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Title: Foot-prints of a letter carrier - or a history of the world's correspondece
Author: Rees, James
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Foot-prints of a letter carrier - or a history of the world's correspondece" ***

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Library Project at http://www.tpdlp.net, Turgut Dincer and

   OF A

   A History of the World’s Correspondence:



   “The Post-Office is properly a mercantile project. The government
   advances the expense of establishing the different offices, and of
   buying or hiring the necessary horses or carriages, and is repaid
   with a large profit by the duties upon what is carried.”

   SMITH, _Wealth of Nations_.

   “A Messenger with Letters.”—SPENSER.


   Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by


   in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States for
   the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.


There are few institutions in this or in any other country the history
of which is so little known as is that of the post-office. The very
name, in the opinion of the masses, is sufficient to enlighten them; and
beyond this little or no interest is manifested. Yet the history, if
fairly written, would surprise that very portion who consider the name
alone an index to its unwritten pages.

Indeed, it seems strange that so important a branch of our government
should have been so slighted by those who constituted themselves
historic writers. Our school-books contain no allusion to it, nor are
its officers mentioned with any marks of commendation in any of our
national works. And yet there are names identified with this department,
both as regards mind, intellect, and character, unequalled by those of
any other in the country.

Perhaps it is looked upon as being merely an appliance to the wheels of
government and not essential to its general movements. Is this so? is
the department a mere workshop and its officers and employees simply

We have endeavored in this work—perhaps feebly—to place the “post”
before our readers as one of the most important branches of the General
Government. We have thrown around its social and political history an
interest by connecting with it incidents, facts, and local matter more
immediately identified with events which have marked our country’s
history from its earliest period to that of the present.

Much has transpired during all these years to render such a work both
instructive and interesting; and although we do not claim for ours any
such pretension, yet we may safely term it _a pioneer in the cause of
our postal history_.

We have also endeavored, without any aid from the postal department at
Washington, to furnish a somewhat desultory history of the post in this
country, while at the same time we have given some account of those of
other nations. Ours is not a mere statistic history, but one that blends
with it a certain amount of information upon every subject more or less
connected with it. Aiming at no high literary attainments, or attempting
to excel others in language, beauty of sentiment, or construction of
sentences, he has written a work in his own style, and in a manner which
he flatters himself will be received favorably by the masses. The
American language given in its plainest style will be far more
appreciated by them than if clothed in the classic garb scholastic and
academical _tailoring_ has thrown around it.

The primitive style in which our forefathers wrote has been materially
changed by the introduction of foreign and learned words. This, it is
true, as Blair says, “gives an appearance of elevation and dignity to
style;” but often, also, they render it stiff and forced; and, in
general, a plain native style, as it is more intelligible to all
readers, so, by a proper management of words, “it may be made equally
strong and expressive with this Latinized English.” Barren languages may
need such assistance, but ours is not one of these.

The author is also aware that in the general arrangement of his subject
there may seem a want of connection; but, as the postal chain is linked
to dates, he may be excused if other portions of the work fly off in
tangents. This, however, is owing more to the variety of postal matter
introduced than to any neglect on his part to bring them into harmonic

The post-office, dry and uninteresting as its name alone implies,
possesses an interest few people are aware. It is not a mere commercial
affair, but one that connects itself with the interest of every man,
woman, and child in the country whose business and sympathies are alike
linked to its operations. There is not a country or a spot of ground on
the habitable globe where civilization, with its handmaid, intellect,
treads, but is identified with this vast postal chain. Touch the wire at
one end, and its vibration may tend to enlighten even the land of the
heathen. The wire _has_ been touched; for

   “From Greenland’s icy mountains,
     From India’s coral strand,
   Where Afric’s sunny fountains
     Roll down their golden sand,
   From many an ancient river,
     From many a palmy plain,”

come messages from our missionaries, who are endeavoring to extend the
cause of Christianity, and which postal facility, the enterprise of
civilized nations, affords.

The author in a great measure had to rely upon his own resources for all
the postal information incorporated in this work. The department at
Washington and post-offices throughout the country seem to consider the
records of the institution not of sufficient importance to be preserved
in such a manner as to make a reference to them an easy matter.

To M. Hall Stanton, Esq., and Thomas H. Shoemaker, Esq., the author
feels highly indebted, not only for the interest they have taken in the
work, but for placing at his disposal their valuable libraries and the
loan of old and rare works.

For the valuable statistical tables so carefully and so well arranged,
giving at a glance the _Ledger_ account of the financial postal
department, the author is indebted to William V. McKean, Esq., the able
and talented editor of “The National Almanac and Annual Record,”—a work,
to use the language of a distinguished public character, “which is a
little library in itself, and one which answers nearly all questions on
public affairs in a most satisfactory manner.”

To “the press” of our country, which has become its historian, is the
author indebted for much valuable matter connected with the subject of
the post. If from these sources he has compiled a work calculated to
place the postal department in its proper light and render it in the
least instructive or interesting, he will be fully repaid for the labor
bestowed upon it.


The custom of dedicating works to individuals is of some antiquity, or,
at least, as far as the antiquity of book-making extends. At one period
it served the double purpose of creating a patron and enlarging the sale
of the book. Again, dedications became popular when great men
condescended to notice authors and placed their extensive libraries at
their disposal. Books published in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and
sixteenth centuries afford the curious reader rich specimens of this
species of literary composition.

Others, again, dedicated their works to men whose opinions assimilated
with their own. Thus, the philosopher dedicated his work to one who was
considered versed in the mysteries of science; the poet dedicated his
effusions to an admirer of rhyme; the dramatist, to a well-known patron
of the stage and of the drama; the painter dedicated his work on art to
a connoisseur,—one whose skill and judgment in the arts had secured him
a “world-renowned reputation.”

In our day and country the sale of a book depends altogether upon its
own merits and the _honest_ criticism of the press. Dedications,
therefore, are looked upon as one of those liberties an author can take
with a friend, and thus bring his name before the public in connection
with the work without being accused of selfish or interested motives.

Just such a liberty the author of this work takes with one whom he is
proud to call friend,—one whose many amiable qualities endear him to
all. It is, therefore, with much pleasure he dedicates this work to

   of Philadelphia_,

as a memento of friendship and of the many happy hours that friendship
has afforded.







   NIHIL SUB SOLE NOVI                                    26




   MESSENGERS, CARRIERS, ETC.                             49


   POST-OFFICES—ENGLAND                                   57




   POST-OFFICES—THE COLONIES                              90


   PENNSYLVANIA—THE OLDEN TIME                           102


   PHILADELPHIA POST-OFFICE—POSTS, ETC.                  110


   REMINISCENCES                                         156


   POSTMASTERS                                           187


   PHILADELPHIA—1793                                     230


   SPECIAL AGENTS                                        319


   MISCELLANEOUS                                         365


   TALES OF THE POST-OFFICE                              397


   ADDENDA                                               410





Posts—Post-Offices, Ancient and Modern.

   “The Post-office is properly a mercantile project. The
   Government advances the expenses of establishing the different
   offices, and of buying or hiring the necessary horses or
   carriages, and is repaid with a large profit by the duties
   upon what is carried.”—SMITH’S WEALTH OF NATIONS.

In the earlier periods of society, communication between the parts of a
country was a rare and difficult undertaking. Individuals at a distance,
having little inclination and less opportunity for such intercourse,
were naturally satisfied with their limited means of communicating one
with another.

As civilization advanced and trade became a national feature, these
communications became more important and, of course, more frequent. Our
readers will observe, as we progress in this work, how it assumes at
last one of the most important branches of a government. Indeed, this it
was destined to become from the fact that it originated with the people,
and their interest made it a part and portion of the great postal

Posts and post-offices, as understood in modern parlance, are identified
with trade and commerce, and in their connection with _letters_. The
word post, however, was used long before post-offices were established,
implying a public establishment of letters, newspapers, &c. In the Roman
Empire, couriers, on swift horses, passed from hand to hand the imperial
edicts to every province. Private letters were sent to their destination
by slaves, or intrusted to casual opportunities.

Although we are apt to stigmatize two of the greatest nations of the
earth—the Greeks and Romans—as being uncivilized, and historically
termed barbarians, yet were they highly educated in many of the branches
of literature, art, and science. The posts were well known among the
Romans; yet is it difficult to trace with certainty the period of their
introduction. Some writers carry it back to the time of the
Republic,—posts and post-offices, under the name of _statores_ and
_station_, having been then, it is said, established by the Senate.
Whether this was the case or not, Suetonius assures us that Augustus
substituted posts along the great roads of the Empire. At first, the
despatches were conveyed from post to post by young men running on foot
and delivering them to others at the next route. Post-horses are
mentioned in the Theodosian Code, _decursu publico_; but these were only
the public horses for the use of the government messengers, who, before
this institution was established, seized everything that came in their

Horace speaks of the post as “means of conveying rapid intelligence.”
Flying posts in the days of Richard III. were used for military
purposes, imparting news of war, victory, &c. “_Equi
positi_”—post-horses—were common even before the idea of a general
postage-system was conceived. “Post-haste” is a familiar phrase among
the old poets. Drayton says,—

                 “A herald posted away
   The King of England to the field to dare.”

Virgil, in one of his sublime epics, makes use of this expression:—

   “Now Jove himself hath sent his fearful mandate through the skies:
   The post of gods is come!”

After the introduction of letters and the conveyance of messages,
written and printed, the word post was understood to mean “to ride or
travel with post-horses;” “with speed or despatch of post-horses.” What
it means now in such connection can only be explained by calculating the
speed of lightning.

The modern post and post-office form a part and portion of a government,
and act in concert with other great agents of civilization in the
formation of permanent institutions.

The post-office is one of those tests by which the progressive
prosperity of a country may be ascertained. In this respect, perhaps no
other nation in the world presents a more extended view of such
progress, in connection with the postal system, than does that of the
United States. In the short space of eighty years she has set an
example, by the action and the enterprise of her people, to nations who
boast of a political and national existence of centuries.

The literary treasures of England,—accumulating from Alfred, Bede, and
Chaucer, through a succession of enlightened ages, swelling up in their
onward progress the vast catalogue of science, connecting with their
recorded mental wealth the names of men who consecrated with their
genius the age in which they flourished,—did less for her commercial
interest, throughout all those periods, than has the United States in
less than fifty years. Enterprise came forth under the light of liberty,
and extended its operations to every department of trade, commerce, art,
and science. England became alive to the fact that a new people had
created and given a living principle to the mechanical workings in the
world of trade and commerce. Its operations gave vigor to action, and
infused a spirit into merchants and traders which, heretofore, followed
in the wake of _monarchial follies_,

   “As peddlers from town to town.”

We purpose to speak now of the post being a branch of the government,
and, in some respects, one of the most important.

The post-office department should be, but it is not, a social agent. The
peculiar character of a republican government is such that the post
becomes essentially a great political one. Its connection with an
administration is one of the links connecting party with its political
interests, and which becomes broken immediately on the success attending
that of a rival. It is rotary in its motion; hence the various changes
which necessarily occur at elections have a tendency to retard, rather
than advance, the postal system on its road to perfection. Indeed, it is
not assuming too much if we say that civil liberty, practically
speaking, partly consists in these changes; for opposition is an
essential and vital element of such liberty, and opposition, with these
possible changes, would have little or no meaning. If, however, they
were limited to the heads of the department, and not extending down to
the humblest workers in the office, the evil effects ever attending on
such changes would not so materially operate against its interests, and,
of course, that of the community. A general sweep of the employees of
any one State or government department makes the whole system a gigantic
political, rather than what it should be, a social, institution.

In whatever light, however, we view the post-office, it presents to us a
subject of the highest interest. Connect it with commerce, and it
assumes the power of a “Merlin,” whose magic wand, raised in the ages of
superstition, astonished the world! Connect it with the arts, and
nations are brought together by the mere stroke of the pen! Associate
it with science, religion,—in fact, with any of the prominent features
which make up civilized life,—it becomes at once the great medium
through which their mysteries and developments are made manifest to all.

Viewed historically, we trace the history of the post to Moses, and the
peopled countries, even to the children of Canaan, in the swamps of
Egypt. We link it with the hieroglyphic, or symbolical, characters of
that age, long before Hermes substituted alphabetical signs. We follow
it up, through sacred and profane history, to the exclusive royal
messengers in Persia mentioned by Herodotus, and the grant of the postal
establishment as an imperial fief, made by Charles V. to the princely
family of Thurn and Taxis, and from that down to the establishing of
that system which is now followed by all civilized nations.

The making a branch of a government an hereditary one, particularly that
of the postal, could only have originated under the genial rule of
Charles. The family of Thurn and Taxis held the post-office as a fief,
given to them by the Emperor Charles V., and they continued to hold it
long after the different German States had become independent. Of
course, like all such fiefs, (even those of _Saxon_ notoriety,) it
became, in time—instead of what the true meaning implied, “fealty or
fidelity,” to “keep and sustain any thing granted and held upon oath,
&c.”—a most vile and corrupt institution.[1]


The first recorded riding-post was established in Persia, by Cyrus, 599
B.C. Cyrus was the son of Cambyses, King of Persia, and Mandane,
daughter of Astyages, King of the Medes. The history of Cyrus is a
lesson worthy to be read by all who can appreciate in one man all those
elements which combine to make a great one. He was educated according to
the Persian institutions, of which Xenophon gives such glowing accounts.
Among the numerous inventions he made and carried into operation, that
of the posts and couriers, to facilitate the transportation of letters,
was probably the most important. He caused post-houses to be built and
messengers to be appointed in every province. There were one hundred and
twenty provinces. Having calculated how far a good horse with a brisk
rider could go in a day, without being spoiled, he had stables built in
proportion, at equal distances from each other, and had them furnished
with horses and grooms to take care of them. He likewise appointed a
“postmaster,” to receive the packets from the couriers as they arrived,
and give them to others, and to take the horses and furnish fresh ones.
Thus, the post went continually, night and day, with extraordinary
speed. Herodotus speaks of the same sort of couriers in the reign of
Xerxes. He speaks of eleven _postal stages_, a day’s journey distant
from one another, between Susa and the Ægean Sea.[2]

These couriers were called in the Persian language by a name signifying,
as near as we can comprehend it, “service by compulsion.” The
superintendency of the posts became a considerable employment. Darius,
the last of the Persian kings, had it before he came to the crown.
Xenophon notices the fact that this establishment subsisted still in his
time, which perfectly agrees with what is related in the book of Esther
concerning the edict published by Ahasuerus in favor of the Jews, which
edict was carried through that vast empire with a rapidity that would
have been impossible without these posts erected by Cyrus.[3]

Persia, in some respects, has not kept pace with the progress of other
nations, or carried out those plans of government and schemes which
Cyrus originated in his early reign. Traces of a race far more energetic
than the present inhabitants of Persia are found in various parts of the
kingdom. The ruins of many ancient cities scattered over the land are
imposing and grand, especially those of Persepolis. Next to the pyramids
of Egypt and the colossal ruins of Thebes, they have attracted the
attention of travellers, and, like them, still remain an enigma,—their
history, dates, and objects being involved in the gloom of antiquity.
These evidences prove the existence of a state of refinement in art in
the sixth century, scarcely equalled, certainly not excelled, since, and
fully sustain the _data_ given to that wonderful discovery,—the
establishing the postal system and the first introduction of the

In the highest eras of their civilization, neither the Greeks nor the
Romans had a public letter-post; though the conveyance of letters is as
much a matter of necessity and convenience as the conveyance of persons
and merchandise.

There were _stationese_ and mounted messengers, called _tabellarii_, who
went in charge of the public despatches; but they were strictly
forbidden to convey letters for private persons.

In the time of Augustus, post-houses were established throughout the
kingdom, and post-horses stationed at equal distances to facilitate the
transmission of letters, &c. Under his reign, literature flourished,
many salutary laws were established, and he so embellished Rome that he
was declared “to have found it brick and left it marble.” He was born at
Rome, B.C. 63, died at Nola in the seventy-sixth year of his age.

We have alluded to the fact of nations, considerably advanced in
civilization at the early period of the world’s history, being without a
public post for the conveyance of letters. Yet, when we take into
consideration that trade and commerce were then in their infancy, simple
messengers only were required. Indeed, letters at that period were only
written when great occasions called them forth. What with us is now a
pleasure, was with the ancients a task.

It was not until the year 807 that a postal service was established by
the Emperor Charlemagne,—a service which did not survive him. This,
however, differed very little from that which was framed by Cyrus.

The first actual letter-post system, connecting countries together by
communications, furthering the cause of trade and commerce, and
established to facilitate the conveyance of letters throughout the
commercial world, originated in the manufacturing and business districts
of the “Hanse Towns.” The confederacy was established in 1169.

So early as the thirteenth century this federation of the republics
required constant communication with each other; and it became almost a
necessity of their existence that some letter-post system should be

The society termed the “Association of the Hanse-towns,” is better known
in history under the name of “The Hanseatic League.” It consisted
chiefly of merchants,—men who had brought commerce to all the perfection
it was capable of acquiring at that period, which may justly be termed
the dawn of our great commercial history. It was under this league the
banking system, exchanges, and the principles of book-keeping, with
double entries, and various other practices which facilitate and secure
commercial intercourse, originated. We speak here of the banking system
only. Banks existed long prior to this date, but in a very different
form. Those of the ninth century were literally “benches,” from the
custom of the Italian merchants exposing money to lend on a “banco,” or
bench, or tables.

The towns of the “Hanseatic League” were originally a confederacy united
in an alliance for the mutual support and encouragement of their
commerce. Perhaps the world’s history does not present an example so
fraught with interest to the commercial world than that which was here
furnished. Industry, application, a union of interests, combined with a
general knowledge of trade and commerce, the league soon became the
wonder of surrounding nations, who not only imitated its example, but
followed its precepts. It was under its dynasty the postal system was
established and communications of post-routes opened with all the towns.
In proportion as the reputation, opulence, and forces of the league
subsequently changed to “The Hanseatic Confederacy” increased, there
were few towns of note in Europe that were not associated with it. Thus,
France furnished to the confederacy Rouen, St. Malo, Bordeaux, Bayonne,
and Marseilles. Spain: Cadiz, Barcelona, and Seville. Portugal: Lisbon.
Italy and Sicily: Messina, Leghorn, and Naples. Russia: Novogorod.
Norway: Bergen, &c. Lastly, England furnished London to this celebrated
association, whose warehouses and factories were the wonder and the
admiration of the commercial world.[5] As we have said, it was under
this league the first practical post system was established; and its
legitimate object and purpose was only interfered with when it became
subject to a higher power.

This great commercial league fully sustained the opinion—at least
entertained at that period—that “Commerce alone is sufficient to insure
greatness.” Subsequent events, arising out of the political elements of
a country, afford convincing proofs that something more substantial than
commerce is requisite to maintain the independence of any nation. This,
however, is a question which involves that of the laws of nations and
the ethics of political economy. Mr. Oddy ascribes the downfall of the
Hanse Confederacy to their becoming warlike, and preferring political
importance to wealth obtained by their original modes. It is, however,
probable that no system of policy, either commercial or political,
however wise or moderate, could have prevented the wars in which the
Hanseatic League were involved. They stood on the defensive against
their hostile neighbors, whose envy and jealousy were excited by the
showy wealth of these cities. If commerce, therefore, brought on these
wars, and defeated the great object of the league, it is evident that
something more powerful than commercial sway was necessary to keep it in
contact with the agricultural and political interests of the nation.[6]

The combination of agriculture, manufactures, and commerce is no doubt
the true cause of greatness,—the opulence and power of those nations who
study the interest of each alike. It ought therefore to be the policy of
the rulers to guard the progress of these great branches with the same
fostering care and protection,—to encourage one without depressing the
other; and to watch their reciprocal bearings, connection, and affinity,
that the general interest may be promoted and the resources consolidated
into a mass of strength adequate or superior to the power of their
enemies. The United States has not lost sight of this fact; and hence
every department of its great interests is alike defended, protected,
and encouraged. We may have wars; but they will never arise from our
neglect of any one particular branch of the government, or of its source
of revenue.

Perhaps no city in the world presented a greater display of wealth than
did that of Bruges in the year 1301. She was one of the cities of the
confederacy. It contained in that year sixty-eight companies of traders
and artificers, while its citizens rivalled many of the European
monarchs in their sumptuous mode of living. Some idea of their splendor
may be formed from the following anecdote, recorded by Dr. Robinson in
his “Historical Disquisitions,” who relates that, in the year
1301, Joanna of Navarre, the wife of Philip the Fair, of France, having
been some days in Bruges, was so much struck with the splendor of the
city and its grandeur, as well as the rich and costly dresses of the
“citizen’s wives,” that she was moved by female envy to exclaim with
indignation,—“I thought that I had been the only queen here; but I find
that there are many hundreds more.”

The Hanse Towns had attained the summit of their power in 1428; but they
began to decline the moment they became warlike,—thus neglecting their
great commercial power, wealth, and influence. The rise of Holland
accelerated their decline; and the general attention which other nations
began to pay to manufactures and commerce, by distributing them more
generally and equally amongst the people in different parts of Europe,
destroyed that superiority which they had so long enjoyed.

The number and variety of the military undertakings in which the Hanse
Towns embarked, contributed more powerfully, perhaps, than any of the
causes above specified to accelerate their ruin. A general jealousy was
raised; and the kings of France, Spain, and Denmark, and several States
of Italy, forbid their towns to continue members of the confederacy.
Upon this, the Teutonic Hanse Towns restricted the confederacy to
Germany. About the middle of the seventeenth century the confederacy was
almost wholly confined to the towns of Hamburg, Lubeck, and Bremen. They
retained the appellation of the Hanseatic Towns, and claimed their
former privileges, among which their postal system was included. Under
the appellation of the Hanse Towns they were recognized at the peace of
Utrecht, in 1715, and at the Definite Treaty of Indemnity, in
1805,—almost the last moment of their political existence.[7]

The first serious blow struck the postal system was that which it
received from the Emperor Maximilian. He established a post between
Austria and Normandy, and, as a sort of retaliatory measure, made it an
espionage over his subjects through the medium of their correspondence,
and also for the purpose of enriching himself by the profits of the
enterprise. Fortunately, however, for the cause of justice and of
letters, Maximilian died before he had inflicted this great wrong on the
people to any extent. He died January 12, 1519.

Having brought the reader to this point of our postal history, it may
not be out of place before we reach the fifteenth century—when it
assumed a very different aspect—to give some account of the earlier
history of art, pastoral life, language, writing materials, letters,
&c., more or less connected with our subject.


Nihil Sub Sole Novi.

   “There is nothing new under the sun.” “There is no new thing,”
   says Solomon, “under the sun.”

We cannot speak of any thing, either of a useful or ornamental
character, but we invariably cast our eyes over the ages of the world
and trace up, or rather back, to its earliest period, their very origin.
There is scarcely an art or a science of which we boast now but owes its
existence to the past ages. We have the proofs on their paintings, their
mechanics, their arts, and sciences: these are the evidences to prove
how far they had advanced in knowledge before the world’s revolutions
cast them back again to ignorance and gloom. With the downfall of
cities—crumbling away under the fiat of the Almighty, or swallowed up by
earthquakes—went the genius of ages; and from their ruins and the debris
of classic temples came those traces of high art of which no other
living evidences bore witness. The secret went down amid their tottering
ruins, and left to after-ages the simple task of imitating their
monumental sculptured beauties and fresco painting on the shattered
walls of their ruined temples.

Well, then, may we exclaim with Solomon,

   “There is no new thing under the sun.”

George R. Gliddon, in his great work of “Ancient Egypt,” speaking of the
state of the arts in the earliest ages of Egyptian history, says:—

“Will not the historian deign to notice the prior origin of every art
and science in Egypt a thousand years before the Pelasgians studded the
isles and capes of the Archipelago with their forts and temples,—long
before Etruscan civilization had smiled on Italian skies? And shall not
the ethnographer, versed in Egyptian lore, proclaim the fact that the
physiological, craniological, capillary, and cuticular distinctions of
the human race existed on the distribution of mankind throughout the

“Philologists, astronomers, chemists, painters, architects, physicians
must return to Egypt to learn the origin of language and writing; of the
calendar and solar motion; of the art of cutting granite with a _copper_
chisel and giving elasticity to a _copper sword_; of making glass with
the variegated hues of the rainbow; of moving single blocks of polished
sienite 900 tons in weight for any distance by land and water; of
building arches, round and pointed, with masonic precision unsurpassed
at the present day, and antecedent, by 2000 years, to the “Cloaca Magna”
of Rome; of sculpturing a Doric column 1000 years before the Dorians are
known in history; of _fresco_ painting in imperishable colors; and of
practical knowledge in anatomy.

“Every craftsman can behold in Egyptian monuments the progress of his
art 4000 years ago; and, whether it be a wheelwright building a chariot,
a shoemaker drawing his twine, a leather-cutter using the selfsame form
of a knife of old as is considered the best form now, a weaver throwing
the same hand-shuttle, a whitesmith using that identical form of
blowpipe but lately recognized to be the most efficient, the
seal-engraver cutting in hieroglyphics such names as Shooph’s above 4300
years ago, or even the poulterer removing the _pip_ from geese, all
these and many more astounding evidences of Egyptian priority now
require but a glance at the plates of Rosellini.”

Perhaps the post-office, being a more modern invention, the result of
man’s progress, and its use essential to his present wants and
governmental requirements, claims more originality than many of those
inventions which a ruder state of society devised. And yet even here we
actually owe to those ages much of the material which makes up our great
postal superstructure. We learned from them how messengers, couriers,
and the transmitting of letters formed an important part of their social
system, and how it ultimately grew into a political one, under kings and
emperors, through all subsequent ages.


   “Nothing great, nothing useful, nothing high and ennobling,
   nothing worthy of man’s nature, of his lofty origin and
   ultimate exalted destiny has ever been accomplished but by
   toil; by diligent and well-directed effort, by the busy hand
   guided in its effort by the wise, thoughtful, hard-working

When God said, “Let there be light: and there was light,” it was not the
mere flash of the brightness of heaven over the earth, but a light that
was to be as lasting as creation itself.

Every thing that sprung up from the earth in its order and beauty
received the spirit of a new life from this holy and divine light. And
when man in the image of his Maker stood in the Garden of Eden, there
shone around him another light,—an emanation from God himself.

Man was the pioneer of the science of government. Deity planned it, and,
as the crowning work of his creation, said:—

“_Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have
dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and
over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing
that creepeth upon the earth._”

As the earth became peopled the wants of man called forth all those
energies requisite to sustain life by labor or otherwise; and these
brought forth the mind’s attributes combined, and the world became a
mirror reflecting Him who created it.

Pastoral life, in the early ages of the world’s history, afforded in
itself the means of providing for the wants of man. This led to the
cultivation of the soil and the raising of cattle.

Before the flood, Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Jabez was the father
of such as dwell in tents and have cattle. Then came trades and
professions. These led to art, art to science; and, as their numbers
increased, they soon found that their sources from which they derived
their subsistence—the spontaneous fruits of the earth and the flesh of
wild animals killed in the chase—were insufficient to maintain them.
Hence they were obliged to have recourse to other means. Property being
established and ascertained, men began to exchange one rude commodity
for another. While their wants and desires were confined within narrow
bounds, they had no other idea of traffic but that of simple barter. The
husbandman exchanged a part of his harvest for the cattle of the
shepherd; the hunter gave the prey which he had caught at the chase for
the honey and the fruits which his neighbor had gathered in the woods.
Thus, commercial intercourse began and extended throughout the
community. It reached still farther. It passed in its onward career from
city to city, and from kingdom to kingdom, till at last it comprehended
and united the remotest regions of the earth.

Then came trades and professions. These led to art, art to science, and
science to the highest degree of knowledge the human mind is capable of
attaining. Men became great: greatness led to power,—power to rule and
govern. The combining of all these elementary steps led to the creation
of kings, emperors, and lords. Then followed the division of classes.
The phases of human intellect harmonized the whole system of rule, and
men acknowledged in time the one great axiom, that “Knowledge is power.”

As language, writing, and writing-materials are all, more or less,
connected with any subject identified with the welfare, the interest,
and honor of a nation, as well as of mankind, they will not be
considered out of place if alluded to here in connection with the
subject of this work. First:—


Blair, in his introduction to his Lectures on Rhetoric, speaking of
language, says:—“One of the most distinguished privileges which
Providence has conferred upon mankind is the power of communicating
their thoughts to one another. Destitute of this power, reason would be
a solitary and, in some measure, an unavoidable principle. Speech is the
great instrument by which man becomes beneficial to man; and it is to
the intercourse and transmission of thought, by means of speech, that we
are chiefly indebted for the improvement of thought itself.”

Tooke, in one of his admirable golden sentences, says:—“The first aim of
language was to communicate our thoughts; the second, to do it with

“And all the worlde was of one tongue and one language.”—_Bible_, 1551,
_Gen._ xi.

Language came into the world along with all things that had life. It was
the voice of nature speaking through things animate, giving form and
harmony to objects animate as well as inanimate; and all of which, as
soon as created, God pronounced good.

Flowers had their language, and there was music in the spheres. Trees
murmured through their deep forest-home long before the woodman’s axe
stripped them of their mode of expressing their wild æolian sounds to
each other. And there was language in waterfalls, mountain cataracts,
as well as music in the sound, though expressed in thundertones; and, as
the spirit of Deity passed over the earth, all living things found
tongue, thought, expression, and the human voice syllabled the words and
commands of its Maker. Language, therefore, is a divine institution.

Horace, Pliny, Juvenal, and others, held the opinion that it was a
divine institution, and only reached its present state after a long and
gradual improvement of the human family.

Many of the ancient philosophers and poets believed that men were
originally “a dumb, low herd.”

   “Mutum et turpe pecus.”

Lord Monboddo—who, in his work on “the Origin of Language,” labors to
prove that man is but a higher species of monkey—thinks that originally
the human race had only a few monosyllables, such as, Ha, he, hi, ho, by
which, like beasts, they expressed certain emotions. Others, again,
assert that the early races were in all things rude and savage, totally
ignorant of the arts, unable to communicate with each other, except in
the imperfect manner of beasts, and sensible of nothing save hunger,
pain, and similar emotions. Cicero, alluding to the human race in
primeval ages, says:—

“There was a time when men wandered everywhere through life after the
manner of beasts, and supported themselves by eating the food of beasts.
Fields and mountains, hills and dales were alike their homes.”

Rousseau represents men as originally without language, as unsocial by
nature, and totally ignorant of the ties of society. He does not,
however, seek to explain how language arose, being disheartened at the
outset by the difficulty of deciding whether language was more necessary
for the institution of society, or society for the invention of

Language is beyond doubt a divine institution, invented by Deity, and by
him made known to the human race. If language was devised by man, the
invention would not have been at once matured, but must have been the
result of the necessities and experience of successive generations. Adam
and Eve, in the garden of Eden, spoke a language the purity of which
continued until its final disruption at the building of the Tower of

What language is more beautiful and expressive than that of the Hebrew?
It is the language of Deity, and it pleased our Lord Jesus to make use
of it when he spake from heaven unto Paul.

There are said to be no less than 3425 known languages in use in the
world, of which 937 are Asiatic, 588 European, 276 African, and 1624
American languages and dialects.

By calculation from the best dictionaries, for each of the following
languages there are about 20,000 words in the Spanish, 22,000 in the
English, 38,000 in the Latin, 30,000 in the French, 45,000 in the
Italian, 50,000 in the Greek, and 80,000 in the German.

In the estimate of the number of words in the English language it
includes, of course, not only the radical words, but also derivatives,
except the preterites and participles of verbs; to which must be added
some few terms which, though set down in the dictionaries, are either
obsolete or have never ceased to be considered foreign. Of these about
23,000, or nearly five-eighths, are of Anglo-Saxon origin.

The alphabets of different nations contain the following number of
letters:—English, 26; French, 23; Italian, 20; Spanish, 27; German, 26;
Sclavonic, 27; Russian, 41; Latin, 22; Hebrew, 22; Greek, 24;[8]
Arabic, 28; Persian, 32; Turkish, 33; Sanscrit, 50; Chinese, 214.

Anthony Brewer (1617) thus characterized those best known:—

     “The ancient Hebrew, clad with mysteries;
   The learned Greek, rich in fit epithets,
   Blest in the lovely marriage of pure words;
   The Chaldean wise; the Arabian physical;
   The Roman eloquent; the Tuscan grave;
   The braving Spanish, and the smooth-tong’d

The Hebrew language and letters are derived from the Phœnician, since
Tyre, Sidon, &c. were distinguished cities in the age of Moses and
Joshua. Even Abraham lived in their territory.

Sanscrit is the basis of Hindoo learning, and said to be the first

The most ancient Arabic, called Kufick, so named from Kufa, on the
Euphrates, and is not now in use. The modern Arabic was invented by the
Vizier Moluch, A. D. 933, in which he wrote the Koran.

Armenian is used in Armenia, Asia Minor, Syria, Tartary, &c. It
approaches the Chaldean or Syriac, and the Greek.

Chaldean, Phœnician, or Syriac, ascribed to Adam, Enoch, Noah,
Abraham, and Moses, is the same as the Hebrew.

The Coptic is an alphabet so called from Coptos in Egypt,—a mixture of
Greek and Egyptian.

Ethiopic, or Abyssinian, is derived from the Samaritan, or Phœnician.

The Etruscan was the first alphabet used in Italy, and so called from
the Etrusci, the most ancient inhabitants.

Gothic: the most ancient characters under this name are attributed to
Bishop Ulphilas.

Cadmus, the Phœnician, introduced the first Greek alphabet into
Bœotia, where he settled in B. C. 1500; though Diodorus says the
Pelasgian letters were prior to the Cadmean.

The Greeks called the Phœnicians _Pelasgü quasi Pelagi_, because they
traversed the ocean and carried on commerce with other nations.

Scaliger supposes the Phœnician to have been the original Hebrew
character, otherwise the Samaritan,—which is generally supposed to be
that which was used by the Jews from the time of Moses to the Captivity.

The alphabet of the Sanscrit is called the devanagari.

The Oriental alphabets are the Hebrew, ancient and modern; Rabbinical;
Samaritan, ancient and modern; Phœnician; Egyptian hieroglyphic;
Chinese characters.

The Irish alphabet is the Phœnician.


Origin of the Materials of Writing, Tablets, etc.

The art of writing is very ancient. Its origin is actually lost in the
distance of time. From one point, however,—this side of the gulf of lost
ages, in which high art perished, and with it the key to all its
antediluvian greatness,—we date our history.

The Bible gives us the earliest notice on the subject that is anywhere
to be found. The most ancient mode of writing was on _cinders_, on
bricks, and on _tables of stone_; afterwards on _plates_ of various
materials, on _ivory_ and similar articles. One of the earliest methods
was to cut out the letters on a tablet of stone. Moses, we are told,
received the two tables of the Covenant on Mount Sinai, written with the
finger of God; and before that, Moses himself was not ignorant of the
use of letters.[9] [Exodus xxiv. 4; xvii. 14.] A learned writer
says:—“In Genesis v. 1, ‘This is the book of the generations of Adam,’
reference is made to the book of genealogy; whence it irresistibly
follows that writing must have been in use among the antediluvian
patriarchs; and, under the view that writing was a divine revelation,
the same almighty power that, according to the preceding proposition,
instructed Moses, could have equally vouchsafed a similar inspiration to
any patriarch from Adam to Noah. Nor does it seem consistent with the
merciful dispensation which preserved Noah’s family through the grand
cataclysm, and had condescended, according to the biblical record, to
teach him those multitudinous arts indispensably necessary to the
construction of a vessel destined to pass uninjured through the tempests
of the Deluge, that the Almighty, by withholding the art of writing,
should have left the account of antediluvian events to the vicissitudes
of oral tradition, or denied to Noah’s family the practice of this art,
which, it is maintained, was conceded first to Moses.”

It is said that “Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.”
The five books of Moses carry with them internal evidence, not of one
sole, connected, and original composition, but of a _compilation_ by an
inspired writer from earlier annals. The genealogical tables and family
records of various tribes that are found embodied in the Pentateuch,
bear the appearance of documents copied from written archives. We have
the authority of Genesis v. 1 for asserting the existence of a book of
genealogies in the time of Noah; and a city mentioned by Joshua was
named in Hebrew “Kirjath Sefer,” “The City of Letters.” It is impossible
to prove that letters were unknown before Moses; and the Hebrews of his
day appear to have had two distinct modes of writing the characters of
which, in one case, were “_alphabetic_,” and in the other “_symbolic_.”
The inscription on the ephod itself is said—Exodus xxviii. 36—to have
been written in characters “like the engravings of a signet.”

The materials and instruments with which writing was performed were, in
comparison with our pen, ink, and paper, extremely rude and unwieldy.
One of the earliest methods was to cut out the letters on a tablet of
stone. Another was to trace them on unbaked tiles, or bricks, which were
afterwards thoroughly baked or burned with fire. When the writing was
wanted to be more durable, lead or brass was employed. In the book of
Job, mention is made of writing on stone. It was on tablets of stone
that Moses received the law written by the finger of God himself.
Tablets of wood were frequently used as being more convenient. Such was
the writing-table which Zacharias used. [Luke i. 63.] Cedar was
preferred as being more incorruptible; from this custom arose the
celebrated saying of the ancients, when they meant to give the highest
eulogium of an excellent work, _et cedro digna locuti_,—that it was
worthy to be written on cedar. These tablets were made of the trunks of
trees. The same reason which led them to prefer the cedar to other
trees, induced them to write on wax, which is incorruptible. Men used it
to write their testaments, in order better to preserve them. Thus,
Juvenal says, _cereus implere capaces_. The leaves and, at other times,
the bark of different trees were early used for writing. From the thin
films of bark peeled off from the Egyptian reed papyrus which grew along
the Nile, a material was formed in latter times answering the purpose
much better. It bore the name of the reed, papyrus, or, in our language,
paper. Long afterwards its name passed to a different material, composed
of linen or cotton, which has taken place of all others in the use of
civilized countries, and is called to this day paper. Paper made of
cotton was in use in 1001; that of linen rags in 1319.[10]

“_The paper reeds by the brooks, by the mouth of the brooks, ... shall
wither, be driven away, and be no more._”—Isaiah xix. 7.

Pliny, speaking of the papyrus, says:—

“Before we depart out of Egypt, we must not forget the plant _papyrus_,
but describe the nature thereof, considering that all civilitie of life,
the memoriall, and immortalitie also of men after death consisteth
especially in _paper_ which is made thereof. M. Varro writeth that the
first invention of making paper was devised upon the conquest of Ægypt,
achieved by Alexander the Great, at what time as he founded the city of
Alexandria in Ægypt, where such paper was first made.”—_Holland_,
_Plinie_, b. xiii. c. 21.

We have alluded to the barks of trees being used. The thin peel which is
found between the second skin of a tree was called _liber_,—from whence
the Latin word, _liber_, a book; and we have derived the name of library
and librarian in the European language, and in the French their _livre_
for book.


The instruments employed by the ancients for making the letters on their
tablets was a small, pointed piece of iron, or some other hard
substance, called by the Romans a _style_: hence a man’s manner of
composition was figuratively called his _style_ of writing. The use of
the word still continues, though the instrument has long since passed

Style derives its name from _stylus_, Latin, as also from a Greek word,
_columna_, an instrument with a point.

Reeds formed into pens were used to trace the letters with ink of some
sort after the fashion that is now common; or else they were painted
with a small brush, as was probably the general custom at first. Pens
made of quills were not in use until the fifth century. The oldest
certain account of writing with quills is a passage of Isidore, who died
in 636, and who, among the instruments of writing, mentions “reeds and
feathers.” In the same century a small poem was written on a pen, which
is to be found in the works of Althelmus. He died in 709.

We annex the following as giving a poetical original of the pen:—

   “Love begg’d and pray’d old Time to stay
     While he and Psyche toyed together;
   Love held his wings: Time tore away,
     But in the scuffle dropp’d a feather.
   Love seized the prize, and with his dart
     Adroitly work’d to trim and shape it,
   O Psyche, though ’tis pain to part,
     This charm shall make us half escape it.
   Time need not fear to fly too slow
     When he this useful loss discovers,
   A pen’s the only plume I know
     That wings her pace for absent lovers.”


The ancients drew their lines with leaden styles; afterwards a mixture
of tin and lead fused together was used. The mineral known under the
name of plumbago is supposed to have been first employed for the purpose
of drawing in the fifteenth century. In 1565, an old author notes that
people had pencils for writing which consisted of a wooden handle, in
which was a piece of lead; and a drawing is given of the pencil as an
object of curiosity. They continued to be uncommon for upwards of a
century, when we hear them spoken of being enclosed in pine or cedar.


   “Scribe was a name which, among the Jews, was applied to two
   sorts of officers. 1. To a civil: and so it signifies a
   notary, or, in a large sense, any one employed to draw up
   deeds and writings. 2. This name signifies a church officer,
   one skillful and conversant in the law to interpret and
   explain it.”—_South._ vol. iv. ser. 1.

The word _scribe_ is derived from the Latin, _scribere_, which has the
same meaning as “schrabben” (Dutch), to scrape or draw a style, or pen,
over the surface of paper or parchment.

The name, however, was given to such as excelled in the use of the pen,
and who were likewise distinguished in other branches of knowledge. It
came in time to mean simply a learned man; and, as the chief part of
learning among the Jews was concerned with the sacred books of
Scripture, the word signified especially one “who was _skilled in the
law of God_”—one whose business it was, not merely to provide correct
copies of its volume, but also to explain its meaning. Thus, Ezra is
called “a ready scribe of the law of Moses.”—Ezra vii. 6.

Before the introduction of types, books were written generally upon
skins, linen, cotton-cloth, or papyrus: parchment in later times was
most esteemed. The business of the scribes was to make duplicate copies
of these books, which, when completed, the leaves were pinned together
so as to make a single long sheet. This was then rolled round a stick:
hence books of every description or size were called “rolls;” our word
volume means just the same thing in its original signification.

   “_Volumed in rolling masses._”

In the time of our Saviour the scribes formed quite a considerable class
in society. Many of them belonged to the sanhedrim, or chief council,
and are therefore frequently mentioned in the New Testament with the
elders and chief priests.—See Luke v. 17, x. 25; Matthew xxiii. 2;
Matthew ii. 4, also xiii. 52; and Mark xii. 35.


The ink used by the ancients appears to have been what is termed in art
a “body color,” or a more solid medium than is at present used, and
similar to what is used by the modern Chinese.

Subsequently, lamp-black, or the black taken from burnt ivory, and soot
from furnaces and baths, according to Pliny and others, formed the basis
of the ink used by old writers.

It has also been conjectured that the black liquor of the scuttle-fish
was frequently employed.[11] Of whatever ingredients it was made, it is
certain, from chemical analysis, from the blackness and solidity in the
most ancient manuscripts, and from inkstands found at Herculaneum, in
which the ink appears like thick oil, that the ink then made was much
more opaque, as well as encaustic, than what is used at present. Inks
red, purple, and blue, and also gold and silver inks were much used; the
red was made from vermilion, cinnabar, and carmine; the purple from the
_murex_, one sort of which, named the purple encaustic, was set apart
for the sole use of the emperors. Golden ink was used by the Greeks much
more than by the Romans. The manufacture of both gold and silver ink was
an extensive and lucrative business in the Middle Ages. Another distinct
business was that of inscribing the titles, capitals, as well as
emphatic words, in colored and gold and silver inks.


The ink-horns were sometimes made of lead, sometimes of silver, and were
generally polygonal in their form.


The remote antiquity of hieroglyphical writing may be inferred from the
fact that it must have existed before the use of the _solar_ month in
Egypt,—“which,” says Gliddon, “astronomical observations on Egyptian
records prove to have been in use at an epoch close up to the Septuagint
era of the Flood.” From Egyptian annals we may glean some faint
confirmation of the view that they either possessed the _primeval_
alphabet, or else they rediscovered its equivalent from the mystic
functions and attributes of the “two Thoths,”—the first and second
Hermes, both Egyptian mythological personages, deified as attributes of
the Godhead.

To “Thoth,” Mercury, or the first Hermes, the Egyptians ascribed the
invention of _letters_.

The first attempts of “picture-writing” were to imitate certain images,
each representing a word or letter. Drawing, therefore, was the most
natural medium; and the study of representing things pictorially became
popular and the only mode of communication.

The true origin of alphabetical writing has never been traced; but that
of the Egyptians has been proved by the Comte de Caylus to be formed, as
stated above, of hieroglyphical marks, adopted with no great variations.
“We find,” says Warburton, “no appearance of alphabetical writing or
characters on their public monuments.”

This, however true at the time he wrote, cannot now be asserted; since
the celebrated Rosetta stone, in the British Museum, is engraved with
three distinct sets of characters,—Greek, Egyptian, and a third
resembling what are called hieroglyphics. The only doubt that can be
entertained is, whether these are strictly hieroglyphics,—that is,
representations of things,—or rather an alphabetical character peculiar
to the priesthood, and called hierogrammatics. 1. The existence of this
sacred alphabet is attested by Herodotus, Diodorus, and several other
writers. 2. It went occasionally under the name of hieroglyphic, as
appears not only by the passage quoted above from Manetho, if we do not
alter the text, but from one in Porphyry, which may be found in
Warburton. 3. It was, however, considered as perfectly distinct from the
genuine hieroglyphic, which was always understood to denote things,
either by mere picture-writing, or, more commonly, by very refined
allegory. 4. Works of a popular and civil nature were written in this
character, as we learn from Clement of Alexandria; whereas the genuine
hieroglyphic was exceedingly secret and mysterious, and the knowledge of
it confined to the priesthood. 5. The inscription upon the Rosetta stone
is said, in the terms of the decree contained in it, to be written in
the sacred, national, and Greek characters. 6. It could not be a
mysterious character, such as the genuine hieroglyphic seems to have
been, because it was exposed to public view with a double translation.
7. It occupies a considerable space upon the stone, although an
indefinite part of it is broken off; although the real hieroglyphic, as
is natural to emblematic writing, appears to have been exceedingly
compendious. 8. The characters do not appear to be very numerous, as
they recur in various combinations of three, four, or more, as might be
expected from the letters of an alphabet. But this argument we do not
strongly press, because our examination has not been very long. It
appears to hold out a decisive test, and we offer it as such to the
ingenuity of antiquaries.

Upon these grounds we think that the characters upon the Rosetta stone,
which are commonly denominated hieroglyphics, are in fact the original
alphabetic characters of the Egyptians, from which the others have
probably been derived by a gradual corruption through haste in writing.
They are, however, in one sense, hieroglyphics, being tolerably accurate
delineations of men, animals, and instruments. If we are right in our
conjectures, the value of the Rosetta stone is incomparably greater than
has been imagined. We have no need of hieroglyphics: Roman and Egyptian
monuments are full of them. But a primitive alphabet, probably the
earliest ever formed in the world, and illustrating an important link in
the history of writing,—the adaptation of signs to words,—is certainly a
discovery very interesting to any philosophical mind. Through what steps
the analysis of articulate sound into its constituent parts was
completed—if we can say that it ever has been completed—so as to
establish distinct marks for each of them, and whether these marks were
taken at random, or from some supposed analogy between the simple sounds
they were brought to represent and their primary hieroglyphical meaning,
are questions which stand in need of solution.[12]

The Rosetta stone is the only one yet discovered, being no doubt the
_pioneer_ to many more that may yet be unearthed. The importance of this
stone—its inscription indicating the probability of its supplying a key
to the deciphering of the long-lost meanings of Egyptian
hieroglyphics—“was immediately,” says Gliddon, in his Lectures on
Ancient Egypt, “perceived by the learned, who in vain endeavored to
trace the analogy between symbolical and alphabetical writing. Its
arrival in London excited the liveliest interest in all those who had
devoted themselves to Egyptian archæology; and the attention of the
greatest scholars of the age was directed to its critical investigation.”
(See Gliddon’s work on Ancient Egypt.)

Any one who will examine the hieroglyphical alphabet closely will
discover a most extraordinary coincidence in that of the symbolical
writing of our North American Indians, specimens of which are in the
museum at Washington City. A war despatch, giving an account of one of
their expeditions, has the same emblematical figures as has that of the
Egyptians as used 1550 B. C.

There are also among other tribes many remarkable similarities, and
analogous with Egyptian symbolical writings, which strengthen the
supposition that the Indians of North America are one of the lost tribes
of Israel. Nor is it alone the mere words which these signs and figures
convey, but certain traits of character in their habits and customs as
compared with the ancients.—(See Isaiah xi. 11-15.)

The Indians have a tradition among them to this effect: “_that nine
parts of their nation out of ten passed over a great river_.” They also
have traditions of the “Flood,” “a good book,” “Tower of Babel,”
“dispersion of the Jews,” and the “confounding of language.” It is
related by Father Charlevoix, the French historian, that the Hurons and
Iroquois in their early day had a tradition among them that the first
woman came from heaven and had twins, and that the elder killed the
younger. In 1641 an old Indian woman stated that this tradition among
her tribe was that the Great Spirit had killed his brother. This is
evidently a confusion of the story of Cain and Abel. Still, the
tradition is remarkable from the fact that this, as well as the others
alluded to, existed long before the discovery of this continent.

The Ottawas say that there are two great beings who rule and govern the
universe, and who are at war with each other. The one they call
“_Mameto_,” the other “Matchemaneto.” There is a wonderful, or rather,
we should say, a remarkable, resemblance between the language of the
Creek Indians with that of the ancient Hebrew; for instance: “Y He Howa”
means Jehovah; “Halleluwah,” hallelujah; “Abba,” in Creek, has the same
meaning as “Abba” in Hebrew; “Kesh,” kesh; “Abe,” Abel; “Kenaaj,”
Canaan; “Awah,” Eve, or Eweh; “Korah,” Cora; “Jennois,” Jannon, both
literally meaning, “He shall be called a son.” There is more in these
similarities than can be attributed to mere chance.

Any one at all familiar with hieroglyphical writing need only to examine
the Indian characters upon buffalo and other skins received in trade
from the Indians to trace, as it were, a distinct line from that most
ancient school of designing figures to suit expression and language,
down to these tribes, who may well be called the descendants of the
“remnant of” God’s people, who were scattered over the lands of Egypt
and the “islands of the sea,” in the time of Isaiah.

In the Ambrosian Library at Milan there are to be seen Mexican
hieroglyphics, painted in Mexico upon buck-leather, and were presented
to the Emperor Charles V. by Ferdinand Cortez. These hieroglyphics are
now as little understood as are those of Egypt, although both are now
gradually yielding to the mind’s influence in their development.
Impressions of these were taken on copper from fac-similes in the
possession of Humboldt.

Perhaps the first real step made into the hieroglyphical arcana may be
dated from 1797, when the learned Dane, George Zoega, published at Rome
his folio “De Origine et Usa Obeliscorum,” explanatory of the Egyptian
Obelisks.—(_G. R. Gliddon._)


One of the most remarkable passages in Holy Writ is that which speaks of
the confounding of language. “And the Lord said, Behold, the people is
one, and they have all one language. Let us go down, and there confound
their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So
the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of the earth,
and they left off to build the city.”

The name of it was called “Babel” (confusion), from the Hebrew. The
consequence of this eternal fiat, which went forth like a flash of
lightning, was, that the people became as strangers to each other, and
spoke a language wild and chaotic. Gesticulation took the place of
words; and hence their punishment for daring to contest power with their

The building of the Tower of Babel was an act of Nimrod’s, who
“esteemed it a piece of cowardice to submit to God;” and he urged the
people on to build this tower, saying, _He would be revenged on God_ if
he should ever have a mind to drown the world again; for that he would
build it so high the waters could not reach it. The place wherein they
built the tower is now called Babylon. From this date may be ascribed
the history of languages. It is supposed, however, that Noah and other
pious persons, chiefly the descendants of Shem in the line of Eber, not
being concerned in this project, retained the _original_ language. Now,
if this was, as it is highly probable, the Hebrew, we may conclude it
was thus called from Eber, to whose descendants it was peculiar; and
perhaps this is the most satisfactory reason that can be assigned why
Abraham is called the Hebrew and his posterity Hebrews.

It was not, however, the mere confusion of tongues which rendered the
people incapable of conversing one with another, but it was the
extraordinary miracle connected with it of the _mind’s confusion_.
Incapable, therefore, of bringing their original language back to its
former use, they invented new languages, new phrases; and thus in time
every great nation had its own language. The dividing of languages was
therefore the dividing of nations. The precise number of original
languages then heard for the first time cannot be determined. The
Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Teutonic, Sclavonian, Tartarian, and Chinese
languages are considered to be original: the rest are only dialects from

History is silent on the early data of the building of the Tower of
Babel; nor is one of its builders’ names mentioned, except the somewhat
obscure intimation respecting Nimrod.[13]

Babylon subsequently became the head-quarters of idolatry, and the type
of the “mystical Babylon,” the mother of harlots and abominations of the

The glory of Babylon departed. Its walls of sixty miles in
circumference, eighty-seven feet thick and three hundred and fifty feet
high, built of brick and containing twenty-five gates of solid brass and
two hundred and fifty towers, are now the wonder of men who gaze upon
the _debris_ of “splendor in ruins.”

The ruins of “Birs Nimrod,” on an elevated mount, are supposed to be the
Tower of Babel of the sacred Scriptures, and the temple of Belus, so
minutely described by Herodotus. The base of this tower measures two
thousand and eighty-two feet in circumference. Babylon was in its glory
in the time of Nebuchadnezzar. It was besieged and taken by Cyrus B. C.
538, and afterwards by Alexander the Great.


Messengers, Carriers, etc.

         “The eye is a good messenger,
   Which can to the heart in such manner
   Tidings send as can ease it of its pain.”


There are so many beautiful passages both in sacred and profane history
alluding to messengers, in connection with our subject, that there is no
doubt but as civilization progressed the word and its meaning laid the
foundation for the many improvements which are to be found in our
present postal system,—a system which now connects all nations together
by a _letter-line mode_ of communication.

There is a beautiful passage in Holy Writ from which, figuratively, we
date the origin of _first carrier or messenger_: it is that of the dove
that went forth from the ark. “And the dove came in to him in the
evening, and, lo, in her mouth _was_ an olive leaf plucked off: so Noah
knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.”


   “There was hope in the ark at the dawning of day,
   When o’er the wide waters the dove flew away;
   But when ere the night she came wearily back
   With the leaf she had pluck’d on her desolate track,
   The children of Noah knelt down and adored,
   And utter’d in anthems their praise to the Lord.
   Oh, bird of glad tidings! oh, joy in our pain!
   Beautiful Dove, thou art welcome again.”


The name of messenger is derived from the Latin word _missaticum_, and
this from _missus_, one sent. The old French _mes_ was applied both to
the _message_ and the _messager_.

                   “_But eare_ he thus had say’d,
   With flying speede and seeming great pretence,
   Came running in, much like a man dismay’d,
   A _messenger_ with letters, which his _message_ say’d.”


Gower, the poet of the fourteenth century, says:—

   “_The raynbow is hir messagere._”

Angels are called “winged messengers.”

“The angels are still dispatched by God upon all his great _messages_ to
the world, and, therefore, their very name in Greek signifies a
_messenger_.”—_South_, vol. viii. ser. 3.

Milton also thus beautifully alludes to the angel messengers:—

                     “For will deign
   To visit the dwellings of just men
   Delighted, and with frequent intercourse
   Thither will send her winged _messengers_
   On errands of supernal grace.”

Carriers, in connection with letters, are modern appendages to the
post-office, and now form one of its most important branches. They are
indeed welcome messengers.

“The very carrier that comes from him to her is a most welcome guest;
and if he bring a letter she will read it twenty times over.”—_Burton._


The first mention we find made of the employment of pigeons as
letter-carriers is by Ovid, in his “Metamorphoses,” who tells us that
Taurosthenes, by a pigeon stained with purple, gave notice of his having
been victor at the Olympic Games on the very same day to his father at

Goldsmith, in his “Animated Nature,” says:—“It is from their attachment
to their native place, and particularly where they have brought up their
young, that these birds (pigeons) are employed in several countries as
the most expeditious carriers.”

When the city of Ptolemais, in Syria, was invested by the French and
Venetians, and it was ready to fall into their hands, they observed a
pigeon flying over them, and immediately conjectured that it was charged
with letters to the garrison. On this the whole army raising a loud
shout, so confounded the poor aerial post that it fell to the ground;
and, on being seized, a letter was found under its wings from its
Sultan, in which he assured the garrison that “he would be with them in
three days with an army sufficient to raise the siege.” For this letter
the besiegers substituted another to this purpose: “that the garrison
must see to their own safety; for the Sultan had such other affairs
pressing him it was impossible for him to come to their succor;” and
with this false intelligence they let the pigeon flee on his course. The
garrison, deprived by this decree of all hopes of relief, immediately
surrendered. The Sultan appeared on the third day, as promised, with a
powerful army, and was not a little mortified to find the city already
in the hands of the Christians.

In the East the employment of pigeons in the conveyance of letters is
still very common, particularly in Syria, Arabia, and Egypt. Every
bashaw has generally a basketful of them sent him from the grand
seraglio, where they are bred, and, in case of any insurrection or other
emergency, he is enabled, by letting loose two or more of these
extraordinary messengers, to convey intelligence to the government long
before it could be possibly obtained by other means.

The diligence and speed with which these feathered messengers wing their
course is extraordinary. From the instant of their liberation their
flight is directed through the clouds at an immense height to the place
of their destination. They are believed to dart onward in a straight
line, and never descend except when at a loss for breath; and then they
are to be seen commonly at dawn of day lying on their backs on the
ground, with their bills open, sucking with hasty avidity the dew of the
morning. Of their speed the instances related are almost incredible.

The Consul of Alexandria daily sends despatches by these means to Aleppo
in five hours, though couriers occupy the whole day, and proceed with
the utmost expedition from one town to the other.

Some years ago a gentleman sent a carrier-pigeon from London, by the
stage-coach, to his friend in St. Edmundsbury, together with a note
desiring that the pigeon, two days after their arrival there, might be
thrown up precisely when the town-clock struck nine in the morning. This
was done accordingly, and the pigeon arrived in London and flew to the
Bull Inn, Bishopsgate Street, into the loft, and was there shown at half
an hour past eleven o’clock, having flown seventy-two miles in two hours
and a half.

Carrier pigeons were again employed, but with better success, at the
siege of Leyden, in 1675. The garrison were, by means of the information
thus conveyed to them, induced to stand out till the enemy, despairing
of reducing the place, withdrew. On the siege being raised, the Prince
of Orange ordered that the pigeons which had rendered such essential
service should be maintained at the public expense, and at their death
they should be embalmed and preserved in the town-house as a perpetual
token of gratitude.

At Antwerp, in 1819, one of the thirty-two pigeons belonging to that
city, which had been conveyed to London and there let loose, made the
transit back—being a distance in a direct line of one hundred and
eighty miles—in six hours.

It is through the attachment of the animals to the place of their birth,
and particularly to the spot where they had brought up their young, that
they are thus rendered useful to mankind.

When a young one flies very hard at home, and is come to its full
strength, it is carried in a basket or otherwise about half a mile from
home and there turned out; after this it is carried a mile, two, four,
eight, ten, twenty, &c., till at length it will return from the
furthermost parts of the country.


The word _letter_ is derived from the Latin “_litera_,” of which Vossius
has not decided its etymology,—perhaps, from _litum_, past participle of
_linere_, to smear, as one of the oldest modes of writing was by graving
the characters upon tablets smeared over or covered with wax. From this
word comes that of _letters_; and, as they are more immediately
connected with our subject, we incline to the opinion of Pliny that the
word _linere_, to smear, is by far the most truthful definition. In this
respect—that of “smearing”—it has lost nothing of its original
character, if we were to judge from the appearance of many letters daily
passing through the post-office.

“Smeared o’er with wax” would not cause any great surprise to a modern
post-office clerk if a letter presented itself with this only on it; but
when in addition he could scarcely read the name through the mists of
blotted ink and bad spelling, we venture to say he would endorse Pliny’s
opinion, above that of all others, without the least hesitation.

An Oriental scholar, speaking upon the subject of writing as connected
with the ancients, makes use of this language:—“The origin of the art of
writing loses itself among the nebulous periods of man’s primeval
history. With the original ethnographic varieties of the human species,
the primitive distribution of mankind, the patriarchal fountains of a
once-pure religion, and the earliest sources of the diversity of
language, must be associated the first developments of this art which,
from the remotest periods, has enabled man to record his history, and to
overcome space and time in the transmission of his thoughts.”

Symbolical or hieroglyphic writing is also very ancient. It was the
ancient style of writing among the Egyptians. They were also termed
“sacred sculptured characters,” which was the original or, rather,
monumental method. The hieratic or sacerdotal was used by the scribes
and priests in literary pursuits prior to 1500 B.C.

There is a beautiful conceit of Lord Bacon’s,—“_Literæ Vocales_” (vocal
letters), the designation given by that philosopher to the popular
lawyers of the House of Commons in the reign of James I., meaning those
lawyers who were bold enough to speak their minds and to stand up for
the rights of their constituents.

Words, however, will pass away and be forgotten; but that which is
committed to writing will remain as evidence; for then you have them in
“black and white.”

   “Litera scripta manet.”


Jezebel, it seems, was the first—or, at least, we believe the first—that
is mentioned in the Bible as a letter-writer: “So she wrote letters in
Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto
the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with
Naboth.”—1 Kings xxi. 8.

For fear a wrong construction should be put upon this act of Jezebel,
and the cause of letters affected thereby, it may be well to state that
she was allowed to do so by him, and that his name and seal were to be
used as she pleased. She, however, used both for a bad purpose: hence
the name of Jezebel is synonymous with deceit and treachery.

Letter-writing is also alluded to in Nehemiah ii. 7: “Moreover I said
unto, the king, If it please the king, let _letters_ be given me to the
governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come
into Judah.” Also, in Esther i. 22: “For he sent letters into all the
king’s provinces, into every province according to the writing thereof,
and to every people after their language, that every man should bear
rule in his own house; and that it should be published according to the
language of every people.”

Hiram, King of Tyre, when he heard that Solomon succeeded to his
father’s kingdom, was very glad of it; for he was a friend of David’s.
So he sent ambassadors to him, and saluted him, and congratulated him on
the present happy state of his affairs. Upon which, Solomon sent an
epistle, the contents of which here follow:—


“Know thou that my father would have built a temple to God, but was
hindered by wars and continual expeditions; for he did not leave off to
overthrow his enemies till he made them all subject to tribute. But I
give thanks to God for the peace I at present enjoy, and on that account
I am at leisure and design to build a house to God; for God foretold to
my father that such a house should be built by me. Wherefore I desire
thee to send some of thy subjects with mine to Mount Lebanon, to cut
down timber; for the Sidonians are more skillful than our people in
cutting of wood. As for wages to the hewers of wood, I will pay
whatsoever thou shalt determine.”

When Hiram had read this epistle he was pleased with it, and wrote back
this answer:—


“It is fit to bless God that he hath committed thy father’s government
to thee, who art a wise man and endowed with all virtues. As for myself,
I rejoice at the condition thou art in, and will be subservient to thee
in all that thou sendest to me about; for when by my subjects I have cut
down many trees of cedar and cypress wood, I will send them to sea, and
will order my subjects to make floats of them, and to sail to what place
soever of thy country thou shalt desire, and leave them there; after
which, thy subjects may carry them to Jerusalem. But do thou take care
to procure us corn for this timber, which we stand in need of because we
inhabit an island.”[14]

Josephus says:—“The copies of these epistles remain at this day, and are
preserved not only in our books, but among the Tyrians also.” They were
at that period among the records in the city of Tyre. Other epistles are
also there recorded, among which were those written by Xerxes, King of
the Persians, to Ezra; Artaxerxes to the Government of Judea; Antiochus
the Great to Ptolemy Epiphanes; and of the Samaritans to Antiochus,
Alexander Balas to Jonathan, Onias to Ptolemy and Cleopatra, and many



The history of the English post-office affords but little interest to
the general reader beyond that which its statistics and geographical
calculations afford. It is, however, a history that goes hand in hand
with its trade and commerce; and whatever improvements have been made
upon its past history are owing altogether to the enterprise of those
who are identified with those branches of the world’s great business.

It is not the statesman or the politician who originates, but the
mechanic, the farmer, and the merchant. The former are the aristocrats
of society; the latter, the workers—the very bone and sinew of a

It is to the farmer, the artisan, and the merchant that art and science
are indebted to their position among the most brilliant things of earth.
It is to them that commerce owes wings to fly to the remotest parts of
the civilized world, laden with the handiwork of art and the richness of
a nation’s growth. Society becomes more dignified, man more ennobled. It
is to this power that kings, emperors, and lords owe their positions;
for one word from that class will bring the loftiest head to the block,
if by word or action the attempt should be made to lessen or destroy
that power which elevated him or them to eminence.

The commercial power of England is its rule, and to it that nation owes
all its present greatness. The politics of England is its disgrace; its
commerce, its honor. The king and Parliament are at the head of the
one,—the hewers of wood and drawers of water at that of the other.

We have already alluded to the postal system organized by the Emperor
Charlemagne in the year 807. Yet in China posts had existed from the
earliest times. These were called _Jambs_, and were established at a
distance from each other of twenty-five miles. This mode of conveying
letters was by horses; and it is stated by Marco Polo, the Venetian
traveller, that there were frequently as many as three or four hundred
horses in waiting at one of these places. He also states that there were
ten thousand stations of this kind in China, some of them affording
sumptuous accommodation to travellers. Two hundred thousand horses are
said to have been engaged in the service.

Louis XI. first established post-houses in France. Post-horses and
stages were first introduced into England in 1483.

The mounted posts in France were stationed at distances of four miles
apart, and were required to be ready day and night to carry government
messages as rapidly as possible. Private correspondence, however, was
carried on very differently. The students of a university in Paris
established a postal institution in the eleventh century. A number of
pedestrian messengers were employed, who bore letters from its thousands
of students to the various countries of Europe from which they came, and
brought to them the money they needed for the prosecution of their

The great development of commerce following the Crusades, and the
geographical discoveries of the Italians, Portuguese, and Spaniards,
created a necessity for a more extended business-correspondence about
the beginning of the sixteenth century.

In Peru, in 1527, the Spanish invaders found a regular system of posts
in operation along the great highway from Quito to Cuzco, and messages
as to the progress of the invasion, as well as on other subjects, were
forwarded to the Inca by fleet-footed runners, who wound around their
waists the _quipu_, a species of sign-writing, by means of knotted cord.

In Sierra Leone they have what is termed the “Kaffir letter-carrier,”
who immediately on the arrival of a vessel takes charge of the letters;
and, although it should be late at night, he starts on his mission into
the settlement, and actually arouses the sleepers with his cry of, “Ah,
massa, here de right book come at last!” The Kaffir carries his letters
in a split stick, which he thrusts under your very nose as he approaches
with his welcome document. He is one of those rare letter-carriers who
never tires, nor complains of making too many trips a day.

The regular riding-post system owes its origin to Edward IV. This
answered not only the demands of the government, but those of merchants,
traders, and others. The former had, however, what were termed
“government messengers,” whose business was more particularly to summon
the barons, sheriffs, and other officers. Heralds are not to be
confounded with these messengers, as they were more identified with the
military than with the civil power.

