start sponsoring Brazilian swimming.

Inauguration of Correios Cultural Space in Rio de Janeiro, during United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (ECO 92-RIO). It was the first of a series of Cultural Units, which form today a network in several places across de country.

With inauguration, on March 19, of Recife (PE) operating center, a new phase of ECT operating processes automation has begun.
In the same year, the start to automation process of agencies network occurred.

Inauguration, on April 3rd, of the first Postal Bank agency in Sooretama (ES).

Launching of SEDEX 10. In a partnership with National Fund for Education Development (FNDE), Correios became the distributors of the National Program of School Books (PNDL), in the whole country, delivering millions of books a year, in the largest logistic operation in the planet.

Launching of Integrated Logistics Service and PAC, Correios non-express economic order service modality. The new service was created to reach companies that did not demand urgency, but required economy, safety, regularity and reliability.

Correios support to Fome Zero (zero hunger) program has made possible the collection and delivery of 615 tons of food to population.

Simultaneous launching of Sedex Hoje and Sedex Mundi. The first provides delivery on the day of postage and the second expands Correios international operation.

Inauguration of Central Braille, to assist the visually impaired. 

Correios start sponsorship to Brazilian tennis.

Launching of new corporate identity, with inclusion of sustainability as company value.
Judgment by Supreme Court (STF) warrants exclusivity to ECT in postal services rendering.

Launching of Correio Mobile (version for cell phone). Beginning of tests with electric vehicles.

Publishing of Decree 12.490, which modernizes and strengthen Correios, and the company new statute.
Largest public contest in the country history.

Implantation of Citizen Information Service (SIC).
Beginning of sponsorship to handball.
Adherence to Postal Sector Carbon Emission Reduction Global Program (IPC).

Inclusion of workers representative in ECT Administration Board.
Launching of SEDEX 12 and solidary selective collection in agencies network.
Launching of partnership with Apex-Brasil to open the first Brazilian international post office unit.
Beginning of use of smartphones by postmen in order to improve home distribution services.