In the reign of Henry I. messengers were first permanently employed by
the king

   “Messengers he sent throughout England.”

In the reign of King John, messengers were called the “nuncii:”
subsequently they became attached to the royal palace, and wore the
king’s livery, as in the reign of Henry III. Several private letters are
in existence, dating as far back as the reign of Edward II., which bear
the appearance of having been carried by the nuncii of that period, with
“Haste, poste, haste!” written on the back.

Little or no improvement was made in England in the postal system until
about the end of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. Even then it simply corrected
some of the abuses of the old system, by establishing what was called
“Master of the Postes.”

Some idea may be formed of the limited character of this department of
her majesty’s service, when we state that before her death the expenses
of the post did not exceed £5000 per annum. Previous to this estimate,
however, the expenses were considerably larger, owing to the careless
manner, as well as the extravagance, of those having charge of it.

The reign of Elizabeth was more distinguished for its number of great
men in the world of letters than for almost any other characteristic
feature. The names of these have been handed down to us, identified with
literature in all its various branches,—statesmen, warriors, divines,
scholars, poets, and philosophers. Among them we find the names of
Raleigh, Drake, Coke, Hooker, and others of higher sounding and more
frequently quoted,—Shakspeare, Sidney, Bacon, Jonson, Beaumont and
Fletcher,—men “whose fame has been eternized in her long and lasting
scroll, and who by their words and acts were benefactors of their
country and ornaments of human nature.”

Although an age of letters, the commercial interest was not neglected.
Still, that attention was not paid to the merchant’s demands for new
laws and regulations which the increasing business demanded: hence there
arose a difficulty in the postal system, which was more immediately
identified with their interests.

In the early part of the queen’s reign, disputes were frequent with the
foreign merchants resident in London, with regard to the foreign post,
which up to this reign they had been allowed to manage among themselves.
In 1558, the queen’s council of state issued a proclamation “for the
redress of disorders in postes which conveye and bring to and out of
the parts beyond the seas, pacquets of letters.”

This system—a system which the very spirit of trade should rise up
against—was done away with, and the sole authority was given to the
“Master of the Postes,” who, therefore, took charge of the foreign
office. The title of his office was changed, in consequence, to that of
“Chief Postmaster.” Thomas Randolph was the first Chief Postmaster in

It must be borne in mind that during all these periods of English
history the “common people” held little or no communication with each
other: hence their correspondence was very limited. Few of them could
read or write. Palmers, nay, even wandering gipsies, were not
unfrequently the “common people’s” post. The former, particularly, were
trusted with letters and packets for the “gentry.”

Under the Stuarts a regular system of post was established, the benefits
of which were to be shared by all who could find the means. Even then
England was behind the other European nations in establishing a public
letter-post. Still, it was a vast improvement on those of the preceding

In 1632, Charles I. approved of William Frizell and Thomas Witherings,
to whom the office had been assigned by Lord Stanhope under James I.

These two gentlemen, as the head of the post-department, gave general
satisfaction, and tended much to satisfy those who had just reason to
complain of the system as heretofore conducted.

1635.—Till this time there had been no certain and constant intercourse
between England and Scotland.

Thomas Witherings, his majesty’s Postmaster of England for foreign
parts, was now commanded “to settle one or two posts, to run day and
night between Edinburg and London; to go thither and come back again in
six days; and to take with them all such letters as shall be directed to
any post-town on the same road; and the posts to be placed in several
places out of the road, to run and bring and carry out of the said roads
the letters as there shall be occasion, and to pay twopence for every
single letter under fourscore miles; and if one hundred and forty miles,
fourpence; and if above, then sixpence. The like rule the king is
pleased to order to be observed to Westchester, Holyhead, and from
thence to Ireland; and also to observe the like rule from London to
Plymouth, Exeter, and other places in that road; the like from Oxford,
Bristol, Colchester, Norwich, and other places. And the king doth
command that no other messenger, foot-posts, shall take up, carry,
receive, or deliver any letter or letters whatsoever, other than the
messengers appointed by the said Thomas Witherings, except common known
carriers or particular messengers to be sent on purpose with a letter to
a friend.”—_Rushworth_, vol. ii. p. 104.

It will be observed, by those who are acquainted with the business of
the postal department, that the above forms the groundwork of that
gigantic institution which, linking itself with those of other nations,
encircles the whole civilized world.

After undergoing many and various changes, it became, under the
Protectorate, a sort of convenience for Cromwell and his council, who,
taking advantage of its immense power, made it subservient to the
interests of the commonwealth. One of the peculiar features which it
assumed under Cromwell’s rule was that “it might be made the agent in
discovering and preventing many wicked designs which have been and are
daily contrived against the peace and welfare of this commonwealth, the
intelligence whereof cannot well be communicated except by letters of

A system of espionage was thus established which no one having the
interest of the nation and people at heart could consistently subscribe
to. But Cromwell’s rule was based on fanaticism: hence those leading
principles, the result of a long and _religious_ study, and which made
up the business character of England before he gained the right to rule,
were all swallowed up in the vortex of his own created revolutions.

At the Restoration the system became adapted to the more enlightened
intellect of the people, and various changes took place, which gave
universal satisfaction. These were made in the reign of Charles II.

Two years before the death of this monarch the first penny post in
England was established (1683).

This establishment was originated by one Murray, an upholsterer, and it
was afterwards assigned to Mr. William Docwray, whose name long
subsequently figured in post-office annals. The penny post was found to
be a decided success. No sooner was this fact made apparent, than the
Duke of York, on whom and his heirs male in perpetuity the entire
revenue of the post-office had been settled by stat. 15 Car. II. c. 14,
complained that this post was an infraction of his monopoly.

In 1685, Charles II. died, and, the Duke of York succeeding his brother,
the revenues of the post-office reverted to the crown. Throughout the
reign of James II. the receipts of the post-office went on increasing,
though no great improvements were made in the administration. It was
this bigoted king who commenced the practice of granting pensions out of
the post-office revenues. The year after he ascended the throne he
granted £4700 a year to Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland, one of
his brother’s many mistresses, to be paid out of the post-office
receipts. It is a curious and disgraceful fact that this pension is
still paid to the Duke of Grafton as her living representative. The Earl
of Rochester was allowed a pension of £4000 a year from the same source.
These pensions were paid during the reign of William and Mary, and the
following pensions were added:—

   Duke of Leeds            £3500
   Duke of Schomberg         4000
   Lord Keeper               2000
   William Docwray, 1698      500

Among the post-office pensions granted in subsequent reigns, Queen Anne
gave one, in 1707, to the Duke of Marlborough and his heirs of £5000.
The heirs of the Duke of Schomberg were paid by the post-office till
1856, when about £20,000 were advanced to redeem a fourth part of the
pension, the burden of the remaining part being then transferred to the
Consolidated Fund. There was, it must be admitted, some semblance of
reason in giving Docwray a pension, for he had claims as founder of the
district post or the penny post; but he only held his pension for four
years, losing both his emoluments and his office in 1698, when charges
of gross mismanagement were brought against him. Some of the charges
alleged are curious. It was stated that he stopped “under spetious
pretences most parcells that are taken in, which is a great damage to
tradesmen, by loosing their customers or spoiling their goods, and many
times hazard the life of the patient when physick is sent by a doctor or

Ten years after the removal of Docwray from his office, another rival to
the government department sprung up, in the shape of a half-penny post.
The scheme, established by a Mr. Povey, never had a fair trial.

The first act for establishing a general post-office in _all_ her
majesty’s dominions was the 9th Anne, c. 10. This act, which remained
long in force, was the foundation of all subsequent legislation. By its
provisions a general post and letter office was established in London
for Great Britain, Ireland, North America, the West Indies, or any other
of her majesty’s dominions, or any country or kingdom beyond the seas.
To this end chief offices were established in Edinburgh, at Dublin, at
New York, and in other convenient places in her majesty’s colonies of
America and the islands of the West Indies. The whole of these chief
offices were to be under the control of an officer to be appointed by
the queen by letters patent under the great seal, by the name and style
of Her Majesty’s Postmaster-General. The improvements introduced by this
act increased the importance of the post-office and added to the
available revenue of the country. For ten years no further steps were
taken to develop the service; but in 1720, Ralph Allen, immortalized by
Pope, appeared on the scene, and he was destined to be one of the great
improvers of the establishment. Mr. Allen, who at this time was
postmaster of Bath, and who from his position was aware of the defects
of the system, proposed to the government to establish cross-posts
between Exeter and Chester, going by way of Bristol, Gloucester, and
Worcester, thus connecting the west of England with the Lancashire
district. The Bath postmaster proposed a complete reconstruction of the
cross-post system, guaranteeing improvement to the revenue and increased
accommodation to the public. The Lords of the Treasury granted him a
lease of the cross-posts for life, his engagement being to bear all the
costs of the new service and to pay a fixed rental of £6000 per year.
The contract was several times renewed to Allen, the government on each
occasion stipulating that the service should be extended. In this wise,
in 1764, the period of Allen’s death, it was found that the cross-posts
had extended to all parts of the country. Notwithstanding the losses he
suffered through the dishonesty of country postmasters, Allen estimated
the net profits of his contract at the sum of £10,000 annually: so that
at the end of his official life he had made nearly half a million
sterling. He bestowed a considerable part of his income in supporting
needy men of letters. He was the friend of Fielding, of Pope, and
Warburton. Fielding has drawn his character in the person of Allworthy,
and Pope has celebrated his benevolence in the well-known lines,—

   “Let humble Allen, with an awkward shame,
   Do good by stealth and blush to find it fame.”

On Allen’s death the cross-posts were brought under the control of the
postmaster-general, and the success of the amalgamation was so complete
that at the end of the first year profits to the amount of £20,000 were
handed over to the crown. In subsequent years the proceeds continued to
increase still more rapidly, so that when the by-letter office was
abolished in 1799 they had reached the sum of £200,000 per annum.

In the time of George I. the whole London post-office establishment,
which at present numbers several thousand officers of different grades,
was worked, without counting letter-carriers, by a staff of thirty-two
persons only.

The treasury warrants—warrants directed to the masters of packet
service, towards 1701—franked, as Mr. Lewins observes, the strangest
commodities. Among others, fifteen couple of hounds going to the King of
the Romans, two maid-servants going as laundresses to my lord ambassador
Methuen, Doctor Chrichton, carrying with him a case and divers
necessaries, two bales of stockings for the use of the ambassador to the
court of Portugal, and four flitches of bacon for Mr. Pennington, of
Rotterdam. Nor were these the only abuses. So little precaution was
used in the reigns of George I. and George II. that thousands of letters
passed through the post-office with the forged signatures of members.
Even in the early part of the reign of George III. it was related, in
the investigation of 1763, that one man had in the course of five months
counterfeited one thousand two hundred dozens of franks of different
members of Parliament. In the year 1763 the worth of franked
correspondence passing through the post-office was estimated at
£170,000. In 1764, when George III. had been four years on the throne,
it was enacted that no letter should pass franked through the
post-office unless the whole address was in the M. P.’s handwriting with
his signature attached. In 1784, frauds still continuing, it was ordered
that franks should be dated, the month should be given in full, such
letters to be put into the post on the day they were dated. From 1784 to
the date of the penny postage, no further regulations were made as to
the franked correspondence, the estimated value of which during these
years was £80,000 annually.

It was fifteen years after the death of the kindly and benevolent Allen,
the postmaster of Bath, that John Palmer, also of Bath, and one of the
greatest of post-office reformers, rose into notice. Originally a
brewer, Mr. Palmer was in 1784 the manager of the Bath and Bristol
theatres. Having frequently to correspond with and travel to London, Mr.
Palmer found that letters which left Bath on the Monday night were not
delivered in London until the Wednesday afternoon or night, but that the
stage-coach which left through the day on Monday arrived in London on
the following morning. He pointed out to the authorities that commercial
men and tradesmen, for safety and speed, sent their correspondence as
parcels, robberies from carelessness and incompetence of post-office
servants being then frequent. Mr. Palmer was ready with remedies for
these countless defects. In 1783 he submitted his scheme to Mr. Pitt,
who lent a ready ear. The officials, however, were first to be
consulted; and they, as is their wont, made many and sweeping objections
to changes which they represented not only to be impracticable and
impossible, but dangerous to commerce and the revenue. Mr. Pitt,
however, as Mr. M. D. Hill says in an article on the post-office,
inherited his great father’s contempt for impossibilities. He saw that
Mr. Palmer’s scheme would be as profitable as it was practicable, and he
resolved that it should be adopted.

Mr. Palmer was installed at the post-office on the day of the change,
under the title of Controller-General. It was arranged that his salary
should be £1500 a year, together with a commission of two and a half per
cent. upon any excess of revenue over £240,000. The rates of postage
were now slightly raised; but, notwithstanding, the number of letters
began most perceptibly to increase. Several of the principal towns, and
notably Liverpool and York, petitioned the treasury for the new
mail-coaches. But, though manifest success attended the introduction of
the Palmer scheme, yet the authorities were determinedly opposed to the
reformer, and he had to contend with them single-handed. In 1792, when
his plans had been about eight years in operation and were beginning to
exhibit elements of success, it was deemed desirable that Palmer should
surrender his appointment. In consideration, however, of his valuable
services, a pension of £3000 per annum was granted to him; but this sum
fell far short of the emoluments which had been promised to him, and he
memorialized the government, but without success. He protested against
this treatment, and his son, General Palmer, member for Bath, frequently
urged his father’s claims before Parliament; but it was not until 1813,
after a struggle of twenty years, that the House of Commons voted him a
grant of £50,000. This great benefactor of his country died in 1818. In
the first year of the introduction of his plans, the net revenue of the
post-office was about £250,000. Twenty years afterwards, the proceeds
had increased sixfold, to no less a sum than a million and a half,—an
increase doubtless partly attributable to the increase of population,
but mainly to the punctuality and security of the new arrangements.
Mails not only travelled quicker, but Mr. Palmer augmented their number
between the largest towns: three hundred and eighty towns, which had in
the olden time but three deliveries a week, had in 1797 a daily
delivery. The Edinburgh coach required less time by sixty hours to
travel from London; and there was a corresponding reduction between
towns at shorter distances. For many years after their introduction, not
a single attempt was made to rob Palmer’s mail-coaches, which were
efficiently guarded.

In 1836 there were fifty four-horse mails in England, whereas forty
years before there was not a third of the number. We remember the annual
procession of the mail-coaches on the king’s birthday,—a gay spectacle,
which Mr. Lewins is not old enough to remember. Coachmen and guards on
that occasion donned a new red livery, and all the coachmen and most of
the guards wore bouquets in their button-holes. In the year 1814 the
business of the post-office had increased so greatly that better
accommodation was sought than was afforded by the office then in Lombard
Street. The first general post-office, opened in Cloak Lane, was removed
from thence to the Black Swan, in Bishopsgate Street. After the fire of
1666 a general post-office was opened in Covent Garden; but it was soon
removed to Lombard Street. In 1825 the government acquiesced in the
views of the great majority of London residents, and
St. Martin’s-le-Grand was chosen for the site of a new building, to be
erected from the designs of Sir R. Smirke.

It was opened for business in September, 1829. From the date of the
opening, improvements ceased to be pertinaciously resisted. It was not,
however, till the late Duke of Richmond became the postmaster-general,
in the ministry of the late Earl Grey, in 1830, that improvements were
earnestly forwarded by the head of the department. The duke, a highly
public-spirited and patriotic man, was indefatigable in the service of
the department over which he was placed from 1830 to 1834. At first his
grace refused to accept any remuneration for his services; but at
length, in compliance with the strong representations of the treasury
lords as to the objectionable nature of gratuitous services, “which must
involve in many cases the sacrifice of private fortune to official
station,” he consented to draw his salary from the date of the treasury
minute already referred to. In 1834, Lord Grey’s postmaster-general
submitted a list of improvements to the treasury lords, in which at
least thirty substantial measures of reform were proposed. It was under
this functionary that amalgamation of the Irish and Scotch offices with
the English took place.

The railway for the first few years of its existence exerted but little
influence on post-office arrangements. On the opening of the Liverpool
and Manchester line, however, in 1830, the mails of the district were
consigned to the new company for transmission. After railways had been
in existence seven or eight years, their influence became paramount, and
in 1838 and 1839 acts were passed to provide for the conveyance of mails
by them.

It was in 1836 that Sir Francis Freeling, who had been secretary to the
post-office since 1797, a period of forty years, died. He was an
industrious public servant of the old school, strictly performing his
duty according to ancient precedent and routine. He was succeeded in
his office by Colonel Maberly, the son of a gentleman who, having
amassed a considerable fortune by trade, entered Parliament, and
ultimately succeeded Perry as the proprietor of the “Morning Chronicle.”
Colonel Maberly had been himself in Parliament, and was generally
considered a good man of business; but he was an entire stranger to the
business of the post-office, and, according to his own evidence before
the Select Committee on Postage, was introduced into the office by the
treasury for the purpose of carrying into effect the reforms which a
commission of inquiry had recommended.

On the fall of Sir R. Peel’s administration, in 1835, the Earl of
Lichfield succeeded to the office of postmaster-general under Lord
Melbourne. It must be admitted that the new postmaster and secretary
introduced many important reforms. The money-order office was
transferred from private hands to the general establishment. At this
juncture also commenced the system of registering valuable letters, and,
at the suggestion of Mr. Rowland Hill, a number of day mails were
started for the provinces.

At the close of 1836 the stamp-duty on newspapers was reduced from
3-1/4_d._ to 1_d._,—a reduction which led to an enormous increase in the
newspapers passing through the post-office.

But, though these improvements were in themselves commendable, the
authorities still tenaciously clung to the old rates of postage, and
refused to listen to any plan for the reduction of postage-rates.
Colonel Maberly, the secretary, had no sooner learned the business of
his office than he made a proposition to the treasury that the letters
should be charged in all cases according to the exact distance between
the places where a letter was posted and delivered, and not according to
the full distance. The lords of the treasury promptly refused, to use
the language of Mr. Lewins, “this concession.”

In 1837 the average general postage was estimated at 9-1/2_d._ per
letter; exclusive of foreign letters, it was still as high as 8-3/4_d._
It is a curious but significant fact that in the reign of Queen Anne the
postage of a letter between London and Edinburgh was less than half as
much as the amount charged at the accession of Queen Victoria. The fact
that the revenue derived from so well-protected a monopoly remained
stationary for nearly twenty years may be fairly attributable to these
high postage-rates.[17]

Mr. Lewins states that the revenue derived in 1815 from the post-office
amounted to a million and a half; while twenty-one years afterwards,—in
1836,—notwithstanding the increase of trade and the diffusion of
knowledge, the increase of this sum had only been between three and four
thousand pounds. The evil of high rates led not merely to small returns,
but to the evasion of postage by illicit means of conveyance, so that
some carriers of letters were doing as large a business as the
post-office itself.

This will appear evident from the statement that a post-office official
seized a parcel containing eleven hundred letters in a single bag in the
warehouse of a London carrier. The head of this firm proffered instant
payment of £500 if the penalties were not sued for. The
postmaster-general accepted the offer, and the letters passed through
the post-office on the same night.

So early as 1833, the late Mr. Wallace, M. P. for Greenock,
drew the attention of the House of Commons to the numerous abuses
in the post-office. There can be no question that his frequent motions
and speeches directed public attention specifically to the subject and
incalculably advanced the cause of reform. Mr. Wallace was not aided by
the government or by the aristocracy or higher professional classes; but
he derived much active support from the mercantile and manufacturing
community, and from the shopkeepers in all the great towns of the

It was the ventilation of the subject of the post-office by the member
for Greenock that first drew the attention of Mr.—now Sir—Rowland Hill,
to the subject. The son of a country schoolmaster, Mr. Hill had for a
long time acted as usher at his father’s establishment at Birmingham.
Being of an active and energetic disposition, he left the paternal roof
for the metropolis, and was in 1833, when he was about thirty-eight
years of age, secretary to the commissioners for the colonization of
South Australia. Here he exhibited powers of organization, and we have
from his own pen a statement that he read very carefully all the reports
on post-office subjects. He put himself into communication with Mr.
Wallace, M. P., who afforded him much assistance. He also corresponded
with Lord Lichfield, then postmaster-general, who imparted to him the
official information he sought. In January, 1837, Mr. Hill published the
results of his investigations and embodied his schemes in a pamphlet
entitled “Post-Office Reform: its Importance and Practicability.” The
pamphlet created a sensation in the mercantile world. It was well
noticed in the “Spectator” and “Morning Chronicle,” to both of which
journals Mr. Hill’s elder brother Matthew, now a commissioner of
bankruptcy at Bristol, contributed. Mr. Rowland Hill contended that the
post-office was not making progress like other great national
interests,—that its revenue had diminished instead of increased, though
the population had augmented six millions and trade and commerce had
proportionally increased. From data in his possession Mr. Hill pretty
accurately proved that the primary distribution, as he called the cost
of receiving and delivering the letters, and also the cost of transit,
took two-thirds of the total cost of the management of the post-office.
Out of the total postal expenditure of £700,000, Mr. Hill calculated
that the amount which had to do with the distance letters travelled
amounted to £144,000. From calculations which he then made, he arrived
at the conclusion that the average cost of conveying each letter was
less than the one-tenth of a penny. By this process he deduced the
conclusion that postage ought to be uniform. The propriety of a uniform
rate was further demonstrated by the fact that under the old system the
cost of transmission was not always dependent on distance. The case was
made still plainer by these facts. An Edinburgh letter, costing the
post-office an infinitesimal fraction of a farthing, was charged 1_s._
1-1/2_d._, while a letter for Louth, in Lincolnshire, costing the
post-office fifty times as much, was charged 10_d._

Mr. Hill’s four proposals were:—1st, a large diminution in the rates of
postage, even to 1_d._ in a half-ounce letter; 2d, increased speed in
the delivery of letters; 3d, more frequent opportunity for the despatch
of letters; 4th, simplification and economy in the management of the
post-office, the rate of postage being uniform.

In February, 1838, Mr. Wallace moved for a select committee of the
Commons to investigate Mr. Hill’s proposals; but the government resisted
the measure. Lord Lichfield, the postmaster-general, described it as a
wild, visionary, and extravagant scheme. The public at large were
greatly dissatisfied. Some of the most influential men in the city of
London established a committee for the purpose of distributing
information on the subject by means of pamphlets and papers and for the
general purposes of the agitation. A month or two after Mr. Wallace’s
motion, Mr. Baring, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, proposed a
committee to inquire into the present rates of charging postage, with a
view to such reduction as may be made without injury to the revenue, and
for them to examine into the mode of collecting and charging postage
recommended by Mr. Rowland Hill. The committee sat sixty-three days,
concluding their deliberations in August, 1838. They examined the
principal officers of the post-office, and eighty-three independent

In opposition to the views of official men, Mr. Hill held that a
fivefold increase in the number of letters would suffice to preserve the
existing revenue, and he predicted that the increase would soon be
reached. He showed that the stage-coaches then in existence could carry
twenty-seven times the number of letters they had ever yet done. The
post-office authorities traversed every statement of Mr. Hill and his
supporters, and Colonel Maberly expressed an opinion that if the postage
were reduced to one penny the revenue would not recover itself for forty
or fifty years. But, notwithstanding the opposition of the post-office
authorities, the committee reported for a reduction of the rates, for
the more frequent despatch of letters, and for additional deliveries,
adding that the extension of railways made these changes urgently
necessary. They further urged that the principle of a low uniform rate
was just, and that when combined with prepayment it would be convenient
and satisfactory.

The commissioners, consisting of Lord Seymour, Lord Duncannon, and Mr.
Labouchere, proposed that any letter not exceeding half an ounce should
be conveyed free within the metropolis, and the district to which the
town and country deliveries extend, if enclosed in an envelope bearing
a penny stamp.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer had the plan of a uniform rate of
postage embodied in a bill, which passed in the session of 1839. This
act, approved by a majority of one hundred and two members, conferred
temporarily the necessary power on the lords of the treasury. On the
12th of November, 1839, their lordships issued a minute reducing the
postage of all inland letters to the uniform rate of 4_d._ The country
was greatly dissatisfied. It required Mr. Hill’s plan; and the fourpenny
rate was in no respect his. The treasury lords were at length convinced
they had made a mistake, and on the 10th of January, 1840, another
minute was issued, ordering the adoption of a uniform penny rate. On the
10th of August the treasury had its minute confirmed by the statute 3 &
4 Vict. c. 96. A treasury appointment was given to Mr. Hill, to enable
him to assist in carrying out the penny postage. He only, however, held
the appointment for about two years; for when the conservative party
came into power the originator of the penny postage lost his situation.
Mr. Hill entreated to be allowed to remain at any sacrifice to himself,
but Sir R. Peel was obdurate.

Mr. Hill’s popularity increased with his dismissal. A public
subscription was opened for him throughout the country, as an expression
of national gratitude, which amounted to over £13,000. On the
restoration of the whigs to power, in 1846, he was placed in St.
Martin’s-le-Grand as secretary to the postmaster-general. In 1854, on
Colonel Maberly’s removal to the audit-office, he was named secretary to
the post-office under the late Lord Canning,—the highest appointment in
the department. In 1860 the secretary of the post-office was made a
Knight Commander of the Bath. During the autumn of 1863 his health began
to fail him, and in March of the present year (1865) he resigned his
situation. The executive government showed a just and liberal sense of
Sir Rowland Hill’s merits. By a treasury minute of the 11th of March,
1864, advantage was taken by the government of the special clause in the
Superannuation Act relating to extraordinary services, to grant him a
pension of three times the usual retiring allowance. This was not merely
a just but a generous act; and the language in which the resolution was
couched was not official, nor solemnly and decorously dull, as is usual
on such occasions, but encomiastic in the highest degree. Sir Rowland
Hill was pronounced not merely a meritorious public servant, but a
“benefactor of his race.” We do not say this eulogistic epithet was not
deserved, for we think it was well merited; but we may be permitted to
remark that Sir Rowland Hill has lived in a felicitous time, thus
promptly to find his merits officially recognized on retiring from his

Harvey, Jenner, Palmer of Bath, of whom we have antecedently spoken, and
scores of other discoverers and philanthropists, were less fortunate
than the late post-office secretary. Sir Rowland Hill was not only
allowed to retire on his full salary of £2000 per annum, but Lord
Palmerston gave notice that the pension should be continued to Lady Hill
in the event of her ladyship surviving her husband.[18] Since this
notice was given by the premier, an influential deputation of the house
waited on the first minister of the crown, strongly urging that, in
place of the deferred pension to Lady Hill, a Parliamentary grant,
sufficient, though reasonable, should be made at once to the late

We do not say that the social, moral, and commercial results of the
famous penny postage have not been singularly wondrous and beneficial,
and that Mr. Hill does not deserve all that has been done for him by
ministers, by his private friends and admirers, by the commercial and
manufacturing community, and by the public at large. We think the late
post-office secretary fully deserves every farthing that has been paid
or that may be hereafter paid to him, whether as an annuity or a
gratuity; we think he deserves the order of K.C.B., which he obtained,
and, further, that he deserves to have his merits and his name
commemorated by a statue intended to be erected at Birmingham in his
honor. But how few are there in this world of ours who obtain a tithe of
their deserts! Neither Harvey, Jenner, Newton, nor Locke was properly
rewarded by his country. Newton, indeed, passed many years of his life
in straitened circumstances, and never had any employment which produced
him more than from £1200 to £1500 per annum, while Locke’s
commissionership of appeals gave him only the miserable pittance of £200
a year. It is the good fortune of Sir Rowland Hill to have flourished in
more liberal times, when merit is fittingly acknowledged and rewarded.

The discovery of Sir Rowland Hill was not a brilliant and wonderful so
much as a useful discovery, and there can be no doubt that he worked out
all the details with a patience, a perseverance, and a judgment sure and
unerring. When the system of penny postage had been in operation two
years, it was found that the success of the scheme had surpassed the
most sanguine expectations. It almost entirely prevented breaches of the
law and that illicit correspondence by which the revenue had long been
defrauded. Commercial transactions as to very small amounts were
chiefly managed through the post: small money-orders were constantly
transmitted from town to town and from village to village, the business
of the money-order office having increased twentyfold. No men are more
indebted to the system of the penny post than literary men, publishers,
and printers,—manuscripts and proof-sheets now passing to and fro from
one end of the kingdom to the other with care, cheapness, and celerity.
Common carriers, too, are greatly benefited by the penny postage.
Pickford & Co. now despatch by post more than ten times the number of
letters they despatched in 1839. Mr. Charles Knight, the London
publisher, stated that the penny postage stimulated every branch of his
trade, and brought the country booksellers into daily communication with
the London houses. Mr. Bagster, the publisher of the Polyglot Bible in
twenty-four languages, stated to Mr. Hill that the revision which he was
just giving to his work would on the old system have cost him £1500 in
postage alone, and that the Bible could not be printed but for the penny
post. One of the principal advocates for the repeal of the Corn Laws
stated that the objects of the league were achieved two years earlier
than otherwise, owing to the introduction of cheap postage. Conductors
of schools and educational establishments stated how people were
learning everywhere to write for the first time, in order to enjoy the
benefits of a free correspondence. In all the large towns, too, it was
remarked that night-classes were springing up for teaching writing to
adults. As the system made progress with the public, Mr. Hill’s
recommendations and improvements extended and expanded. A cheap
registration started into existence, simplification was introduced in
the mode of sorting letters, slits were suggested in the doors of
houses, restriction as to the weight of parcels was removed, and a
book-rate was established. It was also suggested that railway stations
should have post-offices connected with them, and that sorting should be
done in the train and in the packets. The union of the two corps of
general and district letter-carriers, the establishment of district
offices, and an hourly delivery instead of every two hours, were also
suggested by Mr. Hill, and, after being strenuously combated by the
authorities, carried by the indefatigable secretary.

The amalgamation of the general post and what were called the London
district carriers did not take place till 1855, when the Duke of Argyll
was postmaster-general. For this amalgamation Mr. Hill had been striving
from the commencement. It avoided the waste of time, trouble, and
expense consequent on two bodies of men—the one being paid at a much
higher rate of wages—going over the same ground.

A more important step than this was the division of London into ten
districts. Under the new arrangement, instead of district letters being
carried from the receiving houses to the chief office in
St. Martin’s-le-Grand, to be there sorted and redistributed, they were
sorted and distributed at the district office according to their
address. An important part of the new scheme was that London should be
considered in the principal post-offices as ten different towns, each
with its own centre of operations, and that the letters should be
assorted and despatched on this principle. A new and special service was
brought into operation between England and Ireland on the 1st of
October, 1860. Night and day mail-trains have from that date been run
from Euston Square to Holyhead, and special steamers have been employed
at an enormous expense to cross the channel. Letter-sorting is now
carried on not only in the trains but on board the packets, nearly all
the post-office work for immediate delivery being accomplished between
London and Dublin and Dublin and London respectively.[19]

The first letter penny post was established in Edinburgh by one Peter
Williamson, a native of Aberdeen. He kept a coffee-shop in the
Parliament House, and as he was frequently employed, by gentlemen
attending the courts, in sending letters to different parts of the city,
and as he had doubtless heard something of the English penny post, he
began a regular post with hourly deliveries, and established agents at
different parts of the city to collect.


Posts for letters, mode of carrying, invented in Paris, 1470;
post-horses by stages, 1483. Louis XI. first established them in France.
In England, 1581; Germany, 1641; in the Turkish dominions, 1740. Offices
erected, 1643, and in 1657; made general in England, 1656; in Scotland,
1695; as at present formed, 12 Charles II., December 27, 1660. Penny
posts began in London, 1681; taken in hand by the government, 1711; the
penny post made twopence, 1801. Mails first conveyed by coaches, August
2, 1784; the first mail by railway, November 11, 1830, between
Manchester and Liverpool.

The mail first began to be conveyed by coaches, on Palmer’s plan, August
2, 1785.*

Posting and post-chaises invented in France.

Post-chaise tax imposed, 1779; altered, 1780.


The postal districts of London are so arranged as to render favorable
not only the facilities for delivering letters, but equally so to the
carriers. The employees of the London post-office are not overtasked,
nor are the carriers compelled as it were to become “beasts of burden.”
A want of consideration on the part of officials here for those in their
employ is a sad reflection on our republican institutions. Men who
exercise a little brief authority imagine themselves for the time-being
taskmasters, and those in their employ slaves. Nothing in the world
tends more to change a man’s politics than the abuses arising out of the
system pursued by men in power towards those in their employ. Thus
comparisons are drawn between the two parties, and the course of each is
canvassed; and not unfrequently, we regret to say, the Democracy has the
advantage. It has always been a principle of the Democratic party to
take care of “their men.” It is a fact that under Democratic
administration the salaries of the employees in the post-office were
thirty-three and one-third per cent more than they receive at present,
and that, too, when gold was at par and the rate of living fifty per
cent cheaper than it is now. The fact is, there are not ten men in the
post-office department whose salaries are adequate to their wants; and
to their just demand for an increase of salary they are coolly answered
that “if they are not satisfied they can resign, as there are plenty
outside willing to take their place.” Is it to be expected that men so
treated can consistently admire a system or maintain a principle that
strikes at the root of their interest and patriotism? In another part of
this work we have alluded to this subject, and referring to it here is
simply to contrast a portion of our postal system with that of the
English. Let it be distinctly understood that these remarks apply as
much to the heads of the postal department at Washington as they do to
their officials: the latter simply imitate the actions and carry out the
plans of their superiors, and not unfrequently in a manner as insulting
as their action and conduct are repulsive. Men in power should be
gentlemen; and in selecting their assistants, this natural attribute of
the man, refined by education, would exercise its influence in such a
manner as to render such selection a very easy matter. But,
unfortunately, in many instances such is not the case. The great error
committed by the _fortunate candidates_ for office is that of assuming
consequence, or, to use a more familiar phrase, “putting on airs:” it is
an error that in part arises out of our system of government, and is one
that can only be corrected by placing gentlemen in high positions,
instead of ignorant, brawling politicians. It is true, our government is
not established upon a state religious basis; or, if it were so
intended, that corner-stone has been misplaced. Our rulers are generally
politicians. To obtain office, corruption not unfrequently takes
precedence of religion: hence injustice, wrong, and oppression are the
means used to insure success. Examples thus set in high places have been
followed through all the departments; peculation in office, fraud in
agents, government itself cheated, are all indications of corruption,
and are the strongest evidences to be adduced for the increase of crime,
the disregard of truth, and the absence of morality among us. Even our
clergy display more of the

   “animum pictura pascit inani”[20]

than they do of the principle conveyed in this line from Virgil,—

   “Animus lucis contemtor.”[21]

The English post-office, to a certain extent, is a political one; but
there is one feature in it which differs materially from our own, and
it is one that reflects the highest credit on the English government;
and that is, a man is not discharged from office simply on political
grounds, but is retained as long as he attends to his business and
conducts himself properly. The reward of merit and long service is, when
incapable of attending to his duties, a pension from his government.
With these remarks, elicited by contrasting the two systems, we annex
the following synopsis of the London postal arrangements:—

(From the London “Postal Guide” for 1864.)

The London district comprises all places within a circle of twelve miles
from the general post-office, including Cheshunt, Hampton, Hampton
Court, and Sunbury, and the post towns of Barnet, Waltham Cross,
Romford, Bromley, Croydon, Kingston, and Hounslow. It is divided into
ten postal districts, each of which is treated, in many respects, as a
separate post town. The following are the names of the districts, with
their abbreviations, viz.:—

   Northern              N.
   Northeastern         N.E.
   Northwestern         N.W.
   Southern              S.
   Southeastern         S.E.
   Southwestern         S.W.
   Eastern               E.
   Eastern Central      E.C.
   Western               W.
   Western Central      W.C.

By adding the initials of the postal districts to the addresses of
letters for London and its neighborhood, the public will much facilitate
the arrangements of the post-office.

The district initials for every important street or place are given in
the street list.


The portion of each district within about three miles of the general
post-office is designated the town delivery, and the remainder the
suburban delivery.

Within the town limits there are twelve deliveries of letters daily.
The first, or general post delivery, including all inland, colonial, and
foreign letters arriving in sufficient time, commences about 7.30 A.M.,
and is generally completed throughout London by nine o’clock, except on
Mondays, or on other days when there are large arrivals of letters from

The second delivery, which commences about nine A.M., includes the
correspondence received by the night mails from Ireland and France, and
letters from the provinces and abroad which may arrive too late for the
first delivery, as well as those posted in the nearer suburbs by 6.30
A.M., as specified in the tables for each district.

The next nine deliveries are made hourly, and include all letters
reaching the general post-office or the district offices in time for
each despatch.

The last delivery commences about 7.45 P.M.

Each delivery within the town limits occupies about an hour from the
time of its commencement, which may be averaged at from forty-five
minutes to an hour from the time of despatch from the general
post-office, according to the distance from St. Martin’s-le-Grand and
the number of letters to be arranged by the letter-carriers for

The provincial day mails are due at various times, and the letters are
included in the next delivery after their arrival in London. The day
mails from Ireland, France, and the continent generally, and the letters
received from Brighton and other towns which have a late afternoon
communication with London, are delivered the same evening in London and
the suburbs within the six-mile circle.

The suburban deliveries are regulated in a similar manner, with this
difference, however, that in some of the less-thickly inhabited portions
the deliveries are necessarily fewer.


There is more attention paid in England to this letter or paper
inscription than there is with us. The “Poste Restante” being intended
solely for the accommodation of strangers and travellers who have no
permanent abode in London, letters for residence in London _must not be
addressed_ “Post-Office till called for.” Letters addressed to
“initials” or “fictitious names” cannot be received at the “Poste
Restante.” If so addressed, they are returned to the writers.

With us, little or no attention is paid to this important postal matter:
hence, a letter addressed simply to “John Smith, Philadelphia,” without
the word “Transient,” “or Poste Restante,” must necessarily take its
winding way through all the phases of postal travel until it reaches the
dead-letter office. We make another extract from the English “Postal

“Letters for strangers are delivered from the Poste Restante for a
period of two months; after which period they must have them addressed
to their place of residence, in order that they may be sent by the
letter-carriers. Letters for known residents in London, addressed to the
‘Poste Restante,’ are retained for one week only.

“Letters addressed ‘Post-Office, London,’ or ‘Poste Restante, London,’
are delivered only at the Poste Restante office, on the south side of
the hall of the general post-office, St. Martin’s -le-Grand; and at this
office also, and there only, are delivered letters addressed to the
district or branch offices in London. The hours of delivery are between
nine and five.

“All persons applying for letters at the Poste Restante must be prepared
to give the necessary particulars to the clerk on duty, in order to
prevent mistakes, and to insure the delivery of the letters to the
persons to whom they properly belong.”

The establishment of a “Poste Restante” on this principle would be an
important feature in our post-office, and would save both trouble and


The Kaffir Letter-Carrier—African Post.

The African post, as we term it, is of course simply connected with the
European settlements. A system of carrying letters is established, and
the principal messengers or carriers are the Kaffirs. In the several
settlements, more particularly those of the British at Sierra Leone,
Cape Coast Castle, and the Cape of Good Hope, and at several unimportant
establishments on the Gold and Silver Coasts, these messengers of the
African race were not only very useful in conveying letters, packages,
&c., but honest, trustworthy, and remarkably swift of foot. In Sierra
Leone more particularly they were considered very important personages.
In 1845 there was a well-known character, called the “Kaffir
letter-carrier.” He was employed to convey letters to the South African
settlement. He carried his document in a split at the end of a long
stick. He took great interest in his employment; and if a vessel arrived
at a late hour of the night, and the letter came into his possession
before morning, he would start off with it: no matter how dark the night
or how great the distance, away he would speed. When he reached the
house of the person to whom the letter was directed,—one of his
customers,—he would commence shouting and knocking; and as soon as the
house was alarmed, he would exclaim, “Ah, massa, here de right book come
at last!” This expression was caused by the anxiety manifested by the
Europeans generally to receive letters and packages by every vessel.
Another reason that might be assigned for the activity displayed by the
Kaffir letter-carrier was the fact that he usually displayed some extra
trinket immediately after the delivery of his letter or package. The
free-delivery system had not been adopted in Africa at that period, nor
do we believe it can boast of that liberal governmental privilege yet.

The name of Kaffir, or unbeliever, was originally given to the
inhabitants of the southern coast of Africa by the Moors; and, being
adopted by the Portuguese, it became the common appellation of all the
tribes occupying the southeastern coast. The Kaffirs living beyond the
Fish River, on the eastern boundary of the colony, are a bold, warlike,
and independent people, and are supposed to be of Arabian origin.


Post-Offices—The Colonies.

   “There were men with hoary hair
     Amid that pilgrim band:
   Why had they come to wither there,
     Away from their childhood’s land?”


If fanaticism had not been mixed up with the materials embarked on the
Mayflower, July 22, 1620, those scenes which disgraced humanity and
civilization and enacted under the belief of witchcraft would never have
occurred here; but, unfortunately, that evil came over with the “Pilgrim
Fathers,” and its consequences gave a dark page to the history of the
“Land of Promise.”

They were, it is true, the pioneers of liberty to a certain
extent,—freedom to the body, but not to the mind.

The chains, riveted by the old Gothic laws at that period existing in
England, and by which millions of human creatures were held in a state
of mental and physical bondage, were left behind, it is true; but the
link which bound them to superstition remained unbroken.

Apart from this, however, their landing on Plymouth Rock was the dawn of
a new era, and it gave an additional spring to human enterprise, “opened
new trains of thought, new paths of gain and of information.”

   “What sought they thus afar?
     Bright jewels of the mine,
   The wealth of seas, the spoils of war?
     They sought a faith’s pure shrine!”

Passing over the dark days of witchcraft and the persecution of the
Quakers, the colonial history brightens up under a more tolerant rule.
That the belief in witchcraft was a delusion arising from ignorance,
under the influence of which many persons became frantic, there can be
no doubt. And yet there was a method in their madness so cunningly
carried out that it deceived many far more enlightened. A writer
speaking upon the subject says, “It is but justice to the inhabitants of
New England to observe that, though the present age may censure the past
for its superstition, neither England nor any other nation is entitled
to cast the first stone at them. More persons were put to death in
England in a single county, in a few months, than suffered in all the
colonies during the whole period of their existence.”

The scenes that were enacted in New England during this epidemical reign
of insanity gradually yielded to the influence of reason, which under
proper religious discipline once more assumed its rule. One of the chief
causes which tended to arouse the mind from its mental darkness was the
fact of a dog being taken up on suspicion, and actually hanged, as an
accomplice of his master, who was accused of witchcraft![22] This act
capped the climax of folly. People began to wonder if such things could
be; and they actually took the case of the dog into serious
consideration, and then came to this very wise conclusion,—that he fell
a martyr to the folly and ignorance of a few fanatics. They then began
to ridicule those who assumed the power to terrify the people and who
had exercised it to a bitter end over men and animals. This did more to
bring men to their senses than all the preaching and reasoning of the
elders previously.[23]

Naturally, while these idiotic scenes were enacting, the arts and
sciences, commerce and manufactures, were materially neglected; but when
the gloom which fanaticism had cast over this portion of the colonies
had passed away, the dawn of _reason and civilization_ awoke her
benighted children to a new state of existence.

To trace up the postal history of the colonies to the glorious epoch of
our independence would be to give a history of trade and commerce,
science and art. To these do every thing useful and ornamental in the
New World owe its existence. It is true the postal department was at the
early age of colonial history but a minor consideration. The system was
a limited one, and consisted in having post-roads and post-riders. Even
here the latter were to be seen “like angels’ visits, few and far
between.” We can draw one of these from a picture seen in our boyhood
days. It was in the good old State of Pennsylvania, not many miles from
the city of Philadelphia, and while trudging on our way to the village
school, this living picture presented itself. A tall, gaunt man sat on a
tall, gaunt horse; he came riding slowly up the road,—this was not, as
now, a fast age: his hair was partly gray, and fell in tow-looking
ringlets down and around his long, sinewy neck. Over the horse’s back
was swung a large, well-filled pair of saddle-bags. He was the
post-rider. He had started from the main post of the county, established
in Norristown, to others in directions diverging from the main road. He
stopped his horse, and, raising his tall form, resting his feet on a
pair of old rusty stirrups, he shouted out, in a voice of mimic thunder,
“Look here, Jim: take this letter to your mother, ’mediate; for that is
written on the back; and as you pass Mrs. Stroud’s, hand her this
newspaper. Do this, Jim, and I’ll give you sixpence next pay-day.” Such
was the post.

Connected with this little incident there is a somewhat curious
coincidence. Little did the writer think then, while acting as “an
incipient post,” he should in after years find himself in a position in
the Philadelphia post-office, acting first as a carrier, and then as
clerk, and whose early vocations in life were in no manner identified
with public men and public institutions. But what will not revulsions in
trade, politics, and governments effect! Equally strange, too, that
forty years after the little incident of the “old post” he should meet
in the same office the son of that same Mrs. Stroud mentioned above,
acting in a similar capacity. Truly may it be said that “_coming events
cast their shadows before_ us on our boyhood’s wayward path.” But this
is a digression.

Expresses and regular messengers were employed by the colonists, and
horses were kept in constant readiness to start on a moment’s notice
with letters or packets, for the government as well as individuals.
There was no established postal system but that which the exigencies of
the times created. The post-riders, or rather government messengers, ran
frequent risks. Captain Hutchinson started July 4, 1665, sent by the
Governor of Massachusetts with letters constituting him a commissioner
to treat with the Narragansetts. The “letter system” failed to
conciliate the tribe, as they had openly declared for Philip; and here
we have another illustration of the fact that in cases of war and
rebellion the “sword is mightier than the pen.” The colonial forces
marched into their country and compelled them to sign a treaty, which,
however, was only considered binding as long as the forces sent against
them were present.

In 1676, however, the colonial court established a post-office in
Boston, appointing John Heyward postmaster. Heyward followed the system
as established in England, and placed posts and made routes to the
extent of the commercial interest of the State. This gave general
satisfaction to those who were interested in this mode of communicating
with men connected with them in trade, as also to others who had friends
and relations scattered throughout what was then a thinly-populated

In the year 1700, Col. J. Hamilton, of New Jersey, and son of Governor
Andrew Hamilton, first devised the post-office scheme for British
America, for which he obtained a patent and the profits accruing.
Afterwards he sold it to the crown, and a member of Parliament was
appointed for the whole, with a right to have his substitute reside in
New York. The statute of Anne, in 1716, placed the postal department
under the immediate control of the crown.

The first regular post-office established in the colonies by Parliament
was in 1710. By its provisions a general post-office was established in
North America and the West Indies, or any other of her majesty’s
dominions, or in any country or kingdom beyond the seas, and “at which
office all returns and answers may be likewise received. For the better
managing, ordering, collecting, and improving the revenue, and also for
the better computing and setting the rates of letters according to
distance, a chief office is established in Edinburgh, one in Dublin, one
at New York, and other chief offices in convenient places in her
majesty’s colonies of America, and one in the islands of the West
Indies, called the ‘Leeward Islands.’”

That our readers may form some idea of the limited use of a post-office
at that period, it is only necessary to state the fact that in 1708 New
York contained but one thousand houses, most of them substantially
built. The great Trinity Church, so called then, was erected in
1695.[24] A library was established there in 1700, and the post-office,
as stated above, in 1710. The post-horse system, such as was pursued in
England, continued, nor was it until 1732 that the first stage-route to
Philadelphia was established: stages also departed for Boston monthly,
taking a fortnight on the route.

The following announcement is taken from the “Philadelphia Weekly
Mercury,” dated November 30, 1752:—

“On Monday next the Northern post sets out from New York, in order to
perform his stage but once a fortnight during the winter quarter; the
Southern post changes also, which will cause this paper to come out on
Tuesdays during that time. The colds which have infested the Northern
colonies have been also troublesome here; few families have escaped the
same; several have been carried off by the cold, among whom was David
Brintnall, in the seventy-seventh year of his age. He was the first man
that had a brick house in the city of Philadelphia, and was much
esteemed for his just and upright dealing. There goes a report here that
the Lord Baltimore and his lady are arrived in Maryland, but, the
Southern post being not yet come in, the said report wants

The David Brintnall mentioned here built the first house made of brick
in the city of Philadelphia: it was situated in Chestnut Street below
Fourth, and stood back from the street-line, with a small garden in
front. The first house erected in Philadelphia was a wooden one, on the
east side of Front Street, a little north of the place now called
“Little Dock Street,” and is said not to have been finished when William
Penn first arrived. The owner, John Guest, kept a public house there for
many years. His sign was a “Blue Anchor.” The town and boroughs of
Philadelphia were located in 1682.

Letters between New York and Boston were, previous to the introduction
of stages, conveyed on horseback. Madam Knight, in her journal, dated
1704, says that “she was two weeks in riding with the postman, as her
guide, from Boston to New York. In most of the towns she saw Indians.”
In 1702, Mrs. Shippen, soon after her marriage, came from Boston to
Philadelphia on horseback, _bringing a baby on her lap_.

Even at a much later period the mode of travelling was still in a slow
way, as may be seen by the following advertisement, which appeared in

“This is to give notice to the Publick that the stage waggons kept by
John Burrowhill, in Elm Street, in Philadelphia, and John Mersereax, at
the Blazing Star, near New York, intend to perform the journey from
Philadelphia to New York in two days; also to continue seven months,
viz.: from the 14th of April to the 14th of November, and the remaining
five months of the year in three days. The waggons to be kept in good
order, and good horses, with sober drivers. They purpose to set off from
Philadelphia on Mondays and Thursdays punctually at sunrise, and to be
in Prince-Town the same nights, and change passengers, and return to New
York and Philadelphia the following days. The passengers are desired to
cross Powlass Hook Ferry the evening before. The waggon is not to stay
after sunrise. Price, each passenger, from Powlass Hook to Prince Town,
ten shillings; from thence to Philadelphia, ten shillings also; Ferriage
free. Threepence each mile any distance between. Any gentlemen or ladies
that wants to go to Philadelphia, can go in the stage and be home in
five days, and be two nights and one day in Philadelphia to do business
or see the market-days. All gentlemen and ladies who are pleased to
favour us with their custom may depend on due attendance and civil usage
by those humble servants,


   “June, 1776.”

Market-days in Philadelphia at that period, and long afterwards, were
great attractions to the country-people, even apart from business. It
was also customary to ring the bells of Christ Church on the evenings
previous to “market-days” for the edification of the country-people, who
had learned to look upon them—or at least to hear their sound—as more or
less identified with our independence. There is a peculiar history
attached to these bells. They were purchased in England at a cost of
£900. There were eight of them, and their aggregate weight was eight
thousand pounds, the tenor bell weighing eighteen hundred pounds. In
1777, fearful of their falling back again into English hands, they were
taken down and conveyed to Allentown, Pennsylvania, for “_safe
keeping_.” After the evacuation of the city they were replaced, and have
been ringing joyfully ever since. They pealed forth in gladsome sounds
when the old State-House Bell sounded its note to liberty, and in
harmony they proclaimed it to the world. But did the world respond? Did
it shake off the bonds which bound man to man by an iron chain? Did it
“proclaim” alike to the African that freedom was his birthright? Alas!
no; for although the Declaration of our Independence pronounced “all men
equal,” yet a distinction was made in color, and, under that very
document and the Constitution, slavery came in, to become in time, what
it was in reality before, a curse.

Years passed on; trade and traffic in human flesh continued, until the
Almighty, in his wondrous mystery, brought about their emancipation in a
manner that levelled the institution of slavery to the ground forever.
But, alas! have we not as a people and a nation been severely punished?
Established on a basis of crime and carried out in a spirit of fiendish
ferocity, they dared call it a “divine institution.” For this fearful
error on the part of those eminent men who framed that document, our
country has suffered fearfully; but these bells and all other bells will
peal once more under a new order of things, and truly as well as
righteously “proclaim liberty throughout the land to all the people
thereof.” Then will our land

                         “be blest,
   Its branchy glories spreading o’er the West;
   No summer gourd, the wonder of a day,
   Born but to bloom, and then to fade away,
   A giant oak, it lifts its lofty form,
   Greens in the sun, and strengthens in the storm.
   Long in its shade shall children’s children come,
   And welcome earth’s poor wanderers to a home,
   Long shall it live, and every blast defy,
   Till Time’s last whirlwind sweep the vaulted sky.”


New York, like Pennsylvania, has its primitive postal history. The first
postmaster at Schenectady was Dr. Eleazer Mosely, who died in 1833, aged
seventy-three years. He established a post by raising subscriptions
from the inhabitants, which operated very favorably; and the result was
the carrying the mail by contract.

At first the western mail was carried from Albany once a week, in a
valise on the shoulder of a footman.

As late as the year 1810 there was only a weekly mail between
Canandaigua and Genesee River, carried on horseback, and part of the
time by a _woman_!

In 1730 notice was published to this effect:—“_Whosoever inclines to
perform the foot-post to Albany this winter is to make application to
Richard Nichols, the postmaster._” Only think of this, ye modern

The carrying of the mail between New York and Philadelphia previous to
the Revolution was a very small matter: it was hardly an affair to be
robbed. It was carried by a boy, who took the whole in saddle-bags, on
horseback, three times a week. Next it was carried in a sulky;—next in
coaches. What is it now?

In 1753 the post-office at the Bowling Green, Broadway, was, as
announced, “opened everyday save Saturday afternoons, and Sundays from
eight to twelve A.M. and from two to four P.M.”


The original office was situated at the corner of William and Garden
Streets, in which house resided the then Postmaster-General, Theodorus
Bailey. It was also the residence of Sebastian Ballman, the first
postmaster of the city subsequently to the Revolution, who was appointed
to the office by General Washington. The room used as an office was
twenty-five to thirty-five feet in length, and contained one hundred
boxes. In 1827 it was in the basement of the “Merchants’ Exchange,”
occupying two-thirds of that extensive space. The Merchants’ Exchange is
situated on Wall Street. It is built of white marble. Its front on Wall
Street is one hundred and fourteen feet, and its depth, extending to
Garden Street, one hundred and fifty feet. The portico of the building,
to which a flight of marble steps ascends, is ornamented with Ionic
columns twenty-seven feet high.

In 1844 the post-office was removed to a new building,—the first, we
believe, ever erected in that city expressly for postal purposes.[25] It
is situated on Nassau Street, and reflects but little credit to the city
either for its architectural or business-like appearance. There is many
a lager-beer establishment can compete with almost any post-office in
this country in point of those attractive qualities in architectural
design in which they are so totally deficient. In this, however, we are
not surprised; for the former has become an institution that may well
claim precedence over almost any other in the country. Lager-beer
saloons are institutions dedicated to death: hence their motto should be
the Dutch word for _beer_,—BIER.


An independent post-office was established in New York in 1775. It was
suggested by William Goddard, the publisher of the “Maryland Journal,”
and John Holt, the printer, was appointed postmaster. It went into
(partial) operation on the 11th of May. The office was kept at Holt’s

There is no doubt that the “Sons of Liberty,” a popular association of
Americans, were connected with this movement; for one of the first acts
of its members was to send, through this office, threatening letters to
the leading members of the tory party. This association took the lead in
political matters, and exercised a powerful influence over the masses.

They also, in the dead hour of the night, went to Holt’s printing-office
and printed inflammatory handbills themselves, and then circulated them
throughout the city.


This gentleman was originally mayor of Williamsburg, Virginia. He also
established a newspaper there, and rendered important service to the
cause of the patriots. He came to New York, where ten years before he
had published the “New York Gazette and Post-Boy” in company with James
Parker. He started another paper shortly after his arrival in New York.
When the British took possession of the city, he left it, and published
his journal at Esopus and Poughkeepsie. While at the former place he
published Burgoyne’s pompous proclamation, also the full account of the
dreadful massacre in the Wyoming Valley. Holt died January 30, 1784,
aged sixty-four years.

The tongue of slander found no poison in his life to bait shafts with;
and justice, having awarded him all praise in life, left his memory and
his acts to the historian.


Pennsylvania—The Olden Time.


William Penn, the founder of the colony of Pennsylvania, was born in
London in the year 1644. His father, Sir William Penn, was distinguished
in the British navy as an able admiral, being commander of the fleet at
the reduction of Jamaica in 1655, and contributing greatly to the defeat
of the Dutch fleet in 1664. For his services he was knighted by Charles

William Penn was entered in 1660, as a gentleman commoner, at Christ’s
Church, Oxford; but, withdrawing from the national forms of worship, in
connection with other students, who like himself had attended the
preaching of Thomas Loe, an eminent member of the Society of Friends,
commonly called Quakers, he was punished by fine for nonconformity, and
in the succeeding year, for pertinacious adherence to his opinions, was
expelled from the college. His father, considering that his singularly
sober and serious manner of life tended to prevent his elevation to the
honors of Charles’s licentious court, was indignant at his disgrace, and
therefore turned him out of doors in 1662, after, as he says, being
whipped and beaten.

He was, however, sent by his father to France, and after his return was
entered at Lincoln’s Inn as a law-student. He renewed his acquaintance
with Loe in Ireland, where he had been sent to manage an estate in 1666,
and showed so much partiality to the persecuted sect of Quakers that he
was arrested at a meeting in Cork and imprisoned by the authorities,
who at last restored him to liberty at the intercession of some
influential persons. He returned to England, when he had a violent
altercation with his father, who was desirous that he should abandon
habits so singular, so offensive to decorum, and so opposed to
established forms; and, refusing to appear uncovered before the king and
before his father, he was a second time dismissed in disgrace from
protection and favor.

In consequence of a controversial dispute in 1668, when he first
appeared as a preacher, he was sent to the Tower, where he remained a
prisoner for seven months, and shortly after his release he was, on the
passing of the Conventicle Act, again sent to prison in Newgate,—from
which he was liberated by the interest of his father, who about this
time became reconciled to him, and, dying some time after, left him an
estate of £1500 per annum. Marrying in 1672, he fixed his residence in
Hertfordshire, occupying himself zealously in promoting the cause of the
Friends both by preaching and writing.

Soon after his return from Holland, whither he had gone in 1677 to
assist at a general meeting of Friends, he petitioned his majesty
Charles II. for a grant of land lying north of that already granted to
Lord Baltimore, and west of the now Delaware. In consideration of his
father’s services, and of a debt of sixteen thousand pounds due the
admiral at his decease, the grant was readily made, to which the Duke of
York added by cession a neighboring portion of territory on the Delaware
to the south of the king’s grant. The patent bore date March 4, 1680-81;
and in this instrument the king gave the name of Pennsylvania to the
province, in honor of Admiral Sir William Penn.

The day after the charter was granted to Penn, he wrote a letter to
Robert Turner, in which he gives the particulars of the naming of his
province. The essential parts of this letter we quote:—

“ ... Know that, after many waitings, watchings, solicitings, and
disputes in council, this day my country was confirmed to me under the
great seal of England, with large powers and privileges, by the name of
Pennsylvania, a name the king would give it in honor of my father. I
chose New Wales, being a pretty hilly country; but Penn being Welsh for
_a head_, as Penmanmoire in Wales, and Penrith in Cumberland, and Penn
in Buckinghamshire, the highest land in England, called this
Pennsylvania, which is the _high_ or _head woodlands_; for I proposed,
when the secretary, a Welshman refused to have it called New Wales,
_Sylvania_, and they added _Penn_ to it, and though I much opposed it,
and went to the king to have it struck out and altered, he said it was
past, and would take it upon him; nor could twenty guineas move the
under-secretaries to vary the name, for I feared lest it should be
looked on as a vanity in me, and not as a respect in the king, as it
truly was, to my father, whom he often mentions with praise.”

The charter constituting William Penn and his heirs true and absolute
proprietaries of Pennsylvania, saving to the crown their allegiance and
the sovereignty, is preserved in the office of the Secretary of the
Commonwealth at Harrisburg. Being thus constituted absolute proprietor
and governor of Pennsylvania, Penn published “A Brief Account of the
Province,” proposing terms of settlement to such as might choose to
remove thither; in which land was offered to purchasers at forty
shillings per hundred acres, with a quit-rent of one shilling per annum.
Many persons embraced his offer, and several companies of emigrants
sailed to take possession of their new purchase, landing, December,
1681, at Chester.

While the colony was thus commenced, Penn remained in England, occupied
in forming a government for his people and providing means for its

Early in 1682 the proprietary published “The Frame of Government of the
Province of Pennsylvania, together with Certain Laws, &c.,” in the
preface to which is found a sketch of his sentiments on the form and
substance of civil government.

The governor, having completed all his preparations, sailed early in the
fall of 1682, in company with about one hundred colonists, mostly
Quakers from his own neighborhood, of which number, however, about
thirty persons perished by small-pox, which broke out after their

The first colonists sent out, being chiefly of the Society of Friends,
with the predominating characteristics of their people, temperance,
industry, and economy, and conducting themselves in the difficulties and
hardships of their new situation with much prudence and circumspection,
avoided most of the dangers to which a new colony is usually subject,
and received with demonstrations of satisfaction the new settlers who
arrived at New Castle October 24, 1682. Immediately on his arrival, Penn
proceeded to establish his government over the colony, and the first
assembly was convened at Chester on December 4. This legislature, in a
session of three days, passed laws annexing the lower counties ceded by
the Duke of York to the province, confirming an act of settlement, and
naturalizing resident foreigners, and also passed in form, after some
revision, the laws which had been prepared in England.

After a visit to Lord Baltimore in his government of Maryland, Penn
returned to _Coaquannock_ (the site of Philadelphia), and, still
conscientiously regarding the Indians as rightful possessors of the
soil, he invited them to a conference at Shackamaxon (now Kensington),
where they assembled in great numbers. A formal treaty of peace and
amity was made: the Indians were paid for their lands, and departed for
their homes full of love and admiration for the great and good _Onas_,
as they called Penn. For seventy years this simple but sincere treaty
remained inviolate: of it Voltaire says, “It was the only treaty between
these people and the Christians that was not ratified by an oath, and
which was never broken.” Certain it is that Penn’s strict observance of
justice in paying for the soil, and the interest he manifested, during
many successive treaties, in their real welfare, not only operated to
secure the colony for many years from hostile attacks, but implanted in
the generous though uncultivated mind of the Indian a regard for Penn
and the Quakers which bids fair to be transmitted to the latest remains
of the race.

The capital of the province, Philadelphia, was next to be laid out, of
which at the time of Penn’s arrival not a house was completed,—the
colonists having in general no better lodgings than caves hollowed out
of the high banks of the rivers. The very ground on which it was
proposed to locate was in dispute, being claimed by some Swedes, who
were induced to relinquish their claim for a larger portion of land
elsewhere. The city was located between _Wicacoa_, now Southwark, and
Shackamaxon,—two miles in length and one in breadth, with a navigable
river at each end,—and was planned with admirable convenience and
regularity under the inspection of the Surveyor-General of the province.
During the first year there were erected about eighty houses; and the
establishment of various mechanical arts, as well as a profitable trade,
soon gave strength to the infant city.

Early in 1683 the first jury was impanelled for the trial of one
Pickering, with others as accessories, who were convicted before the
governor and council of counterfeiting the Spanish silver money current
in the colony. The sentence discovers the same spirit of mildness and
equity which at this day constitutes the praise and the efficacy of the
criminal code of the State. He was to pay a fine of £40 towards the
building of a court-house, standing committed until payment, find
securities for his good behavior, and make restitution in good silver to
the holders of his base coin, _which, being first melted down, was to be
restored to him_.

Penn’s interest at court had declined considerably, partly caused by
_ambitious_ enemies; but it was soon restored upon the death of Charles
II. by the accession of his more immediate patron, James II., which
occurred shortly after Penn’s arrival in England in 1684. The troubles
in that country during the reign of James involved Penn and his colony
in difficulty, and after the revolution of 1688, which placed William
and Mary on the throne, Penn was several times imprisoned in consequence
of his religion and his supposed adherence to the cause of the fallen

On the prevalence of his enemies at court, he had been deprived of his
government of Pennsylvania, which was annexed in October, 1692, to that
of New York under Colonel Fletcher.

The suspicions which had so long rendered the king unfriendly to Penn
were at last removed. He was honorably acquitted of all charges,
religious as well as political, which had been brought against him, and
his rights were restored to him by an instrument of William and Mary,
dated in August, 1694.

We have given this little sketch of the history of Pennsylvania simply
as an episode. It is, however, connected with that portion of our
subject which laid the foundation for a system of communication that
has, ever since the introduction of trade and commerce, made up one of
their chief facilities in business, and identified itself with the
cabinet of Washington,—THE POST-OFFICE DEPARTMENT.

In connection with William Penn our readers will no doubt be interested
in the following letter, which is on file in the Land Department at the
Capitol, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

According to the “Harrisburg Telegraph,” it appears to be the
credentials of a Society of Free-Traders, an organized body of merchants
which once existed in London, whose objects were to trade with Canada,
at that time a comparatively unknown country. The “Emperor of Canada”
was supposed by the company to be a celebrated Indian chief. The letter
is written on a piece of parchment about two and a half feet wide by
three feet in length. The letters are about an inch in length, slightly
inclined to the right, bold, and of a very symmetrical formation. The
first letters of the first and second lines are large and highly
ornamented,—a style which is yet kept by some of our first-class
publishers, who introduce ornamental initial letters to chapters in
their books. The signature of Penn is nearly an inch long, with the same
inclination to the right, but the letters are not quite so bold and
gracefully formed as those in the body of the document:—

“TO THE EMPEROR OF CANADA:—The Great God that made thee and me and all
the world, Incline our hearts to love peace and Justice that we may live
friendly together as becomes the workmanship of the Great God. The King
of England, who is a Great Prince, hath for divers Reasons, granted me a
large Country in America, which however I am willing to Injoy upon
friendly terms with Thee. And this I will say that the people who come
with me are a just, plain and honest people, that neither make war upon
others nor fear war from others, because they are just. I have set up a
Society of Traders in my Province to traffic with thee and thy people
for your commodities, that you may be furnished with that which is good
at reasonable rates. And the Society hath ordered their President to
treat with thee about a future Trade, and have joined with me to send
this messenger with certain presents from us to testify our willingness
to have a fair Correspondence with thee. And what this Agent shall do in
our names we will agree unto. I hope thou wilt Kindly Receive him, and
comply with his desires on our behalf both with respect to Land and
Trade. The Great God be with thee. Amen.

   “WM. PENN,

   “LONDON, the 21st of the fourth month, called June, 1682.”


Philadelphia Post-Office—Posts, etc.

    “Among the Greek colonies and churches of Asia, _Philadelphia
    is still erect, a column in a scene of ruins_, a pleasing
    example that the paths of honor and safety may sometimes be
    the same.”—GIBBON.

We purposely passed over Pennsylvania in giving a statistical account of
post-offices, as we intend to make the Philadelphia post-office the
starting-point of a more general history, as far as the State is
concerned, as also a more extended notice of the system of the general
postal department. Again, there are more historical and remarkable
events associated with Pennsylvania, in connection with the Revolution,
than any other State in the Union.

The history of any one post-office after the Revolution would be a
history of all; and, as the writer is more familiar with that of
Philadelphia, he is enabled to gather more materials for the
miscellaneous portion of his work than if he had selected any other.

The general business routine of one office differs very little from that
of another: yet every office has its “unwritten history” and its own
“romance and realities.”

New York, with its vast commercial interests both at home and abroad,
and justly termed the metropolis of America, could, from the archives of
her post-office, give to the world incidents that perhaps would find no
parallel in the annals of all the calendars that have registered events
of a startling character since the creation of the world.

A post-office, with its millions of letters, is an epitomized world. The
letters represent the human race, and contain the written records of
their vices and virtues; or it may be compared to a huge volume, and the
letters passing to and fro, the indexes to its contents.

Not that the secrets of a post-office become known to its officers by
improper means, but by that process of secret modes of detection whose
mysterious workings are unknown to those unconnected with the
institution. Very little behind the great city we have named stands that
of Philadelphia; and its post-office, like the tomb, has buried secrets
which an “Old Mortality” alone has the power to bring forth. The task be
ours to paint the mysteries of the postal tomb.


History and romance have, as it were, by mutual consent allied
themselves together for the sole purpose of mystifying mankind. It is
true the first cannot pervert a living fact, but it can materially
affect the character of one long since passed away and mingled with the
revolution of words, men, and nations. The latter is simply a colorist:
the one maps, the other paints. And yet how often do we hear it said
that truth is stranger than fiction! The romance of a post-office would
be a far more truthful history of the human heart than any other work
ever written upon the subject. The post-office is the pulsation of a
nation, the beating of a million of hearts, and its records would be the
world’s volume. “A mail-bag,” says a writer, “is an epitome of human
life. All the elements which go to form the happiness or misery of
individuals—the raw material, so to speak, of human hopes and fears—here
exist in a chaotic state. These elements are imprisoned, like the winds
in the fabled cave of Æolus, ‘biding their time’ to go forth and fulfil
their office, whether it be to refresh and invigorate the drooping
flower, or to bring destruction upon the proud and stately forest

We have selected the Philadelphia post-office as the scene of our
romantic portion of this work, because, as stated, it is familiar to us,
and many of the incidents, anecdotes, &c. related came under our
immediate notice. We mention this simply to do away with any impression
that may arise that our purpose was to exalt one city over another and
praise its institutions at the expense of those of other places. The
author having received some little credit as a critic in another
department of our literature for impartiality at least, it is hoped that
he will not be accused of a departure from it in this instance.

The history of Philadelphia is fraught with much interest; it is
identified with the name of one whose mild and conciliating views with
regard to the Indians made his colonization one of holy peace, and gave
to the name of Philadelphia by Christian practice what its Biblical
meaning conveys,—“the City of Brotherly Love.”

We annex an extract from a Latin poem, inscribed to James Logan, Esq.,
by Thomas Makin, dated 1728. It was found among James Logan’s papers
many years after his death. The poem seems to have been written for
amusement in his old age:—

   “First, Pennsylvania’s memorable name
   From Penn, the founder of the country, came;
   Sprung from a worthy and illustrious race,
   But more ennobled by his virtuous ways.
   High in esteem among the great he stood;
   His wisdom made him lovely, great, and good.
   Tho’ he be said to die, he will survive;
   Thro’ future time his memory shall live;
   This wise proprietor, in love and praise,
   Shall grow and flourish to the end of days.
   With just propriety, to future fame
   Fair Pennsylvania shall record his name.
   This Charles the Second did at first command,
   And for his father’s merits gave the land;
   But his high virtue did its value raise
   To future glory and to lasting praise.”[27]


The want of a regular postal system was not felt in the colonies until
they had reached a certain point in trade, commerce, and population. The
mode of conveying letters and packages, indeed, as well as merchandise
of all kinds, was perfectly simple and of a decided primitive character.

Pack-horses were used for the purpose of conveying goods from
Philadelphia to towns west. Pack-horses afforded almost the sole means
of transportation until about 1788, when the roads were made accessible
for wagons; and even then, when the first wagon made its appearance at
Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the “packers” became greatly excited, and looked
upon it as an improvement likely to “ruin their trade.”

The year 1683 was remarkable for the number of emigrants who arrived in
the colony. It was in this year the first Assembly was held in
Philadelphia, and laws enacted which had a wonderful bearing on the
future prospects of the colony.

In July of this year William Penn issued an order for the establishing
of a post-office, and granted to Henry Waldy, of Tekonay (now written
Tacony), authority to hold one, and to supply passengers with horses
from Philadelphia to New Castle, or to the Falls. The rates of postage
were as follows: “Letters from the Falls, 3_d._; to Chester, 5_d._; to
New Castle, 7_d._; to Maryland, 9_d._; and from Philadelphia to Chester,
2_d._; to New Castle, 4_d._; and to Maryland, 6_d._” The post went once
a week, and was to be carefully published “on the meeting-house door and
other public places.”

There being no other mode of conveyance except by horse,—wagons and
stages not being then established,—the transporting of letters was, of
course, made by “post-horses:” these were of the slow order and
conducted on that principle. It was not until 1756 that the first line
of stages was established. The chief office was in Strawberry Alley, at
the sign of the “Death of the Fox.”

The stage _viâ_ Perth Amboy and Trenton made its trip to New York in
three days. John Butler was the proprietor, he having been set up in the
business by the “Old Hunting Club,” to whom Butler had been huntsman and
kennel-keeper. The same year “British packet-boats” are first announced
between New York and Falmouth. In 1765 a second line of stages was set
up for New York, to start twice a week, using three days in going
through, at twopence a mile. It was a covered Jersey wagon, without
springs, and had four owners or proprietors concerned in its management.
The same year the first line of stages, vessels, and wagons is set up
from Philadelphia to Baltimore _viâ_ Christiana and Frenchtown on Elk
River, to go once a week from Philadelphia. In 1766 a third line of new
stages for New York, modestly called the “Flying Machine,” and intended,
of course, to beat the two former ones, was set up to go through in two
days,—to start from Elm Street, near Vine Street, under the ownership
of John Barnhill. They were to be “good stage wagons, and the seats set
on springs.” Fare, threepence per mile, or twenty shillings for the
whole route. In the winter season, however, the “Flying Machine” was to
cleave to the rough roads for three days, as in former times.

In the “Weekly Mercury” of March 8, 1759, we find the following quaint


   “_performs their stages twice a week_.

“John Butler with his waggon, sets out on Mondays from his house at the
sign of the Death of the Fox, in Strawberry Ally, and drives the same
day to Trenton Ferry, when Francis Holman meets him, and proceeds on
Tuesday to Brunswick, and the passengers and goods being shifted into
the waggon of Isaac Fitzrandolph, he takes them to the New Blazing Star
to Jacob Fitzrandolph’s the same day, where Rubin Fitzrandolph, with a
boat well suted, will receive them and take them to New York that night.
John Butler returning to Philadelphia on Tuesday with the passengers and
goods delivered to him by Francis Holman, will again set out for Trenton
Ferry on Thursday and Francis Holman &c. will carry his passengers and
goods, with the same expedition as above to New York.

    “March 8, 1759.”

“In 1773, as perfection advanced, Messrs. C. Bessonett & Co., of
Bristol,” start stage-coaches—being the first of that character—to run
from Philadelphia to New York in two days, for the fare of $4. At the
same time “outside passengers” were to pay 20 shillings each.[28]

In 1785 the legislature of New York passed an act of exclusive
privilege for ten years to Isaac Vanwick and others to run a four-horse
stage from New York to Albany at fourpence a mile. This to encourage the

It would be a curious history to follow up that of stage-coaches until
the introduction of railroads and steamboats. It would be a history
fraught not only with interest, but showing the enterprise of men under
a new mode of government, and the developing of minds which under
monarchical rule were chained as it were to ignorance and fanaticism.
Liberty and that freedom a republican system gives both to mind and body
create a desire

   “To learn and know the truth of every thing
   Which is co-natural and born with it,
   And from the essence of the soul doth spring.”

We have stated that Butler was the “kennel-keeper” to the Old Hunting
Club. This club was composed of the “first men of the day.” The kennel
for the hounds belonging to the company was situated on the brow of the
hill north of Callowhill Street, descending to Pegg’s Run, near Second
Street. Butler lived in a low brick house adjoining the northwest corner
of Callowhill and Second Streets. Fox-hunting was a favorite amusement
of the club. When the population of the city increased and game
disappeared, the members removed their establishment over to Gloucester,
so as to make their hunts in the Jersey pines.

The passion for hunting led to other amusements not quite so interesting
or innocent, both as regarded their character and the influence they
were calculated to have on society. These were horse-racing and
bull-baiting. The latter were frequent, more particularly in the
Northern Liberties, and were first supported chiefly by butchers, but
gradually assumed a more aristocratical character, being encouraged by
many members of the “Old Hunting Club.” John Ord, an Englishman, kept
bull-dogs for the purpose of the breed. His establishment was at the
corner of Second and High Streets. The cruel amusement of
bull-baiting—one which gave to Old Spain a character for cruelty only
equalled by that of the Inquisition—continued until about 1798, when
Robert Wharton, Esq., was elected mayor of the city. He attended one of
these “bull-baits,” and actually, just as they were about to loose the
dogs, jumped into the ring, and, calling aloud, said he would arrest the
first man who should commence the cruel work. The effect was tremendous:
men started back in affright; the very dogs cowed beneath the glance of
his flashing eyes; and the bull gave a roar,—no doubt one of rejoicing
for his escape. There were no more bull-baitings after that.

William Penn did not enter upon his mission in the colonies unprepared
for all the difficulties he had to encounter, nor was he ignorant of the
history of those nations and their great cities which ages ago gave them
a classic habitation and a home.

Penn evidently had the celebrated city of Babylon in view as a model for
Philadelphia; and, from a draft before us, the idea, as far as
regularity and order were concerned, appears to have been well
conceived, and, as proved, subsequently carried out.

The history of Philadelphia, as it was during its colonial, caterpillar
state, and as it is now in dazzling, butterfly beauty under a far
different system of government, is familiar to all: yet we shall have
occasion, in connection with our subject, to allude to its former
history as we proceed.

The post-office scheme of Colonel John Hamilton was well adapted to the
wants of the colonists. In 1717 a settled post was established from
Virginia to Maryland, which went through all the Northern colonies,
bringing and forwarding letters from Boston to Williamsburg, in
Virginia, in four weeks.

In 1727 the mail to Annapolis was opened, to go once a fortnight in
summer, and once a month in winter, _viâ_ New Castle, &c., to the Western
Shore, and back to the Eastern Shore, managed by William Bradford in
Philadelphia, and by William Parks, of Annapolis.

William Bradford established a press in Philadelphia in 1687, the
first-fruits of which was a sheet almanac. The title was, “An Almanac
for the Year of the Christian Era 1687; particularly respecting the
meridian and latitude of Burlington, but may indifferently suit all
places adjacent. By William Leeds, Student in Agriculture. Printed and
Sold by William Bradford, near Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania.”

A copy of this rare print is in the Philadelphia Library.

William Bradford was the then deputy postmaster, but, having proved
negligent respecting his official accounts, was removed, and Benjamin
Franklin was appointed in his stead. Colonel Spottswood was the
postmaster-general, at whose instigation Bradford was removed.

Now commenced a new and important era in the postal department of our
country, bearing date 1737. It was at that period, however, a very
unimportant matter, but in time has become a gigantic institution. We
look back to that period now with more interest, for two reasons: one
is, to contrast it with the present, and the other, because the name of
Benjamin Franklin is identified with the first great move in our postal

Franklin assumed the deputy-postmastership in 1737. The only pecuniary
available result from it, however, was that it afforded him better
facilities for procuring news for his paper, and for its distribution.
This paper was originally entitled “The Universal Instructor in all Arts
and Sciences, and Pennsylvania Gazette,” and had reached its
thirty-ninth number when its proprietor sold out to Franklin and
Meredith. October 2, 1729, was the date of No. 40, edited by B.
Franklin. It was reduced in name to “Pennsylvania Gazette.” The increase
and emoluments of his paper were still further aided by the diminishing
patronage received by his rival Bradford, the displaced postmaster, who
had while in office forbidden his post-riders to distribute any papers
but his own. Franklin, speaking of this ungenerous conduct on the part
of Bradford, said, “I thought so meanly of the practice on his part,
that when I afterwards came into the situation I took care never to
imitate it.” He also says, in his Life, “Thus Bradford suffered greatly
from his neglect in due accounting; and I mention this fact as a lesson
to those young men who may be employed in managing affairs for others,
that they should always render accounts and make remittances with great
clearness and punctuality, &c.”

Perhaps there is no portion of our postal history more interesting than
that which characterized its early dawn. It presents a sort of political
and financial struggle between trade, commerce, and a government.
Franklin, however, settled the question by making it both a national and
commercial feature. It is also interesting to note the difference
between the movements of the public mail in those old colonial days,
when its bags, at most but a few score pounds in weight, were almost
universally carried on horseback, and in these times, when it is speeded
in tons by steam!

Perhaps there was not another man in the colonies better adapted for the
postmastership than Franklin. He had been, up to that period, an active
business-man. He was a printer, editor, compositor, publisher,
bookseller, and stationer,—in fact, a modern Faust in the first, and a
Mathew Carey in the latter.

The postal services of the colonies now began to assume a somewhat
business form, and, although some of these services were not immediately
connected with the department, they were nevertheless highly
advantageous to the community: as, for instance, letters arriving from
beyond sea were usually delivered on board the ship into the hands of
the persons to whom they were addressed; families expecting letters
would send a messenger on board for the purpose of receiving letters.
Those that were not called for before the sailing of the vessel were
taken to the “Coffee-House,” where everybody could make inquiry for
them; thus showing that the post-office did not seem to claim a right to
distribute them, as now. Persons coming from adjacent settlements called
at the “Coffee-House,” and carried away not only their own letters, but
all those belonging to their neighborhood. These were called “neighborly

As the trade of the colonies extended, the system of letter-delivery
began to vary; and thus the “neighborly post” system resolved itself
into that of the “post-rider.”

Perhaps Boston deserves the credit of the first formation of a foreign
postal system; for in 1639 the General Court of Massachusetts issued the
following decree:—

“It is ordered that notice be given that Richard Fairbanks his house in
Boston is the place appointed for all letters which are brought from
beyond the seas, or are to be sent thither to be left with him; and he
is to take care that they are to be delivered or sent accordingly to the
directions; and he is allowed for every letter a penny; and he must
answer all miscarriages through his own neglect in this kind.”

In Philadelphia, the Old Coffee-House system prevailed for many years.

In Virginia, the mail-bag was passed along from plantation to
plantation, and each planter was required by law, passed in 1757, to
send a messenger with it to his next neighbor, under a penalty of a
hogshead of tobacco. Every man took out his own letters from the bag,
and so on to the remainder.

In 1672 the government of New York established a monthly mail to Boston,
advertising that those disposed to send letters should bring them to the
secretary’s office, where, in a “locket-box,” they shall be preserved
till the messenger calls for them; all persons paying the post before
the “bagg be sealed up.”

In 1692 the office of postmaster-general for North America was created;
but as late as 1704 no post-rider went farther east than Boston, or
farther south than Baltimore. When Franklin was appointed
postmaster-general, in 1753, the line of posts still began at Boston,
and went no farther south than Charleston.

In 1738 Henry Pratt was made riding-postmaster for all the stages
between Philadelphia and Newport, Virginia, “_to set out in the
beginning of each month, and to return in twenty-four days. To him all
merchants, &c. may confide their letters and other business, he having
given security to the postmaster-general._”

In 1744 it was announced in the Gazette that the “Northern post begins
his fortnight stages on Tuesday next for the winter season.” In 1745
John Dalley, Surveyor of the State, says that he has just made survey of
the road from Trenton to Amboy, and has set up marks at every two miles
to guide the traveller!

An attempt was made in 1692 to establish post-routes throughout
Virginia. A patent was laid before the Virginia Assembly for making a
Mr. Neal postmaster-general of that and other parts of America; but
though the Assembly passed an act in favor of this patent, it had no
effect. The reason assigned was that it was impossible to carry it into
execution, on account of the dispersed situations of the inhabitants.

The locality of the colonial post-offices is a matter of doubt; but, as
nearly all the public departments were located in private houses, the
presumption is that the post-office was, under Bradford, at his
printing-office, and it is more than probable that Benjamin Franklin’s
residence, corner of Second and Race, was, or at least a portion of it,
used for postal purposes. The first located building used for the
purpose was on the east side of Water Street, a few doors below High
Street,—the same house which had before been the residence of the chief

It is evident from the old records that all along Water Street and Front
Street, extending to South, the chief business of the city was
transacted. The earliest papers show by their advertisements that many
of the goods for retail were sold on Water Street. Even Penn Street at
that early period was of some note; and there are to this day many
buildings in its immediate vicinity which bear date prior to 1750. As
early as 1737 Mrs. Fishbourne kept a store in Water Street below Walnut,
expressly for “ladies’ goods.” In Water Street above Pine Street, in
1755, there was a fashionable furnishing-store for gentlemen’s wearing
apparel. The “Old London Coffee-House” stood at the corner of Front and
Market Streets: it was the resort of merchants and the _élite_ of the
city.[29] All that portion of Front and Second Streets extending as far
down as Almond was termed “Society Hill,” and was the nucleus around and
near which the tradesmen, the milliners, mantuamakers, and retail
merchants gathered.

William Penn, Jr., had a small house at the corner of Second and South
Streets. The scenery in the neighborhood of Second and Dock Streets is
described by old historians as being very beautiful. Watson says,
“Looking across the ‘Dock Creek,’ westward, we see all the margin of the
creek adorned with every grace of shrubbery and foliage; and beyond it a
gently sloping descent from the line of Second Street, whereon were
hutted a few of the natives’ wigwams, intermixed among the shadowy
trees. A bower near there, and a line of deeper verdure on the ground,
marked ‘the Spring,’ where the naiad weeps her emptying urn.”

In the neighborhood of Union and Front Streets, “Alderman Plumstead” had
a splendid garden on the “Sloping Hill:” it was the admiration of the
town. In 1739 the Rev. George Whitefield preached to fifteen thousand
people on “Society Hill,” near to the flag-staff near Front and Pine.
There was also a place of resort in this vicinity, called “Cherry
Garden.” “The Friends’ Meeting-House” was also located here, and “George
Wells’s place” was much admired. The Loxley House, which stood back of
177 South Second Street (old number), below Little Dock, and only within
a few years torn down, is well known for its historical reminiscences to
our readers. Near to the Loxley House there was a peculiar spring of
water, called “Bathsheba’s Spring and Bower.” The origin of the name is
somewhat curious. “Bathsheba Bowers” was the name of a young lady. She
erected a small house near to the best spring of water that was in our
city. The house she furnished with books, a table, and a cup, in which
she, or any that visited her, drank of the spring. Some people gave it
the name of “Bathsheba’s Bower,” and the spring long afterwards bore the
name of “Bathsheba’s Spring.”

It was in the immediate vicinity of this then beautiful portion of the
city the first theatre was opened.

Perhaps there are many of our readers unacquainted with the early
history of the stage and the drama in Philadelphia. True, much has been
written upon the subject; but in almost every instance discrepancies
both in dates and names have occurred.

In the year 1747, one hundred and nineteen years ago, a company of
comedians were performing in this city. As this announcement will no
doubt startle many, we must, as pioneers in the cause of truth and the
drama, be chronological as well as logical in establishing the fact.

The state of society at the period alluded to above was different from
what it is now. A feeble, sickly spirit of aristocracy, even at that
early stage of our history, disgraced alike the moral and intellectual
character of those who caught the infection; and hence a bitter feeling
existed among the various classes making up the great body politic. This
dangerous foe to all social and religious forms was brought over to the
colonies by a few decayed branches of the nobility-trees of England, who
had established a sort of “West End” fraternity along Front Street below
Spruce (in the immediate vicinity of the Loxley House), and which was
known for many years as Society Hill. Broad lines of distinction were
drawn between the classes, and mechanics were looked upon as being so
far beneath the consideration of these “Malaprops” of real life that
servants had to negotiate all business transactions: _the quality had
nothing to do with them_!

In the principal streets, such as Second, Front, Spruce, and even as far
down as South Street, various artisans, shopkeepers, and others had
established themselves in business; and it was here the first attempt
was made to enact plays and lay the foundation of the drama’s temple.

The Quakers, and the more sober portion of other denominations, left no
means untried to break up what they termed “these Satan-like doings.”
It is true, these exhibitions were not publicly announced, and the
citizens generally were not aware of their secret place of exhibiting
“profane plays.” Private as they were, however, sufficient publicity was
given to them to create an alarm among a class of people possessing all
the primitive qualities, as well as virtues, of their great founder.

The dawn of literature in this country (_that is, admitting it ever had
a morning_) dates at a much later period than the year 1747. It is true
many obstacles stood in the way of its advancement; apart from which,
the colonists were not a reading community, and the press throughout the
land might be likened unto “angels’ visits, few and far between.” It is
true the colonists could boast of a few names, whose works bear date as
far back as 1640. In 1639 manuscripts were used in courts. The laws by
which the colonies were governed were not printed until 1641. The art of
printing was introduced into North America in 1639. The first
printing-press established in the States was put up at Cambridge,
Massachusetts, in 1639, by Stephen Day. In 1640 he published the Bay
Psalm-Book. The year 1678 may be said to form an era in our literature;
for at that time John Foster, Boston, published the works of Anne
Bradstreet; in 1676, Peter Folger wrote and published his famous
“Looking-Glass for the Times.” Various poems, orations, sermons, &c.
&c., were published; but it was not until 1720 the _first play was
written on the American continent_; and we deem it of sufficient
importance to engross it in our sketch of the American stage.

Benjamin Coleman, or, as some wrote it, Colman, was born in Boston,
October 19, 1676. While at Harvard College, he wrote the tragedy of
“Gustavus Vasa;” and this was the first play enacted by a company of
amateurs in the colonies. The history of our literature is associated
with that of the press: without the press it would have been as learning
was when vellum and beech received the impression of certain figures
called letters, and were sold at enormous prices, in proportion to the
intellectual and physical labor bestowed upon their productions. The
moment the press was put in operation in Connecticut, poetry,
Pallas-like, sprang from its mystic womb, and, if unlike Pallas,
completely armed, was at least so decently clad that criticism
faltered at the threshold of censure. The next play written and the
first published in the colonies was “The Prince of Parthia,” by Thomas
Godfrey: it was printed in 1768. A copy of it is in the Philadelphia
Library. This author was the son of Thomas Godfrey, a glazier, and
inventor of the celebrated quadrant now in use. He was born in
Philadelphia, in the year 1736. We never refer to these pioneers in the
cause of our drama and literature without feeling a desire to moralize.
Indeed, to look back over a series of years, and call up images to the
mind which have long since passed away, strikes so forcibly the
conviction of man’s identity with the infinite works of God, that he
trembles, while he meditates, and feels his own insignificance while
mourning o’er “visions fled.”

They are brought up to our view by the “Old Mortalities” of every
generation; and the selfsame enthusiastic feeling which prompted them to
remember coming ages urges us to fulfil our destiny in this. It would be
curious to us in this generation, if it were possible, to raise up the
curtain of the mouldering past and bring to view “the things that
were,”—paint the lowly dwellings of our ancestors, the simplicity and
primitive qualities of their minds, and the stern moral rectitude of
their even lives. All this would contrast fearfully with what we are
now, not only as regards our temporal but our spiritual state. If we
differ from our good old friends of the eighteenth century, it is on
the subject of the drama and the strange notion they had of its immoral
tendency; for we never could imagine that the choicest gems from the
British poets—conveyed to us through the medium of the stage—could have
any other effect than to exalt the mind, expand the intellect, and open
to the view the rich and inexhaustible mental wealth of the mimic world.
It would be curious, we say, if it were possible to describe that state
of society which could exist without _music_, _poetry_, and
_painting_,—a state of society no doubt perfectly moral, strictly pure,
but rather stiffly starched with the old-fashioned notions of propriety
and the right of enjoyment. At that period, dancing was prohibited, and
a fencing-master from Paris almost hunted down for attempting to teach
the art in this city. It is true, a few wax figures and Punch and Judy
made their appearance on some holidays; but they soon _melted_ away
before the heat of puritanical sunshine.

We now come to the first attempt at theatrical representations. In the
year 1747 a company was formed, composed chiefly of young men whose
education and birth placed them in positions to advance the cause of
science or art, as their tastes and inclinations might have led them to
advocate. A family by the name of Courtland, an English family, had but
recently arrived in this country, and, possessing many of the prevailing
notions at that time popular in England, their astonishment at our total
ignorance of the drama and its literature was fully shown by a display
of their knowledge and a familiar acquaintance with the living
dramatists of that period in England. It is not our purpose to connect
the name of Courtland with the organization of this company: indeed,
such a thing would be almost impossible, inasmuch as the association was
as secret as were the names of its members. One thing, however, was
evident: a taste for dramatic reading soon became prevalent, and the
plays of Shakspeare found favor even in the eyes of the godly. Young
Courtland, the leader of “Society Hill” boys, soon inoculated his
companions with many of their follies, and the playgrounds about the
Loxley House resounded with their shouts. From this circle came forth
the pioneers of our drama. A companion of Courtland’s, by the name of
Aitken, was the first to propose a dramatic association. The name of
Garrick and the uprising of the English drama in London had already
enlisted many here in its favor.

The place of meeting for the early pioneership of the drama was held in
a house on Second Street adjoining the then gardens of the Loxley House,
and immediately connected with an old white building, recently altered
into stores, and which was used in our Revolutionary War as a hospital.
The front portion of this dramatic temple was used as a boot and shoe
store; the rear was occupied by the proprietor’s family, and the range
of rooms over the back building was the scene of the drama’s birth. It
was here “Richard III.” was enacted, and it was here the few plays that
had crossed the Atlantic found favor in the eyes of the aspirants for
histrionic fame, and whose dramatic efforts kindled a flame in many a
youthful breast, which has sent its light down through the mimic world
to brighten it in all ages.

A great sensation was created by this theatrical outbreak, and on its
reaching the ears of the Quakers, they, with others opposed to such
“unlawful proceedings and profane exhibitions,” had the matter brought
before the council, or, rather, the recorder, and we find upon his
office-books, bearing date January 8, 1749, gravely written, “The
recorder then acquainted the board that certain persons had taken upon
them to act plays in this city, and, as he was informed, intended to
make a frequent practice thereof, which it was feared would be attended
with mischievous effect, such as the encouraging of idleness, and
drawing great sums of money from weak and inconsiderate people, who are
apt to be fond of such kinds of entertainments, though the performance
be ever so mean and contemptible. Whereupon the board unanimously
requested the magistrates to take most effectual measures for
suppressing this disorder, by sending for the actors and binding them to
their good behavior, or by such other means as they should judge most

This proceeding, strange as it may seem, produced quite a contrary
effect; for the company, which was now regularly organized, and was made
subservient to the interests of all concerned, actually stepped out from
behind the law and boldly asked permission from the authorities to enact
plays in some more public place other than the obscure spot they had
selected. Backed by the aristocracy of “Society Hill,” their application
was granted.

What aided to strengthen this company and give it character was the fact
of several members of a West India company arriving here, who
immediately joined them; and thus Richard III., Hamlet, Beau Stratagem,
&c., were played in a manner to please the “million.”

The Philadelphia company left the Quaker City at the close of 1749, and
opened a temporary theatre in a wooden building in Nassau Street, New
York. A writer, alluding to this company and the early history of the
drama, says, “The earliest theatrical performances, in the recollection
of the oldest inhabitants, were in a store on Crugar’s wharf, near Old
Slip, by a company of Thespians, composed of ‘choice spirits’ of a
certain order. They were roystering young men, full of tricks and
mischief, who used to play cricket in the fields, and who spent their
nights at the Boat-House, on Broad Street, near where the United States
Public Stores now stand.” Our readers will recognize in these young men
the Thespian company from the Quaker City. After playing here with some
success, the company left for Virginia.

They then went to Williamsburg, Virginia, and, although William Dunlap
denies the fact in his “History of the American Stage,” yet it is true
that under the presidency of Thomas Lee the Philadelphia company,
strengthened by the addition made to it in New York, obtained permission
to erect a theatre in Williamsburg, and in the year 1750 it was begun
and finished. They played here in 1751.[30]

Hallam opened at this very theatre on the 5th of September, 1752, and on
the evening of July 13, 1752, the Philadelphia and New York company
opened their second new theatre in Annapolis, and performed “The Beau
Stratagem” and the farce of “The Virgin Unmasked:” boxes, 10_s._; pit,
7_s._ 6_d._ Richard III. was performed twice,—the character of Richard
by Mr. Wynel, and that of Richmond by Mr. Herbert. Mr. Eyniason, Mr.
Aitken, and Mr. Courtland are the only names handed down to us as
belonging to the colonial company.

As Hallam’s company arrived at Yorktown in June, 1752, and did not open
until September at Williamsburg, there is no doubt that a portion of his
company joined Eyniason at Annapolis and played until the opening at

The first play, therefore, acted in this country by what may be termed a
regular company (and this company was composed of the old actors, and
two or three of Hallam’s, viz.: Wynel and Herbert) was “The Beau
Stratagem,” and the farce of “The Virgin Unmasked.” After the
organization of Hallam’s company the members of the old became
incorporated with it. The Annapolis theatre, which in 1752 was called
the New Theatre, was built of brick, and was calculated to hold over
five hundred persons. Dunlap says _this was the first theatre erected in
this country_, not being advised of the one erected in Williamsburg in
1750. In justice, however, to Dunlap, the author has a letter from the
veteran of the drama within a short time before his death, wherein he
acknowledges his error and does justice to Burke the historian, and
admits the justice of our correction made in the year 1835.

The following are the names of a portion of the company who played in
the “The Beau Stratagem:”—Mr. Eyniason, Mr. Bell, Mr. Miller, Mr. Love,
Mr. Courtney, Mr. Aitken, Mrs. Love, and Mrs. Becceley. These we have
every reason to believe were of the old company.



   Bassanio                                       Mr. Rigby.
   Antonio                                        Mr. Clarkson.
   Gratiano                                       Mr. Singleton.
   Salanio and the Duke                           Mr. Herbert.
   Salarino and Gobbo                             Mr. Wynel.
   Launcelot and Tubal                            Mr. Hallam.
   Shylock                                        Mr. Malone.
   Servant to Portia                              Master L. Hallam.
   Portia                                         Mrs. Hallam.
   Jessica (first appearance on the stage)        Miss Hallam.
   Nerissa                                        Miss Palmer.


   Æsop                                           Mr. Clarkson.
   Old Man                                        Mr. Malone.
   Fine Gentleman                                 Mr. Singleton.
   Frenchman                                      Mr. Rigby.
   Charon                                         Mr. Herbert.
   Mercury                                        Mr. Adcock.
   Drunken Man and Tattoo                         Mr. Hallam.
   John                                           Mr. Wynel.
   Mrs. Tattoo                                    Miss Palmer.
   Fine Lady                                      Mrs. Hallam.

The above cast includes in the bill the names of all who composed the
company, with the exception of Mrs. Clarkson, Mrs. Rigby, and Adam
Hallam, a child.

After playing here for a while under circumstances by no means pleasing,
the manager cast his eyes to the principal cities of the country, and
selected New York as the first step towards the establishing of the
drama among the _élite_. At that period the _first families_ in Virginia
had not assumed that prerogative. Hallam opened his first place of
amusement in the city of New York on the 17th day of September, 1753,
with “Conscious Lovers,” and “Damon and Phillida.” The site was
originally occupied by the old Dutch Church on Nassau Street. As a
matter of history, as well as of curiosity, we append the opening bill:—


    By a company of comedians from London, at the New Theatre in
    Nassau Street, the present evening, being the 17th of
    September (1753), will be performed a comedy called


   Young Bevel                                    Mr. Rigby.
   Mr. Sealand                                    Mr. Malone.
   Sir John Bevel                                 Mr. Bell.
   Myrtle                                         Mr. Clarkson.
   Cimberton                                      Mr. Miller.
   Humphry                                        Mr. Adcock.
   Daniel                                         Master L. Hallam.
   Tom                                            Mr. Singleton.
   Phillis                                        Mrs. Becceley.
   Mrs. Sealand                                   Mrs. Clarkson.
   Lucinda                                        Miss Hallam.
   Isabella                                       Mrs. Rigby.
   Indiana                                        Mrs. Hallam.

To which will be added the Ballet Farce of


   Arcas                                          Mr. Bell.
   Ogon                                           Mr. Rigby.
   Korydon                                        Mr. Clarkson.
   Cymon                                          Mr. Miller.
   Damon                                          Mr. Adcock.
   Phillida                                       Mrs. Becceley.

    A new occasional prologue to be spoken by Mr. Rigby.

    An epilogue (addressed to the ladies) by Mrs. Hallam.

    Prices.—Box, 8_s._; Pit, 6_s._; Gallery, 3_s._

    No person whatever to be admitted behind the scenes.

    N. B.—Gentlemen and ladies that choose tickets may have them
    at the new printing-office in Beaver Street.

    To begin at six o’clock.

The days of performance, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and continued
so for half a century.

The city of Philadelphia was the next move by this company on the
checker-board of the mimic world.


The Nassau Street, New York, closed on the 18th of March, 1754, and
Hallam accepted a pressing invitation from a number of gentlemen in
Philadelphia, and opened on the 15th of April, 1754, in a sail-loft or
warehouse belonging to William Plumstead, Esq.,[31] situated in Water
Street, southeast corner of the first alley above Pine. This building
extended to the wharf. This was certainly a most curious locality: yet
at that period the neighborhood of its site was almost _aristocratical_,
for “Society Hill,” extending all along Front Street to Almond, was the
theatre of as much fashionable parade and display as Chestnut Street is
now. There stood at that period several finely-built houses, and its
proximity to the “Loxley House” and “White Hall” gave it a character it
certainly could not claim at the present day: we mean, of course, for
its locality as a theatre. There is also another, and perhaps a
paramount one; and that is, it was the only place they could get. It was
here, on this lone spot, the first regular company of comedians opened
their Philadelphia campaign. The play was the “Fair Penitent,” and “Miss
in her Teens.”

We present the cast of the tragedy:—

   Sciotto                                        Mr. Malone.
   Horatio                                        Mr. Rigby.
   Lothario                                       Mr. Singleton.
   Altamont                                       Mr. Clarkson.
   Catista                                        Mrs. Hallam.
   Lavinia                                        Mrs. Adcock.
   Sucetta                                        Miss Hallam.

    Prices of admission.—Box, 4_s._; Gallery, 2_s._ 6_d._

Having given an account of the first theatrical exhibition given in this
city, and the site of the first theatre, we come now to the second,
which may, in fact, be termed the first erected for legitimate purposes.
The company continued to play at Plumstead’s warehouse, gaining favor
gradually with the public, until June, having remained open two months,
and playing to crowded houses. On the 17th of June they played “The
Careless Husband” by particular request, the proceeds of which were
appropriated to the poor of the city. It is a curious fact in the
history of the drama, and one which reflects but little credit upon its
opponents, that in almost every case of opposition the belligerent
parties were bought over by _money_, and even this came into their hands
as _donations to the poor_; but whether the poor ever received a penny
of it is a matter time and eternity have already reconciled. Even at the
present day there are classes of men whose opinion of actors and
theatres would undergo a _material_ change if a portion of the proceeds
of the theatrical representations were poured into their laps, and used,
as the phrase goes, _for the poor_.

In the year 1759 David Douglas opened the second theatre in
Philadelphia. This building stood at the southwest corner of South and
Vernon Streets. It was built entirely of wood, weather-boarded and
painted a dark lead-color. It was a large building, and calculated to
hold a thousand persons. Douglas had succeeded to the throne of the
“mimic world” in consequence of the death of Mr. Hallam, whose widow he
married. Douglas was a man of enterprise, and ambitious to establish the
regular drama in the Western World. In the pursuit of this object he at
once determined to erect temples to the histrionic muses which in
after-years would lead to the establishing of others, whose classic
beauty and architectural design might emulate the proudest edifices of
the land and find their model in Roman superstructure. In doing this, he
had to contend against the prejudices of the people, and select such
plays as were calculated to disarm opposition and enlist the liberal in
his favor. Thus, he opened the old South Street Theatre with the tragedy
of “Douglass,” written, as was stated in the bills, by Mr. Home,
minister of the Kirk of Scotland. This was followed by “Hamlet,” which
play, it was said, furnished a moral lesson for youth and the regulation
of their conduct through life. On the 27th of December a benefit was
given towards raising a fund for “purchasing an organ to the college
hall in this city, and instructing the charity children in

On the following evening “Hamlet” was played for the benefit of the
Pennsylvania Hospital, and the theatre closed for the season. The
members of the company—at least the chief portion—were Mr. and Mrs.
Douglas, Miss Cheer, Mrs. Morris,[33] Mrs. Crane, Mrs. Allyn, and Miss
Hallam. In addition to the company which we have already mentioned in
another chapter, we find the names of Quelch, Tomlinson, Stuart,
Tremaine, Reed, and Morris.

Francis Mentges, afterwards an officer in our service, was the dancing
performer. While he danced he assumed the name of Francis. Miss Cheer
was the _Lady Macbeth_ of the day, and Morris, the husband of the lady
whose unfortunate fate we have stated, was the low comedian: his name is
to be found in various companies, enacting old men, up to as late a
period as 1800. Dunlap says, “Those that can look back to 1788 will
remember him as a little, shrivelled old man, with a voice palsied with
age, having for his second wife a tall, elegant woman, the favorite
comedy lady, and the admiration of the public.”

The Presbyterian Synod, in July, 1759, formally addressed the governor
and legislature to prevent the opening. The Friends made their
application to Judge William Allen to suppress the representations. His
reply was that “he had got more moral virtue from plays than he had from
sermons.” As a sequel, it was long remembered and spoken of, that the
night the theatre opened, and on which he intended to visit, _he was
called to mourn the death of his wife_! The motto over the stage was:—

   Totus mundis agit histrionem.

There are many persons who confound this with the third theatre, erected
by Douglas. That no further doubt may exist upon its site, three brick
buildings are situated, as stated, at the southwest corner of South and
Vernon Streets.

Society Hill, which extended from Spruce Street (gradually rising,
having its summit on Pine Street) to the Swedes’ Church, was the
fashionable portion of the city. At that period they had “Cherry Garden”
on Society Hill; the “Friends’ Meeting-House,” the “theatre,” “George
Wells’s place.” They had also a flag-staff erected on Society Hill,
under which Whitefield preached. This staff stood at the corner of Pine
and Front Streets. Alderman Plumstead’s garden was situated in Union
Street, and it was the admiration of the town.

In the year 1724 a slack- and tight-rope exhibition was given by a
company of men and women, at the corner of South and Front Streets. They
continued their antics for twenty nights to gaping crowds. This was the
first exhibition of the kind ever given in the city.

Douglas, finding the more respectable portion of the community disposed
to encourage theatricals, selected a more eligible site for the building
of another theatre, and for that purpose fixed on a vacant lot situated
at the southwest corner of South and Apollo Streets, above Fourth: hence
the error of many historians who confound this with the one at the
corner of Vernon Street. This theatre was erected in 1760. Little
attention was paid to design in the building. The view from the boxes
was intercepted by large pillars supporting the upper tier and roof. It
was lighted by plain oil lamps, without glasses, a row of which was
placed in front of the stage. The scenery was dingy,—chamber-scenes
taken from descriptions of old castles; and altogether the whole
presented a dark and sombre appearance. The stage-box on the east side
in after-years was fitted up for President Washington, whenever he
honored the theatre with his presence, at which time “The Poor Soldier”
was played by “desire.”

Much was written and published at this time against the immoral tendency
of the stage; and a cursory glance at the public papers would lead to a
belief that the introduction of stage-plays was deprecated as being a
greater evil than pestilence and famine. The fathers of the Church were
quoted most appositely on the occasion, and the poor players were near
being confounded with the weight of authority against them; for,
unfortunately, they could not “quote Scripture for their purpose.”
Occasionally some one was bold enough to raise his voice in their
defence, but it was heard as the small note of the oaten reed amidst the
braying of the warlike trumpet. More, however, is effected by steady
perseverance than by violent measures. The players pursued the “even
tenor of their way,” and as the mass of the people did not foresee the
evil consequences which the more enlightened apprehended, they attracted
full audiences, which kept up their spirits in spite of the
papal bulls incessantly issued against them.

We have here to correct an error of Mr. J. F. Watson in his celebrated
“Annals of Philadelphia.” In doing so, the writer of this would merely
remark that this error of Watson’s evidently arises from his distaste to
the subject of theatres; for had he exercised a twentieth part of his
usual judgment in tracing past occurrences, incidents, &c., this would
not have occurred. Page 471, first volume of Watson’s Annals, we find
this paragraph:—“In 1760 a large building, constructed of wood, situated
in South Street above Fourth Street, was opened,” &c. &c. “The managers
were Hallam & Henry.”

Mr. John Henry, the partner of Hallam in after-years, arrived in New
York from England in 1767, and made his first appearance at the John
Street Theatre, New York, December 7 of that year. The company was
still Douglas’s.

Mr. Wemyss, in his Chronology of the American Stage, says that the John
Street Theatre opened December 7, 1767, under the management of Hallam &
Henry, and in the same book announces his first appearance in America,
on that very evening, as _Aimwell_ in The Beau Stratagem. Hallam & Henry
did not form a partnership until the 21st of November, 1784. Douglas
having gone to Jamaica, where he received a judgeship under the British
crown, he relinquished the sceptre of the American company to Hallam,
his step-son, who took for his partner John Henry. How our friend Wemyss
could fall into so gross an error is entirely beyond our comprehension.
The South Street Theatre opened under Hallam & Henry’s management in

The members of the old South Street company, in 1761, consisted of
Messrs. Douglas, Hallam, Allyn, Morris, Quelch, Tomlinson, Street, Reed,
Tremaine, and Master A. Hallam, Mesdames Douglas, Morris, Crane, Allyn,
and Miss Hallam.

To the antiquarian the subject of our drama and stage would afford a
wide range for the display of his genius in that line, as they embrace
the very “_Mémoires pour Servir_” for a volume.


   “After darkness comes light.”

We have referred to these reminiscences of the olden time simply to
contrast the past with the present; for in tracing up the progress of
any one institution connected with the government, it necessarily
follows that every thing else must have a corresponding progressive
interest. Reminiscences, however, are but retrogressive shadows that
come over us in their gloom, as they conjure up the spirits of those
who have long since passed away from the earth, as have all those scenes
which the “Old Mortalities” of the present take delight in repainting.
“Passing Away” is but the result of the onward march of Time:—

                         “Still he goes,
   And goes, and goes, and doth not pass away;
   He rises with the golden morning, calmly,
   And with the moon at night. Methinks I see
   Him stretching wide his mighty wings,
   Floating forever o’er the crowds of men,
   Like a huge vulture with its prey beneath.”

In 1753, on the death of the postmaster-general for America, Benjamin
Franklin and Colonel William Hunter, of Virginia, by a joint commission
from the English postmaster-general, were appointed to succeed him. The
two American deputies were to have £600 per annum between them, provided
they could raise the sum from the net proceeds of their office. The
colonial post-office receipts had never been sufficient to pay a
shilling of revenue into the English treasury; and to render them
productive enough to yield the compensation mentioned, various reforms
were necessary, and Franklin immediately set about introducing them. In
the summer of 1753 he started out on a tour of inspection, and visited
every post-office in the colony, except that of Charleston, infusing new
vigor into the service, and putting the whole upon an improved footing.

After four years’ almost unremitting attention to the postal service,
the new system began to tell, and the results were that the receipts
soon yielded the salary of the postmaster, and considerably increased
the revenue of the government. As he himself stated, it “yielded three
times as much clear profit to the crown as the post-office of Ireland

As the modern postal system was based in part upon that of Charles
II.’s time, much of it remains to this day; but the vast improvements
made give to the original plan what can be better expressed in the
language of the Emperor Augustus: “I found Rome all brick, and left it
all marble.” Thus the postal department, then in a _debris_ state of
chaotic confusion, presents at the present time an institution wherein
order and system reign supreme.

Franklin made every department pay. The carrying of newspapers was made
a source of revenue: previous to his administration they had been
carried free. He charged each subscriber who received a newspaper by
mail nine pence a year for fifty miles, and eighteen pence a year for
one hundred miles. Post-riders received orders to take all newspapers
offered, instead of only those issued by a _postmaster_. Franklin
himself being both postmaster and newspaper publisher, this action on
his part was considered worthy the man and his position. The speed of
the post-riders was accelerated by his energy, and their number
increased to meet the public demand.

In 1753 the delivery of letters by the penny post was first begun, and
at the same time letters were regularly advertised. Letters from all the
neighboring counties were sent to Philadelphia, and lay there until
called for.

Our readers can form some idea of the mode of travelling between cities,
when we state that Franklin improved on the old system by starting a
mail from Philadelphia, to run three times a week in summer, to New York
and Boston, and once a week in winter. To get an answer from Boston a
Philadelphian had been obliged to wait six weeks. Franklin reduced the
time to three. The rates of postage were also materially reduced. The
rate across the ocean was fixed at one shilling, and, strange as it may
seem, it has not changed since, although one hundred years have

Most of the post-roads then were mere bridle-paths through forests.
“Even,” says a writer, “between Amboy and Trenton, the very road along
which Franklin the runaway apprentice had wearily trudged in the rain in
1723, had as late as 1775 a stake set up every two miles to keep the
traveller from going astray.”

In 1765 Mrs. Franklin, writing to her husband, then in England, says,
“The Southern mail has not come in, nor has the Virginia mail, for more
than two months.” Little intercourse at that period. The name of
Franklin in connection with science, and his being deputy
postmaster-general, was not only a household word from Boston to
Charleston, but was also extensively known in Europe. Only two American
names were then familiar to the Old World,—Jonathan Edwards in the
religious world, and Benjamin Franklin in the circle of science.
Jonathan Edwards was born at Windsor, in the province of Connecticut, in
1703. He graduated at Yale College, and afterwards was a tutor in the
establishment. He was ordained in the ministry in 1727. His chief works
are a “Treatise on the Religious Affections,” “An Enquiry into the
Notion of Freedom of Will,” “A Treatise on Original Sin,” “Religious
Narratives,” &c.

In 1756 an attempt was made, instigated by some political enemies, to
induce the postmaster-general to remove Franklin from office, as being a
“factious and troublesome man.” As the cause assigned was so trifling,
the postmaster-general sent his “deputy” a letter of reprimand, or
rather one of gentle reproof. So the matter ended.

A copy of the “Gazette” bearing date 1747 is in the possession of a
gentleman of this city. Published by B. Franklin, Postmaster, and D.
Hall. All post-office notices and letters remaining in the post-office
were published in the “Gazette.”

In 1774 Benjamin Franklin was very summarily dismissed from the office
of postmaster. The letter from the postmaster-general stated simply
“that the king had found it necessary to dismiss him from the office of
deputy postmaster-general of America.”

It is not necessary for us to give the readers the reasons for this act,
as the history of Franklin in connection with the events preceding the
Revolution will fully explain them. _The colonies were in a state of
incipient revolution._

The course pursued by the British Government was such that, under the
excitement arising from its acts, the colonies declared themselves
constitutionally exempt from all obedience to the measures of the
British Parliament, and that the government of the provinces was in fact

Thus, the Congress held in Philadelphia on the 5th of September, 1774,
will ever be remembered and celebrated in the annals of history as the
first page dedicated to liberty. It was a congress of men who met to
decide the question whether one man had the power and the right to rule
the million, or the million the right to govern themselves. The success
of our Revolution decided the question; and counter-rebellions and
revolutions can never change that _base_, upon which is erected
Liberty’s throne.

Franklin arrived in Philadelphia, from England, on the evening of May 5,
1775, and the very next day the Assembly of Pennsylvania, then in
session, appointed him a delegate to the Second Continental Congress,
which was to convene in Philadelphia four days after. The people of
America had everywhere become exasperated beyond all further
forbearance. The blood of their countrymen had been wantonly shed by
British troops, at Lexington and Concord, in April; and the call to arms
was now ringing through the land.

The second Congress, held May 10, 1775, was remarkable for its action at
a moment when liberty was as a “waif” in the political world, liable at
every breeze to be lost in the vortex of its revolutions. It set the
seal on British rule in the colonies forever! It was the first move
morally and physically made against tyranny and usurpation, and was only
surpassed by that which inaugurated the Fourth of July, 1776, as the
birthday of freedom!

One of the acts of its members was to adopt the armies of New England,
and elect General George Washington commander-in-chief, and also to
adopt a platform which made colonial resistance, to use a modern term,
“a military necessity.”

Another of their measures was to correct the postal department, which
during Franklin’s absence had been somewhat neglected. A committee was
appointed, of which Franklin was made chairman, to consider the best
means of establishing posts for the conveyance of letters and
intelligence throughout the country. Franklin was at home in this
employment, having served a long apprenticeship and studied its workings
both theoretically and practically. He drew up a plan for the purpose,
and laid it before the committee, who approved of it at once; and it was
eventually the same as that upon which the post-office of America is now

The committee recommended that a postmaster-general be appointed for the
UNITED STATES, who should hold his office at Philadelphia, and be
allowed a salary of one thousand dollars for himself, and three hundred
and forty dollars per annum for a secretary and controller, “with power
to appoint such and so many deputies as to him may seem proper and
necessary;” that a line of posts should be appointed, under the
direction of the postmaster-general, from Falmouth, in New England, to
Savannah, in Georgia, “with as many cross-posts as he shall think fit;
that the allowance of the deputies in lieu of salary and all contingent
expenses shall be twenty per cent. on the sums they collect and pay into
the general post-office, annually, when the whole is under, or not
exceeding, one thousand dollars, and ten per cent. for all sums above
that amount a year; that the several departments account quarterly with
the general post-office, and the postmaster-general annually with the
Continental treasurers, when he shall pay into the receipt of the said
treasurers the profits of the post-office, and if the necessary expenses
of this establishment should exceed the produce of it, the deficiency
shall be made good by the United Colonies, and paid to the
postmaster-general by the Continental treasurers.”

This plan, and resolutions accompanying it, were submitted to Congress,
who adopted it, and, taking into consideration the interest Franklin had
always taken in the department, and also his summary dismissal under the
“British dynasty,” unanimously elected Benjamin Franklin, Esq.,
postmaster-general for one year, and until another Congress assembled.
Eighteen months had passed since his dismissal, when he now found
himself reinstated in office with higher rank and augmented authority.
Nay, more: he was postmaster-general under a new ruling power,—a power
that was uprising like the glorious sun from the mists and the gloom of
a long, dreary night of wrong and oppression. It was now the dawn of a
new era in the history of men and of nations. _It was the dawn of

The people made a law; and as there cannot be rational freedom where
there are arbitrary restraints, they adopted Cicero’s maxim, and
proclaimed liberty as the law of the land:—

   “_Libertas est potestas faciendi id quod jure liceat._”

One of the strongest tests by which the progressive prosperity of a
country may be ascertained is that of its postal department. It forms a
chain which links together all private and public interests; it links
state to state, countries to countries, nations to nations. It is the
alphabet of the world!

Benjamin Franklin appointed Richard Bache, his son-in-law, deputy
postmaster. They established mail-riders to carry the mails, and
stationed them at distances of twenty-five miles, to deliver from one to
the other and return to their starting-places: they travelled night and
day, and were men selected for their honesty and sobriety.

At the same time it was ordered that three advice-boats should be
established, “one to ply between North Carolina and such ports as shall
be most convenient to the place where Congress shall be sitting,” one
other between the State of Georgia and the same port. The boats to be
armed, and to be freighted by individuals for the sake of diminishing
the public expense.

The state of the country was such that it became necessary to enlist the
services of the most prominent men in its cause, both at home and
abroad; and who so popular then as Benjamin Franklin? A writer speaking
of him and the period says, “With a fame unequalled in brilliancy by
that of any other man of those times, not only as a philosopher and
sage, but as a profound political thinker, and an undaunted asserter of
the rights and liberties of his country, Franklin’s name was now
familiarly known and revered throughout all Europe.”

Is it to be wondered at, therefore, that he should have been appointed
one of the commissioners to France? The commissioners first appointed
for this purpose, on the 26th of September, 1776, were Franklin, Silas
Dean, and Thomas Jefferson. The last, however, declined, and Arthur Lee,
of Virginia, was put in his place. Mr. Lee and Mr. Dean were both in
Europe, the former having been employed several years in England as a
colonial agent, and the latter having been sent out in the preceding
March by the committee of secret correspondence, with a view to
diplomatic as well as commercial objects; and Franklin, after a
boisterous voyage in the United States sloop-of-war _Reprisal_, Captain
Wickes, and after escaping from the guns of several British cruisers,
met them in Paris in the latter part of December, 1776. This portion of
history is familiar to all.

In the absence of Franklin, Richard Bache attended to the post-office
business, and in all respects carried out his father-in-law’s plans.

In March, 1777, Franklin received from Congress a commission as minister
to Spain.

After residing in Europe nearly nine years, acting in the capacities
named, he returned to America, and arrived in Philadelphia on the 14th
of September, 1785. His return was greeted with every mark of personal
regard and public respect.

We will close this portion of our postal history, and Franklin’s
connection with it, by the following letter, which he wrote to Mr.
Thomson shortly after his return home. It is to be regretted that it is
a _finale_ which reflects but little credit on our government at that
time, and gives occasion for our opponents to repeat the old saying that
“republics are ungrateful.” Nor is Franklin’s case an isolated one.

Franklin, speaking of unrequited services to his friend, says,—

“I see by the minutes,” speaking of Congress, “that they have allowed
Mr. Lee handsomely for his services in England before his appointment to
France, in which services I and Mr. Bollan co-operated with him, and
have had no such allowance, and since his return he has been very
properly rewarded with a good place, as well as my friend Mr.
Jay,—though these are trifling compensations in comparison with what was
granted by the king to Mr. Gerard on his return to America. But how
different is what happened to me! On my return from England, in 1775,
the Congress bestowed on me the office of postmaster-general, for which
I was very thankful. It was, indeed, an office I had some kind of right
to, as having previously greatly enlarged the revenue of the post by the
regulations I had contrived and established while I possessed it under
the crown. When I was sent to France, I left it in the hands of my
son-in-law, who was to act as my deputy. But soon after my departure it
was taken from him and given to Mr. Hazzard. When the English ministry
thought fit to deprive me of the office (that of postmaster), they left
me, however, the privilege of receiving and sending my letters free of
postage, which is the usage when a postmaster is not displaced for
misconduct in the office; but in America I have ever since had the
postage demanded of me, which since my return from France has amounted
to about fifty pounds, much of it occasioned by my having acted as
minister there.”

There are so many incidents connected with Benjamin Franklin—incidents
associated alike with our country’s history, its literature, art, and
science—that we are not at all surprised at the many editions and
variety of style of works written expressly to connect his name with
them. We annex a pleasing little sketch of some of the early scenes of
his life, from notes furnished by Thomas J. Wharton, Esq., to the
Historical Society of Pennsylvania, in 1830:—

“The year 1719 deserves particular remembrance in the annals of
Pennsylvania, as that in which the first newspaper was printed in the
State. These potent engines exercise so vast an influence for good or
evil over men’s minds and actions in the present age, that a particular
history of their rise and progress would be no idle or unprofitable
task, though out of place here. The first number of the ‘American Weekly
Mercury,’ as it was called, appeared on the 22d of December, 1719, on a
half-sheet of the quarto size, and purported to be printed ‘by Andrew
Bradford at _the_ Second Street,’ and to be sold by him and by John
Copson in Market Street. The price was ten shillings per annum; and this
was quite as much as it deserved. Extracts from foreign journals
generally about six months old, and two or three badly-printed
advertisements, formed the substance of the journal. The office of the
editor was a sinecure,—at least his _pen_ seems to have been seldom
employed, and little information can be derived from the journal
concerning the existing condition of Philadelphia. Occasionally a bill
of mortality tells us that one adult and one child died during a certain
week, and even that is beyond the usual number; for some weeks appear to
have passed without a single death. From the following advertisement,
which appears in No. 17, something of the customs and state of things at
the period may be gathered:—‘These are to give notice that Matthew
Cowley, a skinner by trade, is removed from Chestnut Street to dwell in
Walnut Street, _near the Bridge_, where all persons may have their buck
and doeskins dressed, &c.’ ‘He also can furnish _you_ with bindings,
&c.’ What new ideas of Walnut Street does not this hint about a _bridge_
give us! and how plenty must deer have been in those times, when _all
persons_ are invited to have their skins dressed by Matthew Cowley! And
then what a familiar and village-sort of acquaintance with everybody
does not the transition at the end, from the third to the second person
plural, imply! ‘He also can furnish you with bindings, &c.’

“Nine years after the appearance of the American Mercury, the
Philadelphia press was delivered of a second newspaper, to which the
modest title was given of ‘The Universal Instructor of all Arts and
Sciences, and Pennsylvania Gazette.’ In his inimitable autobiography
Franklin has immortalized Keimer, the eccentric publisher of this
journal, whose vanity and selfishness, whose wild notions upon religion
and morals, and whose turn for poetry and gluttony are so happily and
graphically delineated. Franklin, from whom Keimer had stolen the idea
of a second newspaper, attacked it in a series of papers published in
Bradford’s journal and called The Busy-Body.[34] The ‘Universal
Instructor’ soon fell into decay, and then into Franklin’s hands, by
whom it was very skilfully managed, both for his own profit and for the
interest and edification of the public. An editorial notice in one of
Franklin’s papers proves, in rather a ludicrous way, how badly
Philadelphia was supplied at the time (1736) with printing-presses. What
was called the _outer form_ was printed reversely or upside down to the
inner form, and the following apology is offered:—‘The printer hopes the
irregular publication of this paper will be excused a few times by his
town readers, in consideration of his being at Burlington with the
press, laboring for the public good to make money more plentiful.’

“It is not generally known that this venerable journal survived till
within a year or two of the present time, under the name of ‘The
Pennsylvania Gazette.’ The third newspaper published in Pennsylvania
was ‘The Pennsylvania Journal and Weekly Advertiser,’ the first number
of which appeared on the 2d of December, 1742; and several other
journals shortly afterwards arose, with various success. In 1760 five
newspapers were published in the State, all weekly,—three of them
printed in the city, one in Germantown, and one in Lancaster. In 1810
the number had increased to sixty-six, of which thirteen were published
in Philadelphia; and in 1824 an official return to the
postmaster-general stated the number at one hundred and ten, of which
eighteen were published in Philadelphia, eleven of them daily: a
prodigious increase, which argues that the appetite for this food has
increased in full proportion with the population. It is perhaps worth
adding that the first _daily_ newspaper that appeared on the continent
of America was published in Philadelphia.

“There are few persons on record to whose individual genius and
exertions a community has owed so much as to Dr. Franklin. If William
Penn was the political founder of the province, Franklin may perhaps be
denominated the architect of its literature, the gifted author of many
of its best institutions, and the father of some of the finest features
of our character. It is seldom, however, that Providence has vouchsafed
such a length of years to such an intellect, and still more seldom that
such events occur as those which developed the powers and capacities of
Franklin’s mind. The name of this illustrious man is closely connected
with the literary history of Pennsylvania; but his life and actions are
too well known to require that any elaborate notice of them should be
given here. Referring, therefore, to his own invaluable memoirs for the
events of his personal and political history, I shall content myself
with a short sketch of the principal features of his literary career.
The year 1723 was that in which Franklin first set his foot in
Philadelphia. As he landed on Market Street wharf, and walked up that
street, an obscure and almost penniless boy, devouring a roll of bread,
and ignorant where he could find a lodging for the night, little could
he or any one who then saw him anticipate that later advent, when, sixty
years afterwards, he landed upon the same wharf, amid the acclamations
of thousands of spectators, on his return from an embassy in which he
had dictated to his former king the terms of peace for the confederated
republics, of one of which he was placed at the head, and not merely
distinguished as a politician, but covered with literary honors and
distinctions from every country in Christendom by which genius and
public virtue were held in estimation. And yet the change was scarcely
greater for Franklin than for Philadelphia. The petty provincial
village, with its scattered houses dotted over the bank of the Delaware,
had become a magnificent metropolis, distinguished for the wisdom and
liberality of its institutions, and as the seat of a general and
republican government, which at the former period could scarcely have
entered into his dreams.

“At the time of Franklin’s arrival in Philadelphia there were two
printing-offices in operation. Keimer, the proprietor of one of them,
had but one press and a few worn-out types, with which, when Franklin
visited him, he was composing an elegy, literally of his own
_composition_, for it had never gone through the usual process in this
manufacture, of pen and ink, but flowed at once from his brain to the
press. The subject of these typographical stanzas was _Aquila Rose_, an
apprentice in the office, whose surname naturally suggested to the mind
of Keimer some touching figures. If we may judge from some specimens of
his poetry which Thomas has preserved in his History of Printing, the
province lost little by Keimer’s emigration to Bermuda, which took place
shortly afterwards.”

Perhaps, if we except his scientific and political labors,—labors which
won him a name while living and honored when dead,—there was no other
department wherein business and tact were so united to effect a great
national reform as in that of the post-office.

And yet historians pass over that portion of his life with a mere dash
of the pen, and seem to consider it a dry episode in his otherwise
eventful career. Had they gone into the history of this connection, the
business of the postal department would have loomed up before them a
splendid subject to descant upon. It would have shown them how out of
chaos came forth, under Franklin’s control, a form perfect in shape and
gigantic in its proportions. It would tower a giant above the many
lesser subjects he wrote pages upon, and give to the world a leaf in our
book on political economy which is now—at least as far as this
department is concerned—a blank page.

Benjamin Franklin, at the head of the postal department under the
colonial government, was the great pioneer in the cause of _letters_: he
mapped the length and breadth of their extent; brought distant places
together by the speed of horses, as he did in after-years by electric
power the lightning from the surcharged clouds to our very feet.

And when at the head of the department, under the _States united_
forming a Union that has made us a nation among nations, to be honored,
respected, and _feared_, he carried out his plans, based upon a
principle that has governed the operations of the postal department to
this day.

Franklin died April 17, 1790. In his will, dated July 17, 1788, he
simply expressed his wish to have his body buried with as little expense
or ceremony as might be. But in the codicil, dated June 23, 1789, but a
few months before his death, we find this clause:—

“I wish to be buried by the side of my wife, if it may be, and that a
marble stone, to be made by Chambers, six feet long, four feet wide,
plain, with only a small moulding round the upper ledge, and this

   │          BENJAMIN  }                   │
   │            AND     } FRANKLIN.         │
   │          DEBORAH   }                   │
   │                   178-.                │

to be placed over us both.”

In the graveyard belonging to Christ Church in this city, situated at
the southeast corner of Arch and Fifth Streets, this plain slab, with
the above inscription, is still to be seen.

The man to whose memory it is dedicated, in immediate expectation of
death (as is shown by the fact that the codicil was made in June, 1789,
and the figures 178- are so arranged by him that unless he died in that
very year they would be useless), had calmly and deliberately selected
the spot where he wished his corpse to repose. There rest the remains of
one whose name, though simply recorded on a piece of marble, lives in
memory while reason holds its throne in the immortal mind.

There is in the simple gray stone which now covers the breasts of
“Benjamin Franklin and Deborah his wife” more attraction and genuine
respectability than could be found in the loftiest pillar ever reared to
gratify mere ambition.

   “Can storied urn or animated bust
     Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
   Can honor’s voice provoke the silent dust,
     Or flattery soothe the dull, cold ear of death?”

Richard Bache had acted as postmaster up to 1776, when he was succeeded
by Ebenezer Hazard. Hazard’s name is better known as an editor than as
a postmaster, as he subsequently compiled the valuable historical
collections bearing his name. He held the office of postmaster until the
inauguration of President Washington’s administration. The succession of
postmaster-generals since the adoption of the Federal Constitution will
be given in its proper place.




In the year 1776 authority was given to employ extra post-riders between
the armies from the head-quarters to Philadelphia. These post-riders ran
many risks, as refugees were not rare at that day: hence the danger was
materially increased in consequence. The letters of General Wayne were
interrupted, as were those of others, and the utmost caution was
necessary for the purpose of securing a safe conveyance. Various plans
were adopted, and the postmaster was active in establishing a postal
communication with the armies. There was another mode, however, which
was even more successful, but equally dangerous to the parties engaged:
this was the spy system. Much valuable information was conveyed to the
commanders of the armies by it, which could not have reached them
through the regular post. In one of General Wayne’s letters, addressed
to his family in 1781, he makes allusion to one “Jemmy the Rover,” whom
he had employed as a spy. While our army was encamped at Valley Forge,
Jemmy was repeatedly sent within the British lines, and always returned
with correct and important information. With him originated the
appellation of “Mad Anthony” as applied to the general. “Jemmy the
Rover” was an Irishman by birth, and was a regularly-enlisted soldier in
the Pennsylvania line. The real name of Jemmy is not known. He was
subject to, or at least feigned, occasional fits of craziness, in which
state he often proved very noisy and troublesome, and in one instance
was ordered to the guard-house. Whilst the sergeant with a file of men
was conducting him thither, Jemmy suddenly halted, and asked the
sergeant by whose orders he was arrested. “By those of the general,” was
the reply. “Then forward!” said the Rover. In the course of a few hours
he was released. In the act of taking his departure, he asked the
sergeant whether Anthony (this being the only name he gave General
Wayne) was mad or in fun when he placed him under arrest. The answer
was, “The general has been much displeased with your disorderly conduct,
and a repetition of it will be followed not only by confinement, but by
_twenty-nine_ well laid on.” “Then,” exclaimed Jemmy, “Anthony is mad:
farewell to you; clear the coast for the commodore, Mad Anthony’s
friend!” He suddenly disappeared from the camp. In a postscript to a
letter General Wayne wrote to his family, he says, “Jemmy the Rover,
_alias_ the commodore, has absented himself from this detachment of the
army. Should he in his rambles pass your way, I hope that you will
extend towards him every hospitality which may be most likely to
minister to his comfort. I am convinced that, whether in his hours of
sanity or insanity, he would cheerfully lay down his life for either me
or any of my family.”

It is said by some who knew Jemmy that he was a man of good education
and extraordinary shrewdness: in fact, it was much doubted whether or
not Jemmy feigned derangement.

As every thing having any connection with the events of 1776, which led
to our independence, must be of interest, it may not be out of place
here to introduce the following remarkable prophecy, made in the eighth
century by Merlin, the celebrated Welsh astrologer. Its fulfilment in
almost every particular renders it the more interesting, as evidenced in
the American Revolution, to which reference seems to have been made. Had
this prophecy been published subsequent to the Revolution, its
authenticity might have been doubted, or at least questioned. But it is
copied from Hawkins’s work, published in the year 1530.

In connection with the prophecy, we also give the key, furnished by an
old citizen of Philadelphia to the editors of the “Columbian Magazine,”
published in this city, in the March number, 1787:—


    “Uttered by Merlin, some time during the eighth century, in
    Wales, of which he was a native.


   “When the savage is meek and mild,
   The frantic mother shall stab her child.


   “When the Cock shall woo the Dove,
   The mother the child shall cease to love.


   “When men, like moles, work under ground,
   The _Lion_ a _Virgin_ true shall wound.


   “When the _Dove_ and _Cock_ the _Lion_ shall fight,
   The _Lion_ shall crouch beneath their might.


   “When the _Cock_ shall guard the _Eagle’s_ nest,
   The _Stars_ shall rise _all in the west_.


   “When _ships_ above the clouds shall sail,
   The _Lion’s _ strength shall surely fail.


   “When _Neptune’s_ back with _stripes_ is _red_,
   The sickly _Lion_ shall hide his head.


   “When _seven_ and _six_ shall make but _one_,
   The _Lion’s _ might shall be undone.”

_Verse 1._—The settlement of America by a civilized nation is very
clearly alluded to in the first line. The frantic mother is Britain.
America still feels the wounds she has received from her.

_Verse 2._—The Cock is France, the Dove is America, Columbia; their
union is the epocha when America shall cease to love Britain.

_Verse 3._—In many parts of Europe there are subterranean works carried
on by persons who never see the light of day. But perhaps the solution
may more particularly be referred to the siege of York, in Virginia,
where the approaches were carried on by working in the earth. In the
second line there is another equivoque. We are told by Mr. Addison, in
his “Spectator,” that a lion will not hurt a true maid. This, at first
view, seems to be contradicted by the prophecy; but, on examination, the
epocha referred to, the virgin, Columbia (or, perhaps, _Virginia_, by
which name all North America was called in the days of Queen Elizabeth),
shall wound the _lion_,—that is, _Britain_,—which shows the precise time
when the oracle should be accomplished.

_Verse 4_ clearly alludes to the successes of the united forces of
America and France against those of Britain.

_Verse 5._—For the solution of this oracle, as well as all the rest, we
are indebted to the engraving of the _arms_ of the _United States_ in
the “Columbian Magazine” for September, 1786. America is clearly
designated by the eagle’s nest, as it is the only part of the globe
where the _bald eagle_ (the arms of the United States) is to be found.
Thus, this hitherto inexplicable prophecy may now be easily understood
as meaning that when the _cock_—that is, France—shall protect America
(as she did during the late war), the stars—that is, the standard of the
American empire—shall rise in this western hemisphere.

_Verse 6._—It is very remarkable that the first discovery of the
amazing properties of inflammable air, by means of which men have been
able to explore a region till then impervious to them, happened in the
same year when _Britain’s_ strength was so reduced as to oblige her to
acknowledge the independence of America. The _boats_ in which the
adventurous aeronauts traversed the upper regions are the _ships_ here
referred to.

Thus far the prophecy seems to have been already fully and literally
accomplished: it is to be hoped that the accomplishment of those which
remain is not far remote.

_Verse 7_ I understand to mean that when the _sea_ (_Neptune’s back_) is
_red_ with the _American stripes_, the naval power of Britain shall
decline. A proper exertion in the art of ship-building would soon
produce this effect; and whenever Congress is vested with the power of
regulating the commerce of America, we may hope to see the full
accomplishment of this prediction.

_Verse 8._—This oracle clearly alludes to an epocha not far removed, as
we may hope; for when the _thirteen_ United States shall, under the
auspices of the present _federal convention_, have strengthened and
cemented their union by a proper revisal of the articles of
confederation, so as to be really but ONE NATION, Britain will no longer
be able to maintain that rank and consequence among the nations of the
earth which she had hitherto done.

Since the publication of this explanation, the fulfilment of the two
last has become a part and portion of our history. That Neptune’s back
is red with the stripes and, we may add, stars, every child knows; and
the sickly lion already hides his head, not only beneath the folds of
our flag, but plays second fiddle to the cock of France.

The eighth is fully accomplished, and ’76, as well as seven and six,
form a pleasing illustration of the prophecy, as they do one of the most
interesting incidents in our history. The thirteen States (seven and
six) have multiplied nearly thrice since the Declaration of
Independence, and are now, as then, but one, and that one a nation.

Walter Scott, speaking of Merlin, or the Savage, as he was called, says,
“The particular spot in which he is buried is still shown, and appears,
from the following quotation, taken from a description of Tweeddale,
1715, to have partaken of his prophetic qualities:—

   ‘When Tweed and Pausayl meet
     At Merlin’s grave,
   Scotland and England shall one
     Monarch have.’

For the same day that our King James the Sixth was crowned king of
England, the river Tweed, by an extraordinary flood, so far overflowed
its banks that it met and joined with the Pausayl at the said grave,
which was never before observed to fall out.”

The precise spot pointed out to travellers is situated near Drumelzier,
a village upon the Tweed.


   “The first motion in Congress was to declare this country

The first assembling of the Revolutionary Congress took place in this
city on the 5th of September, 1774. Subsequently the progress of the war
continued to ripen the public mind and feelings for a total separation
from Great Britain. It was not, however, until the 7th of June, 1776,
that any special action was had for that purpose. On that day Richard
Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia, made the following motion, which
was seconded by John Adams:—

“To declare these united colonies free and independent States; that they
are dissolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that all
political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is and
ought to be totally dissolved; that measures should be immediately taken
for procuring assistance of foreign powers, and that a confederation be
formed to bind the colonies more closely together.”

On the following day the subject was debated, and on the 1st of July a
committee consisting of five delegates—Messrs. Jefferson, Adams,
Franklin, R. Sherman, and R. R. Lawrence—was selected by ballot to draft

According to parliamentary usage, Mr. Lee would have been the chairman
of this committee; but he was absent in Virginia on account of the
illness of a member of his family. Mr. Jefferson, however, having the
greatest number of votes, was selected by the other members of the
committee to act as chairman, and the draft prepared by him was first
read in committee. Some verbal alterations were made by Dr. Franklin and
Mr. Adams, and it was not thought necessary to read the drafts prepared
by the others. It was stated at the time that the other members of the
committee were so pleased with Mr. Jefferson’s draft that they would not
submit theirs even for consideration. Perhaps no higher compliment was
ever paid to the author of _our_ Declaration of Independence than that
which emanated from the gentlemen who composed this committee.

The Declaration, thus prepared and amended, was finally adopted in
Congress on the 4th, and was read to a meeting of the citizens of
Philadelphia, assembled at the State-House yard, from the steps of the

The house in which Mr. Jefferson wrote the Declaration is still
standing, at the southwest corner of Seventh and Market Streets. Mr.
Jefferson had rooms in it as a lodger when a member of the Congress of
’76. Two days before the adoption of the Declaration and its
promulgation, Mr. Adams, in a letter addressed to his wife, makes use of
the following language:—

“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding
generations as the grand anniversary festival. It ought to be
commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God
Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp, shows, games, sports,
guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of the continent
to the other, from this time forward and forever.

“I am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure that it will cost
us to maintain this declaration and to support and defend the States:
yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of light and glory. I can
see that the end is more than worth all the means, and that posterity
will triumph, although you and I may rue it,—which I hope we shall not.”

When the bell sounded forth from the steeple of the old State-House, the
first peal for liberty gave new life to the citizens: from lip to lip,
from street to street, from city, town, and through the country, away,
away, the words roll like the waves of the ocean, and reverberating like
the roar of the wind as, undulating, it passed through all space. The
city of Philadelphia on the afternoon of July 4, 1776, presented to view
a city convulsed. Joy united with patriotism, and then the word
“Freedom!” became the watchword.

When the news reached New York, the bells were set ringing, and the
excited multitude, surging hither and thither, at length gathered around
the Bowling Green, and, seizing the leaden equestrian statue of George
III. which stood there, broke it into fragments: this was afterwards run
into bullets and hurled against his majesty’s troops.[35] When the
Declaration arrived in Boston, the people gathered around old Faneuil
Hall to hear it read, and, as the last sentence fell from the lips of
the reader, a loud shout went up, and soon from every fortified height
and every battery the thunder of cannon re-echoed the cry.


During the Stamp Act excitement there arose a practice of signifying
public sentiment in a very effectual way,—though without any responsible
agent, unless the inanimate Liberty-Tree may be so considered. This tree
was a majestic elm that stood in front of a house opposite the Boylston
market, on the edge of the “High Street,” in the town of Boston. On the
14th of August, 1765, an effigy representing Andrew Oliver, a gentleman
appointed to distribute the stamps, was found hanging upon this tree,
with a paper before it, on which was written, in large characters,—

   “Fair Freedom’s glorious cause I’ve meanly quitted,
                         For the sake of pelf;
   But, ah, the devil has me outwitted,
   And, instead of stamping others, I’ve hang’d myself.

“P.S.—Whoever takes this down is an enemy to his country.” On the right
arm was written “A. O.,” and on the left,

   “What greater pleasure can there be
   Than to see a stamp man hanging on a tree?”

On another part of the tree a boot was suspended,—the emblem of the Earl
of Bute, First Lord of the Treasury,—from which the devil, with the
Stamp Act in his hand, was looking out. Chief Justice—afterwards
Governor—Hutchinson, directed the sheriff to remove this exhibition; but
his deputies, from a fear of the popular feeling, declined. In the
evening the figures were taken down by the people and carried in
procession through the streets. After demolishing the stamp-office, in
State Street, they proceeded to Fort Hill, where a bonfire was made of
the pageantry in sight of Mr. Oliver’s house. It being intimated to Mr.
Oliver that it would conduce to the quiet of the public if he would go
to the tree and openly resign his commission, he appeared the next day,
and declared, in the presence of a large concourse of people, that he
would not continue in office. It was thenceforward called the
Liberty-Tree, and the following inscription placed upon it:—“This tree
was planted in the year 1614, and pruned by the order of the Sons of
Liberty, February 14, 1766.” On future occasions there was seldom any
excitement on political subjects without some evidence of it appearing
on this tree. Whenever obnoxious offices were to be resigned or
agreements for patriotic purposes entered into, the parties were
notified to appear at the tree, “where they always found pens and paper,
and a numerous crowd of witnesses, though the genius of the tree was
invisible. When the British army took possession of Boston, in 1774,
Liberty-Tree fell a victim to their vengeance, or to that of the persons
to whom its shade had been disagreeable.” Liberty-trees were consecrated
in Charlestown, Lexington, and Roxbury, Mass., and also in Charleston,
S.C., Newport and Providence, R.I.—_Tudor’s Life of Otis_.



    This beautiful ballad was written by Thomas Paine, the author
    of the “Age of Reason,” and published in the Pennsylvania
    Magazine of July, 1775, while he was editor of that
    periodical. He composed and published many songs and elegies
    during his connection with the magazine. Among them, “The
    Death of Wolfe on the Plains of Abraham” is uncommonly
    pathetic and graceful.


   In a chariot of light from the regions of day
     The Goddess of Liberty came;
   Ten thousand celestials directed the way,
     And hither conducted the dame.
   A fair budding branch from the gardens above,
     Where millions with millions agree,
   She brought in her hand as a pledge of her love,
     And the plant she named Liberty-Tree.

   The celestial exotic struck deep in the ground;
     Like a native it flourished and bore;
   The fame of its fruit drew the nations around,
     To seek out this peaceable shore.
   Unmindful of names or distinctions they came,
     For freemen like brothers agree;
   With one spirit endued, they one friendship pursued,
     And their temple was Liberty-Tree.

   Beneath this fair tree, like the patriarchs of old,
     Their bread in contentment they ate,
   Unvex’d with the troubles of silver and gold,
     The cares of the grand and the great.
   With timber and tar they Old England supplied,
     And supported her power on the sea;
   Her battles they fought, without getting a groat,
     For the honor of Liberty-Tree.

   But hear, O ye swains,—’tis a tale most profane,—
     How all the tyrannical powers,
   Kings, Commons, and Lords, are uniting amain
     To cut down this guardian of ours;
   From the east to the west blow the trumpet to arms,
     Through the land let the sound of it flee,
   Let the far and the near all unite with a cheer
     In defence of our Liberty-Tree.


There are so many versions of the origin of this popular and now
national air, as well as the words, that we offer the following to our
readers without note or comment.

In Burgh’s Anecdotes of Music, vol. iii. p. 405, after speaking of Dr.
Arne and John Frederick Lampe, the author proceeds:—“Besides Lampe and
Arne, there were at this time [1731] other candidates for musical fame
of the same description. Among these were Mr. John Christian Smith, who
set two English operas for Lincoln’s Inn Fields,—Teraminta and
Ulysses,—and Dr. Tresh, author of the oratorio of Judith.”

About the year 1797, after having become a tolerable proficient on the
German flute, I took it into my head to learn the bassoon, and for this
purpose procured an instrument and book of instructions from the late
Mr. Joseph Carr, who had then recently opened a music-store in Baltimore
City, being the first regular establishment of the kind in this country.
In this book there was an “Air from Ulysses,” which was the identical
air now called Yankee Doodle, with the exception of a few notes which
time and fancy may have added.

Here is another version:—

In the simultaneous attacks that were made upon the French posts in
America in 1755, that against Fort Du Quesne (the present site of
Pittsburg) was conducted by General Braddock, and those against Niagara
and Frontenac by Governor Shirley, of Massachusetts, and General
Johnston, of New York. The following is an extract from Judge Martin’s
History of North Carolina, giving an account of those expeditions:—

“The army of the latter (Shirley and Johnston), during the summer, lay
on the eastern bank of the Hudson, a little south of the city of Albany.
In the early part of June the troops of the Eastern provinces began to
pour in, company after company; and such a motley assemblage of men
never before thronged together on such an occasion, unless an example
may be found in the ragged regiment of Sir John Falstaff. It would have
relaxed the gravity of an anchorite to have seen the descendants of the
Puritans, marching through the streets of that ancient city (Albany),
take their situations on the left of the British army,—some with long
coats, and others with no coats at all, with colors as various as the
rainbow,—some with their hair cropped like the army of Cromwell, and
others with wigs, the locks of which floated with grace around their
shoulders. Their march, their accoutrements, and the whole arrangement
of the troops, furnished matter of amusement to the rest of the British
army. The music played the airs of two centuries ago; and the _tout
ensemble_, upon the whole, exhibited a sight to the wondering strangers,
to which they had been unaccustomed. Among the club of wits that
belonged to the British army there was a Doctor Shackburg, attached to
the staff, who combined with the science of surgeon the skill and
talents of a musician. To please the new-comers, he composed a tune, and
with much gravity recommended it to the officers as one of the most
celebrated airs of martial music. The joke took, to the no small
amusement of the British. Brother Jonathan exclaimed it was _nation
fine_, and in a few days nothing was heard in the provincial camp but
the air of Yankee Doodle. Little did the author in his composition then
suppose that an air made for the purpose of levity and ridicule should
ever be marked for such high destinies. In twenty years from that time
the national march inspired the heroes of Bunker Hill, and in less than
thirty years Lord Cornwallis and his army marched into the American
lines to the tune of Yankee Doodle.”

“Watson, in his “Occurrences of the War of Independence,” says,—

“This tune, so celebrated as a national air of the Revolution, has an
origin almost unknown to the mass of the people of the present day. An
aged and respectable lady, born in New England, told me she remembered
it well, long before the Revolution, under another name. It was then
universally called ‘Lydia Fisher,’ and was a favorite New England jig.
It was then the practice with it, as with Yankee Doodle now, to sing it
with various impromptu verses,—such as

   ‘Lydia Locket lost her pocket,
     Lydia Fisher found it;
   Not a bit of money in it,
     Only binding round it.’

“The British, preceding the war, when disposed to ridicule the
simplicity of the Yankee manners and hilarity, were accustomed to sing
airs or songs set to words invented for the passing occasion, having for
their object to satirize and sneer at the New Englanders. This, as I
believe, they called Yankee Doodle, by way of reproach, and as a slur
upon their favorite ‘Lydia Fisher.’ It is remembered that the English
officers then among us, acting under civil and military appointments,
often felt lordly over us as colonists, and by countenancing such slurs
they sometimes expressed their superciliousness. When the battles of
Concord and Lexington began the war, the English, when advancing in
triumph, played along the road, ‘God save the King;’ but when the
Americans had made the retreat so disastrous to the invaders, these then
struck up the scouted _Yankee Doodle_,—as if to say, ‘See what we simple
Jonathans can do!’ From that time the term of intended derision was
assumed throughout all the American colonies, as the national air of the
Sons of Liberty; even as the Methodists—once reproachfully so
called—assumed it as their acceptable appellation. Even the name of
‘Sons of Liberty,’ which was so popular at the outset, was a name
adopted from the appellation given us in Parliament by Colonel Barré in
his speech! Judge Martin, in his History of North Carolina, has lately
given another reason for the origin of ‘Yankee Doodle,’ saying it was
first formed at Albany, in 1755, by a British officer, then there,
indulging his pleasantry on the homely array of the motley Americans
then assembling to join the expedition of General Johnston and Governor
Shirley. To ascertain the truth in the premises, both his and my
accounts were published in the gazettes, to elicit, if possible, further
information, and the additional facts ascertained seem to corroborate
the foregoing idea. The tune and quaint words, says a writer in the
‘Columbian Gazette,’ at Washington, were known as early as the time of
Cromwell, and were so applied to him then, in a song called ‘Nankee
Doodle,’ as ascertained from the collection he had seen of a gentleman
at Cheltenham, in England, called ‘Musical Antiquities of England,’ to

   “‘Nankee Doodle came to town
     Upon a little pony,
   With a feather in his hat,
     Upon a macaroni,’ &c.

“The term feather, &c. alluded to Cromwell’s going into Oxford on a
small horse, with his single plume fastened in a sort of knot called a
‘macaroni.’ The idea that such an early origin may have existed seems
strengthened by the fact communicated by an aged gentleman of
Massachusetts, who well remembered that, about the time the strife was
engendering at Boston, they sometimes conveyed muskets to the country
concealed in their loads of manure, &c. Then came abroad verses, as if
set forth from their military masters, saying,—

   “‘Yankee Doodle came to town
     For to buy a firelock:
   We will tar and feather him,
     And so we will John Hancock.’

“The similarity of the first lines of the above two examples, and the
term ‘feather’ in the third line, seem to mark in the latter some
knowledge of the former precedent. As, however, other writers have
confirmed their early knowledge of ‘Lydia Locket,’ such as,

   “‘Lydy Locket lost her pocket
     In a rainy shower,’ &c.,

we seem led to the choice of reconciling them severally with each other.
We conclude, therefore, that the Cavaliers, when they originally
composed ‘Nankee Doodle,’ may have set it to the jig-tune of ‘Lydia
Fisher,’ to make it the more offensive to the Puritans. In this view it
was even possible for the British officer at Albany, in 1755, as a man
skilled in music, to have before heard of the old ‘Nankee Doodle,’ and
to have renewed it on that occasion. That the air was uniformly deemed a
good retort on British royalists, we must be confirmed in from the fact
that it was played by us at the battle of Lexington when repelling the
foe, again at the surrender of Burgoyne, and finally at Yorktown
surrender, when Lafayette, who ordered the tune, meant it as a retort on
an intended affront.”

The following is the first verse in the original _American_ Yankee
Doodle song:—

   “Yankee Doodle, keep it up,
     Do it neat and handy:
   The boy to flog the British troops
     Is Yankee Doodle Dandy.”


The following is Judge Hopkinson’s own account of the origin of “Hail

“This song was written in the summer of 1798, when a war with France was
thought to be inevitable, Congress being then in session in
Philadelphia, deliberating upon that important subject, and acts of
hostility having actually occurred. About that time a young man by the
name of Fox, attached to the Chestnut Street Theatre, was getting up
some attraction for his benefit. I had known him when at school. On this
acquaintance he called on me on Saturday afternoon,—his benefit being
announced for the following Monday. He said there were no boxes taken,
and his prospect was that he should suffer a loss instead of receiving a
benefit from his performance, but that if he could get a patriotic song
adapted to the tune of the ‘President’s March’ (then the popular air) he
did not doubt of a full house; that the poets of the theatrical corps
had been trying to accomplish it, but were satisfied that no words could
be composed to suit the music of the march. I told him I would try for
him. He came the next afternoon, and the song, such as it is, was ready
for him. It was announced on Monday morning, and the theatre was crowded
to excess, and so continued, night after night, for the rest of the
season,—the song being encored and repeated many times each night, the
audience joining in the chorus. It was also sung at night in the streets
by large assemblies of citizens, including members of Congress. The
enthusiasm was general, and the song was heard, I may say, in every part
of the United States.”

The President’s March was composed by Professor Pfyle, and was played at
Trenton Bridge when Washington passed over on his way to New York to his
inauguration. An old writer, speaking upon this subject, says, “I have
also reason to believe that the Washington’s March generally known by
that title—I mean the one in the key of G major—was composed by the Hon.
Francis Hopkinson, Senior, having seen it in a manuscript book of his,
in his own handwriting, among other of his known compositions.”


Was written by Francis S. Key, while on board one of the vessels
composing the British fleet. He was an agent for the exchange of
prisoners, and witnessed in the distance the bombardment of Fort
McHenry. The tune was originally set to the song “To Anacreon in
Heaven,” by Dr. Arnold.


The first flag adopted by the colonial army before Boston was a red
flag, with the mottoes, “An appeal to Heaven,” and “Qui transtulit
sustinet,” which was construed by the colonists thus:—“God, who
transplanted us hither, will sustain us.” About this time also the
floating batteries, which were the germ of the navy subsequently
organized, bore a flag with the motto, “Appeal to Heaven.” These flags
were adopted before the union of the colonies was effected. After that
union, and upon the organization of the army and fleet, these flags were
supplanted by one calculated to show to the world the union of the North
American colonies among themselves and as an integral part of the
British empire, and as such demanding the rights and liberties of
British subjects. And for this purpose a flag combining the crosses of
St. George and St. Andrew united (the distinctive emblem of Great
Britain), with a field composed of thirteen stripes alternate red and
white, the combination of the flags previously used in the camps and on
the cruises, and the floating batteries of the colonists, was adopted,
and called the _Great Union flag_. The union implied both the union of
the colonies represented in the striped field, which was dependent upon
it, and the nationality of those colonies. The thirteen stripes
alternate red and white, constituting the field of the flag, represented
the body of that union, the numbers that composed it, as well as the
union of the flags which had preceded this Great Union flag. The colors
of these stripes, alternate red and white, indicated on the part of the
colonies thus represented as united the defiance to oppression,
symbolized by the red color of the flag of the army and the red field of
the Continental cruisers, with the purity implied by the white flag of
the floating batteries, of which the motto was, “Appeal to Heaven.”[36]
These flags of the colonies and this Great Union flag gave place in turn
to the flag of the United States, which is thus described in the
following resolution of Congress, passed June 14, 1777:—

“_Resolved_, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen
stripes alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white
in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

From the above it appears that the only alteration made from the Great
Union flag was the substitution of a union of stars representing “a new
constellation,” in place of the old union of the British crosses; and
the question is, what is the meaning of the “new constellation,” and is
there any constellation which represents union? The answer is, that the
constellation Lyra is of this character; for, according to classical
authority, the Lyra was the symbol of harmony and unity among men. The
constellation Lyra is a time-honored emblem of union, and because it was
so it gave to our forefathers the idea of the stars now on our flag,
while the stripes have originated as we have mentioned. May the Stars
and the Stripes ever “wave over the land of the free and the home of the
brave,” and may the United States ever be among the nations of the earth
a constellation like Lyra, which is said to “whirl in harmony and unity
along the immense orb of the revolving world, and to lead all the other


Previous to the Revolution, and during the war, the seat of government,
or points of meeting of Congress, were at such places as convenience
suggested or the vicissitudes of war allowed. The first Congress under
the present Constitution met in New York, on the 4th of March, 1789.
George Washington was inaugurated President before this body, John Adams
Vice-President. F.A. Muhlenberg, of Pennsylvania, was the Speaker of the

The following are the places at which the Continental Congress met from
1774 to the adoption of the Constitution, in 1789:—

   At Philadelphia, 1774, September 5.
   At Baltimore, 1776, December 20.
   At Philadelphia, 1777, March 4.
   At Lancaster, 1777, September 27.
   At York, Pennsylvania, 1777, September 30.
   At Philadelphia, 1778, July 2.
   At Princeton, 1783, June 30.
   At Annapolis, 1783, November 26.
   At Trenton, 1784, November 1.
   At New York, 1785, January 11.

From which time New York continued to be the place of meeting until the
adoption of the Constitution. From 1781 to 1788, Congress met annually
(on the first Monday in November), pursuant to the Articles of
Confederation adopted June 9, 1778.

The first Congress under the Constitution met in New York on the 4th of
March, 1789. The second session of the same Congress met at New York in
January, 1790, at which session the _permanent_ seat of government was
fixed in the District of Columbia, and the _temporary_ seat moved from
New York to Philadelphia. The third session of the First Congress was
held at Philadelphia, December, 1790, where it continued until December,
1800, when Congress met for the first time in Washington.

The following table, in connection with the names of the
postmaster-generals, furnishes a complete panoramic view of the chief
officers of the United States Government from 1774 to 1864.[37]


   FIRST CONGRESS, Sept. 5, 1774. Peyton Randolph, of Virginia,
   President. Born in Virginia, in 1726, died at Philadelphia,
   Oct. 22, 1785. Charles Thomson, of Pennsylvania, Secretary.
   Born in Ireland, in 1730, died in Pennsylvania, Aug. 16, 1824.
   This patriot was Secretary of all the Congresses in session
   during the Revolution, and until March 3, 1789.

   SECOND CONGRESS, May 10, 1775, Peyton Randolph, President.
   Resigned May 24, 1775.

   John Hancock, of Massachusetts, elected his successor. He was
   born at Quincy, Mass., A.D. 1737, died Oct. 8, 1793. He was
   President of Congress until October, 1777.

   Henry Laurens, of South Carolina, President from Nov. 1, 1777,
   to Dec. 1778. He was born at Charleston, S. C., A.D. 1724,
   died in South Carolina, Dec. 1792.

   John Jay, of New York, President from Dec. 10, 1778, to Sept.
   27, 1779. He was born in New York City, Dec. 12, 1745, died in
   New York, May 17, 1829.

   Samuel Huntingdon, of Connecticut, President from Sept. 28,
   1779, until July 10, 1781. He was born in Connecticut, in
   1732, died 1796.

   Thos. McKean, of Pa., President from July, 1781, until Nov. 5,
   1781. He was born in Pennsylvania, March 19, 1734, died at
   Philadelphia, June 24, 1817.

   John Hanson, of Md., President from Nov. 5, 1781, to Nov. 4,
   1782. He was born ——, died 1783.

   Elias Boudinot, of N. J., President from Nov. 4, 1782, until
   Feb. 4, 1783. He was born at Philadelphia, May 2, 1740, died

   Thomas Mifflin, of Pennsylvania, President from February 4,
   1783, to November 30, 1784. Born at Philadelphia, 1744, died
   in the same place, January 21, 1800.

   Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, President from November 30,
   1784, to November 23, 1785. He was born in Virginia, A.D.
   1732, died 1794.

   John Hancock, of Massachusetts, President from November 23,
   1785, to June 6, 1786.

   Nathaniel Gorham, of Massachusetts, President from June 6,
   1786, to February 2, 1787. He was born at Charlestown,
   Massachusetts, A.D. 1738, died June 11, 1796.

   Arthur St. Clair, of Pennsylvania, President from February 2,
   1787, to January 28, 1788. He was born in Edinburgh,
   Scotland, ——, died in 1818.

   Cyrus Griffin, of Virginia, President from January 28, 1788,
   to the end of the Congress under the Confederation, March 3,
   1789. He was born in England, A.D. 1748, died in Virginia,
   A.D. 1810.


1789 to 1793.

   George Washington, of Virginia, inaugurated as President of
   the United States, April 30, 1789. He was born upon Wakefield
   estate, Virginia, February 22 (11th, Old Style), 1732, died at
   Mount Vernon, December 14, 1799.

   John Adams, of Massachusetts, Vice-President. Born at
   Braintree, Massachusetts, October 19, 1735, died July 4, 1826,
   near Quincy, Massachusetts.

   ELECTORAL VOTE—George Washington, 69. John Adams, 34. John
   Jay, New York, 9. R.H. Harrison, Maryland, 6. John Rutledge,
   South Carolina, 6. John Hancock, Massachusetts, 4. George
   Clinton, New York, 3. Samuel Huntingdon, Connecticut, 2. John
   Milton, Georgia, 2. James Armstrong, Georgia, 1. Edward
   Telfair, Georgia, 1. Benjamin Lincoln, Massachusetts,
   1.—Total, 69. Ten States voted,—Rhode Island, New York, and
   North Carolina not voting, not having ratified the
   Constitution in time.

1793 to 1797.

   George Washington, President, inaugurated March 4, 1793.

   John Adams, Vice-President.

   ELECTORAL VOTE—George Washington, 132. John Adams, 77. George
   Clinton, 50. Thomas Jefferson, Virginia, 4. Aaron Burr, New
   York, 1.—Total, 132. Fifteen States voted.

1797 to 1801.

   John Adams, President, inaugurated March 4, 1797.

   Thomas Jefferson, of Virginia, Vice-President. Born at
   Shadwell, Virginia, April 13, 1743, died at Monticello,
   Virginia, July 4, 1826.

   ELECTORAL VOTE—John Adams, 71. Thomas Jefferson, 68. Thomas
   Pinckney, South Carolina, 59. Aaron Burr, 30. Samuel Adams,
   Massachusetts, 15. Oliver Ellsworth, Connecticut, 11. George
   Clinton, 7. John Jay, 5. James Iredell, North Carolina, 3.
   George Washington, 2. John Henry, Maryland, 2. S. Johnson,
   North Carolina, 2. Charles C. Pinckney, South Carolina,
   1.—Total, 138. Sixteen States voting.

1801 to 1805.

   Thomas Jefferson, President, inaugurated March 4, 1801.

   Aaron Burr, of New York, Vice-President. Born at Newark, N. J.
   February 6, 1756, died at Staten Island, New York, September
   14, 1836.

   ELECTORAL VOTE—Thomas Jefferson, 73. Aaron Burr, 73. John
   Adams, 65. Charles C. Pinckney, 64. John Jay, 1.—Total, 138.
   Sixteen States voting.

   There was no election by the Electoral colleges, and the
   election was carried into the House of Representatives, when,
   upon the thirty-sixth ballot, it appeared that ten States
   voted for Jefferson, four States for Aaron Burr, and two
   States in blank. Whereupon Jefferson was declared elected
   President, and Burr Vice-President. After this the
   Constitution was amended, so that the Vice-President was voted
   for separately as a distinct office, instead of being the
   second on the vote for President.

1805 to 1809.

   Thomas Jefferson, President, inaugurated March 4, 1805.

   George Clinton, of New York, Vice-President. He was born in
   Ulster county, New York, A.D. 1739, died in Washington, D. C.,
   April 20, 1812.

   ELECTORAL VOTE—_For President_, Thomas Jefferson, 162; Charles
   Cotesworth Pinckney, 14.—Total, 176. Seven States voting.

   _For Vice-President_, George Clinton, 162; Rufus King, New
   York, 14.

1809 to 1813.

   James Madison, of Virginia, President, inaugurated March 4,
   1809. He was born March 16, 1751, in Prince George county,
   Virginia, and died at Montpelier, Virginia, June 28, 1836.

   George Clinton, of New York, Vice-President, until his death,
   April 20, 1812.

   ELECTORAL VOTE—_For President_, James Madison, 122; George
   Clinton, 6; C. C. Pinckney, 47.—Total, 175. Seventeen States

   _For Vice-President_, George Clinton, 113; James Madison, 3;
   James Monroe, Virginia, 3; John Langdon, New Hampshire, 9;
   Rufus King, New York, 47.

1813 to 1817.

   James Madison, of Virginia, President. There is no record in
   the Journals of Congress of his having taken the oath of

   Elbridge Gerry, of Massachusetts, Vice-President, until his
   death, November 23, 1814. He was born at Marblehead,
   Massachusetts, July 17, 1744, and died at Washington, D. C.

   ELECTORAL VOTE—_For President_, James Madison, 128; De Witt
   Clinton, New York, 89.—Total, 217. Eighteen States voting.

   _For Vice-President_, Elbridge Gerry, 131; Jared Ingersoll,
   Pennsylvania, 86.

1817 to 1821.

   James Monroe, of Virginia, President, inaugurated March 4,
   1817. He was born in Westmoreland county, Virginia, A.D. 1759,
   died in New York, July 4, 1831.

   Daniel D. Tompkins, of New York, Vice-President. Born June 21,
   1774, at Fox Meadows, New York, died at Staten Island, June
   11, 1825.

   ELECTORAL VOTE—_For President_, James Monroe, 183; Rufus King,
   34—Total, 221. Nineteen States voting.

   _For Vice-President_, Daniel D. Tompkins, 183; John Eager
   Howard, Maryland, 22; James Ross, Pennsylvania, 5; John
   Marshall, Virginia, 4; Robert Goodloe Harper, Maryland, 3.

1821 to 1825.

   James Monroe, President. There is no record in the Journals of
   Congress of his having taken the oath of office.

   Daniel D. Tompkins, Vice-President.

   ELECTORAL VOTE—_For President_, James Monroe, 231; John Quincy
   Adams, Massachusetts, 1.—Total, 232. Twenty-four States

   _For Vice-President_, Daniel D. Tompkins, 218; Richard
   Stockton, New Jersey, 8; Robert G. Harper, 1; Richard Rush,
   Pennsylvania, 1; Daniel Rodney, Delaware, 1.

1825 to 1829.

   John Quincy Adams, of Massachusetts, President, inaugurated
   March 4, 1825. He was born at Quincy, Massachusetts, July 11,
   1767, died at Washington City, February 23, 1848.

   John Caldwell Calhoun, of South Carolina, Vice-President. Born
   in Abbeville district, South Carolina, March 18, 1782, died
   March 31, 1850, in Washington City.

   POPULAR VOTE—_For President_, John Quincy Adams, 105,321;
   Andrew Jackson, Tennessee, 152,899; William H. Crawford,
   Georgia, 47,265; Henry Clay, Kentucky, 47,087.

   ELECTORAL VOTE—_For President_, Andrew Jackson, 99; John
   Quincy Adams, 84; William H. Crawford, 41; Henry Clay,
   37.—Total, 261. Twenty-four States voting.

   There being no choice by the Electoral colleges, the vote was
   taken into the House of Representatives, when upon ballot it
   appeared that Adams had received the vote of thirteen States,
   Jackson seven, and Crawford four. John Quincy Adams was
   therefore declared elected President.

   _For Vice-President_, the Electoral vote was John C. Calhoun,
   South Carolina, 182; Nathan Sanford, New York, 30; Nathaniel
   Macon, Georgia, 24; Andrew Jackson, Tennessee, 13; Martin Van
   Buren, New York, 9; Henry Clay, Kentucky, 2.

1829 to 1833.

   Andrew Jackson, of Tennessee, President, inaugurated March 4,
   1829. He was born in Mecklenburg county, North Carolina, near
   the Waxhaw Settlements, which are in South Carolina, March 15,
   1767, died at the Hermitage, Tennessee, June 8, 1845.

   John Caldwell Calhoun, Vice-President, until his resignation,
   December 28, 1832.

   POPULAR VOTE—_For President_, Andrew Jackson, 650,028; John
   Quincy Adams, 512,158.

   ELECTORAL VOTE—_For President_, Andrew Jackson, 178; John
   Quincy Adams, 83.—Total, 261. Twenty-four States voting.

   _For Vice-President_, John C. Calhoun, 171; Richard Rush,
   Pennsylvania, 83; William Smith, South Carolina, 7.

1833 to 1837.

   Andrew Jackson, President, inaugurated March 4, 1833.

   Martin Van Buren, of New York, Vice-President. He was born at
   Kinderhook, New York, December 5, 1782. Died, July 24, 1864.

   POPULAR VOTE—_For President_, Andrew Jackson, 687,502; Henry
   Clay, 550,189; opposition (John Floyd, Virginia, and William
   Wirt, Maryland), 33,108.

   ELECTORAL VOTE—_For President_, Andrew Jackson, 219; Henry
   Clay, 49; John Floyd, 11; William Wirt, 7,—Total, 288.
   Twenty-four States voting.

   _For Vice-President_, Martin Van Buren, 189; John Sergeant,
   Pennsylvania, 49; William Wilkins, Pennsylvania, 30; Henry
   Lee, Massachusetts, 11; Amos Ellmaker, Pennsylvania, 7.

1837 to 1841.

   Martin Van Buren, President, inaugurated March 4, 1837.

   Richard M. Johnson, of Kentucky, Vice-President. He was born
   in 1780; died November 19, 1850.

   POPULAR VOTE—_For President_, Martin Van Buren, 762,149;
   opposition (William H. Harrison, Hugh L. White, Daniel
   Webster, W.P. Mangum), 736,736.

   ELECTORAL VOTE—_For President_, Martin Van Buren, 170; William
   H. Harrison, Ohio, 73; Hugh L. White, Tennessee, 26; Daniel
   Webster, Massachusetts, 14; W.P. Mangum, 11.—Total, 294.
   Twenty-six States voting.

   _For Vice-President_, Richard M. Johnson, Kentucky, 147;
   Francis Granger, New York, 77; John Tyler, Virginia, 47;
   William Smith, Alabama, 23.

1841 to 1845.

   William Henry Harrison, of Ohio, President until his death at
   Washington, April 4, 1841. He was inaugurated March 4, 1841.
   He was born in Berkeley county, Virginia, February 9, 1773.

   John Tyler, of Virginia, Vice-President. He was born April,
   1790, at Greenway, Charles City county, Virginia. Died,
   January 18, 1863.

   John Tyler, of Virginia, became President by the death of
   William H. Harrison. He took the oath of office April 6, 1841.

   POPULAR VOTE (November, 1840)—_For President_, William Henry
   Harrison, 1,274,783; Martin Van Buren, 1,128,702; James G.
   Birney, New York (Abolition), 7609.

   ELECTORAL VOTE—_For President_, William Henry Harrison, 234;
   Martin Van Buren, 60.—Total, 294. Twenty-six States voting.

   _For Vice-President_, John Tyler, 234; Richard M. Johnson, 48;
   L.W. Tazewell, South Carolina, 11; James K. Polk, Tennessee,

1845 to 1849

   James Knox Polk, of Tennessee, President, inaugurated March 4,
   1845. He was born in Mecklenburg county, North Carolina,
   November 2, 1795; died at Nashville, Tennessee, June 15, 1849.

   George Mifflin Dallas, of Pennsylvania, Vice-President. Born
   in Philadelphia, July 10, 1792.

   POPULAR VOTE—_For President_, James K. Polk, 1,335,834; Henry
   Clay, 1,297,033; James G. Birney, 62,270.

   ELECTORAL VOTE—_For President_, James K. Polk, 170; Henry
   Clay, 105.—Total, 275. Twenty-six States voting.

   _For Vice-President_, George M. Dallas, 170; Theodore
   Frelinghuysen, of New Jersey, 105.

1849 to 1853.

   Zachary Taylor, of Louisiana, President, inaugurated March 4,
   1849. Born in Virginia, A.D. 1784; died in Washington City,
   July 9, 1850.

   Millard Fillmore, of New York, Vice-President. Born in Locke
   township, Cayuga county, New York, January 7, 1800.

   Millard Fillmore, President after the death of Zachary Taylor,
   July 9, 1850. He took the oath of office July 10, 1850.

   POPULAR VOTE—_For President_, Zachary Taylor, 1,362,031; Lewis
   Cass, of Michigan, 1,222,455; Martin Van Buren (Free Soil),

   ELECTORAL VOTE—_For President_, Zachary Taylor, 163; Lewis
   Cass, 127.—Total, 290. Thirty States voting.

   _For Vice-President_, Millard Fillmore, 163; William O.
   Butler, Kentucky, 127.

1853 to 1857.

   Franklin Pierce, of New Hampshire, President, inaugurated
   March 5, 1853. He was born at Hillsborough, New Hampshire,
   November 23, 1804.

   William R. King, of Alabama, Vice-President. He was born in
   North Carolina, April 7, 1786; died at Cahawba, Alabama, April
   18, 1853.

   POPULAR VOTE—_For President_, Franklin Pierce, 1,590,490;
   Winfield Scott, 1,378,589; John C. Hale, New Hampshire
   (Abolition), 157,296.

   ELECTORAL VOTE—_For President_, Franklin Pierce, 254; Winfield
   Scott, of New Jersey, 42.—Total, 296. Thirty-one States

   _For Vice-President_, William R. King, 254; William A. Graham,
   of North Carolina, 42.

1857 to 1861.

   James Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, President. He was born at
   Stony Batter, Franklin county, Pennsylvania, April 22, 1791.

   John C. Breckenridge, of Kentucky, Vice-President. Born near
   Lexington, Kentucky, January 21, 1821.

   POPULAR VOTE—_For President_, James Buchanan (Democratic),

   John C. Frémont, California (Republican), 1,341,514; Millard
   Fillmore, New York (American), 874,707.

   ELECTORAL VOTE—_For President_, James Buchanan, 174; John C.
   Frémont, 109; Millard Fillmore, 8.—Total, 291. Thirty-one
   States voting.

   _For Vice-President_, John C. Breckenridge, 174; William L.
   Dayton, New Jersey, 109; A. J. Donelson, Tennessee, 8; total,

1861 to 1865.

   Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, President, inaugurated March 4,
   1861. He was born near Muldraugh’s Hill, Hardin county,
   Kentucky, February, 1809.

   Hannibal Hamlin, of Maine, Vice-President. He was born at
   Paris, Oxford county, Maine, August 27, 1809.

   POPULAR VOTE—_For President_, Abraham Lincoln (Republican),
   1,857,610; Stephen A. Douglas, of Illinois (Democratic),
   1,365,976; John C. Breckenridge, of Kentucky (Democratic),
   847,953; John Bell, of Tennessee (Constitutional Union),

   ELECTORAL VOTE—_For President_, Abraham Lincoln, 180; John C.
   Breckenridge, 72; John Bell, 39; Stephen A. Douglas,
   12.—Total, 291. Thirty-three States voting.

   _For Vice-President_, Hannibal Hamlin, Maine, 180; Joseph
   Lane, Oregon, 72; Edward Everett, Massachusetts, 39; Herschel
   V. Johnson, Georgia, 12.

As our postal history, so far as the States are concerned, is limited to
our own State, it may not be out of place here to introduce the
following table containing the names of the


more, however, as being useful for future reference rather than to its
connection with our subject:—

1682 to 1863.

   1682, October. William Penn (Proprietary), acted as Governor
   until August, 1684.

   Thomas Lloyd, President until December, 1688.

   Captain John Blackwell, Deputy-Governor to 1690.

   President and Council to April 26, 1693.

   Benjamin Fletcher, Deputy-Governor to September, 1692.

   William Markham, Deputy-Governor to December 3, 1696.

   William Penn again acted as Governor to November 1, 1701.

   Andrew Hamilton, Deputy-Governor to February, 1703.

   Edward Shippen, President of Council to February, 1704.

   John Evans, Deputy-Governor to February, 1709.

   Charles Gookin, Deputy-Governor to March, 1717.

   Sir William Keith, Bart., Deputy-Governor to June, 1727.

   Patrick Gordon, Deputy-Governor to June, 1736.

   James Logan, President of Council to June, 1738.

   George Thomas, Deputy-Governor to June, 1748.

   James Hamilton, Deputy-Governor to October, 1754.

   Robert Hunter Morris, Deputy-Governor to August 19, 1756.

   William Denny, Deputy-Governor to November, 1759

   James Hamilton, Deputy-Governor to October, 1763

   John Penn, son of Richard Penn, Deputy-Governor to May 6,

   Richard Penn, Governor to August, 1771.

   John Penn (second time), Governor to September, 1776.

   Thomas Wharton, Jr., President of Executive Council to
   October, 1777.

   Joseph Reed, President to November, 1781.

   William Moore, President to November, 1782.

   John Dickinson, President to October, 1785.

   Benjamin Franklin, President to October, 1788.

   Thomas Mifflin, President to the adoption of the new
   Constitution in 1790.


   1790. Thomas Mifflin       27,725
         Arthur St. Clair      2,802
             Whole number     ——————  30,527

   1793. Thomas Mifflin       19,590
         F.A. Muhlenberg      10,700
             Whole number     ——————  30,290

   1796. Thomas Mifflin       30,029
         F.A. Muhlenberg      10,011
             Whole number     ——————  40,040

   1799. Thomas McKean        37,244
         James Ross           22,643
             Whole number     ——————  59,887

   1802. Thomas McKean        47,879
         James Ross           17,037
             Whole number     ——————  64,916

   1805. Thomas McKean        48,483
         Simon Snyder         43,644
             Whole number     ——————  82,127

   1808. Simon Snyder         67,975
         James Ross           37,575
         John Spayd            4,006
             Whole number     —————— 109,556

   1811. Simon Snyder         52,319
         No opposition.
             Whole number     ——————  52,319

   1814. Simon Snyder         51,099
         Isaac Wayne          29,566
             Whole number     ——————  80,665

   1817. William Findlay      66,331
         Joseph Heister       59,273
             Whole number     —————— 125,604

   1820. Joseph Heister       67,905
         William Findlay      66,300
             Whole number     —————— 134,205

   1823. John A. Shultze      89,968
         Andrew Gregg         64,221
             Whole number     —————— 154,189

   1826. John A. Shultze      72,710
         John Sergeant         1,174
             Whole number     ——————  73,884

   1829. George Wolf          78,219
         Joseph Ritner        51,776
             Whole number     —————— 129,995

   1832. George Wolf          91,235
         Joseph Ritner        88,186
             Whole number     —————— 179,421

   1835. Joseph Ritner        94,023
         George Wolf          65,804
         H. A. Muhlenberg     40,586
             Whole number     —————— 200,413

   1838. David R. Porter     131,496
         Joseph Ritner       121,389
             Whole number    ——————— 252,885

   1841. David R. Porter     136,335
         John Banks          113,374
             Whole number    ——————— 249,709

   1844. Francis R. Shunk    160,403
         Joseph Markle       156,114
             Whole number    ——————— 316,517

   1847. Francis R. Shunk    146,081
         James Irvin         128,148
         Emanuel C. Reigert   11,247
             Whole number    ——————— 285,476

   1848. W. F. Johnston      168,462
         Morris Longstreth   168,192
             Whole number    ——————— 336,654

   1851. William Bigler      186,507
         W. F. Johnston      178,070
             Whole number    ——————— 364,577

   1854. James Pollock       204,008
         William Bigler      167,001
             Whole number    ——————— 371,009

   1857. William F. Packer   188,890
         David Wilmot        146,147
         Isaac Hazlehurst     28,100
             Whole number    ——————— 363,137

   1860. Andrew G. Curtin    262,403
         Henry D. Foster     230,239
             Whole number    ——————— 492,642

   1863. Andrew G. Curtin    269,496
         G. W. Woodward      254,171
             Whole number    ——————— 523,667



Having brought the postal history of the colonies up to the time Richard
Bache succeeded Benjamin Franklin (November, 1776), and whose dismissal
gave the latter some grounds of complaint, if not censure, against the
appointment of Ebenezer Hazard, who had the office under President
Washington, we will carry out the object of these tables, by continuing
the list of postmaster-generals from that period.

SAMUEL OSGOOD.—This gentleman was born at Andover, Massachusetts,
February 14, 1748; graduated at Harvard College in 1770; a member of the
Massachusetts Legislature, and also of the board of war, and
subsequently an aid to General Ward; in 1779, a member of the
Massachusetts Constitutional Convention; in 1781, appointed a member of
Congress; in 1785, first commissioner of the treasury; and September 26,
1789, postmaster-general. He was afterwards naval officer of the port of
New York, and died in that city, August 12, 1813.

Early in the first session of the Second Congress two important subjects
of a national character received the attention of the representatives of
the people: one was establishing a national mint, and the other the
organization of the postal system.

The establishing of a mint, however, was delayed, and no special action
was taken in that direction until 1790, when Mr. Jefferson, then
Secretary of State, urged the matter upon the attention of Congress. In
1792, April 2, laws were enacted for the establishment of a mint. It
did not, however, go into full operation until 1795.

The first mint was located in Philadelphia, and remained the sole issuer
of coin in the United States until 1835, when a branch was established
in each of the States of Georgia, North Carolina, and Louisiana,—in
Charlotte, Dahlonega, and New Orleans. These three branches went into
operation in the years 1837-38.

A bill for the organization of a post-office system was passed in 1792,
simultaneously with that for establishing the mint.

Very soon after the commencement of the first session of Congress a
letter was received from Ebenezer Hazard (July 17, 1789), then
postmaster-general under the old Confederation, suggesting the
importance of some new regulations for that department. A bill for the
temporary establishing of a post-office was passed soon afterwards. The
subject was brought up from time to time, until the present system was
organized in 1792. The postmaster-general was not made a Cabinet-officer
until the first year (1829) of President Jackson’s administration.

TIMOTHY PICKERING.—Born at Salem, Massachusetts, July 17, 1746;
graduated in 1763; was colonel of a regiment of militia at the age of
nineteen, and marched for the seat of war at the first news of the
battle of Lexington; in 1775, was appointed judge of two local courts;
in the fall of 1776, marched to New Jersey with his regiment; in 1777,
appointed adjutant-general, and subsequently a member of the board of
war with Gates and Mifflin; in 1780 he succeeded Greene as
quartermaster-general; in 1790 he was employed in negotiations with the
Indians; August 12, 1791, he was appointed postmaster-general; in 1794,
Secretary of War, and in 1795, Secretary of State; from 1803 to 1811 he
was senator, and from 1814 to 1817 representative in Congress; died at
Salem, June 29, 1829.

JOSEPH HABERSHAM.—Born in 1750; a lieutenant-colonel during the
Revolutionary War, and in 1785 a member of Congress; appointed
postmaster-general, February 25, 1795; he was afterwards president of
the United States Branch Bank in Savannah, Georgia; died at that place,
November, 1815.

GIDEON GRANGER.—Born at Suffield, Connecticut, July 19, 1767; graduated
at Yale College in 1787, and the following year admitted to the bar; in
1793, elected to the Connecticut Legislature; November 28, 1801,
appointed postmaster-general; retired in 1814, and removed to
Canandaigua, New York; April, 1819, elected a member of the Senate of
that State, but resigned in 1821 on account of ill health. During his
service in that body he donated one thousand acres of land to aid the
construction of the Erie Canal. Died at Canandaigua, December 31, 1822.

RETURN JONATHAN MEIGS.—Born at Middletown, Connecticut, in 1765;
graduated at Yale College in 1785, and subsequently admitted to the bar;
in 1788, emigrated to Marietta, Ohio, then the Northwestern Territory;
in 1790, during the Indian wars, he was sent by Governor St. Clair on a
perilous mission through the wilderness to the British commandant at
Detroit; in the winter of 1802-03 he was elected by the legislature the
first chief justice of the Supreme Court of the new State; in October,
1804, he was appointed colonel commanding the United States forces in
the upper district of the Territory of Louisiana, and resigned his
judgeship; in the following year he was appointed one of the United
States judges for Louisiana; April 2, 1807, he was transferred to the
Territory of Michigan; in October following he resigned his judgeship,
and was elected Governor of the State of Ohio, but his election was
successfully contested on the ground of non-residence. He was chosen at
the same session as one of the judges of the Supreme Court of the State,
and at the next session as United States Senator for a vacancy of one
year, and also for a full term. In 1810 he was again elected Governor of
Ohio, and on the 8th of December resigned his seat in the Senate; in
1812 he was re-elected Governor; on the 17th of March, 1814, he was
appointed postmaster-general, which he resigned in June, 1823. Died at
Marietta, March 29, 1825.

JOHN MCLEAN.—Born in Morris county, New Jersey, March 11, 1785. His
father subsequently removed to Ohio, of which State the son continued a
resident. He labored on the farm until sixteen years of age, when he
applied himself to study, and two years afterwards removed to
Cincinnati, and supported himself by copying in the county clerk’s
office while he studied law. In 1807 he was admitted to the bar; in 1812
he was elected to Congress, and re-elected in 1814; in 1816 he was
unanimously elected by the legislature a judge of the Supreme Court of
that State; in 1822 he was appointed by President Monroe commissioner of
the General Land-Office, and on the 26th of June, 1823,
postmaster-general; in 1829 he was appointed as one of the justices of
the Supreme Court of the United States.

WILLIAM T. BARRY.—Born in Fairfax county, Virginia, March 18, 1780;
graduated at the College of William and Mary. He was admitted to the
bar, and in early life emigrated to Kentucky. In 1828 he was a candidate
for Governor of that State, and defeated by a small majority after one
of the most memorable contests in its annals; appointed
postmaster-general March 9, 1829; in 1835, appointed minister
plenipotentiary to Spain, and died at Liverpool, England, on his way to

Mr. Barry was the first postmaster-general who had the honor of being
one of the Cabinet. Whether such a movement has benefited the postal
department or not can only be ascertained by a reference to its records.
As these present more the appearance of political names, figures,
changes, removals, and a confusion of all the elements which make up a
party, it is doubtful if the public mind is prepared to view the postal
department in any other light than that of one of the revolving
political luminaries of the country. A reference, however, to some
statistics furnished in this work, and an occasional reference to its
not being a self-sustaining institution, may probably throw some light
upon the subject.

We have avoided, through motives of nationality rather than of choice,
any direct allusion to frauds in the postal department. “When Judge
McLean left the department it was,” said his friends, “in a thriving
condition.” Such was not the case. From “The Aurora,” edited by the late
William Duane, bearing date January 10, 1835, we take the following

“It would be a hopeless task to seek the _qualities_, _actions_,
_evidence of fitness_, or _principles_ of Mr. McLean. We know he was a
member of Congress: can any one _discover_ any thing which he did there?
He was appointed postmaster-general to cover the _retreat_ of R. J.
Meigs, who should have been removed three years before.

“And what did he do in the general post-office? Why, the men who had
practised the most enormous abuses, which had been proved by _blanching
evidence_ before Congress, he retained in the prosecution of their
_former business_.

“The reproach is no doubt to be shared with Congress, which, on the
occasion of the investigation of the sale of post-office drafts,
suffered the inquiry to be stifled after attempts had been made, without
success, on some poor men to suppress the truth, and who were discharged
for their fidelity, whilst others were retained whose memories, like the
memorable Italian delator, was _non mi ricordo_!

“Mr. McLean entered the general post-office when it was whelmed in
abuses and in debt. Accounts in that office had not been brought up, or
cash accounts balanced, for several years; and, in fact, no true
_account_ of the affairs of the post-office department at that period
had ever appeared.

“Mr. McLean was a mere walking-stick for the _directors_ of his
predecessor. He made some efforts to bring up the business, and some
laws were passed to oblige accountability; but he left the general
post-office as he found it, deep in debt,—saddling his successor with
the burden, and leaving the system in such disorder as to render it
necessary for Mr. Barry to organize the department wholly anew, were it
only to extricate it from the hands of those men who had thrown it all
into confusion.”[38]

Mr. Barry, in his address to the people, speaking of the department as
it came from the hands of Mr. McLean to him, says,—

“The late postmaster-general, in his report dated November 17, 1828,
shows that, instead of saving $500,000, the expenses of his department
from the 1st of July, 1827, to the 1st of July, 1828, were upwards of
$25,000 more than all its revenues for the same period, and that he had
entered into contracts to take effect from the 1st of January, 1829,
which involved the department in an expense, for the period of only six
months from the 1st of January to the 1st of July, 1829, of $40,778.55
more than all its revenue for the same time; and that the expenses of
the department for the year commencing the 1st of July, 1828, were
$74,714.15 more than its revenues, and that the excess of expenditure,
together with the losses sustained, had diminished the finances of the
department within one year to the amount of $101,266.03. In this state
of things I had no agency. It was produced before I came into office.”

AMOS KENDALL.—Born at Dunstable, Massachusetts, August 16, 1789;
graduated at Dartmouth College in 1811; about the year 1812, removed to
Kentucky, and in 1815 was appointed postmaster at Georgetown in that
State; in 1816 he assumed the editorial charge of the “Argus,” published
at Frankfort, in the same State, which he continued until 1829, being
most of the time State printer; in 1829 he was appointed fourth auditor
of the United States Treasury; and May 1, 1835, postmaster-general. He
resigned the latter office in 1840, and has, since the introduction of
the electric telegraph, been mainly employed in connection with
enterprises for its operation. He is yet living.


The years 1834, ’35, and ’36 were remarkable for an almost epidemic
species of madness on the subject of slavery, or, rather, upon the
question of the immediate emancipation of the slaves throughout the
South. That this was carried to extremes by both parties there can be no
doubt, and that very extremity became the chief cause of the rebellion
of the South. The question has been settled by the North that although
the South had all she could claim consistently under an _uncertain
clause_ of the Constitution, she had no right to make slavery a fiendish
monster, that was to ride iron-shod over all the Free States in the
Union, and silence the voice of Christianity in its peaceful attempts to
lessen its evils. As a relic of the long past, one of the dark pages
from Saxon history, the institution of slavery, as sustained in the
South, was a deep, damning, dark spot on a land that boasted of
principles based on three cardinal precepts, “virtue, liberty, and
independence,”—a misnomer in its Constitution and laws.

While the fanatical portion of the Northern abolitionists were striving
to impress upon the South the enormity of their crime in sustaining
slavery, the South was equally virulent in its condemnation of their
mode of doing so. Meetings were held all over the country, speeches
made, and passion swayed the judgment to the total extinction of common
sense. The South accused the North of encouraging amalgamation; the
North indignantly denied it, and with much logic proved that it was a
_Southern virtue altogether_.

This was the beginning of the rebellion: here were the seeds grown,
watered, and nurtured by hatred, envy, and malice. The South had planted
its poisonous root on a free soil, and it came in contact with its more
wholesome brother: the one began to pale before the venom of the other,
blasting it like “a mildew’d ear.” It is not our purpose to give a
history of these eventful years, nor the consequence attending the
operations of the Northern opposition party to slavery against Southern
arrogance and presumptuous domination. The question, however, had to be
decided at one time or another; and in 1860 it was answered by the
thunder sound of cannon and flashes from millions of rifles.

The South became very indignant against the post-office department,
which it accused of an abuse of power, by _permitting_ what they called
“incendiary publications” to pass through the office to individuals in
the South. The Federal Government was called upon to correct this
“prostitution of its laws,” which was calculated to affect its (the
South’s) peculiar “domestic institution,” and if persisted in would be

In answer to repeated complaints made to Amos Kendall, Esq., the then
postmaster-general, both from Southern men and Northern advocates of
slavery, he stated distinctly that he had no legal authority to exclude
newspapers from the mail, nor prohibit their carriage or delivery on
account of their character and tendency, real or supposed. Indeed, this
would be assuming a power over the liberty of the press which might be
perverted and abused to an extent highly injurious to our republican
system of government.

In 1835, Amos Kendall received a letter from the postmaster at
Charleston, stating that he had detained in the office certain
inflammatory newspapers, circulars, pamphlets, &c., the distribution of
which he thought was calculated to do much harm in the State; in fact, a
meeting was called in that city of its citizens upon the subject of
these “incendiary documents,” when it was publicly stated that
“_arrangements had been made with the postmaster, by which no seditious
pamphlets shall be issued or forwarded from the post-office in this
city_”! The committee consisted of the following-named gentlemen, who
had waited upon the postmaster, and hence his letter to the
postmaster-general:—General Hayne, John Robinson, Charles Edmonston, H.
A. Desaussure, James Robertson, James Lynah, Edward R. Laurens. The
following is an extract from Mr. Kendall’s letter to the postmaster at
Charleston: similar replies to other postmasters from the Southern
States were also forwarded, as it appeared to have been a preconcerted
Southern action. Of this there can be no doubt; for the Charleston
letter bore date July 29, 1835, the Richmond August 8, New Orleans July
15, and Georgia July 10. Mr. Kendall says,—

“But I am not prepared to direct you to forward or deliver the papers of
which you speak. The post-office department was created to serve the
people of each and all of the _United States_, and not to be used as the
instrument of their _destruction_. None of the papers detained have been
forwarded to me, and I cannot judge for myself of their character and
tendency; but you inform me that they are in character ‘the most
inflammable and incendiary, and insurrectionary in the highest degree.’

“By no act or direction of mine, official or private, could I be induced
to aid knowingly in giving circulation to papers of this description,
directly or indirectly. We owe an obligation to the laws, but a higher
one to the communities in which we live; and if the _former_ be
perverted to destroy the _latter_, it is patriotism to disregard them.
Entertaining these views, I cannot sanction, and will not condemn, the
step you have taken. Your justification must be looked for in the
character of the papers detained, and the circumstances by which you are

“The surroundings” in and near all Southern post-offices are those which
the institution of slavery inaugurates. Letters from certain Eastern
States were subject to an espionage somewhat similar to that by which a
detective policeman tracks an unsuspecting culprit from haunt to haunt,
acquiring a perfect knowledge of his habits and the character of his
associates. Letters were opened by a sort of steaming process, read and
their contents noted, carefully sealed again, and delivered to the
person to whom they were directed. If the contents of the letter came
under the denunciatory head, the individual to whom it was addressed
received intimation from the Order of “The Regulators,” a society
formed for the purpose of finding out abolitionists, to leave the city
in twenty-four hours.

The writer of this resided in the city of New Orleans at that period,
and he knew of the existence of one established as far back as 1829: it
was called the “Regulators.” It was not only formidable in numbers, but
equally so in a political point of view. This order has since been
merged in that of the “Golden Circle.” One of the obligations of the
“Regulators” was, and is in the new “junto,” to this effect:—

“I do promise that I will use my best exertions to find out any and
every one who in any way favors abolitionism, and who attempts to
instruct or enlighten a slave, either by teaching him his letters, or by
giving him religious instruction,” &c.

Under this oath men were driven from the South, and in some instances
_tarred and feathered_! In 1834 the writer knew an old gentleman from
Boston, who, ignorant of the _exclusive_ slave-laws of the State, was
compelled to quit New Orleans for simply talking to an old black man
about religion and teaching him his letters, so that he might read the
word of God: this, too, in a Christian land,—a land of freedom![39]

It may be observed, however, in extenuation even for such seeming
high-handed measures, that as slavery was an acknowledged institution
rearing itself up on the Constitution, and that some 4,000,000 of human
creatures were chained to it, it was absolutely necessary to keep them
in ignorance of any sympathy existing for their degraded state either in
the North or the South, lest such sympathy should excite them to
resistance. Hence every thing that was calculated to throw light on
their benighted pathway, and strengthen any lingering preconceived idea
that they were men and not beasts of burden, was kept studiously away
from them. As long as this country sanctioned the existence of slavery,
just so long was she justified in protecting those States sustaining it
from any outbreak on the part of its victims. It was an evil that came
in under the Constitution, and it was an evil it was bound to sustain.
The anti-slavery party North carried their views far beyond common sense
and simple reason; and this led to Southern opposition. But the more
enlightened people viewed both parties as acting wrong, and in opposing
the first they as strongly repudiated the acts of the latter. And what
has been the consequence? The South, alone in its crime, alone in its
inhuman traffic, alone in its crushing power to make men beasts of
burden,—even lower in the animal scale than the animal itself,—like
Lucifer, rebelled against its country and its God. Thus, slaveholders
became barbarians by the very act of attempting to rivet the chains of
bondage on man and his country. That rebellion recreated in our midst a
new order, or rather carried out the very spirit of the Declaration of
Independence, declaring that these united colonies are, and of right
ought to be, “FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES.” There can be no such thing
as freedom, if its meaning be linked to the chains of slavery. There is
no true freedom for an American to boast of, if one portion of the land
sustains slavery and laughs at the sound of the lash as it lacerates the
back of a bondsman in the nineteenth century. Age of Christianity! age
of refinement! age of letters! What a misnomer!

This feeling, which had a tendency to divide the South from the North,
was gradually assuming a dangerous aspect. It was a feeling
antagonistical to that which prevailed in the North. The one was allied
to the age of barbarism, the other to the highest order of civilization.
The worst passions of bad men were working the evil; they engendered
hatred and malice; and the rising popularity of the North for its
intelligence, its institutions, its educational system, its arts, its
sciences, and, in fact, all that a high state of intellectual knowledge
produces, added fuel to the hellish fire that was burning in the
Southern breast.

They could boast of only one institution, and that was slavery. This
institution sent forth

                   “the piercing cry
   Which shook the waves and rent the sky:
   E’en now, e’en now, on yonder western shores
   Weeps pale Despair, and writhing Anguish roars;
   E’en now on Afric’s groves, with hideous yell
   Fierce Slavery stalks, and slips the dogs of hell;
   From vale to vale the gathering cries rebound,
   And sable nations tremble at the sound!”

The South actually could boast of but this one institution: for all
others, either of commerce, agriculture, education, arts or sciences,
they were indebted to the North. And yet they rebelled!

The moment men, as well as nations, feel their own insignificance and
witness the rising greatness of others, that moment they begin to plot
mischief. Treason is the offspring of disappointment and a desire for
power. Defeated ambition not unfrequently steps in, and out of such
elements rebellions are made. Lucifer, therefore, may be quoted as the
personification of the treason of Jeff Davis.

The South also made the discovery that slave labor, devoted only to one
object, was demoralizing the soil, as it had already demoralized
society. Northern men and Northern manners did not suit their ideas of
refinement, and thus the social relations became unpleasant.

Every foot of ground neglected or simply used for one especial purpose
was gradually wearing out. The census of 1850 furnishes the following
facts connected with the decadency of the Southern soil.

Three hundred and thirty-five thousand natives of Virginia emigrated
from the State of Virginia and found homes elsewhere. South Carolina
sent forth 163,000. North Carolina lost 261,575,—equal to thirty-one per
cent. As regards Maryland, the extreme poverty of her soil can be
directly traced to man’s neglect of what kind Nature sent him, that by
the “sweat of his brow” he should cultivate and enjoy.

If we were to trace the cause of this, it would be found to have
originated in the sterility of the soil, the absence of free labor and
agricultural knowledge. Southern men are not favorably disposed towards
Northern improvements in any department, no matter whether it be trade,
commerce, or agriculture: hence they have no such farms South as they
have North, even in portions of their country where the soil is equally
susceptible of improvement.

The South stated distinctly, speaking through her secret councils, using
their own language, “_that it could only hope for the real enjoyment of
its rights in a_ SOUTHERN CONFEDERACY”!

Mr. Kendall’s letter to the postmaster was applauded by the Southern
press, and most severely censured by that of the North. One editor said,
“There was but one course for the postmaster-general to pursue in
relation to the distribution of the documents at Charleston, and that
is, to have directed his subordinate officer to follow the statutes as
laid down, and leave the result to the law. Instead of this, he tells
him that it is _patriotism sometimes to disregard the law_!”

It is said the law is defective: it may have been in 1835; but the
South, by its own vile act, has made that law so clear that there is not
the least doubt but every Southern postmaster hereafter, whatever his
political opinions may be, will be fully able to understand it.

Perhaps no man exerted himself more to make the postal department
honored and respected than did Amos Kendall. He was, consequently,
making rules and regulations organizing the several departments, and
watching each and every operation with a shrewd and business eye to its

In 1835, under the heading of the “Organization of the Post-Office
Department,” he published fifty-six rules and regulations, concluding
with the following remarks, _apart from a political basis_:—

“The postmaster-general looks to all those under his direction and
control for a cheerful and vigorous co-operation in the management of
the business of the department, by which they will not only render an
essential service to their country, but assuredly promote their own
happiness and extend their individual reputation. It will give him
pleasure, and it is his fixed purpose, to advance, as occasion may
offer, all such as by their industry, fidelity, and correct deportment
may give character to the department and enable him to discharge
honorably the important duties with which he is intrusted.”

Mr. Kendall and, in fact, all postmaster-generals in their reports
invariably speak of advancing the interest of honest and trustworthy
employees; but we believe that unless this important and much-desired
consideration is carried out by _political influence, anxious expectants
will never enjoy the benefits arising from it_.

Postmaster-General Blair made similar promises, which, like those of
others, were not fulfilled, and the writer of this, among others, was
told that an addition to their salary would follow Postmaster-General
Blair’s promises. The presumption, however, was that there was not a man
in the whole postal department who came up to the postmaster-general’s
idea of what constituted “honesty” in its connection with the
department. This, however, we do know, that the noisy, ignorant
politicians, those who exercised an influence over frequenters of
rum-shops, were the men who received the most attention from these
functionaries. Postmaster-General Blair, in his Annual Report of the
Post-Office Department, 1862, winds up with these words:—

“It is my purpose to adhere firmly to my determination to displace
incompetency and indifference wherever found in official position under
my control, without any discrimination in favor of appointments which I
may myself have made under misinformation of facts. The postal business
must be conducted, if successful, upon the same principles which control
the operations of the upright and sagacious man of business. The
department should adhere to those officers who have administrative
talents and are faithful to its interests, and should remove those who
take no interest in the efficiency of its service.”

This is exactly the argument we have used in another portion of this
work in favor of those who are faithful to the interest of the
government and have acquired a thorough knowledge of their duties. We
hope the suggestions of Mr. Blair will be _practically_ carried out.

Mr. Kendall had to contend against a powerful political party which was
brought to bear upon his time and patience. The latter was severely
tried during the session of Congress, March, 1839. To all the attacks,
however, which were made upon him, and the various attempts to accuse
him of political partiality in his appointments, he answered with a
clearness and boldness which fully proved that the attempt to make
political capital out of his supposed malfeasance in office was at best
but a “weak invention of the enemy.”

It was stated that he retained in office a postmaster, “a wretch who was
guilty of forgery and counterfeiting, and who escaped the fangs of the
law only by turning state’s evidence,” although he had been fully
informed of the facts and knew the character of the man, and that his
reason for retaining him (such a villain) in office was that he was an
active and determined partisan. To this statement Mr. Kendall replied as

“These charges appear to have been made on the 28th of February last.
Lucius D. Smith, postmaster at New Lebanon, Oneida county, New York, the
individual referred to, was removed from office on the 21st of January
last, and the appointment of his successor was officially announced in
the ‘Globe’ on the 1st of February last. He had, therefore, been removed
more than a month when these charges were uttered on the floor of the

In another portion of this work we have alluded to the fact of the
postal department being made a political one. It is one of those
institutions that is allied to the general interest of all parties; and
for the maintenance of that interest its political influence should not
extend throughout all its ramifications. It is true, the heads of the
department in many instances, being mere ciphers, might be with
propriety politically disposed of; but the workers in the office—the
active business-men—should not step out from their duties to take part
in the active workings of the party at the expense of the postal
interest. And yet, under the present system, these men _must labor_ in
their “political vocation” or lose their position. Their presence at
ward-meetings, their being elected delegates, their lost time at the
polls, are all for their chances of retaining place for four years.
Then they pass away into other business, forgotten by those who used
them as their tools while in office. What are such men, when subject to
a system like this, but _political paupers_? We do not say that men in
the post-office should not be the friends and supporters of the party in
power: on the contrary, they are expected to be. But cannot a man be the
friend and supporter of the government under any administration apart
from his political bias, more particularly if he is placed in a position
of honor and trust not easily supplied by another, without being subject
to instant dismissal? Previous to 1860 this should have been a
governmental axiom; but the rebellion changed the whole system, because
there arose a divided sentiment in relation to the union of States,
originating the treasonable idea that secession was a constitutional
principle. Men who advocated this doctrine were not considered worthy a
place of trust: hence, in the different post-offices throughout the
loyal States, the oath of allegiance was administered to the
employees,—a most important movement; for a disloyal clerk would have
been a powerful auxiliary to the rebel cause. Although during the
rebellion—nay, even up to its very close—portions of the press were
favorably disposed towards traitors, the post-office made no distinction
in its distribution of newspapers: unlike the South in its days of
_slavish_ triumph and during the incipient stages of the rebellion, it
exercised no espionage even over the Copperhead presses of the North,—an
oversight on the part of our government for which it has dearly paid;
for it led to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, by furnishing to the
South the information of its having friends in the North. His death,
however, only accelerated the downfall of all their plans and the final
surrender of all their armies.

And here, although perhaps out of place in a work like this, we ask how
an editor, dipping his pen in the black blood of treason and tracing
the dark lines of crime along the columns of his paper could claim
postal protection while aiming to destroy the very power under which he
claimed the right to publish his incendiary sheet?

That press should cease to be considered a part and portion of an
institution when its columns maintain the right not only to utter
treason, but to claim on constitutional grounds, according to its idea,
the privilege of expressing sentiments calculated to destroy the union
of the States.[40]

We have alluded to the frequent changes that are made in our
post-offices: we annex parallel passages from the English post-office
administration and that of our own:—


In the English postal system there are potential elements which render
it a success, while in ours it is a failure.

One of these elements is that the _personnel_ of their postal
administration is more permanent, and the establishment is placed purely
on a business footing. It is administered by experienced men. Once
thoroughly instructed in the laws, the regulations, and their duties,
the department measures their claims to office by their continued
fidelity and attention to its interests. In some branches of the
service, candidates are admitted upon both a physical and mental
examination of their qualifications. A medical officer examines the
aspirants for clerkships and for the places of carriers and laborers.
Post-office savings-banks are connected with the establishment.
Provision for life-assurance, the premiums being deducted from weekly or
monthly wages, is also a part of their system. They thus combine nearly
all interests to procure a permanent and faithful devotion to duty.


The elements which make up our postal department are those which
politics create. These are constantly changing, and every change
produces its own creatures. The very resignations are the consequences
of these changes, and not of the desire to secure other employment. Men
would rather owe to themselves the right of leaving a position than
submit to the pompous notice from an official, commencing with, _“Your
services are no longer required,” &c._

The number of resignations alone during the year ending on the 30th of
June, 1862, was 2902, the removals 2786, out of 19,973 officers in the
loyal States and districts. The resignations were nearly fifteen per
cent. of the whole number, and resignations and removals combined about
twenty-eight per cent. of the whole number. The new appointees must
acquire a practical postal education before they can promptly and
accurately discharge their duties. It is evident that a system so liable
to constant and large changes in its administration must be defective in
many elements of completeness. The theory of our government requires a
direct official responsibility to the executive head, and that the term
of office should be limited to the proper discharge of that
responsibility. The principle is correct. But the proper compensatory
principle requires retention of good officers, as truly as it requires
the discharge of incompetent incumbents. This principle can be carried
into effect only when public sentiment shall be so clear and uniform as
to make itself felt by all public representatives influencing


The number of post-offices established on the 30th of June, 1865,
including suspended offices in Southern States, was 28,832; number
subject to appointment by the President, 702; by the
postmaster-general, 28,170; number of persons engaged, 85,000.


   Made to fill vacancies caused by resignations      3,575
   Removals                                             925
   Deaths                                               229
   Changes of names and sites                           132
   Establishment of new offices                         586
         Total appointments                           5,447

The number of offices in the late disloyal States is 8902, of which 1051
were reopened on November 15, 1865.

Number of route-agents, 387; aggregate compensation, $229,522. Number of
local agents, 51; aggregate compensation, $30,949. Number of special
agents, 33; aggregate compensation, $82,790. Number of baggage-masters,
110; aggregate compensation, $6600. Number of postal railway-clerks, 64;
aggregate compensation, $75,000.

JOHN MILTON NILES.—This gentleman was born in Windsor, Connecticut,
August 20, 1787, and was bred to the bar, and went to Hartford in 1816
to practise law; in 1817 he was there concerned in publishing the
“Times,” which he edited for a time; in 1820 he was appointed postmaster
at Hartford by President Jackson, and held the office until made a
Senator in Congress in 1835, in which position he remained until 1839;
in 1840 he was appointed postmaster-general by President Van Buren; in
1842 he was again elected to the United States Senate, served six years,
retired to private life, and died May 31, 1856.

FRANCIS GRANGER.—Born at Suffield, Connecticut, December 1, 1792;
graduated at Yale College in 1811; admitted to the bar in May, 1816; he
was elected a member of the New York Legislature in 1825, and again in
1826, 1827, 1829, and 1831; in 1828 he was a candidate for the office of
Lieutenant-Governor, but was defeated; and in 1830 and again in 1832 he
was run for Governor with the same result; in 1834 he was elected to
Congress; in 1836 he was a candidate for Vice-President, and received
the electoral votes of the States of Massachusetts, Vermont, New Jersey,
Delaware, Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky; he was again elected to Congress
in 1838 and in 1840; appointed postmaster-general March 6, 1841, but
resigned the following September. His successor in Congress thereupon
resigned, and Mr. Granger was again elected to that body. On the 4th of
March, 1843, he finally retired from public life.

Francis Granger, immediately on entering upon the duties of his office,
made the same discovery as had others before him,—that the postal
department was not self-sustaining. Had the postmaster-general been
acquainted with the business of the office before entering upon its
duties, he would have been fully enabled to reconcile the warring
elements of statistics and figures which the books of the office
presented. The post-office department is not a self-sustaining one, nor
will it be until there is a reconstruction of the whole system. In
several portions of this work we have alluded to some of the causes
tending to such deficiencies, and pointed out the remedy. As this
remedy, however, is connected with certain abuses not unknown to high
officials, it is questionable if any action will ever be taken upon it.
Mr. Granger says, “When first entering upon my official duties, my
attention was forced to the constant demands for payment beyond the
ability of the department to pay; and, with a view to ascertain as
nearly as might be its undisputed liabilities and probable means, on the
21st of March [1841] last a letter was addressed to the Auditor of the
Treasury for the post-office department, requesting from him information
on those subjects.”

Mr. Granger became considerably enlightened, no doubt, when the auditor
furnished him with the following, which he recognized thus:—“By an
examination of that statement, it will be seen that there was due and
unpaid to contractors of ascertained balances on the 1st of January last
the sum of $447,029, a considerable portion of which has been paid from
the revenues of the quarter ending on the 31st of March. A report from
the auditor upon the outstanding contracts will undoubtedly increase
this amount of indebtedness to a total exceeding _half a million_ of
dollars: in addition to which, heavy demands are frequently made on the
department upon unliquidated claims.” ... “Under these circumstances,”
he asks, “how is the department to be sustained under its present
embarrassments? and what are its financial hopes for the future?”

“He also states that the amount demanded by railroad companies for
transportation of the mails is more than two hundred per cent. higher
than is paid for coach service upon the roads connecting links between
different railroad companies upon the same main route, and that, too,
where the night-service upon the railroads is less than that performed
in coaches.” He illustrates this by the following:—“Boston is one of the
most important points of railroad concentration in the Union. Its
business prosperity is proverbial; and yet in that city the quarter
ending the 31st of March shows, as compared with the corresponding
quarter of the year before, a decrease in postage receipts of _three
thousand one hundred and ninety-five dollars_, being double the amount
of diminution to be found within the same time in any other post-office
in the nation, with the single exception of Philadelphia, which is
another great _terminus_ of railroad communication.”

CHARLES A. WICKLIFFE.—Born at Bardstown, Kentucky, June 8, 1788, and was
admitted to the bar at an early age. He was twice elected to the State
legislature during the war of 1812; he twice volunteered in the
Northwestern army, and was present at the battle of the Thames; in 1820
he was again elected to the legislature; in 1822 he was elected to
Congress, and was four times re-elected. During his service in that body
he was appointed by the House as one of the managers in the impeachment
of Judge Peck. Upon leaving Congress in 1833, he was again elected to
the legislature, and upon its assembling was chosen Speaker. In 1834 he
was elected Lieutenant-Governor of the State; and in 1839, by the death
of Governor Clark, he became acting Governor. He was appointed
postmaster-general September 13, 1841. In 1849 he was chosen as a
delegate to the Constitutional Convention of Kentucky; and under the new
Constitution he was appointed as one of the revisers of the statute laws
of the State.

This gentleman’s views of the postal department were more practical and
business-like than those of his predecessor. He says in his report,
dated December 2, 1841, “As has already been remarked, the original
design in the establishment of the post-office department was that its
income should be made to sustain its operations. That principle ought
never to be abandoned. Whilst the department should not be regarded as a
source of revenue to the nation, it never should become an annual charge
to the treasury. Upon assuming the discharge of the duties pertaining to
the office of postmaster-general, my first object was to investigate its
financial condition; and it becomes my duty to inform you that I did not
find it in that prosperous state which the demands upon it require.

“The income of this department is liable to be affected by the
fluctuations of the business of the country. It is increased or
depressed in proportion to the increase or depression of that business.”

Mr. Wickliffe also took another sensible view of the department: he
says, “Besides this cause of fluctuation in its income, other causes of
a reduction, more or less in every year, may be found in the increased
facilities which the travel upon railroads and steamboats furnishes for
the transmission of letters and newspapers by private conveyance;
secondly, in the great extension, to say nothing of the abuse, of the
FRANKING PRIVILEGE; thirdly, in the recent establishment of what are
called private expenses upon the great mail-routes of the United States;
fourthly, in the frauds practised upon the department in evading by
various devices the payment of the postage imposed by law.”

CAVE JOHNSON.—Born January 11, 1793, in Robertson county, Tennessee. His
opportunities for education were limited, but made available to the
greatest extent. In his youth he acted as deputy-clerk of the county,
his father being clerk. He was thence led to the study of the law. In
1813 he was appointed deputy-quartermaster in a brigade of militia
commanded by his father, and marched into the Creek nation under General
Jackson. He continued in this service until the close of the Creek War
in 1814. In 1816 he was admitted to the bar; in 1817 he was elected by
the legislature one of the attorneys-general of the State, which office
he held until elected a member of Congress in 1829. He was re-elected in
1831, 1833, and 1835, defeated in 1837, again elected in 1839, 1841, and
1843. Appointed postmaster-general March 5, 1845. In 1849 he served for
a few months as one of the circuit judges of Tennessee, and in 1853 was
appointed by the Governor and Senate as President of the Bank of
Tennessee, at Nashville.

JACOB COLLAMER.—Born at Troy, New York, about 1792, and removed in
childhood to Burlington, Vermont, with his father; graduated at the
State University at that place in 1810; served during the year 1812 a
frontier campaign as a lieutenant in the service of the United States;
admitted to the bar in 1813; practised law for twenty years, serving
frequently in the State legislature. In 1833 he was elected an associate
justice of the Supreme Court of the State, from which position he
voluntarily retired in 1842. In the course of that period he was also a
member of a convention held to revise the Constitution of the State. In
1843, elected to Congress to fill a vacancy, and re-elected for a full
term in 1844, and again in 1846. Appointed postmaster-general March 7,
1849,—thus forming one of the Cabinet of President Taylor. He resigned
in 1850, with the rest of the Cabinet, on the death of the President,
and was soon afterwards reappointed on the Supreme bench of his State,
which office he held until 1854, when he was elected a Senator in
Congress from Vermont for six years from 1855; and in 1861 he was
re-elected for the term ending in 1867, serving as chairman of the
Committee on Post-Offices and Post-Roads, also that on the Library, and
as a member of several other important committees. He received the
degree of LL.D. from the University of Vermont and from Dartmouth
College, New Hampshire.

He died on the 9th of November, 1865, at Woodstock, Vermont, in the
seventy-fourth year of his age. Mr. Collamer was one of the most
distinguished of our statesmen, and one of the oldest members of the

NATHAN KELSEY HALL.—Born at Skaneateles, New York, March 28, 1810;
removed to Aurora, in the same State, in 1826, and commenced the study
of the law with Millard Fillmore; removed with the latter to Buffalo in
1830; admitted to the bar in 1832; appointed First Judge of the Court of
Common Pleas in 1841; in 1845 elected a member of the State legislature,
and in 1846 a member of Congress. He was appointed postmaster-general
July 20, 1850, and in 1852 United States Judge for the Northern District
of New York.

It was during his administration that the change was made in the rates
of postage, by making letter-postage three cents to every part of the
United States, except California and the Pacific Territories,—the weight
of letter one-half ounce, and prepaid.

SAMUEL DICKENSON HUBBARD.—Born at Middletown, Connecticut, August 10,
1799; graduated at Yale College in 1819. He was admitted to the bar in
1822, but subsequently engaged in manufacturing enterprises. He was
mayor of the city of Middletown, and held other offices of local trust.
In 1845 he was elected a member of Congress, and re-elected in 1847. He
was appointed postmaster-general September 14, 1852. Died at Middletown,
October 8, 1855.

JAMES CAMPBELL.—Born September 1, 1813, in the city of Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania; admitted to the bar in 1834, at the age of twenty-one
years; in 1841, at the age of twenty-eight, he was appointed Judge of
the Common Pleas Court for the city and county of Philadelphia, which
position he occupied for the term of nine years; in 1851, when the
Constitution of the State was changed, making the judiciary elective, he
was nominated by a State convention of his party as a candidate for the
Supreme Court of the State, but was defeated after a warmly-contested
and somewhat peculiar contest, securing, however, 176,000 votes; in
January, 1852, he was appointed Attorney-General of Pennsylvania, which
he resigned to assume the duties of postmaster-general: he was
appointed to that office on the 8th of March, 1853.

There was no particular feature in the postal department to render this
gentleman’s name in its connection popular during his term of office. It
is somewhat curious, however, that the administrations of Franklin
Pierce and James Buchanan—_both peculiarly political_—should have
furnished to the Southern Confederacy more prominent men who were
engaged with them in office than did all the other administrations
combined. Is this accident, design, or the effect of their political
education under their reign?

AARON VAIL BROWN.—Appointed postmaster-general under James Buchanan’s
administration in 1857; was born August 15, 1795, in Brunswick county,
Virginia; graduated at the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill,
in 1814; studied law and soon commenced practice in Nashville,
Tennessee; he was partner in the law business of the late President
Polk; served in almost all the sessions of the legislature of Tennessee
between 1821 and 1832; he was a member of the House of Representatives
from 1839 to 1845, and was in that year elected Governor of Tennessee.

In his first report as postmaster-general, made December 1, 1857, he
very modestly stated that, “entering on the administration of the
Post-Office Department,” he “ventured on no new theories, nor attempted
any innovations on the well-tried system established and practised upon”
by his predecessors.

It was during his administration that the route from New York to New
Orleans was considerably improved and transportation facilitated;[41]
also the mail-service on the Mississippi River below the Ohio was
materially changed and improved.

The overland mail-service to California by the Southern route by
contract became an agitating subject, and under proposals approved by an
act of Congress, March 3, 1857, various bids were made by parties for
carrying the mail. The contract was made on the 16th of September, 1857,
with certain parties, at a cost of $600,000 per annum. (_See Report for
the year 1857._)

JOSEPH HOLT succeeded Aaron Vail Brown, who died March, 1858, in
alluding to which Mr. Holt uses the following language:—

   December 3, 1859.

“SIR:—In the month of March last, the sudden decease of my enlightened
and deeply-lamented predecessor, immediately preceded as it was by the
death of the Third Assistant Postmaster-General,—so long and so
honorably connected with the administration of the postal
revenues,—filled this department with discouragement and gloom.
Associated with this double calamity came another, which awakened
painful anxieties, not only from its intrinsic magnitude, but from the
fact that the history of the government, from its foundation, furnished
no parallel for such a disaster. My allusion is, of course, to the
failure of Congress to pass the customary appropriation bill for the
support of the Post-Office Department, whereby, with all its
responsibilities resting upon it and the fulfilment of all its duties
demanded by the country, it was still deprived of the use of its own
revenues, and thus, necessarily, of all means of complying with its
engagements to the faithful officers toiling in its service. The ordeal
so unexpectedly prepared for it was, in all its aspects, as novel as it
was perplexing; and disquieting apprehensions were naturally felt for
the result.”

This was rather discouraging to Mr. Holt, who, however, displayed much
business tact and perseverance under the circumstances, for he
immediately issued the following notice:—


“Congress having failed to make the necessary appropriation at its last
session for the publication of a Manual of Post-Offices, Laws, and
Regulations, now greatly needed, and the department not having
sufficient clerical force at its disposal for the preparation of such a
work, I have deemed it proper, in accordance with the course pursued by
two of my predecessors, to purchase, for the use of the department, the
necessary number of copies of a private edition, having first caused an
examination to be made as to its correctness.

“The volume now sent is adopted as official, and you will be guided by
it accordingly.

    “J. HOLT, _Postmaster-General_.

    “POST-OFFICE DEPARTMENT, May 15, 1859.”

The consequences resulting from the failure of Congress to make the
necessary appropriation alluded to by Mr. Holt were materially felt by
those who in good faith had performed their duty, by being compelled to
obtain advances on their claims at a fearful sacrifice. Mr. Holt,
alluding to this, says,—

“It is to be feared, however, that those whose circumstances obliged
them to dispose of these securities have in many cases been compelled
to submit to a heavy discount. I would most earnestly urge upon Congress
the necessity of making an early appropriation to meet all the existing
liabilities of the department. As the faith of the government has been
broken, not only should the principal of these debts be promptly paid,
but interest on them should also be allowed. In many instances this may
prove but an imperfect indemnity for the damage which the creditors of
the department have actually sustained; but this much, at least, is due,
from the gravest considerations of public justice and policy, and
cannot, in my judgment, be withheld without national dishonor.”

HORATIO KING was postmaster-general for a short time. He had, of course,
no opportunity of displaying those qualities which a long connection
with the postal department had enabled him to acquire. The appointment
of Montgomery Blair, which was a settled matter, as the successor of Mr.
Holt, limited his services. Glancing over official postal documents, we
find his name frequently coupled with important matters in the
department. It was during his short service as postmaster-general that
the celebrated additional articles were made to those of the convention
of March 2, 1857, between the post-office of the United States and the
general post-office of France. (_See Report of the Postmaster-General
for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1861._)

MONTGOMERY BLAIR.—This gentleman was appointed postmaster-general in
1861, forming one of the Cabinet under the administration of Abraham

Perhaps history affords no parallel to the state of affairs in our
country when Abraham Lincoln took the Presidential chair. Our readers
are all familiar with the history of this rebellion. We will not go over
the grounds, dark and bloody as they are: suffice to say, the blow was
struck, and treason assumed a bold and formidable front. The
Constitution, even from its adoption, with all its amendments, has ever
been a fruitful subject of dispute, more particularly with those whose
interests were identified with the institution of slavery. To keep that
peculiar institution—a relic of barbarism—intact, with their ideas of
labor, men South advocated the idea that a sovereignty of States and
their separate independency of the Union were guaranteed to them by the
Constitution. This fatal error misled the ignorant: men of intellect,
men educated in the Union, living under its Constitution and heretofore
abiding by its laws, preached up a Utopian scheme to these misguided
men. The South was to become the Eden of the world, and slavery its
_Magna Charta_.

In the early part of Mr. Lincoln’s administration we edited a paper
established for the purpose of maintaining his position and opposing the
spirit of treason working its way North. We annex the following extract
from an editorial article we wrote in 1861, being one of the editors of
the “National Guard,” a paper devoted to the cause of the Union, the
whole Union, and nothing but the Union:—

“When this distinguished man was first nominated for the Presidency, the
grounds taken by the opposition were his abolition proclivities. Few
people in the North were willing that the institution of slavery should
go down beneath the Lincoln banner, and hence the increased opposition
to the nomination and the powerful efforts to frustrate his election.
_He was elected_: he became the President of these United States
lawfully in the sight of men and of nations, and equally so in the sight
of the Almighty. As President of the whole Union he took his seat. Men
who expected to hear the thundertones of his official voice, “down with
the South and slavery,” were surprised when they read his opinion upon
the subject as President, differing in some respects from that expressed
as a mere citizen. Being President, the various State interests had to
be consulted: the South was upheaving with the curse of slavery upon it,
and four millions of human beings were crying out for mercy. The
position in which Mr. Lincoln was placed was a most delicate one: he
could not maintain the high fanatical notions of many Northern men, nor
would he indorse the actions of the Southerners, who feared that if the
administration limited slavery it would ultimately lead to a decadency
in their trade in human flesh. This was the state of matters when, in
his appeal to the people for aid, he assured the South that he did not
intend, in his official capacity, to interfere with their peculiar
institution. Then the South dashed back the offered cup of peace
presented to them in good faith, and spurned the hand that held it
towards them. They feared the man; they feared the popular opinion
uprising against slavery, and, deeming a portion of the North favorable
to their cause, reared at once the standard of rebellion.

“Let our readers glance back to that period; let them take a view of a
tall, pale man seated in the chair of state; let them look into his
eyes, his soul, and see and even hear the beating pulse of the nation’s
heart in his every fibre; let them look out and over the land and hear
the maniacs of treason crying for his blood; let them look North, and
even there hear the rebel sympathizers breathing curses loud and deep;
let them read the first call for 75,000 troops, written with a nervous
hand and a quailing heart; then look! behold! a nation obeys the call of
the President, and the voice of the Union-loving people cheers and
upholds him in his seat. The rebels find _no open aid North_. Covert,
treacherous scoundrels, descendants of traitors, thieves, and
murderers, met, it is true, in secret councils, but soon fell into their
earthly hell before the indignant glance of an aroused people.

“Where now is slavery? Who struck at its very root and sent it shivering
into pieces throughout the land? The very men who perfected and planned
this revolution.

“Serpent-like, they bit themselves, and are now dying of the poison.
Throughout the whole of these trying scenes—from the firing on Fort
Sumter to the present—Abraham Lincoln has stood up firmly and
consistently for the nation. Party questions have been repudiated and
all sectional distinctions laid aside; for he had but one object, _that
of saving the Union_! If to do this the destruction of the institution
of slavery was necessary, its being powerless, helpless, and dead cannot
be laid to his charge: it fell a victim to the acts of men who attempted
to place it above the Constitution, and in the doing of which they have
_crushed it and themselves out of the Union_. Thank God for this, the
only good they have done!”[42]

Mr. Lincoln’s Cabinet was composed of men who set themselves to work in
earnest. What they have done is now our country’s glory, our nation’s

Mr. Blair, in his first report, speaking of the commencement of his term
of office, says,—

“Soon after the commencement of my term of office, the country felt the
shock of internecine arms. In view of the great crime attempted against
the existence of the nation, it became the duty of this, in common with
the other departments of the government, to put forth all its energies
to prevent the consummation of that crime. By the existing laws, all
postmasters and mail-carriers, and all other persons engaged in handling
the mails of the United States, or in clerical service, were required to
take the usual oath of allegiance to this government, as well as for the
faithful performance of their duties. Whenever it was made apparent by
their declarations or by their conduct that there was a practical
repudiation of the obligation of this oath, whether the party was a
postmaster or a postal contractor, I ordered a removal from office in
the one case and the deprivation of contract in the other. Not only was
it unsafe to intrust the transportation of the mails to a person who
refused or failed to recognize the sanctions of an oath, but to continue
payment of public money to the enemies of the government and their
allies was to give direct aid and comfort to treason in arms. I could
not thus permit this branch of government to contribute to its own
overthrow. No other course could have reasonably been expected by such
contractors. The _bonâ fide_ observance of that oath, and the duty of
allegiance itself, entered into and became a condition, a part of the
consideration, of the contract itself. This failing, the department was
equitably and legally discharged from its literal obligations.
Protection on the part of the government and allegiance on the part of
the citizen are correlative, and are conditions mutually dependent in
every contract; and the highest public interest demanded the rigid
enforcement of this rule of action. Occasional local and transient
inconvenience resulted of necessity, but far less than would reasonably
have been expected. Loyal men everywhere sustained this action, and
speedily furnished the requisite means for continuing the service
without increased expense. These changes were mainly called for in parts
of Virginia and Maryland and in Kentucky and Missouri.

“In the same and in neighboring districts the duties of the
appointment-office have been very onerous, from the great number of
changes required in post-offices, according to changing phases of public
sentiment, individual action, and military occupancy. It is believed
that these positions, with rare exceptions, are now held by men of
unquestioned loyalty. Where such men could not be found, the offices
have been discontinued rather than they should be held by repudiators of
public faith and used for purposes hostile to the perpetuity of our
national institutions.”

On the 23d of September, 1864, Montgomery Blair tendered his resignation
of the office of postmaster-general, and the resignation was accepted by
the President.

The causes which led to this action on the part of Judge Blair were of a
political character, and of such a nature as to clash with the opinions
of men who could have no feelings of sympathy with rebels in arms. Among
the charges brought against Blair were those of opposition to the
general acts of the administration. In answer to one of these, made by
the editor of the “National Republican,” the judge wrote as follows:—

   “WASHINGTON, September 26, 1864.

your paper and other journals that my resignation was caused by the
resolution of the Baltimore Convention referring to the Cabinet, has, I
observe, led to the inference that the principles adopted by that body
were objectionable to me. This is not true. On the contrary, my offers
were made in good faith, with a view to allay animosities among the
friends of those principles, and in order to secure their triumph.

    “Yours, respectfully,
    M. BLAIR.”

The editor of the “United States Mail,” a most valuable post-office
assistant, published in New York, noticing Judge Blair’s resignation and
letter, says,—

“That the official course of Judge Blair as postmaster-general has
furnished no cause of dissatisfaction, and had no connection with his
resignation, is a fact vouched for by the President, who, in his letter
of the 23d, says,—

“‘While it is true that the war does not so greatly add to the
difficulties of your department as to those of some others, it is yet
much to say, as I most truly can, that in the three years and a half
during which you have administered the general post-office I remember no
single complaint against you in connection therewith.’

“Judge Blair’s administration of the post-office department has given
evidence of a sincere desire to promote the efficiency of the service,
and has been marked by the introduction of many important improvements
and reforms,—among them the establishment of the money-order system and
the new travelling post-office, the simplification of post-office
accounts by the substitution of salaries in lieu of commissions as
compensation to postmasters, the free delivery of letters by carriers,
with various other plans calculated to increase the postal accommodation
of the public and further the interests of the service. He has been a
faithful and efficient head of the department, and, as such, leaves a
record of which he has no cause to be ashamed.”[43]

There is no question whatever that Postmaster-General Blair studied the
interest of the department with an eye to its future destiny. He
nourished it, watched it, and we may well say the postal tree is now
known and appreciated by its fruit. In 1863 the “Boston Weekly Gazette”
thus speaks of him:—

“At a time when war and finance are the all-absorbing themes, nationally
speaking, but little attention is paid to the most quiet of our
government departments, but none the less important,—the post-office. Of
the management of this department too much cannot be said in its
praise. When every thing is confused with crowded railroads and the
interruption of conveyance threatened by the exigencies of other public
service, every thing proceeds in the post-office department with almost
the regularity of clock-work. Scarcely a mail fails in its destination,
any more than if peace prevailed in the land and men had nothing to do
but to think of duty connected with transportation exclusively. We think
Postmaster-General Blair entitled to the warmest praise for this state
of things, that certainly redounds greatly to his credit. No man has
ever filled his position who has received more unanimity of approval;
and not a complaint is heard of his management. We make these remarks
simply because it has surprised us that our own papers to the farthest
points reach with such regularity and promptness, and letters from all
parts of the country come to us strictly on time.”

The history of Judge Blair since his resignation is identified with that
of our politics, in which he seems to take _a peaceful interest_.

WILLIAM DENNISON.—On the resignation of the Hon. Montgomery Blair, the
President appointed this gentleman postmaster-general. This appointment,
of course, was made to reconcile political interest and extend to Ohio
the right hand of government friendship, and not from any great
knowledge Mr. Dennison was supposed to have of postal matters. In this
country prominent positions under government are the result of the
recipient’s _status_ in political circles. It is, therefore, evident
that a knowledge of its duties is not an important requisite
qualification for the office.

William Dennison was born in the city of Cincinnati, on the 9th day of
November, 1815. His father was well known through more than half a
century as a popular and prosperous innkeeper in the young and rapidly
growing city, no citizen in the whole community being more respected for
probity and general worth among the pioneer settlers of Ohio and their
descendants. He took great pride in his promising son, young William,
and largely devoted his pecuniary means to secure the boy a thorough and
solid classical education. In preparation for his college course he had
the benefit of the best schools and teachers in his native city, and in
the year 1831 he entered freshman in the Miami University at Oxford,
Ohio, then and now a flourishing and highly-respected institution, which
has educated many of the most prominent and powerful minds of the great
and populous region north of the Ohio River, among whom are Caleb B.
Smith, late Secretary of the Interior and formerly United States judge
in Indiana, now deceased, Major-General Robert C. Schenck, Samuel
Galloway, William S. Groesbeck, George E. Pugh, and others of equal

In September, 1835, near the close of his twentieth year, he graduated
with high honor to himself and the university, then under the long
successful presidency of the Rev. R. H. Bishop, D.D., a learned and
venerated Presbyterian clergyman, who had early been induced to migrate
from Scotland to the Northern United States by the solicitation and in
the company of a renowned divine, John Mason, of the Scotch Presbyterian
Church in New York, who at that time brought over a very useful and
famous little clerical colony to this country.

Young Dennison then immediately returned to Cincinnati, and there
commenced the study of law in the office of Hon. Nathaniel G. Pendleton
(father of the Democratic candidate for the Vice-Presidency) and Stephen
Fales, one of the most eminent lawyers of the West, in his youth a
classmate of Daniel Webster at Dartmouth College and always his
intimate personal friend. Completing his legal studies and admitted to
the bar, he began the practice of his profession in his native city.
Soon afterwards he married the beautiful and highly-educated daughter of
William Neil, of Columbus (the State capital), a famous and extensive
mail-contractor throughout the Northwest, whose name was very familiar
to travellers and newspaper-readers twenty or thirty years ago, in the
days of stage-coaches, when railroad enterprise was in its infancy at
the West.

In 1840 he formed a law-partnership with the once famous, but now
infamous, Albert Pike, poet, jurist, and rebel general, Indian savage by
adoption and taste, leader of scalping-parties, &c. In the execution of
that arrangement he removed to Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas. But
the conditions—moral, intellectual, social, and political—by which he
found himself there surrounded induced him, after a brief residence and
experience, to terminate the connection and return to Cincinnati, where
he resumed his professional business. In 1842, at the earnest
solicitation of his father-in-law, he removed to Columbus, which became
thenceforth his home. He was made solicitor of the Clinton Bank, of that
city, then president of the Bank of Columbus; and he finally accepted
the entire management and control of all the vast mail-contract and
post-road business of Mr. Neil throughout the region between the Ohio
and the great lakes.

In politics Mr. Dennison was an original Whig. Throughout the existence
of that party organization he was a firm, consistent, and
zealously-active member of it. In 1847 he was elected to a two-years
term in the Ohio Senate. He next served as president of the Columbus &
Xenia Railroad until 1859, when, having been chosen by the Republican
party Governor of the State, he resigned his position in connection
with corporations. The great rebellion found him commander-in-chief of
Ohio. He immediately organized and placed at the disposal of the Federal
Government seventy thousand troops, and in offering them gave to George
B. McClellan and William S. Rosecrans their first commissions as general

Governor Dennison is a working business-man. He is an impressive orator,
tall in person, of courtly but winning manners. He is a good specimen of
a Christian gentleman, a devoted member of the Protestant Episcopal

Mr. Dennison, immediately upon entering the precincts of the postal
bureau, commenced the study of the peculiar as well as intricate
business of the department. His active mind, tact, and general knowledge
soon mastered many of its intricacies, and, with a precision which
surprised the more knowing ones of the office, arranged and alphabeted
its business in such a manner as to facilitate operations and lessen
actual labor. By this time Governor Dennison is, no doubt, quite
familiar with the business of a post-office.


One of the most important postal arrangements under this gentleman’s
administration is the establishing by steamships a postal communication
with China and Japan. Congress passed a law, February 17, 1865,
authorizing the postmaster to contract for such conveyance. The tender
of “The Pacific Mail Steamship Company,” the only one offered, was
accepted and engaged for the service. The compensation therefor is
$500,000 per annum for the performance of twelve round trips between San
Francisco and Hong-Kong, China, touching at Honolulu in the Sandwich
Islands, and Kanagawa in Japan.

This is one of the greatest events of the day, and inaugurates a new
era in the commerce of our country. Unless the United States, however,
unites all her great advantages and brings them to bear upon her foreign
relations in such a manner as to place her commerce on a footing with
that of other nations, the mere fact of a new era with these is simply a
postal experiment. It is for us to become masters of the commerce of the
world; and with this line of steamers regularly established, and the
completion of the Pacific Railway, there is nothing to stand in the way
of success.

Postmaster Dennison, taking this view of it, says, in his annual report,

“There are other ocean-routes besides the one to Brazil which can be
safely and profitably occupied by American lines of mail-steamers,—among
which the route between San Francisco, Japan, and China, at present
unoccupied by foreign mail-packets, is perhaps the most important in a
commercial point of view, and may be made available in securing to us a
large participation in the commerce of the East, the greater portion of
which is now enjoyed by Great Britain through her mail-steamship
connections _viâ_ Suez in the Indian Ocean and China Seas.

“The central position of the United States, between Eastern Asia and
Western Europe, affording routes but little longer, if any, than those
now traversed between these distant regions, aided by the superior
expedition of railway transportation between the Atlantic and Pacific
coasts, will furnish such facilities as will make their adoption a
practical necessity for the commercial intercourse between Europe and
the populous countries of Eastern Asia. These considerations, and others
which will readily suggest themselves, render it important that the
Pacific routes properly belonging to us should be occupied by American
mail-steamers, the profits of which, with the addition of a small
subsidy for the mail-service, would justify the establishment of one or
more steamship-lines which would be remunerative to the proprietors.”

Now that the rebellion is ended, those steamers which were withdrawn
during its progress, thus affording foreign powers all the advantage of
ocean lines, will no doubt resume their voyages for the benefit of our



The prospects of Philadelphia were brightening up under the influence
enterprising men exercised over its commercial interest; and up to 1794
the manufactures, trade, and general business were rapidly extending and
improving. Mathew Carey, speaking of our city and prospects, in a
pamphlet published in 1793, says,—

“From the period of the adoption of the Federal Government, at which
time America was at the lowest ebb of distress, her situation had
progressively become more and more prosperous. Confidence, formerly
banished, was universally restored. Property of every kind rose to, and
in many instances beyond, its real value; and a few revolving years
exhibited the interesting spectacle of a young country with a new form
of government emerging from a state which had approached very near to
anarchy, and acquiring all the stability and nerve of the best-toned and
oldest nations.” In this prosperity, which revived the almost
extinguished hopes of four millions of people, Philadelphia participated
in an eminent degree. Numbers of new houses in almost every street,
built in a neat, elegant style, adorned, at the same time that they
greatly enlarged, the city. Its population was extending fast: even at
that period the number of vessels that entered the port was 1050.
Philadelphia still retained its predilection for old sites and
associations; for up to this period, and even long afterwards, the main
place of business was Front and Water Streets, extending along those
streets from Race down to Almond. Front Street below Market, extending
down to Walnut, was the great commercial centre of trade. It was here
Thomas Bradford, the root of the present generation of that name, was
prominent as an editor of the newspaper called “The True American:” his
office was on the west side of Front Street, below Market, No. 8. This
property was subsequently sold to John Moss, Esq., upon the site of
which he built a store especially for his business. Bradford sold out
“The True American” to Thomas T. Stiles.

In 1791 the post-office was at No. 7 South Front Street, on the east
side. Robert Patton was postmaster: he was appointed to that position
August 25, 1791. In 1793 it was removed to No. 36, in the very centre of
the trade and commerce of the city.

The building of the “Insurance Company of North America” stood at the
southeast corner of Front and Walnut Streets. Ebenezer Hazard, formerly
postmaster-general, was the Secretary. The custom-house was also on
Front Street near Walnut Street: it occupied seventy-six feet front, and
ran through to Water Street.

Much of the early prosperity of this city was due to Benjamin Franklin,
who early in life made it his dwelling-place. His business motto was

The fever of 1793, the most malignant scourge our city ever witnessed,
not excepting the cholera of 1832, threw a saddening gloom over all
things, paralyzing the energies of men and carrying terror among the
women and children. A writer of the time, speaking of it, says, “The
consternation of the people of Philadelphia at this period was carried
beyond all bounds. Dismay and affright were visible in almost every
person’s countenance. Most of those who could by any means make it
convenient fled from the city. Of those who remained, many shut
themselves up in their houses, being afraid to walk the streets.”

Business was at a stand, if not entirely suspended. That of the
post-office went on as usual. In September, however, the postmaster
informed the public that, in consequence of the indisposition of two of
the letter-carriers he deemed it necessary to request all those who
dwelt south of and in Chestnut Street, and in Front and Water Streets
and north of Market Street, to call or send for their letters for a few
days. Some of the postmasters in the different States used the
precaution to dip Philadelphia letters into vinegar with a pair of tongs
before they handled them! Several of the subscribers to Philadelphia
papers made their servants sprinkle them with vinegar and dry them at
the fire before they would venture to touch them.

One hundred years ago, Benjamin Franklin, seeing that Philadelphia was
gradually declining in the scale of progress, awoke the Rip Van Winkles
of Quakerdom by imparting to them new ideas, furnishing to their mental
view more enlarged notions of life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness, and inaugurating a system of education and philosophy which
has made his name famous in the world’s history.

His connection with the postal department placed it before the people in
a new and improved light, extending trade and commerce by its means to
such an extent that in the year 1810 Philadelphia was the leading
commercial city in the Union.

Philadelphia, however, lost sight of one important fact in connection
with her commercial interest, and that was (to use a speculating phrase)
“never to lose a trick” in the game of opposition with others. Thus,
while New York was studying the taste of the town in regard to fashions
of dress and works of art, for which European nations were then
celebrated, Philadelphia was engaged in looking after her manufacturing
interests. The consequence was that in the year 1811 New York, taking
advantage of her seaboard situation, took the lead in importations, and
her market became celebrated for its rich style of dress-goods, and her
stores equally so for their gorgeous display of Parisian finery.
Instantly that current of trade which had set in so favorably for
Philadelphia changed its course to her rival city, and merchants from
the South and West flocked there for what, we regret to say, our city
was unable to furnish to the extent its facilities afforded.

It seems as if Philadelphia succumbed at once to New York, and permitted
the Western and Southern trade to pass away from her without a struggle.
For years the commerce of Philadelphia had kept pace with the general
progress of the country, but in a moment of weakness, or from some local
or political cause, her merchants, whose industry and enterprise had
been proverbial in all countries, gave up their shipping interest to a
rival city, which the latter has successfully maintained ever since. _By
this act Philadelphia became an inland city._

If we neglected our shipping, it cannot be said we neglected our
manufacturers. They have had ample reason to be grateful for such
encouragement, as the city has the honor of being considered second to
none in the country,—at least in this department. We have surpassed New
York in many important branches of mechanics, and excelled every other
city in the Union, perhaps in the world, in manufacturing locomotives
and other essential auxiliaries to steamboats, railroads, &c.


As trade and commerce progressed, the postal department extended its
operations, and the Philadelphia post-office was not behind those of
other cities in furthering the cause of the great postal institution of
the country.

The postal boundaries of our country extend over an area ten times
greater than those of England and France combined; three times as large
as the whole of France, Britain, Austria, Prussia, Spain, Portugal,
Belgium, Holland, and Denmark together; one and a half times larger than
the Russian Empire, and only one-sixth less than the area covered by
sixty states and empires of Europe. The entire area in 1853 was
2,983,153 square miles.

Claiming for Philadelphia, and justly, too, credit for its postal as
well as its commercial reputation, we will pass over some years and
bring our readers down to a later date. First, however, we annex a list
of postmasters of Philadelphia from 1791.

Perhaps no other city in the Union can boast of a list of names in their
postal department of men, both as regards character and business
qualifications, equal to those we furnish here, and who filled the
office with so much honor and credit. We are not, however, so clannish
in our notions of locality as to include all the names mentioned here as
being entitled to such credit: we make a few exceptions: those
exceptions and the reasons are a part of the secret history of
_post-offices_. Several of them have gone to that “bourn from whence no
traveller returns,” and those that still _live_ live honored and


   Robert Patton, appointed August 25, 1791.
   Michael Leib, appointed February 14, 1814.
   Richard Bache, appointed Feb. 26, 1819.
   Thomas Sargeant, appointed April 16, 1828.
   James Page, appointed April 11, 1833.


   James Page, reappointed July 9, 1836.
   John C. Montgomery, appointed March 23, 1841.
   James Hoy, Jr., appointed June 26, 1844.
   George F. Lehman, appointed May 5, 1845.
   William J. P. White, appointed May 9, 1849.
   John Miller, appointed April 1, 1853.
   Gideon F. Westcott, appointed March 19, 1857.
   Nathaniel B. Browne, appointed May 30, 1859.
   Cornelius A. Walborn, appointed April 20, 1861.

The past history of our city shows that the post-office was but a minor
consideration on the part of the historian who attempted to speak of its
institutions. Even those whose business it was to furnish statistics and
local facts invariably overlooked the post-office. A glance back through
the vista of time presents to the eye a panoramic view of the buildings
which were used for postal purposes; and a more motley architectural
picture scarcely ever presented itself to sight. From the time Benjamin
Franklin had his office in a portion of his printing-shop to the
present, we cannot find the department ever blessed with even a decent
building for postal purposes until the one now occupied for that special
service was erected.

True, the Old Coffee-House on Second Street was the centre of trade, and
merchants often met there to discuss commercial matters and secure their
foreign papers and letters: still, it was not calculated for the general
business of the postal service. From 1793, passing along from street to
street, we at last come to Dr. Jayne’s gloomy building, where, amid the
sound of steam-engines, the fumes from eating-houses, and the _dead-rat_
smell from lager-beer saloons, we find the operations of the great
postal business of the city moving on. The very atmosphere was as
injurious to the health of the employees as its dark and dingy
appearance was painful to those who visited it.

Emerging from this, we come into a new and beautiful building, erected
on Chestnut Street below Fifth. For this edifice, so conveniently
situated, so light and airy, so admirably adapted to postal business,
the community is solely indebted to Postmaster CORNELIUS A. WALBORN,


The Philadelphia post-office was completed and ready for the transaction
of business on the 23d of March, 1863. It is situated on Chestnut
Street, between Fourth and Fifth Streets, adjoining the custom-house.
The contrast between these two buildings is most remarkable: one
presents the view we have in classic illustrations of the Parthenon of
Athens; the other, disdaining all the associations which the history of
Greece and Rome throws around our ideas of classic architectural beauty,
looms up before us, blending the style of the rural districts of France
(_Alaon_) with that of the city of Paris in the seventeenth century.

The Exchange of Paris (_La Bourse_), in the Rue Vivienne, seems, at
least in part, to have furnished for our post-office the idea for its
architectural construction. This is more observable in its Attic design,
known in the modern French school as the “masked Attic.” The front of
the Philadelphia post-office is cased or veneered with white marble,
and, in connection with the peculiar Attic style, presents an appearance
by no means flattering to the architect who designed it.

Modern architects consult variety rather than harmony in drawing their
plans. Thus, foreign ornaments of a more classic form are occasionally
mingled with them: hence we have presented to us an incongruous style,
offensive alike to good taste and judgment.

The Philadelphia post-office reminds us very much of the Paris
post-office (_Hotel des Postes_), which is situated east of the Palais
Royal: it has a handsome front, but in its _tout ensemble_ does not
present to view much architectural beauty either in style or design.
France, like England, never considered the architecture of a country as
being inseparable from its history: hence her public buildings present
to view the combined peculiarities of the styles and eras of the sixteen
different orders which have marked the progress of architecture since
the building of the great temple of Samos.

In this country, with few exceptions, we have not studied architecture
with an eye to a national feature: on the contrary, our artists have
copied the styles of all nations, from which designs are made to please
the eye only, without regard to originality or the age in which we live.
This cannot be called an architectural construction, but rather an
adaptation of Grecian models to the buildings of our own time. _There is
no originality here._

A building may be well arranged for all purposes of mere convenience,
but in reality, if destitute of harmony in its outward appearance, it
cannot be called an architectural construction. This remark will apply
to the buildings in our country generally, and equally, as stated, to
those of England and France.

If the Philadelphia post-office is devoid of these requisites as regards
its exterior, its interior makes full amends.

Every department is so constructed and arranged that there is no
clashing or cause of impediment in the general routine of its business.
Each man has his position, each _bureau_ its place, and over all the
chief clerk, from an elevated position, has an eye to every action and
movement of the employees. To Cornelius A. Walborn, Esq., the present
efficient postmaster [1866], is the department indebted for the
admirable arrangements of the Philadelphia post-office.

In speaking of the outward appearance of “our post-office,” we may be
singular in our ideas of what constitutes architectural beauty, and
others may appreciate what we censure. It is not, however, altogether a
matter of taste with us, but a sense of what constitutes harmony. In
every thing that owes its existence to nature alone, there is harmony.
It is, in fact, the music of the spheres joining chorus with the growth
of plants and flowers, which the ancients believed came blooming into
life with music; or, as the poet says, it may be “the language of some
other state, born of its memory.” Thus, in all things imitative of
nature there should be harmony. Why not in art?

Perhaps there is no other block of buildings in this city that presents
a greater variety of architectural incongruities than does that wherein
stands the Philadelphia post-office. It may be called a picturesque view
of brick, marble, and mortar thrown together without regard to order,
style, or _harmony_.

Let the classic reader cast his eyes over the topographical view of
Olympia as seen from the walls of Altis, glancing down through the
“Sacred Grove” and along the Alpheus River: you will see even at that
period, 440 B.C., how strictly the ancients adhered to harmony. The
Temple of Jupiter and the Prytaneum or Senate-house, although widely
different in their architectural designing, bore nevertheless a
remarkable similarity in style, so as to preserve what might be termed
classic harmony. Near to the Mount of Saturn stood the Temple of Juno.
In the Temple of Vesta, the Theatre, the Hypodrammon, even to the
Stables of Œnomaus and the Workshop of Phidias, the same harmonic
traits in style and design were observable. Every thing was classic,
every thing artistic.

How is this feature observed with us? Speaking of the block alluded to
above, embracing the custom-house, the post-office, the Philadelphia
Bank, the Farmers’ and Mechanics’ Bank, &c., perhaps the following scene
from R. B. Sheridan’s “School for Scandal” will give a better
description of the style of architecture characterizing each than any
thing we could furnish.

The several characters are describing the personal appearance of a

    “_Crabtree._—She has the oddest countenance, a collection of
    features from all corners of the globe.

    “_Sir Benjamin._—She has, indeed, an Irish front.

    “_Crabtree._—Caledonian locks.

    “_Sir Benjamin._—Dutch nose.

    “_Crabtree._—Austrian lips.

    “_Sir Benjamin._—The complexion of a Spaniard.

    “_Crabtree._—And teeth _à la Chinoise_.

    “_Sir Benjamin._—In short, her face resembles a table d’hôte
    at Spa, where no two guests are of a nation.”


The outside of a post-office before the opening of its doors reminds one
of a vast sleeping city, cold and calm, though containing within itself
all the elements that make up a living, sleepless world. As the stars
shine down on the earth and move on in their spheres, so feeble lights
gleam up from the post-office windows to denote that “watchers” of the
night are there, and thus, like the machinery of the great world, move
on the wheels of this epitomized one.

Dull and heavy glide on the hours of night; silence like that of the
prairie rests for a while on and around the city, save the howl of some
watchful dog and the far-off sound of a tinkling bell. A city at night,
wrapped in the curtains darkness throws around it, is like a vast
sepulchre, and visited alike with ghosts from the _spirit_-world.
Presently the dark panorama begins to move: there is an uprising of a
long stream of light in the eastern sky; a vast and mysterious
movement, as impulsive and as sudden as that of light, agitates the
city; sounds quick and incessant come upon the ear,—rattling of wheels,
ringing of bells: the world and its inhabitants are awake. The night
dream is over; reality assumes its power once again. Moving on, men,
women, and children take their respective ways to business or pleasure,
for this world is made up of both. There you see the mechanic, there the
merchant looking for the “early worm,” there the newsboy hurrying to his
morning traffic in literature, himself its evil genius, there the
housebreaker moving quietly away from the scene of his villany, and
there the man of pleasure staggering to his wretched home. There is one
point at which, however, many assemble: there, clustered around a
marbled veneered building,—for it is not _all marble_,—you can read in
the looks of the crowd the world’s history, and alike the name of the
building: it is the PHILADELPHIA POST-OFFICE. The sun that awoke
millions from their sleep now shines down and sheds its light around
this “mimic world:” it awakes; its night slumber is over; the hour has
arrived—action, action. The doors open—the crowd rush in. Ah! what is
life?—one scene of struggle and strife, and for what? That’s the

   “Quid sit futurum eras fuge quærere”

is not a bad idea of the poet Horace: its literal meaning is, “Avoid all
inquiry with respect to what may happen to-morrow.” We should not look
so anxiously into the future as to preclude all present enjoyment.

Action, action is the motto of our land. This the effect of a
cause,—that cause the Revolution. It changed alike men and the opinion
of nations upon the subject of sovereignty. Mental, physical, political,
speculative, and financial revolutions are all the results of one great
cause,—a cause bearing date 1776. Here we are; here in the post-office,
one of the branches of the General Government. This is the little world
of letters, this the index to the inner history of man. It is a book of

THE DEPOSIT-WINDOWS.—These are surrounded by a motley crew; letters are
dropped in hastily, some carefully by those who write in doubt and seem
to hesitate the sending until the last moment. Why? Ah! reader, there is
a mystery in all things: here mystery becomes secrecy. There you see an
old lady carefully depositing a letter: she glances down the opening,
takes one last look, and, sighing, silently moves away. What are the
contents of that letter? It is her secret.

Pass on to the newspaper—not window; for newspapers are a wholesale
article: singly they are mere letters; in bulk they are _legion_. You
must go to a door, and there you will see bags piled Olympus high: these
are opened and distributed into their respective pouches to go to all
parts of the habitable world; for newspapers now are, like letters, “the
world’s correspondents.” The inside of the office is now wide awake, the
world outside is in arms and “eager for the fray.” Millions of letters
go and come, millions of hearts are made glad by a mere stroke of the
pen, which passes lightning-like through this postal medium, millions of
hearts are alike made sad, and mourn and sob over the one line that
brings news of sickness and of death.

The post-office in many points of view presents the appearance of a
besieged fort. The chief clerk is at his post: he stands on a platform
somewhat elevated above the line of the main floor; his eye glances
along the line of clerks, some of whom are at the (port-holes)
delivery-windows, awaiting the outward attack. The assault commences,
the windows are assailed. Loud voices are heard, one above the rest
shouts 2400: this is answered by an immediate discharge from within,
which silences battery 2400. These attacks continue along the “box line”
until the demand for surrender on the one side is answered by a furious
discharge of _epistolary_ ammunition on the other. Both parties retire
satisfied with the result. The victory, however, is always on the side
of the post-office: the effect of the fire from their port-holes is felt
when all within its lines are quiet. The wheels of the department
uninjured move on. Let us take a glance through yonder opening. We are
on the outside, looking into the interior of this postal fortress.
Hundreds of active business-men are moving about in their shirt-sleeves,
looking fierce and desperate: they are engaged in a great struggle,—a
_struggle with time_. Some are dragging along the vast extent of
flooring large leather pouches, others huge canvas bags: it seems, as
you gaze, that they are the bodies of the dead and wounded, the result
of the recent attack. Not so; they are mail-bags. See how furiously one
is thrown down: it is seized upon as if a victim to be sacrificed.
“Brass lock,” yells one. “Iron,” screams another. Brass or iron, they
are quickly unlocked, and in an instant their contents are scattered
like chaff, and away they go to the four quarters of the globe as fast
as busy hands, wind, tide, and steam can take them.

No fort—not even Sumter, Darling, or the defences of Vicksburg—ever
presented a more busy scene of life and death than does the post-office
on the opening of mail-bags: it may indeed be compared to “life and
death;” for, as we have said, it is a “struggle with time.”

And yet what to an outsider might seem all chaos, system has reduced to
perfect order; and if the same observer will look once more into the
office after these sudden attacks on mail-pouches and bags, he will see
the parties sitting quietly down, seemingly well contented with the
result of the strife between _time_, _matter_, _and motion_,—the
conquerors they.

Mr. William Lewars, author of “Her Majesty’s Mails,” thus describes the
scenes which daily occur from 5.45 to 6 o’clock in the London

“It is then that an impetuous crowd enters the hall, and letters and
newspapers begin to fall in quite a literary hail-storm. The
newspaper-window, ever yawning for more, is presently surrounded and
besieged by an array of boys of all ages and costumes, together with
children of a larger growth, who are all alike pushing, heaving, and
surging in one great mass. The window with tremendous gape is assaulted
with showers of papers which fly thicker and faster than the driven
snow. Now it is that small boys of eleven and twelve years of age,
panting, Sinbad-like, under the weight of huge bundles of newspapers,
manage somehow to dart about and make rapid _sorties_ into other ranks
of boys, utterly disregarding the cries of the official policemen, who
vainly endeavor to reduce the tumult into something like post-office
order. If the lads cannot quietly and easily disembogue, they will whiz
their missiles of intelligence over other people’s heads, now and then
sweeping off hats and caps with the force of shot. The gathering every
moment increases in number and intensifies in purpose; arms, legs,
sacks, baskets, heads, bundles, and woollen comforters—for who ever saw
a veritable newspaper-boy without that appendage?—seems to be getting
into a state of confusion and disagreeable communism, and ‘yet the cry
is still they come.’ Heaps of papers of widely-opposed political views
are thrown in together; no longer placed carefully in the openings, they
are now sent in in sackfuls and basketfuls, while over the heads of the
surging crowd come flying back the empty sacks thrown out of the office
by the porters inside. Semi-official legends, with a very strong smack
of probability about them, tell of sundry boys being thrown in, seized,
emptied, and thrown out again _void_. As six o’clock approaches still
nearer and nearer, the turmoil increases more perceptibly, for the
intelligent British public is fully alive to the awful truth that the
post-office officials never allow a minute of grace, and that “Newspaper
Fair” must be over when the last stroke of six is heard. _One_, in rush
files of laggard boys who have purposely loitered in the hope of a
little pleasurable excitement; _two_, and grown men hurry in with their
last sacks; _three_, the struggle resembles nothing so much as a
pantomimic _mêlée_; _four_, a Babel of tongues vociferating desperately;
_five_, final and furious showers of papers, sacks, and bags; and _six_,
when all the windows fall like so many swords of Damocles, and the slits
close with such a sudden and simultaneous snap, that we naturally
suppose it to be a part of the post-office operations that attempts
should be made to guillotine a score of hands; and then all is over so
far as the outsiders are concerned.

“Among the letter-boxes, scenes somewhat similar have been enacted.
Letters of every shape and color, and of all weights, have unceasingly
poured in; tidings of life and death, hope and despair, success and
failure, triumph and defeat, joy and sorrow; letters from friends and
notes from lawyers, appeals from children and stern advice from parents,
offers from anxious-hearted young gentlemen and ‘first yeses’ or
refusals from young maidens, letters containing that snug appointment so
long promised you, and ‘little bills’ with requests for immediate
payments, ‘together with six-and-eightpence;’ cream-colored missives
telling of happy consummations, and black-edged envelopes telling of
death and the grave; sober-looking advice notes, doubtless telling when
‘our Mr. Puffwell’ would do himself the honor of calling upon you, and
elegant-looking billets, in which business is never mentioned, all
jostled each other for a short time; but the stream of gladness and of
woe was stopped, at least for one night, when the last stroke of six was
heard. The post-office, like a huge monster,—to which one writer has
likened it,—has swallowed an enormous meal, and, gorged to the full, it
must now commence the process of digestion. While laggard boys, to whom
cartoons by one ‘William Hogarth’ should be shown, are muttering, ‘Too
late,’ and retiring discomfited, we, having obtained the requisite ‘open
sesame,’ will make our way to the interior of the building. Threading
our course through several passages, we soon find ourselves among
enormous apartments well lit up, where hundreds of human beings are
moving about, lifting, shuffling, stamping, and sorting huge piles of
letters, and still more enormous piles of newspapers, in what seems at
first sight hopeless confusion, but in what is really the most admirable
order. In the newspaper-room, men have been engaged not only in emptying
the sacks flung in by strong-armed men and weak-legged boys, but also in
raking up the single papers into large baskets and conveying them up and
down ‘hoists’ into various divisions of the building. Some estimate of
the value of these mechanical appliances, moved, of course, by
steam-power, may be formed from the fact that hundreds of tons of paper
pass up and down these lifts every week. As many of the newspapers
escape from their covers in the excitement of posting, each night two or
three officers are busily engaged during the whole time of despatch in
endeavoring to restore wrappers to newspapers found without any address.
Great as is the care exercised in this respect, it will occasionally
happen that wrong newspapers will find their way into loose wrappers not
belonging to them; and, under the circumstances, it would be by no means
a matter of wonder if—as has been more than once pointed out—Mr. Bright
should, instead of his ‘Morning Star,’ receive a copy of the ‘Saturday
Review,’ or an evangelical curate the ‘Guardian’ or ‘Punch,’ in place of
his ‘Record’ paper.

“In the letter-room the officers are no less busily engaged: a number of
them are constantly at work, during the hours of the despatch, in the
operation of placing each letter with the address and postage-label
uppermost, so as to facilitate the process of stamping. In the general
post-office the stamping is partly effected by machinery and partly by
hand, and consists simply in imprinting upon each letter the date, hour,
and place of posting, while at the same time the queen’s head with which
the letter is ornamented and franked gets disfigured. It will easily be
imagined that a letter containing a box of pills stands a very good
chance of being damaged under this manipulation, as a good stamper will
strike about fifty letters in a minute. Unpaid letters are kept apart,
as they require stamping in a different-colored ink and with the double
postage. Such letters create much extra labor, and are a source of
incessant trouble to the department, inasmuch as from the time of their
posting in London to their delivery at the Land’s End or John O’Groat’s,
every officer through whose hands they may pass has to keep a cash
account of them. The double postage on such letters is more than earned
by the post-office. All unfastened and torn letters, too, are picked out
and conveyed to another portion of the large room; and it requires the
unremitting attention of several busy individuals to finish the work
left undone by the British public. It is scarcely credible that above
two hundred and fifty letters are daily posted _open_, and bearing not
the slightest mark of ever having been fastened in any way; but such is
the fact. A fruitful source of extra work to this branch of the office
arises through the posting of flimsy boxes containing feathers,
slippers, and other _récherché_ articles of female dress, pillboxes
containing jewelry, and even bottles. The latter, however, are detained,
glass articles and sharp instruments of any sort, whenever detected,
being returned to the senders. These frail things, thrown in and buried
under the heaps of correspondence, get crushed and broken: yet all are
made up again carefully and resealed.

“When the letters have been stamped, and those insufficiently paid
picked out, they are carried away to undergo the process of sorting. In
this operation they are very rapidly divided into ‘roads,’ representing
a line of large towns: thus, letters for Derby, Loughborough,
Nottingham, Lincoln, etc., might be placed in companionship with one
division or ‘road,’ and Bilston, Wednesbury, Walsall, West Bromwich,
etc., in another.”

As we have stated, the immense amount of business transacted in the
post-offices of large cities is not unfrequently lost sight of,—business
transactions of a nature that few understand or comprehend, and which
exercise an influence on men and nations equally as powerful as that of
the press.

Few persons are acquainted with the inner arrangements of a post-office.
Let any one glance into it as he passes, and he will be struck with the
vast pile of mail-matter constantly arriving and departing, as well as
the number of hands engaged in their arranging and distributing. Forty
mails arrive and depart in the twenty-four hours,—making over three
hundred pouches, besides canvas bags containing newspapers, &c.: these
are estimated more by bulk than numbers.

Mind, intellect, strength, quickness of action and of thought, are all
required here, _and found_. Without this, confusion worse confounded
would ensue, and the pulsation of this little world would cease to

A post-office is a little world: it is peopled with the thoughts of men
that go and come, pass and repass, move on afar and away over land and
water to other cities, and return again,—some oppressed, some elated:
“so runs the world away!”

What is the romance of a post-office but its reality? It is a history of
letters. Peep into their contents, and you read a volume far surpassing
the wildest flights of the imagination. And yet they are as a sealed
book to all except those to whom they are directed. Yet you can read it
in the action of the recipients, trace its effects, the moral is there.

Glance at the ladies’ window: see that tall female, upon whose face you
can trace the dark lines of sorrow. Day after day has she called, asking
in a trembling voice for a letter. She had told the clerk a sad story of
an absent son,—told it for the purpose of explaining the cause of her
frequent visits. Did she but know that beneath a blasted tree, scathed
by the lightning flash of a thousand rebel muskets, he lies
buried,—deep, deep down in the cold ground, with hundreds of others,
both friends and foes, who fell there in bloody strife. But when the
startling news did come, her tall form was seen no more at that window.
She was alone in the world! Watch that window: it is an index to a
volume of life. Not alone the broken-hearted and the sorrowing, not
alone the forsaken wife and the expectant maiden, not alone the anxious
mother, but the gay, the frivolous, the abandoned, all flock here; for
all are mixed up in the great struggle of life.

Pass on to the box-window. There you read the history of men in trade
and commerce. There you have a compendium of that wonderful thing known
as and called ‘Change. There you will observe the various and peculiar
characteristics of men as they eagerly clutch their letters and rush
away. Watch their actions, and you will find that a line or two in a
letter convulses the market, and for a while there is a commotion on
’Change. Watch the politician: by his looks you can read the secret of
his heart. If you follow his footsteps and read the name of the
publication-office into which he plunges, the chief editorial next day
tells its contents. Perhaps it will read, “Reliable Intelligence from
Richmond. The Rebel Army well supplied with Ammunition. Probable
Recognition by England, &c.” Or, perhaps, if the publication-office
should be on Fourth or Third Street, it may read, “Glorious News from
Grant’s Army, &c.”

There is another portion of a post-office which adds another page to its
romantic history; and that is the “Carriers’ Department.” Many a sad
tale has the carrier to tell,—many a strange incident connected with his
“constant round.” A glance into this room shows you a number of men
busily engaged in assorting or “blocking” the letters on their route.
These they receive in bulk from the distributor, which are passed to
them from a smaller room through a series of pigeon-holes. And here we
have a most remarkable illustration of what the human mind is capable of
accomplishing. Let us explain. In 1854 the corporate limits of the city
of Philadelphia were made coextensive with those of the county, covering
an area of one hundred and twenty square miles, and placing twenty-one
towns and villages under the guardianship of one Mayor and City
Councils. In nearly all of these there were separate post-offices. The
bringing of all these rural districts under one general postal head was
one of the first suggestions that Mr. C. A. Walborn made to the
department shortly after he became postmaster of this city.
Postmaster-General Blair entered fully into his views upon this subject,
and thus the whole rural district embracing the area named above is
under one general postal head. Mr. Walborn established station-offices,
engaged carriers; and letters are distributed within an area of over one
hundred miles, with as much ease and facility as they were in the
limits of the old city proper.

For the accommodation of persons residing at points remote from the
general post-office, in Chestnut Street, stations have been arranged to
which four mails are sent daily. In the extreme rural sections, three
daily deliveries are considered sufficient by the residents, but four
collections are made of matter for delivery or mailing. These stations
are located as follows:—A, 41 South Eighteenth Street; B, Market Street,
west of Thirty-Seventh, West Philadelphia; C, southeast corner of Broad
and Coates Streets; D, 1206 North Third Street; E, corner Richmond and
William Streets, Port Richmond; F, 90 Main Street, Frankford; G, Main
Street, below Railroad Depot, Germantown; H, Main Street, below Church
Lane, Chestnut Hill; I, Main Street, below Grape, Manayunk; K,
Washington Street, near Fifth.

The carriers deliver letters and papers within the following
bounds:—Delaware River on the east; Montgomery county line on the west;
upper end of Frankford, Chestnut Hill, and Andora on the north; Delaware
county line on the south, including the old districts of Kensington,
Port Richmond, Bridesburg, Frankford, Rising Sun, Nicetown, Germantown,
Mount Airy, Chestnut Hill, Falls of Schuylkill, Manayunk, Leverington,
Andora, Blockley, Haddington, Hestonville, Belmont, and Kingsessing. If
thrown into a square, this would form a territory of about ten by
fifteen miles.

Sixty-three carriers are employed, making four deliveries daily, within
the following boundaries: Delaware River, Schuylkill River, Canal
Street, and York Street. There are thirty-four persons also employed
exclusively in collecting letters from places of deposit within the same
district. They make five collections daily. The rural districts,
including that territory which is contained within the limits of
Delaware county line on the south, Montgomery county line on the west,
Delaware River on the east, and on the north the northern boundary of
Chestnut Hill, Germantown, and Frankford, occupy twenty-four persons,
making at least three trips per day to collect and deliver letters.
There is, therefore, a force of one hundred and twenty-one carriers and
collectors employed.

The number of letters received by mail and delivered by carriers
amounted, last quarter, to 1,134,111. They collected and delivered, in
the same period, 389,233 local or drop letters, making a total delivery
of 1,523,344.[44]

The number of papers received by mail and delivered during this period
was 117,010; the number of local or drop papers was 35,257, giving a
total delivered, 152,267. The number of letters returned from
misdirection, removal, refusal to pay postage, and similar reasons, was
8742. The number of letters for the mail collected from lamp-posts and
other located boxes of deposit was 744,723; and the number of newspapers
similarly obtained, 59,292,—a total of 804,015.


But few persons have any adequate idea of the vast number of letters
which day after day pass through the post-office into the hands of the
carrier, to be delivered at their final destination. The following list
gives the number of letters delivered and collected in the four largest
cities during the month of June, 1865:—

                         Mail Letters    Drop Letters     Letters
                          Delivered.      Delivered.     Collected.

   New York                799,389         253,434        785,990
   Philadelphia            492,004         168,330        361,068
   Chicago                 118,200           9,200        100,591
   Cincinnati               84,370           7,714         47,201
                           ———————         ———————        ———————
       Total             1,493,963         438,678      1,294,850

During the same period there were collected from pillar or lamp-post
boxes 1,294,850 letters.

The annexed statement gives the number of letters delivered in three
principal cities:—

   Boston                284,440
   Baltimore             152,230
   Chicago               130,819
       Total             567,489
   Philadelphia          516,836

So, according to this, the amount of business transacted through the
Philadelphia post-office is almost equal to that of Boston, Baltimore,
and Chicago combined. Statistics further show that it is nearly equal to
the combined business of Brooklyn, St. Louis, Washington, Cincinnati,
and Cleveland.

From the little room which we have termed the “distribution-room,”
letters are sent and scattered over the area named above, to the full
amount of 18,000 daily, not including those called “city drops.” The
distributor is to know, _or is supposed to know_, apart from consulting
the directory, the name of every street, lane, and alley, as well as
their locality, so that he can place the letters so directed into their
separate pigeon-holes, both for the city carriers and the “subs.” He has
to observe the limits of certain routes, and see that his letters do not
go astray, thus causing a delay in the delivery of at least twenty-four
hours. Many letters are received without direction, and others, again,
so imperfectly given that it requires the exercise of a little of Job’s
patience, assisted by an imperfect directory, to find out where they
actually belong. The carriers, however, to whom these letters are
submitted, being familiar with the names of persons on their routes,
select from this _débris_ of letters those that they _think_ belong to
the parties to whom they are so carelessly directed. A good carrier
never brings back a letter to the office until he is fully satisfied
that it is not on his route. _Philadelphia can boast of such._

This retentive quality is also powerfully exercised at the box-windows.
There are 2600 boxes, which we may say will average six letters each
daily, thus making an aggregate of 15,600. These letters are selected
from the “pile” by clerks, who actually know not only the names of the
owners of the boxes, but the names of those who are entitled to their
use,—as, for instance, the clerks and porters of the parties engaging
them. This is what we term a wonderful exercise of memory and its
practical application. Newspapers are distributed on the same principle
as are the letters.

The newspaper department of a post-office is one that may well be called
the “reservoir” of the press: here flows all that makes up that vast
institution, here comes the highest standard of our literature, down to
the meanest sheet venality produces. A number of men are constantly
employed in the newspaper room, or, as we term it, “the rotunda of
literature.” This is emphatically the wholesale room; for they deal in
bulk. Papers coming singly, directed to individuals, pass through the
same process as do the letters. The packages directed to neighboring
cities find their way through the “rotunda” in canvas bags to their
respective places of destination. Let us here say one word of


It has identified itself with, and forms one of the main features of,
our great republic. Its very liberty is essential to the nature of a
free state. Its complicity and power claim for it a consideration which
no other department of literature and science, however popular, can
attain. The press of our country is now the medium, if not, in fact, the
very source, of that knowledge of which as a nation we are so justly

THE WORK OF THE POST-OFFICE is of such a nature, changing its character
with every new incumbent, that it is utterly impossible to reduce it to
a system of permanent order during one term of office. Move, however, it
must, right or wrong: hence it is that some portion of its machinery may
get out of order and thus militate against the probability of reaching
perfection. Perfection! and who seeks perfection in any of the
institutions established by man? Nature alone “is perfect indeed.” It
was so from the beginning, not only in its elements and principles, but
in its members and its organs.

“The post-office,” says a writer in “Fraser’s Magazine” for September 2,
1862, “no longer assumes to be perfect, and its conductors have
renounced their claims to infallibility. Suggested improvements, if they
can sustain the indispensable test of rigid scrutiny, are welcomed, and
not, as of old, frowned away. The department acts under the conviction
that to thrive it must discard the confidence heretofore placed in legal
prohibitions, and seek its continuance of prosperity only by deserving

The English post-office has far better opportunities of rendering its
system more perfect than it is, from the fact that its clerks are not
discharged on every change made in the heads of the department by the
government. They are fixtures. But in this country no one engaged in a
public office under one administration can calculate being continued
under another.

A clerk in the post-office, being appointed for an especial duty,
troubles himself very little about that of any other. He takes no
interest in the general business or details of the office, from the fact
_that his situation is not a permanent one_: hence it is that few
postmasters are enabled, within four years, to bring the office out of
the chaos into which a previous administration had reduced it, so as to
congratulate himself upon making one step towards perfection. He has to
study the political elements outside first, and by the time these are
reconciled, nearly one-third of his term has expired. In another portion
of this work we have alluded to this political clog placed against the
wheels of the postal department, and retarding, if not materially
impairing, its social, moral, and financial interests.


Letter-carriers are a very important class of men,—important, we mean,
in their connection with the postal department. We speak of them here
because their duties are not generally known to the public, nor their
services properly appreciated or rewarded by the department. They are
the “walking posts,” and carry with them daily thousands of dollars,
which rarely are lost on their way to the recipients. The instances are
so few of dishonest carriers that we have often been surprised that the
fact has not been recorded ere this, so as it might be placed in
juxtaposition with those _élite_ rogues in office who are daily robbing
the government of millions. Is it because they are generally faithful?
or is it because the position of a letter-carrier is one that requires
no consideration from the department beyond the annual—rather
limited—stipend for their services? The letter-carriers of our country
represent a political class: they come forth from their respective wards
under, as it were, leading politicians. The postmaster, in fact, has
scarcely a voice in making these appointments. We have no objection to
this system, as it is one peculiarly allied to the institutions of our
country and mode of election; but we do object to good and honest men
being discharged simply from the fact that a few politicians outside of
an office want to get their particular friends in. This can scarcely be
called rotation in office, as it frequently assumes an unjust, if not an
intolerant, exercise of power.

We have alluded to the English post-office as being perhaps the
best-ordered and best-conducted in the world, _for there changes are not

In England carriers are classified. The lowest class are not so well
paid, receiving only from 18 to 25 shillings per week. They are allowed
by government, however, to receive presents, and their Christmas boxes
and New-Year gifts,—thus realizing a nice little sum of money, as well
as many useful and ornamental articles.[45] If the salary of a
letter-carrier in England is not high, the position is so identified
with the governmental patronage that he becomes a part and portion of
the great institution itself. If he is taken sick, he has medical
attendance and medicine furnished gratis. When unfitted for work, he may
retire upon a pension, for which he has not to pay a farthing; and
during service, if he insure his life for the benefit of his family, the
post-office will assist him to pay the premium: this is done by allowing
him twenty per cent. on all his payments. Every year the letter-carriers
are allowed a fortnight holiday without any deduction from their pay.
Many spare hours each day may be devoted to other pursuits; for, if when
at work at the office his hours of duty exceed eight hours daily, he is
at full liberty to ask for investigation and redress. See p. 205,

The higher grade of carriers are distinguished from the lower by wearing
a livery of the department and at its expense, viz.:—a scarlet coat with
a blue collar, and buttons stamped with an impression of the royal arms.
The carriers of the two-penny post wear the common citizens’ dress.

We have alluded to the general character of the letter-carriers of our
city, and, we may justly and proudly say, of our country, being equal in
point of moral standard, correct deportment, and honesty of purpose, to
any other (public) class of men in the Union. Of this fact the writer
has opportunities of knowing; and when we take into consideration the
extremely low salaries they receive,—scarcely sufficient to support
them,—the fact impresses itself upon us, as it should on the government,
that a “_carrier’s fidelity, diligence, and experience should be
properly rewarded._” We quote here nearly every postmaster-general’s
language, _but as yet the words only stand on the record_!

During the writer’s connection with the department, there were but two
instances of carriers being detected in opening letters and
appropriating their contents to their own use. One of these men died
suddenly while under heavy bonds for his appearance at court to answer
for his crime; the other is now expiating his crime in the Penitentiary.

We have spoken more particularly about carriers and their general good
character; but our remarks will apply to those who occupy positions in
every department, from the chief clerks down to the wounded soldier who
sweeps out the office.[46] It certainly must be a source of satisfaction
to postmasters generally, that peculation, fraud, and robbery in their
departments are of very rare occurrence. Many losses have been charged
to the department, but in nine cases out of ten they have been traced to
parties _who act as carriers between the post-office and merchants’
counting-houses_. These are boys and clerks who are authorized by
merchants to take letters from their boxes, many of which, as we can
prove, never reached their employers, but were opened and the money
extracted. Under the old State laws this was laid down as simply a
breach of trust: it is now made a criminal offence, and subjects the
guilty party to imprisonment. Since the passage of this law there have
been _but few such breaches of trust_.

In another portion of this work we have alluded to the decoy system as
being uncalled for and insulting to the employees. It does seem as if
the public and even postmasters themselves have an idea that _dishonesty
is a national calamity_, and that it becomes a duty with them to suspect
alike all who are in their employ. Suspicion, however, is no proof; and
we are inclined to think that many _open robberies_ of the government
can be traced to the fact that high positions _seem_ to sanction the
deed. The poor wretch who steals a loaf of bread to keep his family from
starving finds no mercy at the hands of the law, while the wholesale
robber, the thief of millions, is simply required to make the amount
stolen good! Where one public official robber is convicted for
appropriating the public funds to his own use, thousands are annually
tried and punished for taking a penny loaf! It is no wonder, therefore,
that suspicion should haunt the guilty mind, and every man in power
judge of others by the example set in high places.

Some years ago, long before the postal system became the mighty engine
of power that it is now, a Philadelphia postmaster, since gathered to
his fathers, openly stated that no man should intrust a clerk in the
post-office (his own office) with the knowledge that a letter posted
contained money!

How different is the English post-office in this respect from ours!
There the employees are considered a part and portion of its national
character, identified with it by all those ties which protection gives
and justice sanctions. The government not only studies the present
interest of all connected with the postal department, but amply provides
for that of the future. (See p. 147.) Their confidence is not easily
shaken; but like Othello, when they doubt, they prove; and on the proof
there is no more but this:—Away at once!


The following tables, carefully prepared, fully prove that there is no
surer test of the advance of business and commercial enterprise than
that which is learned from the increase of postage. A glance at the
table from 1790 shows a wonderful increase in the short space of eight
or ten years, entirely unexampled in the history of the world; and taken
in connection, as we think it may be, with a similar increase in other
statistics, it sets all previous examples completely aside. The fact is,
the country is ignorant of the history of our postal department, a
knowledge of which would tend materially to strengthen that love of
country which a state of ignorance naturally lessens. The post-office
department should no longer be as a sealed book to the nation.

Statement of Receipts and Expenditures of the Post-Office Department
under Various Heads, and by States, for the Year ending June 30, 1862.

   States and          │ Letter     │ Newspaper  │ Registered│ Stamps       │ Total        │ Compensation
   Territories.        │ postage.   │ postage.   │ letters.  │ sold.        │ receipts.    │ allowed
                       │            │            │           │              │              │ postmasters.
                       │            │            │           │              │              │
                       │            │            │           │              │              │
                       │            │            │           │              │              │
                       │            │            │           │              │              │
                       │            │            │           │              │              │
  Maine                │ $16,151 48 │ $15,143 32 │   $364 75 │  $174,250 15 │  $205,909 70 │   $87,437 05
  New Hampshire        │   5,270 41 │  10,600 40 │    245 15 │   112,674 66 │   128,790 62 │    57,605 44
  Vermont              │   5,040 02 │  13,210 71 │    107 80 │   111,001 79 │   129,360 32 │    62,723 43
  Massachusetts        │  53,960 83 │  26,017 85 │    938 25 │   630,945 54 │   711,862 47 │   178,302 36
  Rhode Island         │   4,597 27 │   3,138 61 │    124 00 │    71,259 82 │    79,119 70 │    18,723 46
  Connecticut          │  10,360 68 │  16,560 24 │    200 55 │   199,995 04 │   227,116 51 │    78,643 49
  New York             │ 186,079 59 │  82,877 23 │  2,462 60 │ 1,543,349 08 │ 1,814,768 50 │   375,647 15
  New Jersey           │  17,902 57 │  11,681 08 │    254 10 │   145,255 42 │   175,093 17 │    69,264 81
  Pennsylvania         │  70,982 27 │  41,634 24 │  2,054 20 │   770,025 27 │   884,695 98 │   248,695 26
  Delaware             │   1,782 20 │   2,265 95 │     50 95 │    26,431 57 │    30,530 67 │    10,867 93
  Maryland             │  19,330 33 │   9,053 54 │    412 15 │   178,566 52 │   207,362 54 │    48,059 82
  District of Columbia │   8,113 23 │   3,295 38 │    714 85 │   220,399 83 │   232,523 29 │     4,974 33
  Virginia             │   8,261 65 │   3,526 45 │    301 50 │   129,284 88 │   141,374 48 │    30,212 30
  North Carolina       │         86 │       1 00 │    ...    │         1 17 │         3 03 │         1 37
  South Carolina       │     693 54 │      16 68 │     31 25 │     8,734 47 │     9,475 94 │     1,173 96
  Georgia              │     ...    │     ...    │    ...    │       ...    │       ...    │       ...
  Florida              │     224 29 │     238 44 │     27 10 │     3,702 27 │     4,192 10 │     2,181 17
  Alabama              │     ...    │     ...    │    ...    │       ...    │       ...    │       ...
  Mississippi          │     768 82 │      45 39 │      2 10 │     2,598 46 │     3,414 77 │       571 74
  Texas                │     410 41 │     303 63 │      3 25 │     3,774 49 │     4,491 78 │     1,568 48
  Kentucky             │  10,853 71 │  10,413 86 │    225 36 │   156,383 79 │   177,876 71 │    56,134 80
  Michigan             │  18,627 77 │  20,035 00 │    565 60 │   198,002 35 │   237,230 72 │    96,342 58
  Wisconsin            │  20,500 74 │  21,160 79 │    706 15 │   200,304 73 │   242,672 41 │    92,140 83
  Louisiana            │     413 88 │      12 50 │      1 55 │     1,063 97 │     1,491 90 │       164 83
  Tennessee            │     346 25 │     294 67 │      9 65 │    13,242 05 │    13,892 62 │     1,722 39
  Missouri             │  17,158 44 │  12,012 51 │    419 45 │   197,941 27 │   227,531 67 │    54,391 22
  Illinois             │  35,528 66 │  40,921 73 │  1,516 90 │   512,537 84 │   590,505 13 │   192,517 25
  Ohio                 │  51,011 36 │  46,777 68 │  1,608 15 │   601,087 26 │   700,484 45 │   242,660 99
  Indiana              │  30,056 54 │  28,366 16 │    720 55 │   258,659 00 │   317,802 25 │   133,765 80
  Arkansas             │     ...    │         46 │    ...    │        12 26 │        12 72 │           45
  Iowa                 │  12,736 41 │  18,866 91 │    444 60 │   151,436 63 │   183,484 55 │    80,201 30
  California           │  24,430 64 │   9,869 93 │    402 55 │   218,540 19 │   253,243 31 │    48,672 41
  Oregon               │   2,211 07 │   1,467 34 │      7 25 │    10,390 35 │    14,076 01 │     5,975 93
  Minnesota            │   5,907 22 │   6,336 24 │    159 05 │    41,850 41 │    54,253 22 │    24,693 39
  Kansas               │   1,842 71 │   2,348 60 │     44 25 │    26,236 61 │    30,472 17 │    13,592 51
  Utah                 │   1,436 81 │     174 49 │      2 40 │     1,348 58 │     2,962 28 │     1,597 13
  Nebraska             │     843 61 │   1,023 34 │      9 35 │     7,876 64 │     9,752 94 │     4,846 26
  Washington           │   1,013 85 │     258 66 │      2 45 │     2,017 39 │     3,292 35 │     1,852 25
  New Mexico           │     240 54 │      95 00 │        95 │     1,246 42 │     1,582 91 │       815 24
  Colorado             │   1,639 00 │     569 83 │      3 70 │     6,404 97 │     8,617 50 │     4,478 89
  Dakota               │     569 76 │      72 23 │        50 │       817 40 │     1,459 89 │       810 78
  Nevada               │   1,905 54 │     862 01 │      6 25 │     3,200 68 │     5,974 48 │     3,500 44
                       │ 649,205 26 │ 461,550 08 │ 15,151 20 │ 6,942,851 22 │ 8,068,757 76 │ 2,337,531 21
  Deduct miscellan’s   │            │            │           │              │              │
   items               │   1,297 20 │     745 22 │      1 85 │    32,719 33 │    34,763 60 │       ...
  Add miscellaneous    │            │            │           │              │              │
   items               │     ...    │     ...    │    ...    │       ...    │       ...    │     3,236 07
                       │ 647,908 06 │ 460,804 86 │ 15,149 35 │ 6,910,131 89 │ 8,033,994 16 │ 2,340,767 28
  On acc’t of route    │            │            │           │              │              │
   ag’ts, mail         │            │            │           │              │              │
   messengers, special │            │            │           │              │              │
   transportation,     │            │            │           │              │              │
   for’n mails, &c.    │     ...    │     ...    │    ...    │       ...    │       ...    │       ...
                       │            │            │           │              │              │
  Add receipts on      │            │            │           │              │              │
   account of          │            │            │           │              │              │
   emoluments, &c.     │     ...    │     ...    │    ...    │       ...    │       ...    │       ...
                       │            │            │           │              │              │
                       │            │            │           │              │              │
  Deduct excess of     │            │            │           │              │              │
   receipts            │     ...    │     ...    │    ...    │       ...    │       ...    │       ...
                       │            │            │           │              │              │
                       │            │            │           │              │              │

   States and          │ Incidental   │ Total        │ Amount of      │ Total        │ Excess of    │ Excess of
   Territories.        │ expenses of  │ compensation │ transportation │ expenses.    │ expenditures │ receipts
                       │ post-offices.│ and          │ certified to   │              │ over         │ over
                       │              │ incidental   │ the Postmaster-│              │ receipts.    │ expenditures.
                       │              │ expenses.    │ General for    │              │              │
                       │              │              │ payment and    │              │              │
                       │              │              │ credited to    │              │              │
                       │              │              │ contractors.   │              │              │
  Maine                │   $17,489 69 │  $104,926 74 │    $103,483 36 │  $208,410 00 │    $2,500 40 │       ...
  New Hampshire        │     5,118 38 │    62,723 82 │      53,929 30 │   116,653 12 │       ...    │   $12,137 50
  Vermont              │     1,344 44 │    64,067 87 │      73,958 60 │   138,027 47 │     8,666 15 │       ...
  Massachusetts        │   112,309 47 │   290,611 83 │     177,787 29 │   468,399 12 │       ...    │   213,463 35
  Rhode Island         │     9,676 44 │    28,399 90 │      11,369 87 │    39,769 77 │       ...    │    39,349 93
  Connecticut          │    17,295 78 │    95,939 27 │      82,471 38 │   178,410 65 │       ...    │    48,705 86
  New York             │   323,254 45 │   698,901 60 │     479,342 89 │ 1,178,244 49 │       ...    │   636,524 01
  New Jersey           │     8,691 96 │    77,956 77 │      98,778 11 │   176,734 88 │     1,641 71 │       ...
  Pennsylvania         │   103,911 87 │   352,607 19 │     365,907 08 │   718,514 21 │       ...    │   166,181 77
  Delaware             │     2,335 17 │    13,203 09 │      18,730 29 │    31,933 38 │     1,402 71 │       ...
  Maryland             │    34,410 10 │    82,469 92 │     232,202 13 │   314,672 05 │   107,309 51 │       ...
  District of Columbia │    62,304 15 │    67,278 48 │         ...    │    67,278 48 │       ...    │   165,244 81
  Virginia             │    19,062 42 │    49,274 72 │      53,319 09 │   102,593 81 │       ...    │    38,780 67
  North Carolina       │       ...    │         1 37 │         ...    │         1 37 │       ...    │         1 66
  South Carolina       │       ...    │     1,173 96 │         ...    │     1,173 96 │       ...    │     8,301 98
  Georgia              │       ...    │     ........ │         ...    │       ...    │       ...    │       ...
  Florida              │        91 49 │     2,272 66 │         ...    │     2,272 66 │       ...    │     1,919 44
  Alabama              │       ...    │     ........ │         ...    │       ...    │       ...    │       ...
  Mississippi          │       395 08 │       966 82 │         ...    │       966 82 │       ...    │     2,447 95
  Texas                │           50 │     1,568 98 │         ...    │     1,568 98 │       ...    │     2,922 80
  Kentucky             │    19,066 27 │    75,201 07 │     216,073 18 │   291,274 25 │   113,397 54 │       ...
  Michigan             │    23,322 77 │   119,665 35 │     187,149 80 │   306,815 15 │    69,584 43 │       ...
  Wisconsin            │    14,584 80 │   106,725 63 │     151,010 16 │   257,735 79 │    15,063 38 │       ...
  Louisiana            │       465 51 │       630 34 │         ...    │       630 34 │       ...    │       861 56
  Tennessee            │     2,639 96 │     4,362 35 │         ...    │     4,362 35 │       ...    │     9,530 27
  Missouri             │    42,601 09 │    96,992 31 │   1,340,613 47 │ 1,437,605 78 │ 1,210,074 11 │       ...
  Illinois             │    90,703 04 │   283,220 29 │     386,610 21 │   669,830 50 │    79,325 37 │       ...
  Ohio                 │    35,636 32 │   328,297 31 │     558,771 56 │   887,068 87 │   186,584 42 │       ...
  Indiana              │    18,836 84 │   152,602 64 │     283,193 46 │   435,796 10 │   117,993 85 │       ...
  Arkansas             │       ...    │           45 │       1,089 29 │     1,089 74 │     1,077 02 │       ...
  Iowa                 │    13,272 81 │    93,474 11 │     204,283 26 │   297,757 37 │   114,272 82 │       ...
  California           │    35,259 26 │    83,931 67 │     297,072 52 │   381,004 19 │   127,760 88 │       ...
  Oregon               │        67 37 │     6,043 30 │      23,474 00 │    29,517 30 │    15,441 29 │       ...
  Minnesota            │     2,860 03 │    27,553 42 │     123,278 10 │   150,831 52 │    96,578 30 │       ...
  Kansas               │       790 06 │    14,382 57 │      73,703 60 │    88,086 17 │    57,614 00 │       ...
  Utah                 │        39 87 │     1,637 00 │      17,226 00 │    18,863 00 │    15,900 72 │       ...
  Nebraska             │        88 71 │     4,934 97 │      51,904 37 │    56,839 34 │    47,086 40 │       ...
  Washington           │         6 84 │     1,859 09 │      32,685 45 │    34,544 54 │    31,252 19 │       ...
  New Mexico           │       ...    │       815 24 │      19,825 14 │    20,640 38 │    19,057 47 │       ...
  Colorado             │       124 76 │     4,603 65 │       1,327 60 │     5,931 25 │       ...    │     2,686 25
  Dakota               │         8 75 │       819 53 │         ...    │       819 53 │       ...    │       640 36
  Nevada               │        59 93 │     3,560 37 │         ...    │     3,560 37 │       ...    │     2,414 11
                       │ 1,068,126 38 │ 3,405,656 59 │   5,720,570 56 │ 9,126,228 15 │ 2,439,584 67 │ 1,382,114 28
  Deduct miscellan’s   │              │              │                │              │              │
   items               │       ...    │       ...    │         ...    │       ...    │       ...    │       ...
  Add miscellaneous    │              │              │                │              │              │
   items               │       ...    │  3,236 07    │      65,143 61 │   103,143 28 │   103,143 28 │       ...
                       │ 1,068,126 38 │ 3,408,893 66 │   5,785,714 17 │ 9,229,371 43 │ 2,542,727 95 │ 1,382,114 28
  On acc’t of route    │              │              │                │              │              │
   ag’ts, mail         │              │              │                │              │              │
   messengers, special │              │              │                │              │              │
   transportation,     │              │              │                │              │              │
   for’n mails, &c.    │       ...    │       ...    │   1,207,899 58 │       ...    │              │
                       ├──────────────┼──────────────┼────────────────┼──────────────┤              │
                       │              │              │   6,993,613 75 │              │              │
  Add receipts on      │              │              │                │              │              │
   account of          │              │              │                │              │              │
   emoluments, &c.     │       ...    │       ...    │         ...    │       ...    │       ...    │   265,826 74
                       │              │              │                │              │              ├──────────────
                       │              │              │                │              │              │ 1,647,941 02
  Deduct excess of     │              │              │                │              │              │
   receipts            │       ...    │       ...    │         ...    │       ...    │ 1,647,941 02 │
                       │              │              │                │              ├──────────────┤
                       │              │              │                │              │   894,786 93 │

NOTE.—The following items of revenue are not embraced in the above
statement, viz.:

   Receipts on account of emoluments                              $93,842 25
   Receipts on account of letter-carriers                         167,662 16
   Receipts on account of fines                                     1,455 00
   Receipts on account of dead letters                              1,052 51
   Miscellaneous receipts                                           1,814 82
       Total                                                      265,826 74
   Excess of expenditures over receipts                          $894,786 93
   Add amount paid for foreign mails and expenses
    of government mail agents                      $405,249 22
   Route agents                                     274,081 30
   Supply of special offices and mail messengers    238,916 10
   Ship, steamboat, and way-letters                   6,860 11
   Letter-carriers’ fees                            167,662 16
   Dead-letter money refunded                           ...
     Amounts allowed and paid to Department, viz.:
   Interest to contractors, under Act of
    February 15, 1860                                   400 36
       Amount carried forward                    $1,093,169 25   $894,786 93

       Amount brought forward                    $1,093,169 25   $894,786 93
   Wrapping paper                                    18,179 70
   Office furniture                                     213 31
   Advertising                                       24,120 73
   Mail bags                                         47,902 35
   Blanks                                            89,557 44
   Mail locks, keys, and stamps                      16,690 00
   Mail depredations and special agents              48,320 06
   Clerks for offices                                14,697 63
   Postage stamps and stamped envelopes              93,291 04
   Miscellaneous payments                            27,723 43
   Foreign postage collected and returned
    to foreign governments                          167,238 40
                                                    ——————————  1,641,103 34
     Total excess of expenditures over receipts                $2,535,890 27
     Add difference between _accrued_ and _paid_ transportation   289,652 96
     Add amount charged to “bad debts” and “suspense” accounts        601 12
       Total amount                                            $2,826,144 35

   The aggregate receipts for 1863 were      $11,163,789 59
    ”     ”      expenditures for 1863 were   11,314,206 84
   Deficiency                                   $150,417 25


         │ No. of │ Extent  │ Revenue  │Expenditures│      Amount paid for
  Year.  │ Post-  │of Post- │ of the   │   of the   ├─────────────┬──────────────
         │Offices.│ Routes  │ Depart-  │ Department.│ Compen. of  │ Transport’n
         │        │in Miles.│  ment.   │            │Postmasters. │ of the Mail.
  1790   │     75 │   1,875 │   $37,935│    $32,140 │    $8,198   │    $22,081
  1795   │    453 │  13,207 │   160,620│    117,893 │    30,272   │     75,359
  1800   │    903 │  20,817 │   280,804│    213,994 │    69,243   │    128,644
  1805   │  1,558 │  31,076 │   421,373│    377,367 │   111,552   │    239,635
  1810   │  2,300 │  36,406 │   551,684│    495,969 │   149,438   │    327,966
  1815   │  3,000 │  43,748 │ 1,043,065│    748,121 │   241,901   │    487,779
  1816   │  3,260 │  48,673 │   961,782│    804,422 │   265,944   │    521,970
  1817   │  3,459 │  52,089 │ 1,002,973│    916,515 │   303,916   │    589,189
  1818   │  3,618 │  59,473 │ 1,130,235│  1,035,832 │   346,429   │    664,611
  1819   │  4,000 │  67,586 │ 1,204,737│  1,117,861 │   375,828   │    717,881
  1820   │  4,500 │  72,492 │ 1,111,927│  1,160,926 │   352,295   │    782,425
  1821   │  4,650 │  78,808 │ 1,059,087│  1,184,283 │   337,599   │    815,681
  1822   │  4,709 │  82,763 │ 1,117,490│  1,167,572 │   355,299   │    788,618
  1823   │  5,043 │  84,860 │ 1,130,115│  1,156,995 │   360,462   │    767,464
  1824   │  5,182 │  84,860 │ 1,197,758│  1,188,019 │   383,804   │    768,939
  1825   │  5,677 │  94,052 │ 1,306,525│  1,229,043 │   411,183   │    785,646
  1826   │  6,150 │  94,052 │ 1,447,703│  1,366,712 │   447,727   │    885,100
  1827   │  7,003 │ 105,336 │ 1,524,633│  1,468,959 │   486,411   │    942,335
  1828   │  7,530 │ 105,336 │ 1,659,915│  1,689,945 │   548,049   │  1,086,313
  1829   │  8,004 │ 115,000 │ 1,707,418│  1,782,132 │   559,237   │  1,153,646
  1830   │  8,450 │ 115,176 │ 1,850,583│  1,932,708 │   595,234   │  1,274,009
  1831   │  8,686 │ 115,486 │ 1,997,811│  1,936,122 │   635,028   │  1,252,226
  1832   │  9,205 │ 104,466 │ 2,258,570│  2,266,171 │   715,481   │  1,482,507
  1833   │ 10,127 │ 119,916 │ 2,617,011│  2,930,414 │   826,283   │  1,894,638
  1834   │ 10,693 │ 119,916 │ 2,823,749│  2,910,605 │   897,317   │  1,925,544
  1835   │ 10,770 │ 112,774 │ 2,993,356│  2,757,350 │   945,418   │  1,719,007
  1836   │ 11,091 │ 118,264 │ 3,408,323│  3,841,766 │   812,804   │  1,638,052
  1837   │ 11,767 │ 141,242 │ 4,236,779│  3,544,630 │   891,353   │  1,996,727
  1838   │ 12,519 │ 134,818 │ 4,238,733│  4,430,662 │   933,948   │  3,131,308
  1839   │ 12,780 │ 133,999 │ 4,484,657│  4,636,536 │   980,000   │  3,285,622
  1840   │ 13,468 │ 155,739 │ 4,543,522│  4,718,236 │ 1,028,925   │  3,296,876
  1841   │ 13,778 │ 155,026 │ 4,407,726│  4,499,528 │ 1,018,645   │  3,159,375
  1842   │ 13,733 │ 149,732 │ 4,546,849│  5,674,752 │ 1,147,256   │  3,087,796
  1843   │ 13,814 │ 142,295 │ 4,296,225│  4,374,754 │ 1,426,394   │  2,947,319
  1844   │ 14,103 │ 144,687 │ 4,237,288│  4,296,513 │ 1,358,316   │  2,938,551
  1845   │ 14,183 │ 143,940 │ 4,289,841│  4,320,732 │ 1,409,875   │  2,905,504
  [A]1846│ 14,601 │ 152,865 │ 3,487,199│  4,084,297 │ 1,042,079   │  2,716,673
  [A]1847│ 15,146 │ 153,818 │ 3,955,893│  3,979,570 │ 1,060,228   │  2,476,455
  [A]1848│ 16,159 │ 163,208 │ 4,371,077│  4,346,850 │             │  2,394,703
  [A]1849│ 16,749 │ 163,703 │ 4,905,176│  4,479,049 │ 1,320,921   │  2,577,407
  [A]1850│ 18,417 │ 178,672 │ 5,552,971│  5,212,953 │ 1,549,376   │  2,965,786
  [A]1851│ 19,796 │ 196,290 │ 6,727,867│  6,278,402 │ 1,781,686   │  3,538,064
  [A]1852│ 20,901 │ 214,284 │ 6,925,971│  7,108,459 │ 1,296,765   │  4,225,311
  [A]1853│ 22,320 │ 217,743 │ 5,940,725│  7,982,957 │ 1,406,477   │  4,906,308
  [A]1854│ 23,548 │ 219,935 │ 6,955,586│  8,577,424 │ 1,707,708   │  5,401,382
  [A]1855│ 24,410 │ 227,908 │ 7,342,136│  9,968,342 │ 2,135,335   │  6,076,335
  [A]1856│ 25,565 │ 239,642 │ 7,620,822│ 10,405,286 │ 2,102,891   │  6,765,639
  [A]1857│ 26,586 │ 242,601 │ 8,053,952│ 11,508,058 │ 2,285,610   │  7,239,333
  [A]1858│ 27,977 │ 260,603 │ 8,186,793│ 12,722,470 │ 2,355,016   │  8,246,054
  [A]1859│ 28,539 │ 260,052 │ 8,668,484│ 15,754,093 │ 2,453,901   │  7,157,629
  [A]1860│ 28,498 │ 240,594 │ 8,518,067│ 19,170,600 │ 2,552,868   │ 14,281,655
  [A]1861│ 28,586 │ 140,399 │ 8,349,296│ 13,606,759 │ 2,514,157   │  9,173,274
  [A]1862│ 28,875 │ 134,013 │ 8,299,820│ 11,125,364 │ 2,340,767   │  6,993,613[47]
     1863│ 29,047 │ 139,598 │11,163,789│ 11,314,206 │ 2,876,983   │  6,541,580


   Years.│    Stamps.    │  Envelopes. │    Total.
    1860 │ $5,920,939 00 │ $949,377 19 │ $6,870,316 19
    1861 │  5,908,522 60 │  781,711 13 │  6,690,233 73
    1862 │  7,078,188 00 │  756,904 00 │  7,835,092 00

   Increase over the issue of 1860   $964,775 81
   Increase over the issue of 1861  1,144,858 27


  Years.│  Revenue. │ Expenditures.│ Population.│    Revenue per    │    Expenditures
        │           │              │            │      capita.      │     per capita.
   1790 │    $37,935│     $32,140  │  3,929,827 │    9/10 of a cent.│   8/10 of a cent.
   1800 │    280,804│     213,994  │  5,305,925 │  5-3/10 cents.    │  4     cents.
   1810 │    551,684│     495,969  │  7,239,814 │  7-6/10   ”       │  6-8/10   ”
   1820 │  1,111,927│   1,160,926  │  9,638,131 │ 11-1/2    ”       │ 12        ”
   1830 │  1,919,300│   1,959,109  │ 12,866,020 │ 14-9/10   ”       │ 15-2/10   ”
   1840 │  4,543,522│   4,718,236  │ 17,069,453 │ 26-6/10   ”       │ 27-6/10   ”
   1850 │  5,499,985│   5,212,953  │ 23,191,876 │ 23-7/10   ”       │ 22-1/2    ”
   1851 │  6,410,604│   6,278,402  │ 23,873,717 │ 26-9/10   ”       │ 26-3/10   ”
   1852 │  5,184,527│   7,108,459  │ 24,575,604 │ 21-1/10   ”       │ 28-9/10   ”
   1853 │  5,240,725│   7,982,756  │ 25,298,126 │ 20-7/10   ”       │ 31-1/10   ”
   1854 │  6,255,586│   8,577,424  │ 26,041,890 │ 24        ”       │ 32-9/10   ”
   1855 │  6,642,136│   9,968,342  │ 26,807,521 │ 24-8/10   ”       │ 37-2/10   ”
   1856 │  6,920,822│  10,405,286  │ 27,595,662 │ 25        ”       │ 37-7/10   ”
   1857 │  7,353,952│  11,508,058  │ 28,406,974 │ 25-9/10   ”       │ 40-1/2    ”
   1858 │  7,486,793│  15,754,093  │ 30,101,857 │ 26-1/2    ”       │ 52-3/10   ”
   1860 │  8,518,067│  14,874,601  │ 31,445,089 │ 27-1/10   ”       │ 47-3/10   ”
   1861 │  8,349,296│  13,606,759  │ 32,577,112 │ 25-6/10   ”       │ 41-8/10   ”
   1862 │  8,299,821│  11,125,364  │ 33,749,888 │ 24-6/10   ”       │ 33        ”
   1863 │ 11,163,790│  11,314,207  │ 34,762,384 │ 32-4/10   ”       │ 32-9/10   ”

NOTE.—The population from 1851 to 1863, excepting the year 1860, is
estimated by the standard ratio of increase.


The following will exhibit the principal changes and reductions in the
rates of postage on domestic letters at various dates from 1792 to 1863.
The _single_ rate for _land_ transit is referred to in every case.

   Act of February 20, 1792. Rates for a single-sheet letter,—30
   miles or under, 6 cents; 30 to 60 miles, 8 cents; 60 to 100
   miles, 10 cents; 100 to 150 miles, 12 cents; 150 to 200
   miles, 15 cents; 200 to 250 miles, 17 cents; 250 to 350
   miles, 20 cents; 350 to 450 miles, 22 cents; over 450 miles,
   25 cents.

   Act of 2d March, 1799. Rates for a single-sheet letter,—40
   miles or under, 8 cents; 40 to 90 miles, 10 cents; 90 to 150
   miles, 12-1/2 cents; 150 to 300 miles, 17 cents; 300 to 500
   miles, 20 cents; over 500 miles, 25 cents.

   The revenue act of 23d December, 1814, added 50 per cent. to
   the rates last above; but the addition was repealed February
   1, 1816, which restored the rates of 1799.

   Act of April 9, 1816. Rates for a single-sheet letter,—30
   miles or under, 6 cents; 30 to 80 miles, 10 cents; 80 to 150
   miles, 12-1/2 cents; 150 to 400 miles, 18-1/2 cents; over 400
   miles, 25 cents.

   Act of 3d March, 1845. Rates for a single-sheet letter,—300
   miles or under, 5 cents; over 300 miles, 10 cents.

   Act of 3d March, 1851. Rates for a half-ounce letter,—3000
   miles or under, if prepaid, 3 cents, if unpaid, 5 cents; over
   3000 miles, double.

   Act of 3d March, 1855. Rates for a half-ounce letter,—3000
   miles or under, 3 cents; over 3000 miles, 10 cents.

   Under this act prepayment was not compulsory, and after
   January, 1856, prepayment by stamps was required.

   [The issue of postage-stamps was first authorized by an act
   of 3d March, 1847, and subsequently by the act of 3d March,

   Act of 3d March, 1863. Rate for half-ounce letter, 3 cents
   everywhere throughout the United States.


The law requires postage on all letters (including those to foreign
countries when prepaid), excepting those written by officers of the
government, addressed to the department with which they are connected,
and on official business, to be prepaid by stamps or stamped envelopes,
prepayment in money being prohibited.

All drop-letters must be prepaid, at the rate of two cents per
half-ounce or fraction of a half-ounce, by postage stamps. If not
prepaid, the double rate to be charged.

The single rate of postage on all domestic mail-letters throughout the
United States is three cents per half-ounce, with an additional rate of
three cents for each additional half-ounce or fraction of a half-ounce.
The former ten-cent (Pacific) rate is abolished.


   Postage on _Daily Papers_ to subscribers when prepaid
   quarterly or yearly in advance, either at the mailing-office
   or office of delivery, per quarter (three months) 35 cts.
   Six times per week,        ”              ”       30  ”
   For Tri-Weekly,            ”              ”       15  ”
   For Semi-Weekly,           ”              ”       10  ”
   For Weekly,                ”              ”        5  ”

WEEKLY NEWSPAPERS (one copy only) sent by the publisher to actual
subscribers within the county where printed and published, _free_.

POSTAGE PER QUARTER (to be paid quarterly or yearly in advance) on
NEWSPAPERS and PERIODICALS _issued less frequently than once a week_,
sent to actual subscribers in any part of the United States:

   Semi-monthly, not over 4 oz.                       6 cts.
        ”        over 4 oz. and not over 8 oz.       12  ”
        ”        over 8 oz. and not over 12 oz.      18  ”
   Monthly, not over 4 oz.                            3  ”
      ”     over 4 oz. and not over 8 oz.             6  ”
      ”     over 8 oz. and not over 12 oz.            9  ”
   Quarterly, not over 4 oz.                          1  ”
      ”       over 4 oz. and not over 8 oz.           2  ”
      ”       over 8 oz. and not over 12 oz.          3  ”

their respective offices of publication, free of postage, one copy of
each publication, and may also send to each actual subscriber, enclosed
in their publications, bills and receipts for the same, free of postage.
They may also state on their respective publications the date when the
subscription expires, to be written or printed.

Religious, educational, and agricultural newspapers of small size,
issued less frequently than once a week, may be sent in packages to one
address at the rate of one cent for each package not exceeding four
ounces in weight, and an additional charge of one cent is made for each
additional four ounces or fraction thereof, the postage to be paid
quarterly or yearly in advance.

NEWSDEALERS may send newspapers and periodicals to regular subscribers
at the quarterly rates, in the same manner as publishers, and may also
receive them from publishers at subscribers’ rates. In both cases the
postage to be prepaid, either at the mailing-or delivery-office.

Publications issued without disclosing the office of publication, or
containing a fictitious statement thereof, must not be forwarded by
postmasters unless prepaid at the mailing-office at the rates of
transient printed matter.

A letter over 500 miles cost thirty-seven and one-half cents in 1815;
now it is carried to the extreme portion of our country, traversing
mountains, passing deep ravines and rivers, for the small sum of three

Harpers’ Magazine, had it been in existence in 1815, would have cost for
each one twenty-seven cents, whereas now they only cost three cents to
all parts of the country. What an age for literature! what an era in

In 1779, in consequence of the increased nature of the postal business
and the necessity for a more extended ramification of the system, the
postmaster-general was to receive $5000 per annum, and the comptroller
$4000,—meaning, of course, Continental money. Besides these two offices
in the postal department, there was a secretary who acted as clerk to
the postmaster-general. The comptroller settled the accounts, and was
the book-keeper. There were three surveyors, who were to travel and
inspect the conduct of the riders, agents, &c. There was also an
inspector of dead letters, at a salary of $100 a year.

What is now called the post-office department was established in 1789 as
the “post-office,” and subsequently as the “general post-office,” under
the power given to Congress by the Constitution “to establish
post-offices and post-roads,” and the exclusive privilege and control of
all postal affairs, &c.


Congress shall have power “to establish post-offices and post-roads.”
This short, concise, yet _embracing_ sentence sums up the constitutional
basis of this department. It is comprehensive enough to all who fully
understand the economical and practical workings of our government. Its
conciseness is its very history; and that history becomes a mighty
_tome_ in the library of nations.

The direction and management of the post-office department are assigned
by the Constitution to the postmaster-general. That its business may be
the more conveniently arranged and prepared for its final action, it is
distributed among several bureaus, as follows:—the Appointment-Office,
in charge of the First Assistant Postmaster-General; the
Contract-Office, in charge of the Second Assistant Postmaster-General;
the Finance-Office, in charge of the Third Assistant Postmaster-General;
and the Inspection-Office, in charge of the Chief Clerk.

The duties of the several departments named above are thus defined:—

The postmaster-general “is further directed to superintend the business
of the department in all the duties that are or may be assigned to it,
and he is required once in three months to render to the Secretary of
the Treasury an account of all the receipts and expenditures in the
department, to be adjusted and settled as other accounts.” The
postmaster-general may establish post-offices and appoint postmasters on
the post-roads which are or may be authorized by law, at all such
places as to him may appear expedient. He regulates the number of times
the mail shall go from place to place, and he is authorized to contract
for carrying the mail, and to establish post-roads.


The Appointment-Office not only has supervision of the appointment and
regulation of all postmasters, and the establishment and discontinuance
of post-offices, but also the distribution of blanks, wrapping-paper,
and twine to all post-offices; the supervision of pay of clerks in
post-offices; of allowance for furniture of post-offices; of extra
allowances to postmasters under the acts of Congress; of the appointment
and pay of special agents, route-agents, local agents, and blank-agents,
and of baggage-masters in charge of mails; of the foreign mail
transportation and foreign correspondence; together with some other
miscellaneous duties.


The Contract-Office is charged with the conduct of mail-lettings, and
all contracts and allowances for inland mail transportation, with the
mail messenger service; the supervision and regulation of
mail-contractors, and the routes of mail-transit, including
distributing-offices; and with the increase and diminution of service on


To this office are assigned the issuing of postage-stamps and stamped
envelopes for the prepayment of postage and the accounts thereof; the
preparation of warrants and drafts in payment of balances reported by
the Auditor to be due to mail-contractors and other persons; and the
superintendence of the rendition by postmasters of their quarterly
returns of postages. It embraces, also, all the operations of the
dead-letter office, and the accounts connected therewith.


The Inspection-Office is charged with the observation of failures and
delinquencies in the service of contractors and route-agents; with fines
and remissions thereof; with the subject of mail-depredations, and
prosecution of violators of postal laws; with the duty of procuring and
distributing mail-bags, locks and keys, and some other duties of detail.

Perhaps no institution in this or any other country requires more
enterprise, general knowledge of business, and geography, than does that
of the post-office. We have already alluded to the fact of its being
considered by many as a “mere workshop” of the general department, and
whose operations are simply mechanical; but our readers ere this have
been undeceived as regards such a construction, and it must loom up
before them a prominent intellectual branch of our government.

That England has a high estimate of her post-office department is
evident from the encouragement given to every one connected with it, and
sustaining alike its literary character in historic publications. We
make the following extract from a recent work entitled “Her Majesty’s

“There is no postal service in the world so well managed as that of
Great Britain. It is now not merely a self-supporting but a productive
institution; whereas there was a deficiency of half a million in the
post-office of America before the rupture between North and South.
Though America for ninety years has been, next to England, the most
commercial country in the world, yet, compared with the population, five
times as many letters pass through the English post as through the
American. London and its suburbs alone, with its less than three
millions of inhabitants, sends forth a greater number of letters than
the whole of America.

“The next best-managed post-office to our own is that of France; but in
France, by the law of 1856, there are five different tariffs of
postages. Judged by the revenue produced, the English post-office,
notwithstanding its low rate of charges, stands first.

“The Austrian post-office produces a revenue of 3,714,200 florins, or
£378,000; the Belgian, 2,960,000 francs; the French, 66,452,000 francs;
and the English, £3,800,000; being more than a quarter of a million
beyond the proceeds of 1862.

“A comparison of the year 1839—the year immediately preceding the penny
postage—with the year 1861 gives these results: An increase nearly
eightfold in the chargeable letters; a threefold increase in the
receptacles for letters; a fortyfold increase in the number of
money-orders; a fiftyfold increase in the amount of money-orders; and an
increase of the gross revenue in round numbers from £2,390,000 to
£3,402,000. The amount of the correspondence of a country will measure,
with some approach towards accuracy, as Mr. Matthew Hill says, the
height which a people has reached in true civilization. The town of
Manchester equals in its number of letters the Empire of all the Russias
both in Europe and Asia; and this fact we owe, as many of the marvels we
have stated, to Sir Rowland Hill. The poor and the lowly, the domestic
servant and the humble artisan, can now correspond with each other from
one end of the kingdom to the other at the trifling expense of 1_d._;
and for this civilizing, Christianizing, and eminently social good we
are indebted to a late post-office secretary, whose merits have been
recognized, but who cannot be overpaid in money or money’s worth. As
Lord Palmerston said on the 10th of June, Sir R. Hill showed, in
relation to the post-office, great genius, sagacity, perseverance, and
industry, and he was the first to prove that the department was a public
institution for the performance of services, rather than for the
collection of revenue. If, as the first minister of the crown stated,
and as we believe, the cultivation of the affections raises men in their
own estimation, improves their morals, and develops their social
qualities, Sir R. Hill has been amongst the greatest benefactors of the
human race, and he well deserves the vote that was agreed to on the 10th
of June without a dissentient voice.”


Postmaster-generals up to the period when railroads superseded that of
post-coaches and post-horses had a much harder time in their “vocation”
than have their successors since. The difficulties then were to overcome
the opposition of parties interested in contracts. Coaches and
post-horses, routes and agents, became important items in such
contracts; and the least favoritism on the part of the
postmaster-general called forth not only censure from those immediately
interested, but not unfrequently from those high in authority. During
the postal administration of W. T. Barry, Esq., considerable political
feeling was mixed up with these complaints. Mails at that period (1835)
were carried on horseback from central points, and by four-horse
post-coaches from city to city. Lines of stages were established in
several sections of our country. The number of post-offices was 10,693.
The line of stages extended to the western boundary of Missouri; to St.
Augustine, in Florida; through Indiana, by the seat of government in
that State; through the whole Territory of Michigan and State of
Illinois; from Detroit to Chicago; and from Chicago to St. Louis, in
Missouri; thence to New Orleans, in half the time which it formerly
occupied. This facility, however, was afforded by connecting the coaches
with steamboats in the mail-transportation. Lines of post-coaches were
also established in this year from Nashville to Memphis, on the
Mississippi River, in Tennessee; from Tuscumbia in Alabama to Natchez in
Mississippi; and to Tuscaloosa, the seat of government in Alabama; and
from Tuscaloosa to Montgomery; completing a direct line from Nashville
in Tennessee, and all the other Western States, to the city of New

A semi-weekly line of two-horse stages was added to a tri-weekly line of
four-horse post-coaches from Washington City, through Lynchburg in
Virginia, Salisbury, N.C., Yorkville, S.C., and Augusta, to Savannah in
Georgia; from thence to the northern part of Georgia, through that State
to Tallahassee, and to Pensacola in Florida.

We have given this statement for the purpose of showing the amount of
labor essential to the transportation of the mails at that period,
compared to what it is now. It is, however, somewhat strange that
railroads were not established in many places, which would have obviated
the necessity of coaches.


Railroads, although evidently of ancient origin, were first used near
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in 1650. Wooden rails four to eight inches square,
resting upon transverse sleepers two feet apart, were in use for many
years, when railroads of the same description covered with thin plates
of iron were substituted.

In another part of this work we speak of the lost arts. Proofs of their
existence are found in the excavated cities, and even in those vestiges
which establish the belief of an antediluvian state of society equal to
any that has existed since. Egypt abounds with antiquities. Where are
the ramparts of Nineveh, the walls of Babylon, the palaces of
Persepolis, the temples of Baalbec and Jerusalem? Where are the fleets
of Tyre, the docks of Arad, the looms of Sidon, and the multitude of
sailors, pilots, merchants, and soldiers? Where are those laborers,
those harvests, those flocks, and that crowd of living beings which then
covered the face of the earth?[48]

The temples are crumbled down, the palaces are overthrown, the ports are
filled up, the cities are destroyed,—all,—all. Earth itself is only a
desolate place of tombs. Yet specimens of high art remain, and also
indications of a classic taste far superior to that which boasts of
refinement since. We have every reason to believe that railroads were
known to the Asiatics long, long before these cities fell in their
ruins, carrying along with them the charts by which we could have traced
their cause of greatness. The cities of the desert—that of Palmyra, for
instance—could never have been built so far away from “marble-quarries”
if railroad facilities had not been known and afforded the means of
conveying those vast blocks of marble which formed its pillars.

The cities of Palmyra and the spot which marks the site of Tadmor
present an imposing spectacle in rising from the sands of the desert. It
looks like a forest of columns. The great avenue of pillars leading to
the Temple of the Sun, and terminated by a grand arch, is 1200 feet in
length. The temple itself is a magnificent object. The city is a vast
collection of ruins, all of white marble. How were these huge columns of
marble conveyed to this city of the desert?

The sculptures of the Memphite Necropolis say that Memphis once held a
palace called the “Abode of Shoopho.” Shoopho was the owner of vast
copper-mines: he was termed “pure king and sacred priest.” Historians
doubted the power he exercised over Egypt, and also the amount of labor
performed in erecting pyramids and monuments,—as, for instance, it is
maintained that he employed 100,000 men for twenty years in erecting a
monument for which ten preceding years were requisite in preparing the
materials and the _causeway_ whereon the stone was to be carried. The
monument, as described by historians, was of immense proportions, the
base of which was 764 feet each face, the original height 480 feet,
containing 89,028,000 cubic feet of solid masonry and 6,848,000 tons of
stone. The distance these materials were carried was twenty miles from
the quarries on the eastern side of the Nile. What sort of a _causeway_
was that which could transport these huge masses of stone a distance of
twenty miles? Again, this great pyramid is lined with the most beautiful
and massive blocks of sienite, of red granite, not one particle of which
exists twenty-five miles below the first cataract of the Nile, at Aswan,
distant six hundred and forty miles up the river from the pyramid.
Blocks of this sienite are found in this pyramid’s chambers and passages
of such dimensions, and built in such portions of the masonry that they
must evidently have been placed there before the upper limestone masonry
was laid above the granite. There not being in its native state a speck
of granite within six hundred and forty miles from the pyramid, is a
proof that Shoopho did rule from Memphis to Aswan, and from Migdol to
the tower of Syene. How he conveyed the material that distance involves
the question of the origin of _railroads_.

Let us pass on to Alexandria. Pompey’s Pillar stands upon a pedestal
twelve feet high. The shaft is round, and, with the Corinthian capital,
one hundred feet in height; the diameter is nine feet. Cleopatra’s
Needle is of one shaft of granite, covered with hieroglyphics: it is
sixty-four feet high, and eight feet square at the base. There are a
great number of pyramids scattered over Egypt, but the most remarkable
are those of Djizeh, Sakhara, and Dashour. When seven leagues distant
from the spectator they seem near at hand, and it is not till after
having travelled several miles that he is fully sensible of the size.
The largest is ascribed to Cheops. They are on a platform of rock
situated one hundred and fifty feet above the level of the desert. Ten
years were consumed in preparing a _road_ whereon to draw the immense
blocks of stone, and the labors of 100,000 men were employed, who were
relieved once in three months.—_Herodotus._

What sort of a road and the manner these blocks were carried are matters
of conjecture. _We incline to the opinion of railroads._


The stones used in building the pyramids of Egypt, it is supposed, were
raised to their places by piling up immense inclined planes of sand, up
which the blocks were pushed with rollers. If inclined planes were used
to raise large blocks to a great height, is it to be supposed that a
similar mode, or _railroads_, were not used to convey them on a level

The statement, often repeated on high authority, that the pyramids were
built before the Egyptians acquired the art of writing hieroglyphics,
however, which they do contain, do not convey that full knowledge of the
state of the arts among them, at the time the pyramids were constructed,
which is to be learned from the writings and pictures in their tombs and
temples, in regard to the state of their arts at a subsequent period.
But we have the less valuable authority of Herodotus that the blocks of
stones were lifted from one course to the other up the steps of the
pyramid. Remains of Cheops’ grand causeway, for transporting the blocks
quarried from the rocks on the east bank, are still seen leading up the
great pyramid from the plain, a shapeless ridge of ruinous masonry and
sand. According to Herodotus, it was one thousand yards long, sixty feet
wide, and forty-eight feet high, was adorned with figures of animals,
and was a work of ten years. Some of the stone used for the coping over
the passages are seven feet thick and more than seventeen feet long.
Lifting these stones up the side of a pyramid four hundred and fifty
feet high was certainly a work of great labor; but as a feat of
engineering it was mere child’s play compared with some of the triumphs
of modern science and skill,—for instance, lifting the Menai bridge on
to its piers, or raising on end and placing on its pedestal the
monstrous monolith which adorns the city of St. Petersburg.


In 1760, wooden railroads were in pretty general use to facilitate
mining operations. Tram-roads, with rails of cast iron, first introduced
at the Colebrookdale Works, at the instance of Mr. Reynolds in 1767; at
the Sheffield colliery in 1776. Stone props for the support of the rails
substituted for timber in 1797, at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Edge rails were
brought into use by Mr. Jessop in 1789, at Loughborough. Malleable iron
edge rails adopted at Newcastle in 1805, and at Tinsdale Fell in 1808.
The improved malleable edge rail now in use was invented by Mr.
Birkinsaw in 1820. A locomotive engine propelled by steam was employed
for the first time on the Merthyr-Tydvil Railroad in Wales in 1804.
Blenkinsop’s locomotive engine, which operated by means of cog-wheels
and rack rails, was invented and applied on the Leeds Railroad in 1811.
But the locomotive engine that has obtained the greatest reputation and
been most generally adopted was that invented by Mr. George Stevenson in
1814. This engine has undergone a variety of improvements up to 1829,
and was deemed at that period more efficient than any of its


(Abstract of the Seventh Census.)

In no other particular can the prosperity of a country be more
strikingly manifested than by the perfection of its roads and other
means of internal communication. The system of railroads, canals,
turnpikes, post-routes, river navigation, and telegraphs possessed by
the United States presents an indication of its advancement in power and
civilization more wonderful than any other feature of its progress. In
truth, our country in this respect occupies the first place among the
nations of the world.

From returns received at this office in reply to special circulars, and
other sources of information, it is ascertained that there were, at the
commencement of the year 1852, 10,814 miles of railroads completed and
in use, and that 10,898 miles were then in course of construction, with
a prospect of being speedily brought into use. While the whole of these
10,898 miles will, beyond reasonable doubt, have been finished within
five years, such is the activity with which projects for works of this
character are brought forward and carried into effect, that it is not
extravagant to assume that there will be completed within the limits of
the United States before the year 1860 at least 35,000 miles of

The Quincy Railroad, for the transportation of granite from the quarries
at Quincy to Neponset River, and the Mauch Chunk Railroad, from the
coal-mines to the Lehigh River, in Pennsylvania, were the first attempts
to introduce that mode of transportation in this country; and their
construction and opening, in the years 1826 and 1827, are properly
considered the commencement of the American railroad system. From this
period until about the year 1848, the progress of the improvements thus
begun was interrupted only by the financial revulsion which followed the
events of 1836 and 1837. Up to 1848, it is stated that about 6000 miles
had been finished. Since that date an addition of 5000 miles has been
made to the completed roads, and, including the present year, new lines,
comprising about 14,000 miles, have been undertaken, surveyed, and
mostly placed under contract.

The usefulness and comparative economy of railroads as channels of
commerce and travel have become so evident that they have in some
measure superseded canals, and are likely to detract seriously from the
importance of navigable rivers for like purposes. In a new country like
ours many items of expense which go to swell the cost of railroads in
England and on the continent are avoided. Material is cheap, the right
of way usually freely granted, and heavy land damages seldom interpose
to retard the progress of an important work. It is difficult to arrive
at a clear approximation to the average cost of railroad construction in
the United States. Probably the first important work of this class
undertaken and carried through in the Union was the cheapest, as it has
proved one of the most profitable, ever built. This was the road from
Charleston, in South Carolina, to Augusta, on the Savannah River. It was
finished and opened for traffic in 1833. The entire expense of building
the road and equipping it with engines and cars for passengers and
freight was, at the date of its completion, only $6700 per mile; and all
expenditures for repairs and improvements, during the eighteen years
that the road has been in operation, have raised the aggregate cost of
the whole work to only $1,336,615, or less than $10,000 per mile.

It is estimated that the 2870 miles of railroads finished in New England
have cost $132,000,000,—which gives an average of nearly $46,000 per
mile. In the Middle States, where the natural obstacles are somewhat
less, the average expense per mile of the railroads already built is not
far from $40,000. Those now in course of completion—as the Baltimore &
Ohio Railroad, Pennsylvania Central, and other lines, the routes of
which cross the Alleghany range of mountains—will probably require a
larger proportionate outlay, owing to the heavy expense of grading,
bridging, and tunnelling. In those States where land has become
exceedingly valuable, the cost of extinguishing private titles to the
real estate requires, and the damages to property along the routes form,
a heavy item in the account of general expenses of building railroads.
In the South and West the case is reversed: there the proprietors along
the proposed line of a road are often willing and anxious to give as
much land as may be needed for its purposes, and accord many other
advantages in order to secure its location through or in the vicinity of
their possessions. In the States lying in the valleys of the Ohio and
Mississippi the cost of grading, also, is much less than at the
eastward. Where the country is wooded, the timber can be obtained at the
mere cost of removing it from the track; and through prairie districts
Nature seems to have prepared the way for these structures by removing
every obstacle from the surface; while fine quarries of stone are to be
found in almost every region. These favorable circumstances render the
estimate of $20,000 per mile in all the new States safe and reliable.

The primary design of nearly all the great lines of railway in the
United States has been to connect the sea-coast with the distant
interior, to effect which object it was necessary to cross the
Alleghanies, which intersect every line of travel diverging to the West
from the great commercial cities of the seaboard.

The Eighth Census (1860), continuing the line, makes this addition to
that of the Seventh:—

Previous to the commencement of the last decade, only one line of
railroad has been completed between tide-water and the great interior
basins of the country, the products of which now perform so important a
part in our internal and foreign commerce. Even this line, formed by the
several links that now compose the New York Central Road, was restricted
in the carriage of freight except on the payment of canal tolls in
addition to other charges for transportation, which restriction amounted
to a virtual prohibition. The commerce resulting from our railroads
consequently has been, with comparatively slight exceptions, a creation
of the last decade.

The line next opened, and connecting the Western system of lakes and
rivers with tide-water, was that extending from Boston to Ogdensburg,
composed of distinct links, the last of which was completed during 1850.
The third was the New York & Erie, which was opened on the 22d of April,
1851. The fourth in geographical order was the Pennsylvania, which was
completed in 1852, although its mountain division was not opened till
1854. Previous to this time its summit was overcome by a series of
inclined planes, with stationary engines, constructed by the State. The
fifth great line, the Baltimore & Ohio, was opened in 1853 still farther
south. The Tennessee River, a tributary of the Mississippi, was reached
in 1850 by the Western & Atlantic Railroad of Georgia, and the
Mississippi itself by the Memphis & Charleston Railroad in 1859. In the
extreme north the Atlantic & St. Lawrence, now known as the Grand Trunk,
was completed early in 1853. In 1858 the Virginia system was extended to
a connection with the Memphis & Charleston and with the Nashville &
Chattanooga Railroad.

The eight great works named, connecting the interior with the seaboard,
are the trunks or base-lines upon which is erected the vast system that
now overspreads the whole country. They serve as outlets to the interior
for its products, which would have little or no commercial value without
improved highways, the cost of transportation over which does not equal
one-tenth that over ordinary roads. The works named, assisted by the
Erie Canal, now afford ample means for the expeditious and cheap
transportation of produce-seeking Eastern markets, and could without
being overtaxed transport the entire surplus products of the interior.

Previous to 1850 by far the greater portion of railroads constructed
were in the States bordering the Atlantic, and, as before remarked, were
for the most part isolated lines, whose limited traffics were altogether
local. Up to the date named, the internal commerce of the country was
conducted almost entirely through _water_ lines, natural and artificial,
and over ordinary highways. The period of the settlement of California
marks really the commencement of the new era in the physical progress of
the United States. The vast quantities of gold it produced imparted new
life and activity to every portion of the Union, particularly the
Western States, the people of which, at the commencement of 1850, were
thoroughly aroused as to the value and importance of railroads. Each
presented great facilities for the construction of such works which
promised to be almost equally productive. Enterprises were undertaken
and speedily executed which have literally converted them into a
network of lines, and secured their advantages to almost every farmer
and producer.

The progress of these works in the aggregate, year by year, will be seen
by the tabular statements at the close of the report. The only
important line opened in the West, previous to 1850, was the one from
Sandusky to Cincinnati, formed by the Mad River and Little Miami Roads.
But these pioneer works were rude, unsubstantial structures compared
with the finished works of the present day, and were employed almost
wholly in the transportation of passengers.

With the advantages arising from the railroad routes, it is not at all
surprising that our postal facilities have increased to such an extent
that, next to the telegraphic wires, it may rank as one of the most
extraordinary operative institutions in this or any other country in the

It will be perceived that in speaking of the department the author has
paid little or no attention to the rebellion in connection with its
operations. Situated as he is in the department, his opportunities are
such that if the business of the office has lessened, as is supposed, in
consequence, there is not a man engaged but must truly say that, instead
of such being the case, their labors, as well as the business of the
office, never presented a more stirring and flourishing appearance. In
some respects it may have affected the general income, but upon the
whole the vast increase of army letters and newspaper circulation, added
to sundry articles of wearing-apparel coming under postal regulations,
we question if this deficiency has not been partially, if not entirely,
overcome. To a certain extent it affected foreign postage. The following
statement, however, will convey a better idea of the postal finances
than that of any theory established upon “why and whereof.” Figures,
they say, never lie; but may not the master-hand forming them
occasionally err in their formation?

The postal revenues for the year ending the 30th of June last were
$12,438,233.78, and the expenditures of this department during the same
period were $12,644,786.20, showing an excess of the latter of
$206,532.42. The average annual receipts of this department from 1859
to 1861, inclusive, were $8,745,282.62, and the average annual
expenditures for the same period were $14,482,008.44, showing an average
annual excess of expenditures over receipts of $5,736,725.82; and the
average annual receipts from 1862 to 1864, inclusive, were
$10,871,530.97, and the expenditures, $11,694,785.72, showing an average
annual excess of expenditures over receipts of $823,254.75.

The excess of receipts in 1864 over 1861, the first year of the
rebellion, was $4,088,957.38.

Although the proportion of receipts as against the expenditures has
doubtless been increased on account of the suspension of the postal
service in the insurrectionary States, the above furnishes the evidence
of an improving financial condition of the department highly creditable
to the administration of my immediate predecessor.

The estimate of expenditure for 1864 was fixed at $13,000,000, in which
was included the sum of $1,000,000 specially appropriated for the
overland mail-service, being $355,213.80 more than the amount actually

On the other hand, the revenues of 1864 were estimated at an increase of
five per cent. on those of 1862, making $8,714,000, while they actually
reached $12,438,253.78, or $3,724,253.73 more than the estimate. This
increase equals 42-5/8 per cent.

The increase of expenditures in 1864, compared with those of 1863, is
11-5/8 per cent., and the increase in the revenues for the same year
11-3/8 per cent.

This exhibit promises an increase of the revenues for 1865 over the
estimate submitted in the report of last year.

The revenues of this department for the year ending June 30, 1865, were
$14,556,158.70, and the expenditures $13,694,728.28, leaving a surplus
of $861,430.42.

The ratio of increase of revenue was 17 per cent., and of expenditure 8
per cent., compared with the previous year.


   The expenditures of all kinds for the fiscal year ending
     June 30, 1866, are estimated at                        $14,098,500 00

   The gross revenue for the year 1866, including foreign
     postage and miscellaneous receipts, is estimated at
     an increase of six per cent. on the revenue of 1864,
     making                                                  13,184,547 79
   Estimated deficiency of revenue compared with estimated
     expenditures                                               913,952 21

   From this sum must be deducted the amount of the
     permanent appropriations to compensate the department
     for carrying free mail-matter, under acts of
     March 3, 1847, and March 3, 1851                           700,000 00
   By which the estimated deficiency is reduced to             $213,952 21

The grants for the transportation of free mail-matter for the last two
fiscal years have not been expended. Assuming that the amount of
$700,000 for the last year is still available, no appropriation for any
deficiency in the revenues will be required.

In making the estimate of probable expenditures for 1866, the amounts
actually expended under the several heads during the past fiscal year
have been taken as a basis; but an increase in several of the items
named has become necessary, particularly in the appropriation for
postage-stamps and stamped envelopes, the estimated cost of the latter
being increased $140,000 per annum, according to the terms of a new
contract elsewhere referred to in this report.


The maximum annual receipts of the postal department, previous to the
rebellion, from all the States was $8,518,067.40, which was exceeded in
the sum of $6,038,091.30 by the receipts of the last year from the
loyal States alone. The revenues during the past four years amounted to
$46,458,022.97, an average of $11,614,505.74 per annum. Compared with
the receipts of the four years immediately preceding, which amounted to
$32,322,640.73, the annual average increase of revenue was
$3,533,845.56, which has not resulted from any considerable additions to
the service, the ratio of receipts to expenditures having been larger
than, with few exceptions, at any previous period. A proper regard to
economy in administration, aided by larger contributions from all the
States of the Union, will enable the department to increase its
usefulness from year to year in all its legitimate functions. But it
must not be overlooked that the ability to fully perform its mission as
the postal agent of the Government is greatly impaired by the burdens
imposed by the franking privilege and expensive service upon routes
established for other than postal purposes, the receipts from which are
largely unremunerative. However much the establishment of these routes
is to be commended for national objects, in which regard they command
the approval of the country, it is not possible to see upon what
principle they are wholly chargeable to the postal fund, which belongs
to those by whom it has been contributed, and is pledged to meet the
wants of the postal service.

The subjoined table illustrates the misapplication of the postal funds:—

           Routes.         │  Pay.   │ Receipts.│Excess of pay.
   Salt Lake City to Folsom│$385,000}│$23,934 44│ $726,065 56
   Atchison to Salt Lake   │ 365,000}│          │
   Kansas City to Santa Fé │  35,743 │  6,536 57│   29,206 43
   Lincoln to Portland     │ 225,000 │ 24,791 67│  200,208 33
   The Dalles to Salt Lake │ 186,000 │  5,660 77│  180,339 23
       Total               │1,196,743│ 60,923 45│1,135,819 55


This system, which was suggested by the celebrated Rowland Hill,
originated at a period in English postal history when the requirements
of trade and commerce demanded a revisal of the code. Perhaps no man was
better qualified for the purpose than was Mr. Hill. In 1839 railroad
post-offices were in use for mail-bags. Each railway company provided a
car, when desired to do so by the postmaster-general, for the exclusive
use of the mails. These cars were fitted up with boxes to facilitate the
distribution and reception of the mails. On the London and Liverpool
Road (1839) it required the constant and active employment of two clerks
to assort, receive, and hand out the mails: such is the rapidity of
travel, and so numerous are the post-offices upon this route.
Subsequently these cars were used for the distribution of letters in
large cities, by assorting them on the routes. Not only were such
distributions made on the cars for all the principal stations on the
line of the railroads before the arrival of the cars, but distributions
for the offices connected with the stations, and therefore incidentally
for the entire district of country through which the lines are in
operation. It was some time before our postal department could be made
_sensible_ of the necessity of the system in our country. Perhaps no
other country in the world possessed a larger amount of railroad travel
and postal extent than ours, and yet the spirit of old fogyism was hard
to be subdued in the encounter Young America had with it on this
subject, nor was it until the cars were almost forced upon the
department (experimentally) that they were first introduced. These
experiments were made on the routes from Chicago, Illinois, to Clinton,
Davenport, and Dubuque, Iowa, with the most satisfactory results, as
were those between Washington and New York. The attention of the public
was called to this new postal system by the postmaster-general (William
Dennison) in his report for the fiscal year 1864, who stated “that cars
requisite for the purpose are prepared for one daily line between New
York and Washington, and, by means of clerks taken temporarily from the
post-offices at Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York,
letters intended for distribution at either of these points are
distributed in the cars, and so arranged that they can be despatched
without delay on connecting routes.”

Among the railroads upon which these cars are placed are the
Pennsylvania Central, between Philadelphia and Pittsburg: in fact, the
system is now so fully established that it has become an essential
element in the whole organization of the postal department. Those
employed in the several post-offices from which the light of order
radiates, under this new system, can fully appreciate the advantages
resulting from it, as merchants and others already acknowledge

   “This radiated head of the Phœnix,”

as it rises above the ashes of the old _fogy_ system.

Mail-matter from every direction will reach our citizens much
earlier,—in most cases several hours sooner. This will show at once how
essential to our merchants is this new improvement: nor can we at this
early period of its introduction calculate all the advantages likely to
result from it. The idea of a post-office performing its distributing
duties on a railway, going at the rate of thirty miles an hour, is one
of those scintillations of genius which only emits light once in a
century,—that century the present.[49]


    “I have said so much, that if I had not a frank I must burn
    my letter and begin again.”—COWPER.

It is the abuse of certain privileges, which all governments accord to a
portion of its officers, which leads to fraud, crime, and corruption.
Among these, that of the franking system may be ranked as a most
prominent one. Had it been checked at an earlier period of our postal
history, how many evils would have been prevented, and how far more
plethoric would have been its treasury!

As early as 1782, even in its incipient state, far-seeing men objected
to its exercise. In December (6th), 1782, an ordinance extending the
privilege of franking letters to the heads of all the departments was
reported and taken up. Various ideas were thrown out on the subject at
large,—some contending for the extension proposed, some for a total
abolition of the privilege as well in members of Congress as in others,
some for a limitation of the privilege to a definite number or weight of
letters. Those who contended for a total abolition represented the
privilege as productive of abuses, reducing the profits so low as to
prevent the extension of the establishment throughout the United States,
and throwing the whole burden of the establishment on the mercantile
intercourse. On the other side, it was contended that in case of an
abolition the delegates or their constituents would be taxed just in
proportion to their distance from the seat of Congress,—which was
neither just nor politic, considering the many other disadvantages which
were inseparable from that distance; that, as the correspondence of the
delegates was the principal channel through which a general knowledge of
public affairs was diffused, any abridgment of it would in so far
confine this advantage to the States within the neighborhood of
Congress, and that as the correspondence at present, _however
voluminous_, did not exclude from the mail any private letters which
would be subject to postage, and if postage was extended to letters now
franked the number and size of them would be essentially reduced, the
revenue was not affected in the manner represented. The ordinance was
disagreed to, and the subject recommitted with instructions to the
committee, giving them ample latitude for such report as they should
think fit. Whether the report was ever made we are not advised; but its
latitude has increased with the introduction of every new State and
Territory. Since the above date, almost every postmaster-general has
alluded to the franking privilege. Mr. Blair, in his report of 1863,

“I renew the recommendation made last year, that the franking privilege
of postmasters be abolished, except for correspondence between them and
other officers of the department upon official business.

“It should be abolished also as to the correspondence of all persons
addressed to the several departments and executive officers of
government, except upon official correspondence addressed by an officer
of the government.

“Both these privileges, as they now exist, have been much abused, and
have no proper place in a correct postal system.”

Mr. Blair, however, falls into the same error that many official rulers
commit,—that of calculating chances of success, instead of commanding
them. In the report alluded to, we find this passage:—that “the postal
revenue has nearly equalled the entire expenditures,—the latter
amounting to $11,314,206.84, and the former to $11,163,789.59, leaving a
deficiency of but $150,417.25. Good reason, therefore, exists for the
expectation that within a brief period this important department of the
General Government will become self-sustaining.”

We do not think so. The postal department is not, nor can it ever be
made, a speculative one. It is based on the increase of trade and
commerce throughout an extent of country unparalleled in history, as
uniting in one system of rule upwards of thirty millions of people. To
keep up the routes over such a vast space, connecting State to State,
Territory to Territory, passing over lakes, rivers, mountains, even over
the land-route to California, through almost impassable sections,
contending with difficulties scarcely to be realized in descriptions,
the expense is necessarily great. Previous to 1850 many of the routes
bordering the Atlantic were for the most part isolated lines, near to
which trade and traffic had not approached. The settlement of
California, and the opening of a trade which has ultimately proved a
second Peru, as regards gold, may be dated as the commencement of a new
era in the physical progress of our country. In connecting a line of
posts, establishing post-offices, and furnishing modes of conveyance,
the question of dollars and cents is but a secondary consideration. The
word profit was repudiated, and the sole purpose of the government was
to establish the post, no matter at what cost. The time may come when it
shall prove self-sustaining, but never if at the expense of the public
interest, nor while the franking system exists.

We contend that every letter, document, or newspaper, no matter by whom
mailed, or how high the functionary, should be prepaid; for men in
authority are the servants of the people, and have no more claim upon
the _public treasury_ than has the lowest worker in any of the
departments. _The postal department, however, in its official
correspondence, should be the only exception to the rule._

Nor is it the mere privilege we complain of, but its abuse. Reduce it to
an honest and equitable use, and we venture to say the public will
endure the act.

Mr. George Plitt, in his report while a special agent of the post-office
department, made February 3, 1841, speaking of the franking privilege,
says, “The actual number of franked packages sent from the post-office
of Washington City during the week ending on the 7th of July last was
201,534; and the whole number sent during the last session of Congress
amounted to the enormous quantity of 4,314,948. All these packages are
not only carried by the department into every section of the country
_free of charge_, but it is actually obliged to pay to every postmaster
whose commissions do not amount to $2000 per annum, _two cents for the
delivery of each one_! Supposing all the above to have been delivered,
the department would lose from its revenue for this one item upwards of
$80,000, besides paying for the mail-transportation.”

In 1834 the “Washington Globe,” speaking upon this subject, used the
following language:—

“Particular cases of gross abuse upon the post-office are within our
knowledge, and the postmaster-general will be informed of hundreds of
others. The opinion of those acquainted with the subject, which we have
no doubt is correct, is that the department has lost within the last
year, by the extension of the franking privileges of the members of
Congress, and by abuses of law, more than _one hundred thousand
dollars_. This revenue would in a short time pay off the debts of the
department, and leave the people all the mails they now have. Who loses
this sum? Not the department only, but the people,—the honest
correspondents by the post, who prefer paying postage on their letters
to obtaining franks. In fact, the abuses are growing so rapidly as to
justify a fear of their endangering the establishment. The restrictions
of the law seem to have been by some men wholly borne down and
prostrated, and the franking privilege is rapidly extending itself over,
and covering a great part of, the ordinary private correspondence of the

The post-office is an establishment of the greatest utility. The law
throws it upon its receipts for postage as its sole support. When these
fail, the mails must stop; and every dollar that is taken from them is
so much drawn from the service of the public. The duty, therefore, of
protecting the department from the loss of its revenue is imposed upon
the postmaster-general not only by the general principle of the law, but
by the necessity of saving the establishment from annihilation, total or
partial. The sentiment of the people, ever against abuse and the
improper use of privilege, will sustain the postmaster-general in his

The “Globe,” after alluding to the further abuse of the franking
privilege, says,—

“If the government had been placed upon the footing of citizens, and had
paid during Mr. Barry’s administration one-third even of what these
would have paid for the same services, would the department have been in
debt? Strike an account with the executive government only, even for the
last year, and we find that the balance due to the department, including
the losses by abuses, would more than pay its whole debts. To those,
then, who charge that the department is ‘insolvent,’ we say that its
unrequited labors have justly earned for it a revenue more than
sufficient to meet all the demands against it.”

In connection with this subject,—and it is one that, when fully exposed,
will astonish the country,—we annex the following from the “American
Merchant,” New York, for July, 1859. “There is not the slightest doubt
that very extensive frauds may be successfully carried on in the
department; but we incline to the opinion, however, that the most
aggravated ‘frauds’ perpetrated on the department, and which are the
more hard to be borne that there is no remedy for them under the
existing law, are those which grow out of the franking privilege. It
would astonish the world, could the figures be correctly ascertained, to
see to what extent this evil is carried. From a statement made by the
postmaster of Washington City to the Post-Office Committee of the House
of Representatives, in January, 1854, we gather the following items of
‘franked’ matter sent during _one month_ from Washington alone:—

                                      Pounds weight.   Postage.
   Letters from members of Congress          3,446      $4,664
   Documents       ”          ”            693,508     110,961
   Letters from Departments                  7,065       6,782
   Newspapers (numbering 1,110,020)        111,002      11,100
                                           ———————    ————————
   Total for one month                     815,021    $133,507
   For twelve months                     9,780,242   1,602,087
   Postage for one year, if not prepaid              3,158,390

“Let it be remembered that this amount of $2,500,000, which is a fair
average for one year, is actually _taken out_ of the revenues of the
department in one city. Is it strange that our postal system should be

“If it be right that the General Government should defray the expenses
of sending ‘pub. docs.’ and the public and private correspondence of
members of Congress to every part of the country, then a sufficient
appropriation should be made for that purpose, and there should be some
means of fixing a limit to this system of dead-heading. And if letters,
papers, and public documents were the only commodities transported under
this talismanic ‘frank,’ it would be less a matter of concernment; but
when, as has been the case, members of Congress send home their dirty
linen to be washed, at the expense of the post-office department, the
subject assumes a more serious aspect, and the sovereign people—very
impudently, perhaps—persist in knowing why such things are. From the
statements of the department for the ten years ending with 1856, the
total expenses were $68,136,197, and the revenue from postages
$54,014,652, leaving a deficiency of $14,121,545. The appropriation by
government during the same space was $5,626,682,—which reduces the
actual deficiency to a little more than $9,000,000.”

Many of the packages thus franked, even when received by the parties, to
whom they are sent, are rarely opened, for the simple reason that the
newspapers (_which also go free_) containing the same documents or
speeches have already been received, read, and commented upon. For
instance: it is well known to every member of Congress, and to every one
connected with the post-office, that long after the President’s message
has been published in every newspaper throughout the country, thousands
upon thousands are sent daily under frank from Washington. This was our
written objection to the privilege in 1841. Now the same thing extends
to “Annual Reports” of the respective heads of departments, other
reports, and speeches of members of Congress, which are never read in
pamphlet form by the masses to whom they are sent. Many of these
speeches, which attracted no attention in the House and created little
or no sensation out of it, are handsomely gotten up, neatly printed,
artistically stitched, and mailed by the members at the expense of the
government to their constituents, to whose literary merit and classical
beauties the words of Virgil would most aptly apply:—

   “Monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens, cui lumen ademtum.”

There are two meanings to this terrible passage from the Latin poet. The
learned reader will apply the less terrible to the subject in question.

It would present a painful picture were we to sum up by number, bulk,
and character the public documents which weigh down the mails passing
from Washington City to every other in the country,—not cities alone,
but towns, villages, hamlets, grog-shops, and places _not reputable,
either to the sender or the recipient, to name_. Documents, such as
valuable books, find their way as per direction to ignorant blacks and
foreigners, many of whom can neither read nor write. Wholesale and
ponderous as are these costly matters, they are few in comparison to the
speeches which members of Congress send to their constituents. We
refrain from alluding further to these matters, as we feel humiliated as
a citizen of the United States when we consider that it is done under
the law.

J. Holt, postmaster-general, in his report (1859), speaking of the
franking privilege, says,—

“It may be added, if it is proper that the government shall be charged
with the expense of conveying the matter now passing free through the
mails, justice alike to the public and to the department requires that
the amount thus due shall be precisely ascertained,—which can best be
done by prepayment at the mailing-offices. There can be no enlightened
administration of the postal system without a complete knowledge of its
financial resources and liabilities, which can never be attained while
the incubus of the franking privilege is hanging over it. Under the
stifling pressure, too, of this incubus, the department is forced to
continual efforts to ameliorate its condition, which must often result
in curtailments to be deplored, because they deprive the public of
mail-accommodations for which they have fully paid, and which they are,
therefore, entitled to enjoy.

“Another potent reason for the abolition of the franking privilege, as
now exercised, is found in the abuses which seem to be inseparable from
its existence. These abuses, though constantly exposed and animadverted
upon for a series of years, have as constantly increased. It has been
often stated by my predecessors, and is a matter of public notoriety,
that immense masses of packages are transported under the government
frank which neither the letter nor spirit of the statute creating the
franking privilege would justify; that a large number of letters,
documents, and packages are thus conveyed, covered by the frank of
officials, written, in violation of law, not by themselves, but by some
real or pretended agent; while whole sacks of similar matter, which have
never been handled nor seen even by government functionaries, are
transported under franks which have been forged. The extreme difficulty
of detecting such forgeries has greatly multiplied this class of
offences, whilst their prevalence has so deadened the public sentiment
in reference to them that a conviction, however ample the proof, is
scarcely possible to be obtained. The statute of 1825, denouncing the
counterfeiting of an official frank under a heavy penalty, is
practically inoperative.”

The French deputies and peers have no franking privilege; in England it
was abolished for members of Parliament since the establishment of the
penny post. For an amusing account of an abuse of the franking privilege
in England, see page 66.

Having expressed our opinion and given that of others on the abuse of
the franking privilege and on the propriety, in a national point of
view, of doing away with it entirely, it is by no means implied that a
different construction of the right would not do away with our
objections, and also those of the many who consider its abuse a growing,
if not a dangerous, evil. Whatever may be done to lessen the evil, as
well as the heavy expense which it inflicts upon our government, and
which will bring about a state of things that will redound to the credit
of those who inaugurate a reform in this department of our government,
will be cordially endorsed by the people.

Our members of Congress, it is true, stand politically very differently
as regards positions from the representatives of other nations; but,
still, that is no reason why governmental privilege should be abused to
the extent it is.

By an act of Congress passed at the Third Session of the Thirty-Seventh
Congress, December 1, 1862, to March 4, 1863, “The postmaster-general
may arrange for the delivery by route-agents of newspaper bundles not
taken from, or intended for, any post-office. The postmaster-general may
regulate the manner of wrapping mail-matter not paying letter postage,
so that it may be easily examined; and postmasters are allowed to tear
off the wrappers to see if letter postage is evaded. Publishers dealing
with the post-office must swear to their statements: there is a fine of
$50 for each offence in sending papers to other than subscribers at
quarterly rates. The franking privilege is limited as follows: first,
the President, by himself or his private secretary; second, the
Vice-President; third, the chiefs of the several executive departments;
fourth, such principal officers, being heads of bureaus or chief clerks,
of each executive department, to be used only for official
communications, as the postmaster-general shall prescribe; fifth,
Senators and Representatives, including delegates from Territories, the
Secretary of the Senate and Clerk of the House, to cover correspondence
to and from them, and all printed matter issued by authority of
Congress, and all speeches, proceedings, and debates in Congress, and
all printed matter sent to them,—their franking privilege to commence
with the term for which they are elected, and to expire on the first
Monday of December following such term of office; sixth, all official
communications addressed to either of the executive departments by an
officer responsible to that department: in all such cases the envelope
should be marked ‘official,’ with the signature thereto of the officer;
seventh, postmasters have the franking privilege for official
communications to other postmasters: in such cases the envelope shall be
marked ‘official,’ with the signature of the writer, and for any such
endorsement of ‘official’ falsely made, the person making the same shall
forfeit $300; eighth, petitions to either branch of Congress shall pass
free in the mails; ninth, all communications addressed to any of the
franking officers above described, and not excepted in the foregoing
clauses, must be prepaid by postage-stamps. The franking privilege shall
be limited to packages weighing not exceeding four ounces, except
petitions to Congress and congressional or executive documents, and
publications published, procured, or purchased by order of either house,
which shall be considered as public documents and entitled to be franked
as such; and except, also, seeds, cuttings, roots, and scions, the
weight of the packages of which may be fixed by regulations of the
postmaster-general. Publishers of periodicals, magazines, and newspapers
which shall not exceed sixteen ounces in weight shall be allowed to
interchange their publications reciprocally free of postage, such
interchange to be confined to a single copy of each publication.”

This act took effect July 1, 1863: all acts inconsistent with it were
thereby repealed.

Here is an extensive pull upon the postal department, yet one that if
strictly adhered to would not create such an opposition to the system
as its abuse has caused. _Barrels of flour, dirty clothes, and other
family matters_ certainly are not included in the above. If so, then
will the postal department have to connect with its legitimate business
that of an express. A “National Franking Privilege Express” would not be
a bad title.

Although the idea of the government becoming a common carrier of _dirty
linen, barrels of flour, immense masses of book-matter and documentary
papers_, was never entertained, yet the franking privilege is gradually
preparing the way for its accomplishment. It is, therefore, evident to
us that the system is gradually destroying the whole theory on which the
post-office is founded, and if carried out still further will cripple
its operations materially. It has been suggested that in lieu of the
franking privilege now allowed by law to members of Congress and others,
they should be furnished with postage-stamps, to be paid for out of the
contingent fund of the House. If the privilege is to be extended in any
shape, let it be under that of the franking system; for the moment
stamps are substituted, that very moment a rush for “cash
representatives” will be most eagerly sought for, and the contingent
fund, to use a modern phrase, will “be soon swallowed up.” There would,
of course, be less _franking of public documents_ by the use of
_stamps_, but a far more extensive use of them for _other purposes_.
This has been clearly illustrated in some of our States where the
_stamps_ have been substituted for _franking_. If, however, the
postage-stamp system should be adopted, let the transmission of books,
&c. be forwarded, under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate and
Clerk of the House, by the ordinary mode of conveyance. This would be a
check on those extravagant members who consider it a duty due their
constituents to supply them with books enough to make a library. In one
single instance, a member from Utah, in 1858, cost the government over
seven thousand dollars by the transmission of books, &c.

As a clear and explicit definition of the limits of the franking
privilege of members of Congress, the following letter to certain
members of Congress who claimed certain (extended) privileges will be
found interesting. The members had asked leave to frank certain
documents intended to aid a praiseworthy object not strictly entitled to
that privilege, as well as other favors not sanctioned by either the
letter or the spirit of postal laws, rules, and regulations:—


“GENTLEMEN:—I am instructed by the postmaster-general to acknowledge the
receipt of your joint letter of the 15th instant, and to say that while
he fully appreciates the importance of furnishing the public with
correct information on the subject of the treatment and sufferings of
our brave men who, unfortunately, are prisoners in the hands of the
rebels, and would willingly lend all proper aid in his power to
accomplish this object, he cannot, with his sense of official duty,
direct the postmaster of Boston to respect at his office the franks of
members of the Senate or House of Representatives while they are
sojourning at the seat of government. Nor can he authorize the use of
_fac-simile_ stamps for the purpose of franking matter passing through
the mails.

“The franking privilege to Senators and members of Congress is a
personal one, and travels with the party entitled to it, and cannot be
exercised in two or more places at the same time. By the terms of the
law, it is ‘to cover correspondence to and from them, and all printed
matter issued by authority of Congress, and all speeches, proceedings,
debates in Congress, and all printed matter sent to them,’ thus limiting
the privilege to the matter herein named. Consequently, if it come to
_the knowledge_ of a postmaster that a package bearing a proper frank is
composed of matter not named in the law, it becomes his duty to
disregard such frank and charge postage thereon.

“The standing regulations of the department provide that ‘no privileged
person can authorize his clerk or any other person to write (or stamp)
his name for the purpose of franking any letter or packet.’ ‘The
personal privilege of franking travels with the person possessing it,
and can be exercised in but one place at the same time.’

“‘No privileged person can leave his frank behind him to cover his
correspondence in his absence.’ ‘If letters or papers be put into a
post-office bearing the frank of a privileged person who notoriously has
not been in that vicinity for several days, ... it is the duty of the
postmaster to treat them as unpaid.’ ‘Postmasters are requested to
report to the department all violations of the franking privilege.’

“The use of a _fac-simile_ stamp for franking letters or packets by
Senators or members of Congress has never been authorized or approved by
this department in any way; but, on the contrary, the postmaster-general
has invariably decided against the use of such stamps whenever the
question has been brought to his notice, for the reason, among others,
that it affords opportunity to perpetrate frauds upon the department and
its revenues to an almost unlimited extent.

“From the foregoing you will see that the postmaster-general cannot with
consistency or propriety comply with the request contained in your

“I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant.

    “A. W. RANDALL,
    “_First Assistant Postmaster-General_.

    “Hon. ———, }
               } _United States Senate_.”
    “Hon. ———, }


   “Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.”

Ever since the postal system was established, an opposition has been
made to its operations on the Sabbath. It is not for us to question the
moral principle upon which these objections were based. The law for the
observance of the Sabbath comes to us in language that cannot be
mistaken and from a source not to be denied. But we question whether it
applies to the wheels of a government, which, in the same order as that
of the spheres, must move on for its maintenance.

The Rev. Thomas Scott (whose authority we annex, not feeling capable of
giving a religious view ourselves) says, speaking upon the subject of
the Sabbath,—

“‘Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work,’ was merely an
_allowance_, and not an _injunction_; for the Lord forbade, by other
precepts, all labor on some of these days, but they were assigned for
the diligent performance of the business which relates to this present
life, while the seventh was consecrated to the immediate service of God.
The concerns of our souls must indeed be attended to, and God
worshipped, every day, that our business may be regulated in
subserviency to his will; but on the other days of the week ‘we shall do
_all our work_,’ reserving none for the Sabbath, except WORKS OF
CHARITY, PIETY, AND NECESSITY; for these alone consist with the holiness
of that sacred day of rest, and are allowable, ‘because the Sabbath was
made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.’ All works, therefore, which
arise from avarice, distrust, luxury, vanity, and self-indulgence, are
entirely prohibited.

“Buying and selling, paying wages, settling accounts, writing letters of
business, reading books on ordinary subjects, trifling visits, journeys,
excursions, dissipation, or conversation which serves only for
amusement, cannot consist with ‘keeping a day holy to the Lord;’ and
sloth is a _carnal_, not a _spiritual_, rest.

“Servants, and some others, may, however, be under a real _necessity_ of
doing things which are not necessary in themselves: though good
management might often greatly lessen the evil,” &c.

Speaking of cattle, the learned author says, “The cattle must also be
allowed to rest from the hard labor of husbandry, journeys, and all
employments connected with trade or pleasure; though doubtless we may
employ _them too_ in works of necessity, piety, and charity; and thus
they may properly be used for the gentle service of conveying those to
places of public worship who could not otherwise attend or perform the
duties to which they are called.”

It will be observed that, indirectly, the author sustains the argument
we advanced above, that the wheels of a government, like the works of
creation, must necessarily move on “without impediment,” and that any
labor performed on the Sabbath connected with such operations comes
under the head of “necessity.”

Governments are formed and their laws based upon those of nature: we
imitate and follow them as being essential to sustaining and
perpetuating their stability and usefulness.

Nor do we think our preachers are disposed to interfere with the mails
running on the Sabbath; for they invariably are the most anxious on a
Monday morning to receive their letters and newspapers, which, as we all
know, are invariably assorted and distributed throughout the office on
the Sabbath for an early delivery on Monday. _We allude to this
important clerical fact because in several instances they have
threatened to report clerks for neglecting their duties on the Sabbath,
simply because that labor was not devoted, as it would appear, for their
especial benefit!_ This want of consistency on the part of a portion of
the clergy seems more tinctured with hypocrisy than it is with

Return J. Meigs, the postmaster-general under James Madison in 1815, in
reply to certain petitions remonstrating against the mails running on
the Sabbath, makes use of the following language (we give extracts

“ ... The usage of transporting the mails on the Sabbath is coeval with
the Constitution of the United States; and a prohibition of that usage
will be first considered.” He then gives the various mail-routes on the
principal roads, and says,—

“If the mail was not to move on Sunday on the routes enumerated, it
would be delayed from three to four days in passing from one extreme of
the route to the other. From Washington to St. Louis the mail would be
delayed two days; from Washington to New Orleans the mail would be
delayed three days; from New Orleans to Boston it would be delayed from
four to five days; and, _generally_, the mails would, on an average, be
retarded equal to one-seventh part of the time now employed, if the
mails do not move on the Sabbath.

“On the smaller cross-roads or routes the transportation of the mail has
been avoided on the Sabbath, except when necessary to prevent great
delays and to preserve connections with different routes.”

In relation to _opening_ the mails on the Sabbath, it may be noticed
that the ninth section of the “act regulating the post-office
establishment” makes it the duty of the postmaster to attend to the
duties of his office “every day” on which a mail shall arrive at his
office, and at “all reasonable hours” on every day of the week. When a
mail is conveyed on the Sabbath, it must be opened and exchanged at the
offices which it may reach in the course of the day. This operation at
the smaller offices occupies no more than ten or twelve minutes; in some
of the larger offices it occupies one hour, and, it is believed, does
not greatly interfere with religious exercises as to the postmasters

The practice of “delivering letters and newspapers on the Sabbath” is of
recent origin, and, under the above-quoted section, commenced in 1810.
Prior to that period, no postmaster (except the postmaster at Washington
City), was required to deliver letters and newspapers on the Sabbath.
The “reasonable hours” were to be determined by the postmaster-general,
who established the following regulations, now existing:—“At
post-offices where the mail arrives on Sunday, the office is to be kept
open for the delivery of letters, &c. for _one hour_ after the arrival
and assorting of the mail; but in case that would interfere with the
hours of public worship, then the office is to be kept open for one hour
after the usual time of dissolving the meetings for that purpose.”

Also, if the mail arrives at an office too late for the delivery of
letters on Saturday night, the postmaster is instructed to deliver them
on Sunday morning, at such early hour as not to encroach upon the hours
devoted to public religious exercises. If these regulations are not
strictly attended to, it must be imputable to the urgency of applicants
and the complaisance of postmasters.

After the preceding statement, it is to be observed that public policy,
pure morality, and undefiled religion combine in favor of a due
observance of the Sabbath.

Nevertheless, a nation owes to itself an exercise of the means adapted
to its own preservation and for the continuance of those very blessings
which flow from such observance; and the nation must sometimes operate
by a few of its agents, even on the Sabbath; and such operation may, as
in time of war, become indispensable, so that the many may enjoy an
uninterrupted exercise of religion in quietude and safety. In the
present state of the nation it may be supposed necessary _daily_ to
convey governmental orders, instructions, and regulations, and to
communicate and receive information. If the daily carriage of the mail
be as relates to the safety of the nation a matter of _necessity_, it
also becomes a work of _mercy_.

When peace is fully established, the necessity will greatly diminish,
and it will be at all times a pleasure to this department to prevent any
profanation of the Sabbath, as far as relates to its official duty or
its official authority.

In England the postal regulations for the Sabbath are as follows. They
differ very little from our own:—

“During the time the office is open on Sunday (viz. from 9 to 10 in the
morning, and one other hour), the public are allowed to prepay foreign
and colonial letters, to purchase stamps, and to have letters
registered; and all other duties are performed as usual, except
money-order and savings-bank business,[50] which on that day is wholly

At no provincial town in England or Ireland is there more than one
delivery on Sunday or the sacramental fast-days; and any person is at
liberty to prevent even this delivery, so far as relates to himself, as
shown by the following regulations:—

“1st. Any person can have his letters, &c. retained in the post-office
on Sunday, by addressing to the postmaster a written request, duly
signed, to that effect; and such request will be held to include
newspapers and all other postal matters, even such as may be marked
‘immediate,’ as no distinction is allowed.

“2d. No letters, &c. the non-delivery of which by the letter-carrier on
Sunday has been directed can be obtained from the post-office window on
that day.

“3d. Private box-holders have the option of applying for letters at the
office while it is open for delivery on Sunday, or of abstaining from so
doing, as they may think proper; but no person can be permitted to
engage a private box for Sunday only.”


   “And thus there were many dead.”—GOWER.

It would fill a volume were we to attempt any thing like a history of
this department of the general post-office. One thing, however, would
impress itself forcibly upon the minds of our readers, were we to
furnish such a history, and that would be to establish the fact beyond
the possibility of a doubt that “the fools are not all dead yet.”

As far as the employees of the post-office are concerned, if not
irreverent, this would be a “consummation devoutly to be wished.”

Many of these letters, containing important information and large
amounts of money, are so villanously directed that a modern mesmeriser
would find himself at fault, or a spiritual medium confounded, if put in
connection with the writers, in their endeavor to arrive at the mystery
of such superscriptions as it has been our misfortune to encounter
during our connection with the post-office. In another portion of this
work we furnish the reader with numerous specimens of such directions.
Would we could give specimens of their chirography also! In connection,
however, with “dead-letters,” we annex the following superscriptions to
letters which contained money and drafts, and of course found their way
to the “dead-letter office:”—


   Bile. 677 Auen

   N.J. 34 S.A.

Is it likely that such a direction would carry a letter to Miss Jeannie?
or the following to its direction?—

   beckie if Hossee if H.
   grltne et persep Yell
   oone hundder 45

Neither town nor State, it will be perceived, is here given. We furnish

   Ap. Risen. Coolkill Kounty, near Genezene.

A letter was received in this city by John Smith (we will not give the
real name), containing a draft for three thousand dollars. The letter
simply stated, “Enclosed you will find a draft on T—— D——, Washington
City, for three thousand dollars, being a part of the proceeds of
property sold. The balance will be forwarded soon, &c.” Now, this John
Smith was anxiously awaiting the proceeds of a sale of property in
England, he being one of the heirs expectant, and had been previously
notified of the sale in question. As a matter of course, he imagined
this to be the first instalment, coming as it did from the very town
from which he expected it. The letter was simply directed to “John
Smith, Catharine Street, Southwark, Philadelphia.” The carrier on that
route, aware of Smith’s anxiety to hear about his property, delivered
the letter as directed, at least as near as it was possible without the
number of the house. Smith opened the letter in presence of the carrier,
and exclaimed, “It is all right, old fellow!” The draft was presented,
the money paid, and Smith went on his way rejoicing. By the time he had
spent one-third of the money, it was discovered that he was not _the_
John Smith. He returned the two thousand dollars, and the right party
was willing to await John Smith the Second’s remittance for his thousand
dollars. The cause of this could alone be attributed to the carelessness
of the remitting party in not giving the particulars or name of the
person from whom the legacy came. The names of the expectants being
exactly the same, and living on the same street, no other result could
be expected.

The following report of Postmaster Dennison (1865) furnishes an
epitomized view of the dead-letter department:—

“The number of dead-letters received, examined, and disposed of was
4,368,087,—an increase of 856,262 over the previous year.

“The number containing money and remailed to owners was 42,154, with
enclosures amounting to $244,373.97. Of these, 35,268, containing
$210,954.90, were delivered, leaving 6886 undelivered, with enclosures
to the value of $33,419.07. The number containing sums less than one
dollar was 16,709, amounting to $4647.23, of which 12,698, containing
$3577.62, were delivered to the writers.

“The number of registered letters and packages was 3966.

“The number of letters containing checks, bills of exchange, deeds, and
other papers of value was 15,304, with a nominal value of $3,329,888, of
which 13,746, containing $3,246,149, were delivered, leaving unclaimed
1558, of the value of $83,739.

“The number containing photographs, jewelry, and miscellaneous articles
was 69,902. Of these, 41,600 were delivered, and 28,302 remain for
disposal, or, being worthless, have been destroyed. The number of
valuable letters sent out was 107,979,—an increase of 38,792 over the
previous year.

“There were returned to public offices, including franked letters,

“The number containing stamps and articles of small value was 8289, and
of unpaid and misdirected letters, 166,215.

“The number of ordinary dead-letters returned to the writers was
1,188,599, and the number not delivered was 297,304, being about 23 per
cent. of the whole. Of those not delivered, less than 4 per cent. were
refused by the writers.

“The number of foreign letters returned was 167,449, and the number
received from foreign countries was 88,361.

“In the last report the attention of Congress was called to the
expediency of restoring prepaid letters to the owners free of postage.
The measure is again commended, with the additional suggestion that
letters be forwarded at the request of the party addressed from one
post-office to another without extra charge.

“The number of letters conveyed in the mails during 1865 is estimated at
467,591,600. Of these, 4,368,087 were returned to the
dead-letter-office, including 566,097 army and navy letters, the
non-delivery of which was not chargeable to the postal service, they
having passed beyond its control into the custody of the military and
naval authorities. Deducting 1,156,401 letters returned to writers or
held as valuable, the total number lost or destroyed was 2,352,424, or
one in every two hundred mailed for transmission and delivery. Fully
three-fourths of the letters returned as dead fail to reach the parties
addressed through faults of the writers, so that the actual losses from
irregularities of service and casualties, ordinary and incidental to the
war, did not exceed one in every eight hundred of the estimated number
intrusted to the mails.

“The returns of dead-letters from cities are largely in excess of
proportions based upon population. To them special efforts have been
directed to secure the most efficient service, and it is believed
improvements in operation, chiefly that of free delivery, will diminish
the number of undelivered letters at offices in densely-populated

“The number of applications for missing letters was 8664,—an increase of
3552 over the previous year. A misapprehension prevails in regarding the
dead-letter-office as a depository for the safe keeping of undelivered
letters, and not as the agent for their final disposal, to correct which
the regulations are appended.

“The amount deposited in the treasury under act of 3d of March last

   On account of sales of waste paper        $9,420 67
   Unclaimed dead-letter money                7,722 70
                                            $17,143 37

“Less than twenty-five per cent. of advertised letters are delivered. In
some of the larger offices the proportion does not exceed fifteen per
cent. The payment of two cents for each letter advertised involves a
yearly expenditure of about $60,000 for letters returned as dead to the
department. Measures have been adopted to reduce the expense, and the
advertising is now secured at one-half the rate allowed by law. An
obstacle to this economy is found in the law requiring the list of
letters to be published in newspapers of largest circulation, which
should be repealed, and the mode of advertising left to the discretion
of the postmaster-general.”

We have stated that imperfect direction is in nine cases out of ten the
cause of the miscarriage of letters. We would here suggest to the
department the propriety of having competent clerks to superintend this
office, so that the letters returned to the writers should not give the
same cause of complaint. Many of the clerks so employed make sad havoc
of this portion of postal literature, and exercise little or no judgment
in their direction of letters to the parties to whom they are returned,
or at least for whom they are intended. Name of street and number of
house are alike omitted, and thus a letter comes from the
dead-letter-office as difficult to decipher or make out as it was when
sent thither. Haste in that direction seems to be the chief cause of
this display of hieroglyphical knowledge.

In the subjoined extracts from a letter which appeared in the “Chicago
Journal” (1864) are some practical hints to letter-writers:—

“I have just seen a letter of three pages, and not a word in it,—the
work of a poor crazed soldier; not a character of any tongue in Babel,
but only a little child’s meaningless imitation of writing; and in that
letter were ninety dollars. It came here; the department discovered the
writer, his regiment, and death. The money waits. Letters sometimes have
most interesting histories. Thus, an officer here in Washington writing
a letter to his wife, who is in New York, simply signed it with his
given name, and carelessly subscribed it ‘Washington.’ The letter came
hither; and now who and where was the writer? In the body of the letter
was a chance allusion to some brigade: ‘upon this hint’ the department
played Othello and ’spake.’ The brigade was inquired after and of, was
found, and it answered: the writer was a major, and was dead. His wife
had removed from her old desolate home, but she was discovered, and the
money placed in her hand as if by the hand of the dead.

“_Every_ letter, no matter what trifles are in it, should begin with the
post-office, State, and poor terrestrial date, day, month, and year. It
is all very fine to write from ‘Clover Lawn,’ or ‘Willow-Tree,’ or
‘Sweet Home,’ and date it ‘Sunday Eve,’ ‘Birthday,’ or ‘Moonshine;’ but
suppose the post-mark is dim, and the letter gets into this marble
cemetery, what then? And then as to the superscription. By the present
fashion we have first the name, life-size, and, if the sex will possibly
allow it, Esquired; then the post-office; last and least, and tucked in
a corner like a naughty boy, the State.

“Now, is not this reversing the order of things,—cribbing the greater
and magnifying the less? People, I presume, will not be persuaded to
change their mode of address, letters dead or alive; but how would it do
to direct a letter thus?—

   ‘MASSACHUSETTS, _Boston_,
   ‘DR. O. W. HOLMES.’

“The little traveller would be sure to get into the right State at the
first dash, make straight for the post-office, and finding the funny
doctor would be an easy business.”

The large number of letters written by persons in the military service
of the United States, whose locality could not be ascertained,
contributed very considerably to the increase of “dead-letters.” But the
great proportion of ordinary dead-letters which were returned was
decidedly those of the careless order. Many were not even signed, and
others so imperfectly directed that it was totally impossible to
decipher even the name or residence of the writer. Time after time have
postmasters called public attention to this state of things, and,
strange as the fact may appear, this very timely (as it was supposed)
suggestion had the contrary effect: _the number of ill-spelt and
ill-directed letters increased!_


Among the “mail-matters” which had accumulated at the dead-letter-office
in Washington since 1848, and which were sold to the highest bidder on
the 6th of December, 1859, were the following articles:—coats, hats,
socks, drawers, gloves, scarfs, suspenders, patent inhaling-tubes, gold
pens, pencils, ladies’ slippers _half worn_, all kinds of jewelry,
undersleeves, fans, handkerchiefs, box of dissecting-instruments,
pocket-Bibles, religious books, others not quite so acceptable to the
moral portion of the community, shirts, bed-quilts, boots, spurs, gaffs
for game-fowls, shawls, gaiters, tobacco, razors, &c. &c.


Advertised letters, uncalled for and sent to the dead-letter-office,
cost the government annually over $60,000! This is a _dead_ loss, as,
from the very nature of the superscription and imperfect direction, such
letters have no more chance of reaching their places of destination than
a sinner has of going to heaven.


Devices employed for the public good, if predicated on the principles
that maintain _all men dishonest_ and are themselves deceptive, both in
theory and practice, cannot be considered either honorable or
complimentary to our public men. The system, more particularly in its
connection with the postal department, originated, we are inclined to
think, from some suspicious postmaster or his chief clerk, and thus was
established a plan to test the employees, alike unjust and questionable
in equity. It is said that these decoy-letters can never injure honest
men. Are we to understand from this that men of questionable character
and thieving proclivities are employed by the government? Is it
customary to appoint rogues to office, and, after appointing them, lay
traps for their detection? If this is the fact, then may we well
exclaim, with Cowley,—

“Man is to man all kinds of beasts,—a fawning dog, a roaring lion, a
thieving fox, a robbing wolf, a dissembling crocodile, a treacherous
_decoy_, a rapacious vulture.”

Once establish the decoy system as a general one, extending it to all
branches of the government, trade, and commerce, introduce it into
stores and factories, and we shall soon have the flag of suspicion
waving over that of the Stars and Stripes: we will constitute ourselves
a nation of rogues, and become in the eyes of the world a huge “DECOY
DUCK,” instead of the proud heretofore emblem of our country, the
glorious Eagle!

We care very little about the opinion of Judge Betts, who on one
occasion maintained the principle in a very _learned speech_, which when
summed up amounted simply to this, that all men are rogues and require
watching,—in fact, in morals as well as honesty they are _lame ducks_,
and a _decoy_ is necessary to watch their actions. The learned judge

“I am persuaded that letters would rarely be intercepted in their
transmission by post if every person concerned in mailing or carrying
them could be impressed with the idea that each package enclosing
valuables may be but a bait seeking to detect whoever may be dishonest
enough to molest, and to become a swift witness for his conviction and

If this is logic, it lacks one important principle in theory to
establish its practical application, and that is, _common sense_. We
consider the decoy system, at least as a national means to detect
rogues, beneath the dignity and character of the nation. Reason and
philosophy teach us that God never puts evil into our hearts, or stirs
it up there by any positive influence. A man is tempted by his own lust,
and enticed into sin by the influence, acts, and example of wicked men.
“Lead us not into temptation,” is one of those wise and holy lessons
which the Saviour of the world instructed his disciples to pray for, so
as they might carry it out in their holy mission, strengthened by the
Divine blessing resting upon it. Men, however, are not unfrequently
placed in situations “as have a tendency,” says Scott, “to give our
inward corruptions and the temptations of Satan and his agents peculiar
advantage against us.”

Is it, therefore, to be wondered at that a government like ours should
assume a Satanic form, and employ agents for the express purpose of
leading men into temptation? We consider the “decoy-letter” system
exactly a case in point. It may not be uninteresting to some of our
readers to give the origin of this ridiculous and equally _sinful_
manner of testing men’s honesty.

As might be supposed, it never could have originated in an enlightened
nation, and yet enlightened nations indorse its antiquity of folly. We
trace it to China and as far back as the dimness of its history can
carry us. It may surprise some to hear the term unenlightened applied to
China, the land of classic works, and the richest and most important in
all Asia. Philosophers have made the works called “Kings” the basis of
their labors in morality and politics. History has always received the
attention of the Chinese, and their annals form the most complete series
extant in any language. Poetry, the drama, and romantic prose fictions
are among the productions of the Chinese _literati_,—“_Literæ
inhumaniores_” meaning learning rather of an inhuman or barbarous

The Chinese were in possession of three of the most important inventions
or discoveries of modern times long before they were known to the
nations of the world, besides which they were the inventors of two
remarkable manufactures,—silk and porcelain. The art of printing was
practised at least as early as the tenth century; but the use of movable
types instead of blocks seems never to have occurred to this ingenious
people. The knowledge of gunpowder among them dates at a very early
period; but the application of its use to fire-arms they learned from
the Europeans. Finally, the peculiar directive properties of the
loadstone were applied to purposes of navigation by the Chinese several
centuries before they were employed in Europe.

We have given a sketch of the arts and sciences of China, but it would
be totally impossible to give the reader any thing like an idea of the
character and morals of its inhabitants. When China was first explored
by European travellers it was believed to be a nation that had alone
found out the true secret of government, where the virtues were
developed by the operation of the laws: indeed, judging from what they
had read, an almost perfect people was expected to greet their sight.
Alas! how is history falsified! Few nations, it is now agreed, have so
little honor or feeling, or so much duplicity, cunning, and mendacity.
Their affected gravity is as far from wisdom as their ceremonies are
from politeness.

The government of China is one of fear; and it has produced the usual
effects,—duplicity and meanness. Suspicion is one of their leading
features, and thus every man is not only suspected of being a rogue, but
in reality every one is a rogue. Expert thieving is considered an art,
yet if discovered is punished. The merchants cheat each other by rule:
hence it is not strange that the DECOY SYSTEM should have originated in
that country.

Laws were enacted to punish those who laid the decoy, as well as those
who fell into the trap. These punishments consisted of the bastinado,
the pillory, banishment, hard labor, death. These two first are almost
constantly in use: indeed, the merchant who is bastinadoed for leading
his clerk into crime by the “decoy means,” as well as the clerk himself,
looks upon it as a “paternal correction,” and thanks the judge for the
care bestowed upon his morals. And yet although this system was
practised some three thousand years ago, it is still followed and, of
course, still punished.

Even in Jewish history we have instances of this system being pursued.
See 1 Kings xiii.

It was also extensively practised in France during the rebellion.
Mechanics and others who followed labor for maintenance were subjected
to these “decoys,” which presented themselves in various shapes. An old
lady residing in this city told the author that her husband found a
doubloon on his work-table, placed there by a nobleman in whose house he
was fitting up tapestry. Indignant at the insult offered a Frenchman and
a citizen, he nailed the coin to the table, from which not without great
difficulty the tempter could remove it.

Is it, we ask, consistent with our form of government and the national
character of the people that this relic of barbarism, like that of
slavery, should be permitted to exist or be practised by its chief

Detectives only should adopt the system to aid them in their search _for
a criminal_, but an agent detective has no right to set a decoy to test
the honesty of men upon whom, even before and after his appointment, no
suspicion rested. We again pronounce it mean and contemptible.


Special Agents.

    “The special agents are the eyes and hands of the department
    to detect and arrest violators of the law, and to render the
    mails a safe and rapid means of communication. In their
    selection I have endeavored to secure the qualities of
    integrity, sagacity, and efficiency.”—_Report of
    Postmaster-General Montgomery Blair, June 30, 1861._

In England “special agents” are considered among the most important
adjuncts of the post-office department. In this country they are equally
important, and hold the most responsible positions in the general
arrangement and organization of its managerial system.

It was under the administration of Amos Kendall, whose devotion to the
interests of the office forms one of the most interesting features of
our postal history, that the special-agent system was introduced. As Mr.
Blair observes, in the passage quoted above, “special agents are
selected for their integrity, sagacity, and efficiency:” it required
more than mere political influence for an applicant to obtain an
appointment, simply from the fact that _party_ studies its own interest
first and leaves the consequence of its intrigues to time and
opportunity. But the postal department, aware of the sort of material
which generally makes up the political elements of party, very wisely
made the selection of special agents a matter of more serious
consideration. And yet we are fearful that even this department will, if
it has not already, become one of the links which bind and connect it
with the spirit of party and to the chain of its political power. As
far, however, as we are able to judge of the character of those who now
fill these offices, the _upas power_ of _party_ has not been exercised
to any great extent in procuring their appointments. We do not imply
that from the political ranks there cannot be found men in every respect
calculated to fulfil any office in the postal department, but we do mean
to say that in numerous cases men are selected not for their ability to
perform the duties intrusted to them, but for a blustering, roystering
reputation they had gained in their respective wards. Every failure in
our state department, the want of energy, the lack of intelligence, the
confusion attendant on improper amusements, can invariably be traced to
these improper political appointments.

Special agents, apart from those qualities alluded to by Mr. Blair,
should be men of intelligence and character, and possess an intuitive
knowledge of physiognomy, phrenology, philosophy, or the ancient
Moshical, or, rather, the Mosaical, so as to be able at a glance to read
men and become acquainted with their “inward dispositions and with the
faculties of their souls,” and be enabled to say, with Mr. Evelyn, who
studied the science, “that man is all dissimulation.” But we contend
that there are men who, having made the subject of detection a study,
not by examining the features or watching the actions of others, but by
analytical observations, are alone capable of fulfilling these

The system of ferreting out losses, or, rather, its process, is a
science, and one that to succeed must be closely studied.

Science is knowledge, art, power, and skill in the use of such
knowledge: if it be directed to one particular object, exercising
caution in such connection, the result will inevitably be favorable.

The duties of a special agent are such that these qualifications are
essential to success. And we may say that in the selection of men—men
who now hold these positions—the postal department has not been governed
by petty political influence, but on the principle involved in our
popular maxim, “_The right man in the right place_.”

The duties of a special agent are, in a measure, “secrets of the
office,” and his movements are generally so quiet that few persons in
and out of the office have the least idea what those duties are: hence
the mystery in which all his operations seem involved. Perhaps it would
not be proper, or, at least, so far as the interest of the department is
concerned, for us to explain the exact position these special agents
hold. They have a wide range of duties, which, however, it is not
necessary to particularize and, as stated, explain, except so far as
either of them may have a bearing upon the object of this work. All
losses of valuable letters or depredations on the mails are submitted to
them for investigation. The particular means to be used in discovering
the exact locality of a theft from the mails or in ferreting out and
arresting the perpetrators, are left entirely to their intelligence,
vigilance, and ingenuity. It is natural that a special agent should
become reserved, unobtrusive, quiet in all his actions, no hurry or
bustle, ever cautious, so that he may be enabled to make discoveries
without leading to suspicion and alarming the guilty. Indeed, such an
effect on a man’s natural temperament would be the consequence of his
peculiar business. His means, however, depend upon his observation: he
first learns the amount of loss, the nature of the theft, the character
of the money, and the line of postal communications between the sender
and the expectant recipient. These are his ground-works, upon which he
erects his superstructure, theoretical and practical, for the detection
of the criminal.

Were we to give our readers some account of these discovered thefts,
romance would lose half its charms of enchantment, truth being more
powerful and impressive than fiction. To do this would be to betray the
secrets of the office and to stimulate the rogues to form new plans of
avoiding detection, as well as in their system of thieving.

These agents, as we have observed, keep themselves aloof from the
general business of the office, and not unfrequently mystify those with
whom they occasionally come in contact. They are not the tempters of the
clerks by _meaningly_ employing the decoy-letter practice, but the
silent workers of justice in pursuit of the guilty: hence the honest
employees of the office can boldly say with Macbeth,—

   “Thou canst not say I did it; never shake
   Thy gory locks at me.”

or with Hamlet,—

   “Let the galled jade wince,
   Our withers are unwrung.”


1. He should have a thorough knowledge of the laws and regulations of
the department.

2. Apart from his special duties, he is to report and make known to the
department any unnecessary expenditure on the part of those who have
control of the mails, and at the same time report where there is any
deficiency of agents, &c.

3. He is intrusted with keys to the several mail-locks in use, and is,
by virtue of his commission, authorized to open and examine the mails
whenever and wherever.

4. He is also empowered to enter and examine any post-office which, in
his judgment, may lead to the success of his investigations.

5. He should, when travelling, attract as little attention as possible,
and conceal his official character from observation as much as

6. He must make himself acquainted with mail-routes, and their
connection with the office of a special agent.

It is not possible for the department to instruct an agent in the
particular means to be employed in discovering the exact locality of an
ascertained robbery of the mail, or in ferreting out and arresting the
perpetrators. These must be as various as the circumstances which
surround each case, and he must exercise his own ingenuity and acuteness
to effect his purpose.

We have, probably, furnished our readers with sufficient information
upon this peculiar branch of the postal department. A writer speaking
upon this subject says,—

“From the nature of their employment, special agents are constantly
brought in contact with the most intelligent and prominent men in the
community, who justly expect to find the post-office department
represented by men of gentlemanly bearing, fair education, correct
deportment, and sound discretion. The absence of any of these qualities,
especially of all of them, would lower the standing of the department
with those whose good opinion is most valuable, and would naturally
cause speculations on the reasons why persons so deficient in the
qualities necessary to make them acceptable to people of discernment
should have been appointed to such a responsible post.”


Since the introduction of the free-delivery letter system the position
of a carrier has become one of considerable importance, from the fact of
his duties being not only doubled, but the amount of responsibility
considerably increased. At first there was considerable opposition in
some places to having carriers at all; and even in large cities
postmasters opposed it, as a general thing. Mr. C. A. Walborn,
postmaster of Philadelphia, was among the first to favor the abolishing
the one-cent system, and the making four trips a day, instead of two, as
heretofore. It is true, this added materially to the labor of a carrier,
but by lessening the routes it was soon found as practicable as it was
beneficial to the community. Perhaps no city in the Union can boast of a
better-organized system of the carriers’ department than that of
Philadelphia. Gradually, as merchants became aware of the facilities it
afforded them, and the energetic movements and attention shown by the
carriers to their interest, and of letters being delivered free of
charge, they hailed the system as an important era in the postal
department. In all large cities and populous towns the system became
general, and four deliveries of a letter a day added materially to the
confidence it had inspired.

In view of the importance attached to this department,
Postmaster-General Montgomery Blair appointed Joseph W. Briggs, Esq., of
Cleveland, Ohio, “special agent” to superintend the operations of the
letter-carriers’ department throughout the United States. Mr. Briggs in
every respect was qualified for the position. His acquaintance with
postal matters, and the interest he took in the general delivery of
letters, well qualified him to undertake the important duty. We met Mr.
Briggs in the Philadelphia post-office, September, 1865, while on his
postal tour; and it afforded us an opportunity of exchanging opinions
upon the subject of the carriers’ system, in which he expressed himself
in terms of one who had studied it with an eye to the interest both of
the carriers and that of the department.

Apart from his special duties in large cities, he was authorized by the
department to establish the system in all places requiring it: hence in
a short time the having letters brought to our very doors, even in the
rural districts, will become general.

Mr. Briggs goes into the philosophy of the subject: he calculates first
the amount of labor a carrier has to perform in the office; secondly,
the amount of physical labor required in the performance of his duty as
a carrier of letters. Thus the mental and physical are properly inquired
into, and their respective duties classified. The result of the latter,
as calculated by Mr. Briggs, is as follows:—One hundred and twenty-eight
carriers of the Philadelphia office travel daily 2652 miles,—being an
average of over twenty-two miles per day each man. _This is no

Apart from this statement, the author of this work called the attention
of the agent to an additional item in this calculation; and that was the
travelling up several pair of stairs, passing through long corridors and
galleries of large public and other buildings, to deliver letters to the
several occupants, would make up an additional mile or two to the above
statistic of figures. Perhaps one good result will arise from the report
which Mr. Briggs has made to the department; and that will be to
increase the number of carriers, and add some twenty-five per cent. to
their salaries.


In the months of April and May, 1861, a large number of registered
letters from points in the State of New York, passing through the New
York and Philadelphia offices to Egg Harbor City and other places in
that section of New Jersey, failed to reach their destination. Before
Mr. C. A. Walborn took charge of the office at Philadelphia, the
attention of special agent Mr. S. B. Row had been drawn to these losses
by the late lamented Mr. James Holbrook, who was the oldest special
agent in the employ of the post-office department. In June, Mr. Row went
to New York City, and had a consultation with Mr. Holbrook; and,
although they differed in opinion as to the precise locality where the
trouble probably existed, it was determined to put through some
_decoy-letters_. One of these letters “turned up missing,” but, for
reasons not necessary to repeat here, nothing was said about it then,
but Mr. Row was perfectly satisfied that the abstraction of letters took
place in the Philadelphia post-office; and, after an interview with one
of the clerks whom he had taken into his confidence, suspicions were
directed to Franklin M. Reed. Reed was an old post-office clerk, who,
with an intermission of perhaps twelve months, had been in the office
for twenty odd years. Efforts were frequently made to “trap” Reed, but
none of them succeeded, until, on the evening of the 8th of August, a
“decoy” was jointly prepared by Mr. Row and Mr. William M. Ireland, the
present chief clerk (1865) of the Philadelphia post-office.

This decoy had all the appearance of a regular registered letter from
New York, and was addressed to an imaginary Mrs. Green, at Atlantic
City, from her devoted husband, who enclosed her two dollars to relieve
her present wants, and promising to visit her at the end of the week.
This letter was, at a favorable moment, slipped into the New York
package, which Reed was then about “casing up.” Next morning Mr. Ireland
examined the Atlantic City mail, and found that the letter for the
_imaginary_ Mrs. Green was missing. At 7 A.M. Mr. Reed quit work. A
short time previous, Mr. Row had seen Mr. Ireland, who was acting under
the instructions of the former, and, on learning the condition of
affairs, it was determined to wait for Mr. Reed at the corner of Third
and Carter’s Streets, when he should make his appearance there on
leaving the office. Soon Reed came out, when he was accosted by the
special agent, who informed him that he required about five minutes of
his time in the postmaster’s private room. On his way there, Reed drew
out his watch several times; but he was too closely watched to admit of
his dropping any thing on his way back. On entering the room, Mr. Row
told him that a certain letter was missing, and that, as it had last
been in his hands, it became his painful duty to search him. Reed
quietly submitted; and in his watch-fob was found the money which had
been enclosed in the Green letter.

Reed was taken before United States Commissioner Hazlitt, and, after a
hearing, was committed to prison in default of $3000 bail. On the 20th
of August the United States District Court convened, and the grand jury
found a true bill on the indictment. On the 27th Reed was tried, and the
jury rendered a verdict of “guilty.” Reed was sentenced to ten years’
imprisonment in the Eastern Penitentiary of Pennsylvania.


Some time in the year 1860, a man by the name of Pardon Barrett made his
appearance at Jackson Corners, Susquehanna county, Pennsylvania. He was
a shoemaker by trade, and opened a shop for business. He had no family,
kept bachelor’s hall, and associated very little with men, simply
confining himself to business relations with them. He, however, seemed
to take pleasure in the company of boys, and, by insinuating himself
into their good graces, soon succeeded in making his domicile a sort of
rendezvous, or place of meeting, for a select few, upon whom he seemed
to have some special design. In the winter of 1862-63, Barrett’s shop
became a sort of _pleasure-place_ for these youngsters,—pleasure to eat
oyster-suppers, play cards and dice, until he obtained an influence over
them that their parents could never have obtained either for good or

Were we writing an essay on juvenile depravity, one of the strongest
arguments used would be that of parents losing sight of the vacant hours
of their children. Associations formed at these times have not
unfrequently laid the foundation of their ruin. This will be illustrated
as we proceed.

Among the lads who visited Barrett was Henry W. Fletcher, a bright,
intelligent boy of thirteen years: he was the son of the village
postmaster. Barrett seemed to have a more than ordinary fondness for
this boy,—associated and talked with him wherever and whenever he met
him. It was for the purpose of cementing this friendship still closer,
and strengthening the influence he was gradually obtaining over him,
that the oyster-suppers and card-playing were inaugurated. No one would
have taken such pains with young Fletcher, mastering his timidity,
establishing a friendship, and ministering to his youthful pleasures, if
he had not something in view,—some purpose, some object. Those who have
read Oliver Twist cannot have forgotten the character of “Old Fagin,”
and how he gathered around him a number of boys and taught them the art
and mystery of stealing. Barrett, no doubt, had read Oliver Twist, and,
as we shall see, imitated his plan and followed his example in preparing
boys for the gallows.

On the occasion of one of the oyster-parties, Barrett suggested to young
Fletcher that, as our soldiers were sending money home, he might, if he
were sharp, get some of it. Fletcher started: he could not at first
comprehend how, _honestly_, he could hold the soldiers’ money. “Easy
enough,” remarked Barrett; “by taking the letters out of the
post-office.” An associate of Barrett’s, and perhaps the only one he
had, was present. For reasons not necessary to give here, we conceal his
name. This man urged the boy also to commit this serious offence of
robbing the post-office, but stated, as if he possessed the power,
“that he would see him out of the scrape if he was detected.” The
imagination of the boy was excited by the programme laid out by these
villains,—how they would take him with them to Buffalo, then across the
lake into Canada, “where,” as Barrett remarked, “nobody could find
them.” Then they would proceed to the Western States, seek a wild,
retired place in the forest, build a hut, and pass their time in
hunting, fishing, and other wild-wood sports. To a lad naturally
sprightly, romantic, and possessing more than ordinary intelligence,
such a prospect was quite fascinating. All arch-villains, whenever they
want tools to work with, invariably excite the imagination, which
oversteps the bounds of discretion, and carries the victim on to his
ruin. When Aaron Burr planned his great scheme of revolutionizing the
South, and, no doubt, with an eye to the subjugation of the North, he
selected out a wild enthusiast, one Herman Blennerhassett, for a sort of
leader. Blennerhassett was an adventurer, romantic and chivalric: he
lived on an island of the Ohio River, still retaining his name. Here he
built a splendid mansion, and possessing, it is said, great wealth, he
expended vast sums of money in decorating both the mansion and the
island. The ruins of the former are still to be seen.[51] Like the man
Barrett, Aaron Burr and Blennerhassett enticed to their island a number
of young men, whose imaginations became excited by the descriptive
scenes given them by these arch-traitors of Mexico and the
South,—gardens of beauty and Golconda’s of wealth. High commissions were
promised them; but the bubble burst, their plans were detected, the
parties arrested and tried for high treason.

Barrett pictured to young Fletcher the wild sports of the far West,
and how they would enjoy themselves when once settled in some vast
wilderness. Three months, however, elapsed before young Fletcher
consented, and it was in the early part of May, while his father, the
postmaster, was absent at New York, that he commenced operations. The
first step he made in his career of crime yielded twenty dollars. When
this was shown to Barrett, he remarked, with a friendly smile, “Good!
you have made a fine beginning; keep it going, and the wild-wood sports
will soon be our pastime.”

Fletcher, now that his hand was in, did keep it going, and in three
weeks the fund was increased to two hundred and twenty-five dollars.
Barrett had given him certain instructions, which he strictly followed:
these were, not to take more than one package of letters at a time, and
then only such as were passing through the office; nor was he to take
any belonging to the Jackson office; also, he was to take no letters
unless they had Washington City post-mark on them. The understanding
between them was that Fletcher was to retain all the money until their
final departure; then it was to be divided among them, or a treasurer
appointed until they reached their wild-wood destination. Fletcher kept
the money hid away, as Barrett told him it was dangerous to carry it
about him. On several occasions, however, he tried to get money out of
Fletcher, but the latter invariably refused to advance a cent, holding
the former to the bond, which was not to use any of the money until
their general meeting previous to their departure West. It seems,
however, that about this time the losses were being looked to by the
post-office department, and, for reasons which are foreign to the matter
in hand, young Fletcher exhibited a more liberal spirit to a boy named
Brownson than he did to Barrett, by furnishing him with forty dollars to
enable him to run away from home. It was not a very difficult matter on
the part of the department to trace the robbery as soon as the money
from letters was missing. Once on the _railroad_ of suspicion, the
detective soon reached the _depot_,—the scene of theft.

The boy Fletcher was at first supposed to be the only person concerned
in the affair; but the investigation developed the facts above stated,
and Barrett, who had suddenly left for New York, was arrested at Genesee
on the 9th of June. On the 16th he was taken to Williamsport,
Pennsylvania, where the United States District Court was held; on the
17th he was put on trial; on the 18th found guilty; and on the 20th he
was lodged in the Western Penitentiary at Alleghany City, Pennsylvania,
the court having sentenced him to three years’ imprisonment. Barrett’s
age was fifty-six, which influenced the court in shortening the term of

The principal witness against Barrett was young Fletcher. A large number
of letters was found at a place designated by him. One hundred and sixty
dollars and other mailable matter were found where he said they were
concealed. The most important item of testimony, however, was that which
related to a silver half-dollar, which Fletcher alleged he had taken out
of a letter, and which he had sold to Barrett for sixty cents in
currency. It was ascertained that a drafted man, on leaving for the
army, had taken inadvertently with him a half-dollar belonging to his
little son. At the time the tampering was going on with letters at the
post-office, he had enclosed a half-dollar in a letter to his wife to
replace the one he had taken away with him. This letter had to pass
through the Jackson office, but it never reached its destination.
Doubtless this was the one out of which Fletcher got the half-dollar
sold to Barrett. It is a curious fact in the history of criminals that
their detection, in nine cases out of ten, is caused by some very
trifling incident connected with the operations. So it was in this case.

The 126th section of the act of Congress of March 3, 1825, makes the
opening, embezzling, or destroying of mail-letters or packages
containing articles of value an offence punishable with imprisonment not
less than two, nor more than ten, years. The 129th section of the same
act provides “That every person who, from and after the passage of this
act, shall procure and advise, or assist, in the doing or perpetration
of any of the acts or crimes by this act forbidden, shall be subject to
the same penalties and punishments as the persons are subject to who
shall actually do or perpetrate any of the said acts or crimes,
according to the provisions of this act.” It was under this clause
Barrett was convicted, and it is, perhaps, the only case of the kind on

This interesting case—and were all the details given it would prove
highly so—came under the official management of S. B. Row, Esq., special
agent of the post-office department for the State of Pennsylvania. The
moment the first intimation was received of the mails being tampered
with, he fixed upon his starting-point, and, with a sure eye to the end,
he pursued his course until he arrived at Jackson, and by a little
stratagem the whole plot was discovered. He traced it from the first
step young Fletcher made into crime, after receiving his lesson from
Barrett, up to the loss of the silver half-dollar. The case, if fairly
written out, with all the details, would make an invaluable paper for
some Sunday-school tract-publishing institution. It is, indeed, a lesson
for youth.


Crime in high places has of late become fashionable; law itself has
become aristocratic, and maintains its character for partiality by
shielding aristocratical rascals beneath its wings. Justice is no
longer blind,—at least, one of its eyes is open,—and the distinguishing
marks on a greenback, denoting its value, are readily discerned by the
goddess. The poor wretch who steals a loaf of bread to save his children
from starvation invariably gets on the blind side of Justice, and, of
course, the sense of hearing, and not of seeing, is exercised in his
case. Bacon, in his Essay of Judicature, says, “The place of justice is
an hallowed place, and, therefore, not only the bench, but the
foot-pace, and precincts, and purprise thereof, ought to be preserved
without scandal and corruption.” The fate of the bread-snatcher is an
evidence that the precincts of justice and the foot-pace to its throne
must be paved with gold, or his chance, or that of any other poor man,
from escape is totally impossible. The man who steals a loaf of bread
commits a crime: he should be punished: so should the man who swindles
the government, robs the widow, commits forgery, nay, even murder, but
whose wealth paves the way for his acquittal. (_See records of our

In the following case it will be observed that the postal department,
having some knowledge of the manner business is conducted in our courts,
took the matter into its own hand, the chief clerk acting as _detective,
judge, and jury_, and who settled the case in a manner, without loss of
time or money, highly satisfactory to all, save the guilty party, who,
shortly after the scene we are about to describe, was compelled to quit
the city and left for parts unknown.

The gentleman(?) who is the hero of the narrative—for he was recognized
as a gentleman in society—had been in the frequent receipt, by mail, of
remittances in large and small sums. Not long since he made his
appearance at the desk of the chief clerk in the post-office, and
alleged that he had just taken from his box a letter from which a draft
on a city bank for about one hundred dollars had been fraudulently
abstracted, and, as the point from which the letter had been mailed was
but a short distance from Philadelphia, he was confident that the draft
had been abstracted by some one in the post-office here. This imputation
on the character of the office nettled the chief clerk, and that
functionary determined to sift the matter to the bottom and ferret out
the criminal, if such there was. He made the necessary inquiries as to
the day the letter was due here, closely cross-examined the clerks, and,
after a diligent investigation, proceeded to the bank on which the draft
was drawn. He found that _it had been paid_, and bore the indorsement,
or seeming indorsement, of the loser. He borrowed the draft and brought
it to the office. On comparing the apparently-forged signature of the
loser on the back of the document with the handwriting of a certain
night-clerk, a remarkable resemblance was discovered. Several experts
were called in, and declared that the handwriting of the clerk and the
chirography of the “forger” were one and the same. A clerk in the bank
was privately shown the suspected clerk, and he identified him as the
man _to whom the money had been paid_! The network seemed to be closing
around the poor night-clerk, and it was determined that he should be
arrested. The chief clerk, jubilant at his discovery, sent for the
merchant who said he had lost the draft. While the chief clerk and the
merchant were closeted in the postmaster’s private office, and the
former was detailing his success to the merchant, he observed, as he
proceeded with the recital, that the merchant began to wear a livid hue;
his countenance assumed a pallid aspect, in which a guilty conscience
seemed to come to the surface to horrify and disgust the beholder.
Trembling lips, too, were seen, and, as the truth in all its damning
meanness flashed across the mind of the chief clerk, he at once boldly
charged the merchant with having written his own signature _in a
feigned hand_, so as to secure the spoils of his own guilt and ruin an
innocent man. The guilty, miserable creature, overwhelmed with
confusion, confessed his guilt and implored mercy. He acknowledged his
criminality in the whole transaction,—a transaction which was about to
stain forever the reputation of an honest, hard-working man, whose only
capital was his skill as a scrivener and his integrity in his clerical
position. The chief clerk, determined that the reputation of the
night-clerk should be vindicated, threatened to have the guilty merchant
exposed and punished unless he proceeded to a magistrate at once and
made an affidavit confessing the crime in all its details. The merchant
humiliated himself by signing and swearing to the odious confession, and
the matter there rested.


Many persons are in the habit of addressing letters and circulars for
firms and individuals, simply, “Philadelphia,” “New York,” &c. This
practice not unfrequently occasions delay in such letters reaching their
rightful owners. In all cases, however well the firm may be known, it is
most essential, to insure their correct delivery, that the street or
locality in which they reside, and the number of the house, should form
a portion of the address. Many of these circulars are prepared with
great care and considerable expense: yet they are so carelessly directed
that not more than one-half of them ever reach their place of
destination, simply because that place is not designated.

There is another matter to which we would call the attention of
merchants and others, and that is, to be very careful in putting postal
currency on their letters, and not revenue-stamps.

This carelessness on the part of those forwarding letters has led to
much loss and inconvenience, and if persisted in they cannot blame the
department, which has from time to time called public attention to the
fact. Some put on their letters revenue-stamps, others no stamp at all;
and in many instances letters of importance have thus lain in the office
until the parties have received through the dead-letter office
information of their whereabouts.


“Letters attempted to be sent with stamps previously used or stamps cut
from stamped envelopes.

“Unpaid letters for foreign countries, on which prepayment is required
by the regulations.

“Letters not addressed, or so badly addressed that their destination
cannot be known.

“Letters misdirected to places where there are no post-offices.”

It will be here seen that the government is not responsible for the
ignorance and stupidity of all epistolarians.

In some instances, however, postmasters are to blame in not paying more
attention to the mode of stamping letters.

The examination of dead-letters discloses much carelessness on the part
of postmasters in post-marking letters, and also in cancelling

The latter clause of the regulations of 1859, section 397, is repealed,
and the use of the office-rating or post-marking stamp as a cancelling
instrument is positively prohibited, inasmuch as the post-mark, when
impressed on the postage-stamp, is usually indistinct, and the
cancellation effected thereby is imperfect. The postage-stamp must,
therefore, be effectually cancelled with a separate instrument.

Special attention is directed to the duty imposed upon postmasters by
Regulation 396, which is as follows:—

“If the cancelling has been omitted on the mailing of the letter,
packet, or parcel, or if the cancellation be incomplete, the postmaster
at the office of delivery will cancel the stamp in the manner directed,
and forthwith report the delinquent postmaster to the
postmaster-general, as the law requires.”


We have under other heads alluded to the carelessness of persons in
addressing their letters. To make them legible and complete, give the
name of the post-town, and if there be more than one town of that name,
or if the post-town is not well known, be careful in giving the name of
the county, which in all cases is as essential as that of the State. The
number of the house, too, if in a street, is a great assistance. It must
not be supposed that because a letter will eventually reach its
destination without a number, the omission is not a cause of hesitation
and delay in the process of sorting for delivery; and when such small
delays occur again and again, they tend greatly to retard the general
distribution. In the case of letters for places abroad, the name of the
_country_, as well as the town or city, should be given in full.
Attention to this latter precaution will often assist in deciphering the
name of the town or city, and will prevent the letter from being
mis-sent when there are towns of the same name in different countries.

The following is an expressive lesson:—

A gentleman posted a letter containing drafts, checks, &c., to a
well-known New York house. Its failure to arrive at the proper
destination, of course, created great anxiety, and all the ordinary and
some extraordinary means were employed to head off any attempt by the
“mail-robber” to negotiate the “stolen” remittances. Journeys were made
to and fro between the mailing point and the Empire City, the newspapers
were liberally patronized with notices of “stolen from the mail,”
circulars descriptive of the lost enclosure abounded,—all at an
aggregate expense, according to confession, of over one hundred dollars.

During this short season of precaution and excitement, the letter in
question had been making the official acquaintance of the worthy
postmaster of New Haven, Connecticut, and that of his clerks, then,
under the rule, skipping off to shake hands with our friends of the
dead-letter office, and from thence finding its way back to the writer,
who says he “never before did such a stupid thing as to write New Haven,
Ct., instead of New York, N.Y.”


It is only necessary to give this section of the postal law to show its
inconsistency and the necessity of its repeal (Section 131, Printed
Regulations, 1859):—

“_Bonâ fide_ subscribers to weekly newspapers can receive the same free
of postage, if they reside in the county in which the paper is printed
and published, even if the office to which the paper is sent is without
the county, provided it is the office at which they regularly receive
their mail-matter.”

In justice, however, to many publishers, who look upon the law as too
_liberal_, they disdain taking advantage of it.[52]


   Books not over 4 ounces in weight, to one address      4  cts.
     ”   over 4 ounces and not over 8 ounces              8   ”
     ”   over 8 ounces and not over 12 ounces            12   ”
     ”   over 12 ounces and not over 16 ounces           16   ”
   Circulars not exceeding three in number, to one
               address                                    2   ”
     ”       over three and not over six                  4   ”
     ”       over six and not over nine                   6   ”
     ”       over nine and not exceeding twelve           8   ”

Persons anxious to possess a general knowledge of the post-office laws,
rules, and regulations are referred to “Appleton’s United States Postal
Guide,” published quarterly, by the authority of the postmaster-general,
New York. It contains the chief regulations of the post-office, and a
complete list of post-offices throughout the United States, &c. The
following accompanies each number:—

   “WASHINGTON, D.C., ———, 1865.

    “This volume has been prepared with my sanction, and is an
    authorized medium of information between the post-office
    department and the public.



   “Gazettes sent gratis down and franked,
   For which thy patron’s weekly thanked.”

The question of the right to send and receive letters and packets
through the mail free of postage is not denied, for it is so expressly
stated in the “Laws and Regulations of the Post-Office Department,”
chap. xviii. sect. 228. It is viewed in the light of “personal
privileges,” or as an official trust for the maintenance of official
correspondence. In both its forms the right varies in respect to
different classes of officers and individuals, in the kind as well as
weight of matters which may be so sent or received. An interchange
between publishers of pamphlets, periodicals, magazines, and newspapers
of their respective publications is allowed for the purpose of promoting
the dissemination of this kind of information, of which they are the
vehicles. This is the head and front of the franking privilege, nothing
more, but should be considerably less.

“There are many other channels of knowledge, and of very important
knowledge, too, which are not privileged. Newspapers are daily or weekly
letters, written to a number of persons at once. They may be good or
bad, sound or vicious, as any other letters; and the intensity of their
action is increased by the multiplying process of printing. This action
may be good or bad: if, therefore, the community is believed to stand in
want of newspapers, as we certainly believe it does in a very great
variety of ways, it is already going very far to grant them the
privilege of a greatly-reduced rate of postage [1841].”[53]

Since the above was written, these rates have been reduced to almost a
nominal value. Indeed, we cannot see any reasonable objection to be made
for such exchange, both as regards the franking privilege and the
postage on exchange-newspapers. Patriotism on the part of those claiming
the right of the first would induce them to forego it, while those who
enjoy the latter should remember that, as they derive profit from their
labor, the government should not be the sufferer in consequence. Upon
this subject we consider the following article from the very able report
of Postmaster Joseph Holt in 1859 as containing the best and the most
forcible arguments that can be used to correct what we consider more in
the light of an error than that of an abuse. The press of our country
is too enlightened to persist in claiming a privilege that militates
against the financial interest of the government; and we feel assured
that, if the subject is properly brought before them, they will readily
conform to any law that may be established to correct the error or do
away with an abuse.

(From the Report of the Postmaster-General.)


“The act of 1825 authorized ‘every printer of newspapers to send one
paper to each and every other printer of newspapers within the United
States free of postage,’ and such is the existing law. However slight
the support which this statute may seem to give to publishers, it
imposes in the aggregate a heavy and unjust burden on the department.
The advantage thus conferred inures to the benefit alike of the
publisher who sends and of him who receives the paper in exchange. I
have in vain sought for any satisfactory explanation of the policy
indicated by this provision. It seems far more exceptionable than the
franking privilege, since the latter professes to be exercised on behalf
of the public, whereas the exemption secured by the former is enjoyed
wholly in advancement of a private and personal interest. The newspapers
received in exchange by the journalist are, in the parlance of commerce,
his stock in trade. From their columns he gathers materials for his own,
and thus makes the same business use of them that the merchant does of
his goods, or the mechanic of the raw material which he proposes to
manufacture into fabrics. But as the government transports nothing free
of charge to the farmer, the merchant, or the mechanic, to enable them
to prosecute successfully and economically their respective pursuits,
why shall it do so for the journalist? If the latter can rightfully
claim that his newspapers shall be thus delivered to him at the public
expense, why may he not also claim that his stationery and his type, and
indeed every thing which enters into the preparation of the sheets he
issues as his means of living, be delivered to him on the same terms? It
has been urged, I am aware, that postage on newspaper exchanges would be
a tax on the dissemination of knowledge; but so is the postage which the
farmer, merchant, and mechanic pay on the newspapers for which they
subscribe, a tax on the dissemination of knowledge, and yet it is paid
by them uncomplainingly. If it be insisted that the publishers of
newspapers, as a class, are in such a condition as to entitle them to
demand the aid of the public funds, it may be safely answered that such
an assumption is wholly unwarranted. Journalism in the United States
rests upon the broadest and deepest foundations, and is running a career
far more brilliant and prosperous than in any other nation of the world.
The exceedingly reduced rates at which its issues pass through the mails
secure to it advantages enjoyed under no other government. Under the
fostering care of the free spirit of the age, it has now become an
institution in itself in this country, and controls the tides of the
restless ocean of public opinion with almost resistless sway. It is the
_avant-courier_ of the genius of our institutions, and is everywhere the
advocate of progress and of the highest and noblest forms of human
freedom. Is it not, therefore, to the last degree unseemly, if not
worse, that in its own enterprises, and in furtherance of its own
pecuniary interests, it should claim permission to violate habitually a
great principle of which it is the constant advocate, and which
underlies our whole political system,—the principle of equal rights to
all and special privileges to none? If, however, from the grandeur and
beneficence of its mission, the press is to be excepted from the
operation of this wholesome democratic doctrine, and is to be
subsidized to the extent of its postages by the government, then
undeniably such subsidy should be contributed from the common treasury,
instead of being imposed, as at present, on the oppressed revenues of
the post-office department, which, under all circumstances, should be
maintained inviolate.

“Into the same category, but for more cogent reasons, must fall that
class of weekly newspapers which the statute of 1852 requires shall be
delivered free of postage to all subscribers residing within the limits
of the county in which they are published. This requisition is less
sound on the score of principle than even the discrimination in favor of
the press. There may be something in the characteristics of the
latter—ennobled as it is as the organ of the intellect and heart of
millions of freemen—which might induce many to grant to it special and
distinguishing immunities; but why a citizen who chances to reside on
one side of a county line shall be exempted from a postage on his
newspaper, which his neighbor on the other side of that line is obliged
to pay on the same paper, surpasses my comprehension.”


   To Nathaniel K. Latting this letter I write,
   With the hope that the contents his mind may delight.
   If it don’t make him good, it can’t do him evil,
   For it comes from a friend, and not from the d—l.
   In Mount Vernon village, New York State,
   He works for his daddy, both early and late.

   To Miss J. E. Peck this letter is sent,
   To be read by herself it only is meant.
   In “Sandy Hook,” Conn., she leads a gay life,
   Where Yankees make nutmegs and hams with a knife.

   P. M., this letter cannot wait,
   To Burlington County send it straight.
   To Jos. Wright this message give,
   Who in Medford, New Jersey, himself doth live;
   At least he did six months ago,
   And still does if the _draft_ or the _small-pox_ has not laid him low.
   If he is alive he will read this letter,
   And if he is dead so much the better.

   Over the plain and over the level,
   Carry this letter like the Devil;
   Let it not stop for flood or fire,
   Until it reaches Bill Crawl, Esquire.

   To Lexington, Sanilac Co.,
   Oh, swiftly, swiftly let me go,
   To cheer the heart, or cloud the brow,
   Of Mrs. Anna M. Monro.


   Mr. James Smith, Fort Wayne,
       Antwerp, Ohio, in care of William
           Herring, Cayuaga Co., N.Y.

   To Mrs. Jane Gleason send this away;
   Please send it off without delay
   To Ripleyville P. O., if it goes aright;
   She will surely get it on Thursday night,
   In Huron county, Ohio State:
   There she lives, or did of late.
   Send it in haste, it will give her joy,
   For she wants to hear from her soldier boy.

   To John Gillespiee
       Camp. Cade.
   Dell. A Ware.        Pa.

Meaning Camp Cadwalader.

         To Peter Smith
   1209 Cartridge St.
             3. Este. Av.
   near 3 Esher.

         Mr. Isaac Bakerson
   Cam. Cal. Walter
         Ner. Filladelphy
   R. 2 1 N. E.

   To Phil. Monitze
             n care of mister John dick
   filladelfy. Kensession. America.

   To My Mother—

Connected with this letter is the following incident: it fortunately
came to Philadelphia, and, of course, from its superscription was placed
apart to find its way to the dead-letter-office. One day a poor
Irishwoman came to the window and asked for a letter from her son,
giving no name. The simplicity of the question struck the clerk, and the
letter addressed “To My Mother” flashed upon his mind. He turned to the
case and selected the letter.

“Where does your son reside? what part of Ireland?”

“Belfast, sir.” Belfast was the post-mark.

“What is his name?”

“Patrick McLaughlan.”

“Open that letter,” handing her the one in question. She did so, and,
casting her eyes on the signature, exclaimed, “From my son! from my
boy!” Sure enough, there was the name,—Patrick McLaughlan.

The clerk gave her some instructions for future correspondence which
probably proved of advantage to her.

Somebody sent a newspaper through the mails the other day directed as
follows: “To Honest Father Abraham, God bless him, Washington, D. C.”

The following is a literal copy of the superscription of a registered
letter received from Ireland, written, strange as it may seem, in a
“clerkly hand”:—

   To this letter I pray attend
   To A lady Late of Ireland
   To the maiden’s name ascribe the thing
   To Late miss Eliza King
   To get success in your routes
   Take this to america or thereabouts.

   The Army is the tightest place
     I ever did get into,
   I cannot pay the freight on this,
     Although I really want to;
   I’ve “nary red,” but five months due—
     Don’t think it’s “on the level”—
   Postmaster, you may send this through,
     Or chuck it to the d—l.

To Patrick Larkin who moved to his brothers at Adamsville in haste to
the care of Bernard Larkin State of Penlyva.

   To Albert Walker, an awful talker,
   Who lives in Salina—you won’t find a meaner
   If you travel all day through the State of I-O-A.

   My fair is paid in postel rate,
   To Kingston Township, New York State,
   To Frederick Johnston, from a friend in Troy,
   ’Tis how are you, my conscript boy?

   To a Mr. Service this letter I write,
   And I’ll start across the plains to night;
   For the over-land mail is now running through
   Down the South Platte, and across the Big Blue,
   The Sioux, and the Cheyennes, have failed in their plan
   To stop the mail of Old Uncle Sam,
   And over the plains, I now can go straight,
   To the Old Quaker City, and the Keystone State.

   Across the river quickly send me,
   In doing so do not rend me,
   Take me to Gussie Wurderman,
   Carry me quick and do it well,
   Or Corney Walborn will catch——_rats!_

   To Sxl2 Thes. Johnes
       Haile Alley towne. Des.
     Unetede Stateese.

   _Deth, in hast._

We doubt if this letter ever reached its destination.

         It is somewhere along the Jersey shore
         Thirty miles belong long branch and more,
         For if this should fail to set you right
         Its about 28 miles above Barnegets light.

   To Miss ——————————————x.

   To Jno. Tripler
       Ridge avenue
               Deap Pot.
   Sleep Eaves

   To John Jones, a laboring man
     This letter must go if e’er so lucky
   He shoes can make, and leather tan
     In Lexington town, in old Kentucky.

   If the Postmaster knows an alley
   In the city, called—Vandally
   No 10—this letter, may by chance
   Reach the sight of Mary Hance.

   To Patric Gonegan
         Pisin road, South Work
   Knavee yarde, or theire somware

         John Shmeet
   Shermummerbauner Roth
     began Wester
           And Jamphen St.

A literal translation, after much study of the dead languages, the
following was the result:—

       John Smith
   Germantown Road
     Between Master & Thompson

       Ns Duniel
             lesunt Yost
   nrpfflen pliladelpha
     Pa in Ceuse ob
       Eas make

All Greek to the clerks.

           Gasnot Hill
   Hoss Spittall, for
         Mrs. C. Gellengham.

   For Dan, that was
         In Smith’s Store.

No other direction.

   In care of mister John Dick
     King’s Sessions, mericai

The “New York Tribune” gives the following amusing addresses, in rhyme
and otherwise, that have passed through the post-office in that city:—

                       To be forwarded to
                       Margaret Flynn
                       and from you Margaret
                       to your brother Jack
                       and Sister Honora
                       Sister Ellen and Michael
   In care of Mr. Wm. H. Baldwin E. S. K, America.


                           To John Barry, if living,
   but if not, to his wife, or some of the children if living, and if
   not to some respectable neighbor.

   Speed on little missive to Marble Head,
   And find old Joe Sweet either living or dead,
   If he’s living of course he’ll read this letter
   But if he’s dead why all the better.


   Swift as the dawn your course pursue
   Let nought your speed restrain
   Until you meet Miss Mary Drew
   In Newfield State of Maine.

Here is a lucid address, which speaks for itself:—

   Thimothe O flanigan
       State of Masekeivitts
                 or elswhare.

The geographical knowledge of the gentleman who penned the following was
somewhat extensive:—

   To Mr barthol owen
             Kelly, O’s tate
                     Rhode Island

The following reminds us of the innocent country-girl who said she had
an uncle living between the Battery and Central Park:—

   Bridget Ware
           New York, 29
                     New York City
                               22 America.

Who can tell of the whereabouts of Miss Foster?

   Miss Louise Foster 36th street _some
       wheres_ Penny Post please deliver.

The following is encouraging to the postman:—

                           To Mike Donovan
                 or to his cousin Eliza Mac Farrelly.
   Postman will find him by findin Betsy Brennen who was engaged to
   Mike before they left Ireland and may be married.

Mr. Ford must be a well-known individual in Maine, else he never
received the following letter:—

   Mr. Henry Ford
         who lives in the same place in the
                               State of Maine.

An amusing postscript to a postmaster:—

   P. S.—Please give this letter to the man what’s _got a sow_
   in my barn, as he wants to get away.

   In Byberry Township, near the mill
   And in a house upon the hill,
   Lives a young lady in the same
   Miss ——x she calls her name
   Below the House on Comly’s lot
   A son of Vulcan has a shop
   Now Ross, I know, you’ll oblige the fair
   Just have the kindness to send it there.

       To Leughellyn Weintz
         Pass. yhunk Rode
   Below Tom Pitchers bar Room
     who selles most infurnell bad



The money-order system, which in England is so popular, has partly
failed here. It went into operation on the 1st of November, 1864, under
circumstances which promised a decided success. The amount to which the
law limited the order-system was not less than one dollar, and not more
than thirty dollars. This was to accommodate a certain class of people,
and at the same time test the utility of the system for the purpose of
hereafter creating a more extensive operation of the principle and also
increasing the amount of money sent.

That it is an important step in postal progress its operation in Europe
is sufficient proof; but here we started wrong. What should have been a
plain, simple transaction between the parties—the paying money and
receiving an order—has become perfectly mystified by the ambiguity of
the language of the law, as well as the numerous technicalities thrown
around it. A poor woman applies to the window for a postal order on New
York for ten dollars: she expects the order made payable to herself or
to the party to whom she sends it, which on presentation would be
immediately paid. It will be observed, upon reading the “General
Principles of the Money-Order System” and the “Instructions to
Postmasters at Money-Order Offices,” that if this poor woman was
requested to read the “laws and regulations” it would be to her “all
Greek.” Were the amounts named thousands of dollars instead of pennies,
those interested would be of a class whose education and business
knowledge would enable them to comprehend it: as it is, we know several
instances of poor persons resorting to the old custom of forwarding
their money rather than undergo the ordeal of a clerk’s explanation of
the law.


I. Money-order offices are divided into two classes. Offices of the
first class are depositories, in which those of the second class deposit
their surplus money-order funds.

II. Any office in either class may draw upon any other office in the
list of money-order offices for a sum, upon one order, from _one dollar_
to _thirty dollars_. But when a larger sum than the latter is required,
additional orders to make it up must be obtained.

III. When money-orders exceeding one hundred and fifty dollars in
aggregate amount are issued in one day, and to the same person, by one
or more offices, upon a second-class office, the postmaster at the
office so drawn upon will be permitted to delay the payment of such
orders for five days.

IV. The money-orders shall be made out upon printed forms supplied by
the post-office department, and no order will be valid or payable unless
given upon one of such forms.

V. Any person applying for a money-order will be required to state the
particulars upon a form of application which will be furnished to him
for that purpose by the postmaster.

VI. If the purchaser of a money-order, from having made an error in
stating the name of the office of payment, or for other reasons, desires
to have the said money-order changed, the issuing postmaster will take
back the first order and issue another in lieu thereof, for which an
additional fee shall be charged and exacted as for a new transaction.
The order so taken back must be cancelled by the postmaster and entered
in his books and returns, in its proper numerical order, as “cancelled.”

VII. Parties procuring money-orders should examine them carefully, to
see that they are properly filled up and stamped. This caution will
appear the more necessary when it is understood that any defect in this
respect will throw difficulties in the way of payment.

VIII. When a money-order is presented for payment at the office upon
which it is drawn, the postmaster or authorized clerk will use all
proper means to assure himself that the applicant is the person named
and intended in the advice; and upon payment of the order care must be
taken to obtain the signature of the payee (or of the person authorized
by him to receive payment) to the receipt on the face of the order.

IX. When, for any reason, the payee of a money-order does not desire, or
is unable, to present the same in person, he is legally empowered, by
his written indorsement thereon, to direct payment to be made to any
other person; and it is the duty of the postmaster upon whom the order
is drawn to pay the amount thereof to the person thus designated;
provided the postmaster is satisfied that such indorsement is genuine,
and that the second party shall give correct information as to the name
and address of the person who originally obtained the order. MORE THAN

X. Any money-order office may repay an order issued by itself if
repayment is applied for on the day of such issue, but then only to the
person who obtained it, except in special cases. The fee or charge shall
not in any case be refunded. If, however, repayment of an order is
desired later than one day after its issue, the postmaster must refer
the application to the money-order office of the post-office department.

XI. The fees or charges for money-orders will be as follows:—

For an order of $1 or more, but not exceeding $10, 10 cents.

For an order of $10 or more, but not exceeding $20, 15 cents.

For an order of $20 or more, but not exceeding $30, 20 cents.

Fractions of cents must not be introduced into any order.

XII. When a money-order has been lost by either remitter or payee, a
duplicate thereof will be issued to the party losing the original,
provided he shall furnish a statement, under oath or affirmation,
setting forth the loss or destruction thereof, and a certificate from
the postmaster by whom it was payable, that the said order had not been
paid, and would not thereafter be paid if presented. A second fee will
be charged and exacted for the issue of duplicate orders.

“The Instructions to Postmasters at Money-Order Offices” take up too
much space for our book: indeed, we omit even a synopsis of them, as we
feel perfectly satisfied that our readers would have to study law before
they could fully comprehend their mysteries. We call the attention,
however, of the public to the following rules to be observed as a
cautionary measure:—

“1. To take all means to prevent the loss of a money-order.

“2. Never to send the order in the same letter with the information
required on payment thereof.

“3. To be careful, on taking out a money-order, to state correctly the
Christian name, as well as the surname, of the person in whose favor it
is to be drawn.

“4. To see that the name and address of the person taking out the
money-order are correctly made known to the person in whose favor it is
to be drawn.

“Neglect of these instructions will risk the loss of the money, besides
leading to delay and trouble in obtaining payment.

“Under no circumstances can payment of an order be demanded on the day
of its issue.”

If the money is not called for within ninety days after the date of the
order, there will be difficulty in obtaining it. The regular form of the
order must not be clipped or mutilated. When the payee of an order
desires the same to be paid to any other person, he must fill up and
sign a form of indorsement, and furnish such second party with the
information required to obtain payment of his order, who upon receiving
payment must sign his name upon the face of the order. More than one
indorsement is prohibited by law, and will render the order invalid and
not payable.

It is to be regretted that the system had not been laid down so as to
come within the comprehension of all, and so simplified that the
explanations from the clerks would not tend to involve it in a greater
mystery. It reminds us strongly of a passage in Haddock’s Chancery
Practice, vol. 1, p. 125, intended as a definition of law:—

“When a person is bound _to do_ a thing, and he _does_ what may enable
him _to do_ the thing, he is supposed in equity _to do_ it with the view
of _doing_ what he is bound _to do_.”


The freedom of the press, as understood and secured by high
constitutional authority, consists in its identification with every
principle which is involved in our Declaration of Independence. It dare
not aim its shafts at the existence of the government, the Constitution,
and the Union. And yet has not the press—a portion of it, we mean—aimed
to do so during this rebellion, and that, too, at a time while claiming
that government’s protection? A press devoted to the cause of traitors
is as much a traitor to the government as are those who are arrayed in
arms for its destruction. It ceases to be considered the palladium of
liberty, and assumes at once the character of a rebel and a spy, the
moment it strikes at the root of the tree whose fruit is freedom!

Our government, unfortunately, at the outbreak of the rebellion did not
claim the power to suppress such treasonable publications, but actually
left them free to publish what they pleased. The consequence _was_, and
_is_, that that portion of the press is as hostile to the administration
now as it was in the beginning, _silence giving them consent to commit
crime_. Nor was this all: our very postal department assisted in
disseminating their papers by allowing them to go and come with
impunity. Thus the mails established by the United States Government
were and, we are afraid, are still used for its own destruction. Is
there any principle of law or of justice to sanction such leniency on
our part?

Judge Story, of the Supreme Court, on one occasion, commenting on that
clause of the Constitution securing the freedom of the press, says,—

“That this amendment was intended to secure to every citizen an absolute
right to speak or write or print whatsoever he might please, without any
responsibility, public or private, therefor, is a supposition too wild
to be indulged in by any rational man. This would be to allow to every
citizen the right to destroy at his pleasure the reputation, the peace,
the property, and even the personal safety of every other citizen. A man
might, out of mere malice or revenge, accuse another of the most
infamous crimes, might excite against him the indignation of all his
fellow-citizens by the most atrocious calumnies, might disturb, nay,
overturn all his domestic peace, and embitter his parental affections,
might inflict the most distressing punishments upon the weak, the timid,
and the innocent, might prejudice all a man’s civil and political and
private rights, and might stir up sedition, rebellion, and treason, even
against the government itself, in the wantonness of his passions or the
corruption of his heart. Civil society could not go on under such
circumstances. Men would then be obliged to resort to private vengeance
to make up the deficiency of the law; and assassinations and savage
cruelties would be perpetrated with all the frequency belonging to
barbarous and cruel communities. It is plain, then, that the language of
this amendment imports no more than that every man has a right to speak,
write, and print his opinions upon any subject whatever, without any
prior restraint, so always that he does not injure any other person in
his rights, person, property, or reputation, _and so always that he
does not thereby disturb the public peace or attempt to subvert the


There are many curious things daily occurring in the post-office under
this head. In “Chambers’s Journal” we find the following:—

“A formal but most essential rule makes letters once posted the property
of the postmaster-general until they are delivered as addressed, and
they must not be given up to the _writers_ on any pretence whatever. One
or two requests of this kind related to us we are not likely soon to
forget. On one occasion a commercial traveller called at an office and
expressed a fear that he had enclosed two letters in wrong envelopes,
the addresses of which he furnished. It appeared from the account which
he reluctantly gave, after a refusal to grant his request, that his
position and prospects depended upon his getting his letters and
correcting the mistakes, inasmuch as they revealed plans which he had
adopted to serve two mercantile houses in the same line of business,
whose interests clashed at every point. Another case occurred in which a
fast young gentleman confessed to carrying on a confidential
correspondence with two young ladies at the same time, and that he had,
or feared he had, crossed two letters which he had written at the same
sitting. Writing of this, we are reminded of a case in which a country
postmaster had a letter put into his hand through the office-window,
together with the following message, delivered with great
emphasis:—‘Here’s a letter; she wants it to go along as fast as it can,
‘cause there’s a feller wants to have her here, and she’s courted by
another feller that’s not here, and she wants to know whether he’s going
to have her or not.’”

THE FATAL LETTER.—A tradesman’s daughter, who had been for some time
engaged to a prosperous young draper in a neighboring town, heard, from
one whom she and her parents considered a creditable authority, that he
was on the verge of bankruptcy. Not a day was to be lost in breaking the
bond by which she and her small fortune were linked to penury. A letter,
strong and conclusive in its language, was at once written and posted,
when the same informant called upon the young lady’s friends to
contradict and explain his former statement, which had arisen out of
some misunderstanding. They rushed at once to the post-office; and no
words can describe the scene,—the reiterated appeals, the tears, the
wringing of hands, the united entreaties of father, mother, and
daughter, for the restoration of the fatal letter. But the rule admitted
of no exception, and the young lady had to repent at leisure of her
inordinate haste.

In this country we are not so strict, as any person posting a letter can
have it restored to him by simply signing his name to the fact of its
being by him written. We would, however, suggest to the department the
propriety of establishing the English system; for we feel confident that
the moment rogues turn their attention to the post-office for the
purpose of plunder, taking advantage of this loose way of doing business
will be the consequence. Another thing: it will make men more careful,
and thus save the department an immense deal of trouble.


Although we have strict laws upon the subject of _trifling_ with
newspapers, our postmasters do not enforce them to the extent they
should. The following is a provision of the English law which does not
remain, as with us, a “dead letter:”—

“Newspapers are always to be considered of equal importance with
letters; and postmasters are forbidden to open them for any other
purpose than that required by law, and are also forbidden to lend them
to any person.”

(From the “English Postal.”)

“BY WEIGHT.—If the weight be exceeded to the smallest extent, even
though the balance be merely turned, the book or printed paper becomes
liable to a higher postage. To provide, therefore, for errors in scales,
&c., it is well to allow a little margin, or to pay the postage of the
next greater weight. It should be remembered that a newspaper when wet
weighs more than when dry. Forgetfulness on this point sometimes causes
groundless complaints about charges for newspapers,—the complainant
erroneously supposing, on weighing the newspaper on its arrival, and
when it had had time to dry, that he had been overcharged. The foregoing
observations apply also to books, &c. sent abroad.

“INFORMATION.—No information can be given respecting letters which pass
through a post-office, except to the persons to whom they are addressed;
and in no other way is official information of a private character
allowed to be made public.

“RETURN LETTERS.—Postmasters are not allowed to return any letter to the
writer, or sender, or to any one else, or to delay forwarding it to its
destination according to the address, even though a request to such
effect be written thereon; as every letter must be delivered to the
person to whom it is directed (and to him alone) at the address it

“FORBIDDEN ARTICLES.—The rule which forbids the transmission through the
post of any article likely to injure the contents of the mail-bags or
the person of any officer of the post-office is, of course, applicable
to the pattern-post; and a packet containing any thing of the kind will
be stopped and not sent to its destination.

“Articles such as the following have been occasionally posted as
patterns, and have been detained as unfit for the post, viz.,—metal
boxes, porcelain and china, fruit, vegetables, bunches of flowers,
cuttings of plants, spurs, knives, scissors, needles, pins, pieces of
machinery, watch-machinery, sharp-pointed instruments, samples of
metals, samples of ore, samples in glass bottles, pieces of glass, acids
of various kinds, curry-combs, copper and steel engraving-plates, and
confectionery of various kinds.”


In many of our large post-offices postmasters have baskets placed inside
for the reception of letters. These are invariably too small, and it not
unfrequently occurs that the aperture through which letters pass gets
choked up, the basket being full to its mouth. Any person could from the
outside take a handful of letters without any one being aware of it.
Honest men, however, making the discovery, notify the clerks of the
situation of the letters, but not until it is very natural to suppose
some letters may have been stolen. This will account in some measure for
the mysterious disappearance of letters which have caused many an
innocent person to be suspected and the business operations of an office
justly censured. These baskets, instead of being wide and shallow, are
deep and narrow. If properly constructed and arranged, there would be no
necessity for clerks shouting out, “Swamp on the baskets.” This is very
much like locking the stable-door after the horse has been stolen.

We would suggest, therefore, that when dropping a letter, newspaper, &c.
into a letter-box, always to see that the packet falls into the basket
or box, and does not stick in its passage.


The following sensible suggestions are taken from “The British Postal
Guide:” let us advise our readers to pay some little attention to them:—

“To see that every letter, newspaper, or other packet sent by post is
securely folded and sealed, and that, when postage-stamps are remitted,
they are enclosed in paper sufficiently thick to prevent them from being
seen or felt through the cover. It should be remembered that every such
packet has to be several times handled, and that even when in the
mail-bag it is exposed to pressure and friction. Unless, therefore, the
article be light and pliant, it should be enclosed in strong paper,
linen, parchment, or some other material which will not readily tear or
break. The observance of this precaution is especially necessary
whenever any fragile articles of value are forwarded by post. These
should always be enclosed in a wooden or tin box. Owing to neglect of
these precautions many postal packets burst open, causing much trouble
to the department and risk to the owners, it being sometimes impossible
to determine to what packet a particular article belongs.

“To fasten the covers of newspapers firmly, so as to prevent the
contents from slipping out. When, for additional security, the address
is written on the newspaper itself, such address (if the newspaper be
franked by an impressed stamp) must in case of re-transmission be cut
off; otherwise the newspaper will become subject to a postage of 2_d._
It is not sufficient that the old address be _obliterated_, as the rules
forbid writing or marks of any kind in addition to the true address.

“In affixing stamps, to wet slightly the corner of the envelope and the
gummed side of the stamp, and then gently to press the stamp till it is
firmly fixed. The practice of dipping the stamp in water is
objectionable, because, unless the stamp be immediately withdrawn, and
care be taken by the use of blotting-paper or some other absorbent to
remove any excess of moisture, the gum may be washed off, or the stamp
may be rubbed off the letter. By the use of envelopes bearing an
_embossed_ stamp (which can be purchased at any post-office), all risk
of the stamp being detached may be avoided.

“Never to send money or any other article of value through the post,
except either by means of a money-order or in a registered letter. Any
person who sends money or jewelry in an unregistered letter not only
runs a risk of losing his property, but exposes to temptation every one
through whose hands his letter passes, and may be the means of
ultimately bringing some clerk or letter-carrier to moral ruin. Every
letter which contains money or other valuable article, even when
registered, ought to be securely sealed.”


“Postmasters are instructed not to receive any letter, &c. which there
is good reason to believe contains any thing likely to injure the
contents of the mail-bag or the person of any officer of the
post-office. If such a packet be posted without the postmaster’s
knowledge, or if at any time before its despatch he should discover any
such packet, he is directed not to forward it, but to report the case,
with the address of the packet, to the secretary. The following are
examples of the articles referred to:—

“A glass bottle, or glass in any form; razors, scissors, needles,
knives, forks, or other sharp instruments; leeches, game, fish, meat,
fruit, or vegetables; bladders or other vessels containing liquids;
gunpowder, lucifer matches, or any thing which is explosive or


“Letter-carriers shall be employed as the postmaster-general shall
direct, at a compensation not exceeding $800 a year, which may be
increased to $1000 at offices where the income will allow, on proof of
the carrier’s fidelity, diligence, and experience. Carriers must give
bond. Deliveries shall be made as frequently as the public interest may
require. No carrier’s fee or extra postage shall be charged on letters
delivered or collected by carriers. Separate accounts must be kept of
the expenses of the carrier-service and of the receipts from _local_
mail-matter; and all such expenses must be paid from the income of the
office employing the carriers. Letter-carriers may be employed, under
contract between postmaster and publishers, to deliver newspapers,
periodicals, circulars, &c., but such contracts must be first approved
by the postmaster-general; and the postmaster-general may also provide
for delivery by such carriers of small packets, not exceeding four
pounds each, at the rate of two cents for each four ounces.”

Attempts were made subsequent to the passage of this law (1862) to have
the salaries increased to $1000, urged by the applicants in consequence
of the high price of provisions. In 1864 they were coolly informed that
there were plenty of people _outside_ ready to step _inside_ at the same
salary. The post-office would present a strange appearance if this
system was adopted, for the duties of the office are not learned in a
day. Under former administrations it was the chief object of men in
power to pay their employees living wages and reward honesty, sobriety,
and attention to business by preferment. _It is not so now._


The law authorizing the free delivery of mail-letters and all other
mail-matter by carriers took effect on the first day of July, 1863. We
much question if the change has benefited the treasury of the


Although we have expressed a doubt in relation to this system with us,
it may not apply to other countries. Here it is expected that the income
of an office will sustain its own expenses, and hence every postmaster
is anxious to make his report to the department favorably to this
system. Carriers now receive a regular salary; before, they depended in
a great measure on the one-cent system, which lessened the department’s
expense for carriers’ pay more than one-third what it is now. The one
cent was received from the recipients of letters and papers, which they
paid freely, and not unfrequently made it two when they came to settle
with the carriers. Merchants and others still consider the old plan the
best, _having an idea that they are better served_.

AUSTRIA.—Brought to the door. In all larger places, without carrier’s
fee; in smaller places (villages and farms), a fee of two kreutzers (one
cent) is charged.

BELGIUM.—Brought to the door throughout the kingdom.

ENGLAND.—By carriers without fee.

FRANCE.—By carriers without fee (to the door) in both city and country.
Poste restante exists for letters so addressed, and when the person’s
address is not found.

HANSEATIC CITIES—BREMEN.—By letter-carriers to the door.

ITALY.—To the door by carriers without fee.

THE NETHERLANDS.—By carriers without fee.

PRUSSIA.—By carriers. In larger cities the fee will soon be abolished
entirely; in the rural districts it is six pfennige (about one and a
quarter cent) per letter.

SWITZERLAND.—By carriers without fee.




The following touching lines, by George H. Hollister, Esq., of
Litchfield, Connecticut, are descriptive of an incident in the _pen_ of
the Union prisoners at Andersonville, Georgia. The war has elicited
nothing more beautiful in description or of sadder interest:—

   “No blanket round his wasted limbs,
     Under the rainy sky he slept,
   While, pointing his envenom’d shafts
     Around him Death, the archer, crept.
   He dream’d of hunger, and held out
     His hand to clutch a little bread,
   That a white angel with a torch,
     Among the living and the dead,
   Seem’d bearing, smiling as he went:
     The vision waked him, as he spied
   The post-boy follow’d by a crowd
     Of famish’d prisoners, who cried
   For letters—letters from their friends.
     Crawling upon his hands and knees,
   He hears his own name call’d, and, lo!
     A letter from his wife he sees!

   “Gasping for breath, he shriek’d aloud,
     And, lost in nature’s blind eclipse,
   Faltering amid the suppliant crowd,
     Caught it and press’d it to his lips.
   A guard who follow’d, red and wroth,
     And flourishing a rusty brand,
   Reviled him with a taunting oath,
     And snatch’d the letter from his hand.
   ‘First pay the postage, whining wretch!’
     Despair had made the prisoner brave:
   ‘Then give me back my money, sir!
     I am a captive,—not a slave.
   You took my money and my clothes;
     Take my life, too,—but let me know
   How Mary and the children are,
     And I will bless you ere I go.’

   “The very moonlight through his hands,
     As he stood supplicating, shone,
   And his sharp features shaped themselves
     Into a prayer, and such a tone
   Of anguish there was in his cry
     For wife and children, that the guard—
   Thinking upon his own—pass’d by
     And left him swooning on the sward.
   Beyond the ‘dead-line’ fell his head:
     The eager sentry knew his mark,
   And with a crash the bullet sped
     Into his brain, and all was dark.
   But when they turn’d his livid cheek
     Up toward the light, the pale lips smiled,
   Kissing a picture fair and meek
     That held in either hand a child.”


“The Wheeling Intelligencer” (1865) gives the following “chapter of
accidents”: it says,—

“We received a letter several days ago from a gentleman, enclosing an
announcement of his marriage, and stating that he had also enclosed the
sum of seventy-five cents to pay for it. The letter did not enclose the
money; but the next day we got another letter from the same gentleman,
stating that it had occurred to him, after he had mailed the first note,
that he had not enclosed the money; ‘and I therefore,’ says the second
epistle, ‘enclose to you the amount;’ but, instead of seventy-five
cents, the letter only contained twenty-five. A day or two afterwards we
received two more letters from the same person, each enclosing fifty
cents. The first of the two letters stated that the writer, having
discovered his mistake, enclosed fifty cents more to make up the amount.
In the second letter the gentleman says, that ‘having learned that the
mail containing my last letter was destroyed by fire, I enclose now
another fifty cents.’ Our friend’s singular confusion is no doubt
attributable to the fact which in his original note he requested us to


DIDN’T LIKE THE IDEA.—A single female, apparently forty-five years of
age, with a very scraggy neck and weazened features, made her appearance
yesterday afternoon at the ladies’ window in the post-office.

“I want to get back a letter.”

“What for, madam?”

“Why, I dropped it in the box over yonder. I want to take it back

“That’s against our rules, ma’am; I am not allowed to give back a letter
unless I know all about it.”

“Well, then, there’ll be a fuss here, that’s all: I want my letter

“I’ll call the chief clerk, then, ma’am. You can make the fuss with him,
if you must have one.”

Mr. Booth was summoned. With his usual blandness he asked the lady how
the letter was directed, and to whom. He obtained a prompt reply. He
found that the lady had dropped the letter into the box under the
general delivery-window. He produced it from the basket after a little
search, and returned it to her. She appeared considerably pleased,
brushed off the letter with her handkerchief, and at once dropped it
into the basket under the ladies’ window, before which she was standing.

“Why, I thought you wanted to take out the letter!” said Mr. Booth, in
some surprise. “Here you’ve mailed it again.”

“That’s all right now,” said the woman. “That’s what I wanted. I dropped
the letter in the wrong place fust, among the men’s letters. I hate the
men, so I do. I hain’t goin’ to have my letter mixed up with men’s
letters, nohow.”

“You dislike the male sex then, madam?”

“I don’t hate you mail folk, as I know on, wuss than the rest on ’em.”

“I mean the men, madam; you dislike them?” said Mr. Booth, emphasizing
the title of masculinity.

“Oh, the men! Of course I hate ’em. I wouldn’t trust one of ’em anigh
me. They’re a deceivin’, lyin’”——

How the sentence would have been completed is more than we can say. At
this moment somebody trod upon the tail of a vixenish-looking dog that
followed the lady, and, as she rushed out, others took her place at the
window. Mr. Booth feels flattered that, while hating the male sex in
general, she doesn’t hate the mail folks in particular.



   “Hark! ’tis the twanging horn o’er yonder bridge,
   That with its wearisome but needful length
   Bestrides the wintry flood; in which the moon
   Sees her unwrinkled face reflected bright.
   He comes, the herald of a noisy world,
   With spatter’d boots, strapp’d waist, and frozen locks,
   News from all nations lumb’ring at his back.
   True to his charge, the close-pack’d load behind.
   Yet careless what he brings, his one concern
   Is to conduct it to the destined inn,
   And, having dropp’d the expected bag, pass on.
   He whistles as he goes, light-hearted wretch,
   Cold, and yet cheerful; messenger of grief
   Perhaps to thousands, and of joy to some;
   To him indiff’rent whether grief or joy.
   Houses in ashes, and the fall of stocks,
   Births, deaths, and marriages, epistles wet
   With tears, that trickled down the writer’s cheeks
   Fast as the periods from his fluent quill,
   Or charged with amorous sighs of absent swains
   Or nymphs responsive, equally affect
   His horse and him, unconscious of them all.”

   _Task_, Book IV.


One of the postal regulations (sect. 217) is as follows:—

“The postmaster, or one of his assistants, in all cases, _immediately_
before the office is swept or otherwise cleared of rubbish, is to
collect and examine the waste paper which has accumulated therein, in
order to guard against the possibility of loss of letters or other
mail-matter which may have fallen on the floor or have been intermingled
with such waste paper during the transaction of business. The observance
of this rule is strictly enjoined upon all postmasters, and its
violation will constitute a grave offence. Postmasters should be careful
to use, in mailing letters or packets, all wrapping-paper fit to be used
again; and the sale of any such paper is strictly forbidden.”

A neglect of this section might lead to serious consequences, inasmuch
as letters are continually falling from the tables and trays to the
floor, and, unless looked after, would unquestionably find their way to
the “waste-bags.”

The proprietor of a paper-mill informed us that one of the girls
employed by him in separating the waste paper purchased from postmasters
had found several letters, one of which contained $30 in Treasury notes,
and another contained a note for $500 and an order to cancel stamp
placed upon a note since it was signed, as stamps could not be obtained
at the place where the note was signed.

The above letters had been thrown into the waste paper by some careless
postmaster or clerks, and sold at two and a half cents per pound; and
some other postmaster or clerks have been under suspicion of committing
a depredation upon those letters; and had this girl been dishonest they
might never have been able to convince the parties interested of their

This is inexcusable carelessness; and postmasters who read this article
should see that they or their clerks are not caught in this way.


Under no circumstances use sealing-wax for postal purposes. Wax should
only be used for letters or documents when a person is anxious to
_display his seal or coat of arms_, or where it may be required for a
legal purpose, and only then when they are more effectually secured.

The practice of sealing letters passing more particularly through warm
climates with wax is attended with much inconvenience, and frequently
with serious injury, not only to the letters so sealed, but to the other
letters in the mail, from the melting of the wax and adhesion of the
letters to each other. The public are, therefore, recommended in all
such cases to use either wafers or gum, and to advise their
correspondents in the countries referred to to do the same.

English newspapers—indeed, nearly all European printed matter—come to us
sealed with _bad wax_; and if many of them were not secured by thread,
few would ever reach the parties to whom they are addressed.


When complaint is made of letters or newspapers lost, miscarried, or
delayed, to furnish information as precise as possible regarding all the
facts of the case, and to enclose whatever documents may throw light
upon it. The day and hour at which the letter or newspaper was posted,
as well as the office at which and the person by whom this was done,
should always be stated, and, when possible, the cover or wrapper, in an
entire state, should be sent, in order that the place of delay may be
ascertained by an examination of the stamps. Cases frequently occur in
which complaint is made against the post-office and redress expected,
although little or no means of tracing the error and of guarding against
a repetition of it is supplied by those who alone are able to do so.


In 1806 a case was tried in the District Court of Maryland, “United
States _vs._ Barney,” which we deem essential to the nature of our work.

“WINCHESTER, J.—The indictment in this case, which charges the defendant
with having wilfully obstructed the passage of the public mail at
Susquehanna River, is founded on the act of Congress of March, 1799.

“The defendant sets up as a defence and justification of this
obstruction of the mail that he had fed the horses employed in carrying
the mail for a considerable time, and that a sum of money was due to him
for food furnished at and before the time of their arrest and detention.

“On this state of the facts, two questions have been agitated:—

“1st, Whether the right of an innkeeper to detain a horse for his food
extends to horses owned by individuals and employed in the
transportation of the public mail. And,

“2d, Whether such right extends to horses belonging to the United
States, employed in that service.

“The first question involves the consideration of principles of some
extent, and to decide correctly on the second it may be necessary to
state them generally.

“Lien is generally defined to be a tie, hold, or security upon goods or
other things which a man has in his custody, till he is paid what is due
to him. From this definition it is apparent that there can be no lien
where the property is annihilated or the possession parted with
voluntarily and without fraud. 2 _Vern._ 117; 1 _Atk._ 234.

“The claim of a lien otherwise well founded cannot be supported if there

“1st, A particular agreement made and relied on. _Sayer’s _ Rep. 224; 2
_R. A._ 92. Or,

“2d, Where the particular transaction shows that there was no intention
that there should be a lien, but some _other security is looked to and
relied upon_. 4 _Burr._ 2223.

“If, therefore, in this case the agreement between the defendant and the
public agent actually was that he should be paid for feeding the public
horses on as low terms as any other person on the road would supply
them, he could not justify detaining the horses; for the particular
agreement thus made, and under which the food was furnished, is the
foundation of the remedy of the defendant, and it can be pursued in no
other manner than upon that agreement. Or, if there was no particular
agreement, this case is such that between the defendant and a private
owner of horses and carriages employed in transporting the mail I
incline to think it could not legally be presumed a lien was ever
intended or contemplated. A carrier of the mail is bound not to delay
its delivery, under severe penalties; and it can scarcely be supposed
that he would expose himself to the penalty for such delay by leaving
his horses subject to the arrest of every innkeeper on the road for
their food, or that in such case the innkeeper could look to any other
security than the personal credit of the owner of the horses for
reimbursement. But the law on such a case could be only declared on
facts admitted by the parties or found by the jury, and is not now
before the court.

“3d, The great question in this case rests on a discrimination between
the property of the government and individuals.”

After defining the constitutional rights of the government and its
general power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excise, to
pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of
the United States, and quoting numerous authorities, the judge concludes
with the following:—

“_A stolen horse found in the mail-stage._ The owner cannot seize him.

“The driver being in debt, or even committing an offence, can only be
arrested in such way as does not obstruct the passage of the mail.

“These examples are as strong as any which are likely to occur; but even
these are not excepted by the statute; and probably considerations of
the extreme importance to the government and individuals of the regular
transmission of public despatches and private communications may have
excluded these exceptions. But whatever may have been the policy which
led to the adoption of the law, which the court will not inquire into,
it totally prohibits any obstruction to the passage of the mail. It is
the duty of the court to expound and execute the law, and therefore I am
of opinion and decide that the defendant is not justified.”


Connected with stamps, whether used as a currency or for the increase of
revenue, there are many curious and interesting circumstances. The idea
of producing a revenue by the sale of stamps and stamped paper in
America was promulgated almost forty years before its final development
in legislative enactment in 1765. Sir William Keith advised the policy
as early as 1728. In 1739 the London merchants advised the ministry to
adopt the measure, and public writers from time to time suggested
various schemes predicated upon the same idea. In 1770, Douglas, in his
work on “British America,” recommended the levying of a stamp duty upon
all legal writings and instruments. Dr. Franklin regarded the plan
favorably, and Governor Sharpe, of Maryland, was confident in 1754 that
Parliament would speedily make a statute for raising money by means of
stamp duties. Lieutenant-Governor Delancey spoke in favor of it in the
New York Assembly in 1755, and the following year Governor Shirley, of
Massachusetts, urged Parliament to adopt a stamp tax. The British press
urged the measure in 1757, and it was confidently stated that at least
three hundred thousand dollars annually might thus be drawn from the
colonies without the tax being sensibly felt. The tax bill became a law
in 1765 and was repealed in 1766. Had not ministers been deceived by the
representations of the stupid and selfish governors in America, it
probably would never have been enacted. Those men were frequently too
indolent or indifferent to make themselves acquainted with the real
temper of the people. Regarding the mass as equally servile as their
flatterers, they readily commended that fatal measure which proved the
spark that lighted the flame of the Revolution and severed forever the
political connection between Great Britain and the thirteen American
colonies. The stamp so carefully and so artistically prepared, bearing
upon its imposing front the crown and its motto, “_Honi soit qui mal y
pense_,” and intended to enhance the power and might of kingly rule,
sealed the doom of monarchy in the colonies forever!

The use of stamps, however, apart from tax purposes, is not of modern
invention, but for postal purposes they bear date quite recent. Stamps
of one penny and twopence each were first introduced in England on the
6th of May, 1840.

When Victoria succeeded to the British crown—midsummer, 1837—there were
eleven thousand parishes in England and Wales, and only three thousand
post-offices. A fourth of the population were entirely destitute of
postal accommodation. Four hundred of the registration districts, the
average extent of which was nearly twenty square miles, were without a
post-office. In 1839 the number of chargeable letters was in the
proportion of _four_ a year to each person of the population of England
and Wales, _three_ in Scotland, and _one_ in Ireland. In 1864 the
proportion of letters is twenty-four a year to each of the population of
England and Wales, nineteen in Scotland, and nine to Ireland. The
increase from 76,000,000 letters in 1849 to 600,000,000 in 1864 is
really an increase of nearly seven hundred per cent. A stamped envelope
was used at first (consisting of a very absurd allegorical group, said
to have been improved by Mulready, the eminent painter, from a drawing
by Queen Victoria herself!); but this was superseded, in a few months,
by a stamp called 'penny blac' compulsory prepayment, which was begun in
England, has become the rule in the many countries which have adopted
Hill’s postal reform. This reform, which went into operation in England
on January 10, 1840, was not adopted in the United States until July 1,

Perhaps no country in the world has ever yet produced such a number of
stamps as the United States of America. Foreign nations limit their
postal stamps; we issue them in quantity and variety to meet the demands
of the public without stint or hindrance. The denominations of postal
stamps in the United States are 1 cent, 2 cent, 3 cent, 5 cent, 10 cent,
12 cent, 24 cent, 30 cent, and 90 cent.

   The amount of stamps and stamp-envelopes
     issued during the year 1860, ending June 30,
     was                                         $6,870,316 19
   Total amount for 1861                          6,690,233 70
     ”     ”     ”  1862                          7,078,188 00
     ”     ”     ”  1863                          9,683,384 00
     ”     ”     ”  1864                         10,974,329 50

The postage-stamp system has been adopted in all parts of the world, by
over ninety different kingdoms, states, provinces, colonies, islands,
and free cities,—in fifty different parts of Europe, in over a dozen
parts of Asia, including China, in some twenty parts of the New World,
in every province of British North America, in seven parts of Africa,
and even in St. Helena on one side and the Sandwich Islands on the
other. There are postage-stamps used in Ceylon; but the Japanese have
not as yet arrived at that period in perfection which would lead them
towards its attainment.

The stamps of the secessionists command a high price in foreign
markets,—probably as much for their having the head of “Jeff Davis” on
them than for any artistic skill or beauty attached to them. When the
rebellion broke out, of course a line was drawn between the two sections
of our country, leaving the South in possession of slavery and its
fruits, and the North, with its vast amount of wealth, intellect, and
artistic power, to contend against the world. Of course the South,
heretofore dependent on the North for every thing genius, art, and skill
produced, found they could not have a stamp cut that would even do
credit to their bogus government. The first ones produced presented a
most _counterfeit_-like appearance of something once belonging to art:
even Jeff Davis became ashamed of them, and he applied to his good
friend and secret ally, Napoleon of France, for assistance. Something
better was produced by a French artist; and thus the stamps came over
with a variety of other things to strengthen the Southern Confederacy
and assist her in maintaining something of the appearance of a people
who could claim some consideration among other _advanced_ nations of the

Connected with the issue of postal stamps is that strange mania which
seizes upon a certain class to collect and treasure up every thing that
is termed _unique_ or new in art or science. These stamps in time will
become relics, and possess an interest for the antiquarian equal to that
of old coins.

To such an extent is this passion carried, that in Europe cabinets are
formed and albums invented wherein these stamps are fancifully arranged.
In many instances men make such collections a matter of business, and
these receptacles for stamps bring very high prices,—in fact, like old
coins, many of them command fabulous prices. The collection of these
miniature paper currency circulating mediums is decidedly a British
institution. Periodicals devoted to the interest of dealers are
established in various parts of the kingdom, and agents employed, not
only to furnish information upon the subject of new issues, but to
procure various stamps for orders. The demand in England for American
stamps is great, and they command—more particularly those of the
Southern Confederacy—very high prices.

We have no objection to this, although a strange fancy on the part of
those who are seized with the mania, because it opens a new trade for
the enterprising speculator on the infirmity of human nature. A house in
New York advertises for “correspondents all over the world,” for
furnishing and supplying it with _stamp news_. Another in Montreal
advertises “stamps cheaper than ever:” these consist of foreign, British
colonial, and European stamps of all kinds. The number of North American
is enumerated at fifty varieties.

Connected, however, with the various stamps now in use in this country
is the necessity of teaching to our youth their use and application to
banks, custom-houses, railroads, post-offices, pawnbrokers, and, in
fact, as stamp tax to every trade, business, and department of

In several of our commercial colleges an actual stamp department is
invented, and mock-banks, custom-houses, steamboat-offices,
post-offices, &c., are fitted up for the purpose of familiarizing youth
with their use in the various mercantile and governmental departments of
the country. This is what we term the best and most useful knowledge
that the stamps can impart to those who are so anxious to treasure them
up in albums and cabinets.[55]

We annex the following article from Appleton’s “United States Postal

“By the _Sonora_, a few days since, says a Californian correspondent,
some two hundred of Uncle Sam’s orphans arrived, and were distributed
around. Some were sent to Fort Alcastra, some to the barracks at the
Presidio, and the remainder were quartered at Benicia barracks,
preparatory to being assigned to the different companies of the
regiments in this department. They will soon be scattered from Oregon to
that most delightful post, Fort Yuma, in Arizona,—a place where they
have to put rocks on the roofs to keep the ends of the boards from
curling over like little dogs’ tails. It is a wretched place to live at,
and to be ordered there is enough to make any officer resign, unless a
Catholic, who acknowledges the justice of being sent to purgatory. They
have a little fun even in that awful place sometimes, and an officer was
telling me the other day of how he lost his postage-stamps. He had sent
up here for some twenty dollars’ worth, and had left them on his table.
Now, the habits, manners, and customs thereabouts are considerably on
the free-and-easy style, and the Indians are allowed to roam around the
garrison _ad libitum_, if they behave themselves and do not steal. On
this occasion a young squaw, who had the run of the quarters, and was
very much at home anywhere and everywhere, happened to stray into my
friend’s room, and, seeing the postage-stamps, began to examine them
with great curiosity. She discovered they would stick if wet, and
forthwith a happy idea struck her. Now, the fashionable dress of the
ladies of her class in that warm climate is of the briefest description.
She was ambitious to dress up and excite the envy of the other
Pocahontases. So she went in on the postal currency, and, much to the
astonishment of the garrison, made her appearance presently on the
parade-ground entirely covered over with postage-stamps. She was stuck
all over with Benjamin Franklin, and the Father of his Country was
plastered all over her ladyship’s glossy skin indiscriminately,
regardless of dignity and decency. The ‘roar’ that greeted her, from the
commanding officer down to the drummer-boys, was loud enough to be heard
nearly at head-quarters in San Francisco; but, Indian-like, she
preserved her equanimity, and did not seem at all disconcerted, but
sailed off with the air and step of a genuine princess, while my friend
rushed into his quarters to discover himself minus his twenty dollars’
worth of postage-stamps, and that what was intended for the mail had
been appropriated to the female. She might have been put in the overland
coach and gone through: she certainly could not have been stopped for
want of being prepaid.”


Amos Kendall, postmaster-general from 1835 to 1840, anxious to have the
postal department as perfect as human efforts can avail towards such a
state of things, sent the gentleman whose name heads this article to
Europe for the purpose of adding to our store of knowledge on postal
matters. Mr. Plitt was well calculated for this mission, having served
seven years in the New York post-office, and was familiar with its
operations. He left New York in the month of June, 1839, and returned in
August, 1840, after having visited “the post-office departments of
England, Scotland, France, Belgium, Saxony, Prussia, Austria, Bavaria,
Wirtemberg, Baden, and the free Hanseatic cities of Frankfort, Hamburg,
Bremen, and Lubeck.”

Among other reforms and suggestions made in Mr. Plitt’s report are the
abolition of the franking privilege, the prepayment of all letters, as
well as of newspapers and all printed matter. He strongly urges the
reduction of postage, and quotes the English postal law as an evidence
of its pecuniary advantages. As many of the reforms suggested, based on
the European system, have been introduced into ours, and nearly every
other improvement carried into the department, it is not necessary for
us here to name them; but, at the same time, it is due to Mr. Plitt to
state that his report met with a cordial response from the department,
whose instructions he had so ably carried out, and whose ideas on and
about foreign mail arrangements afforded it an opportunity to improve
those of our own.

He also suggested the establishing special agents and mail-guards. In
Europe they form a prominent feature in their system; but as regards the
necessity of the latter in this country, we doubt if their services
would be required, unless in time of war, frontier insurrections, or
disgraceful rebellions, such as a vile portion of the land had
inaugurated, and over whose downfall and ruin our nation’s flag is now
proudly uprising. It will float again,—float in its might and power over
every foot of land that Columbia calls her own; but not until

   “Bold rebellion’s blood has all been drain’d.”

The subject of the reduction of postage had been agitated in Congress
before Mr. Plitt’s visit to Europe. In 1836, Edward Everett proposed
measures for that purpose, but no well-digested plan was brought
forward. _There was no Benjamin Franklin there to propose one._ In 1843,
three years after Mr. Plitt’s return from Europe, the general discontent
of the people on the subject of postage was expressed in the form of
resolutions by the legislatures of several States, instructing their
Senators and requesting their Representatives in Congress to take some
measures for a reduction. Mr. C. A. Wickliffe, at that time
postmaster-general, made some investigation in regard to the English
system, and in an elaborate report advocated some reduction, but not a
radical one, on the ground that the department would become a heavy
charge upon the government if large reductions were made. Subsequent
reductions far greater than those proposed at that period show how much
the postmaster-general and those who sustained him in this idea were
mistaken. It was not until 1845 that Congress was enabled to pass a bill
for a reduction. March 3, 1845, a bill was passed, which went into
operation July 1, 1845. Its rates were as follows:—for a letter not
exceeding a half-ounce in weight, whether of one or more pieces of
paper, under three hundred miles, five cents; over three hundred miles,
ten cents, and an additional rate for every additional half-ounce or
fraction of a half-ounce. Advertised letters, two cents; pamphlets,
magazines, &c., per ounce, two cents, and each additional ounce, one
cent. Newspapers, under thirty miles, free; over thirty and under one
hundred, or any distance within the State where published, one cent;
over one hundred and out of the State, one and a half cent. At various
periods since, changes have been made, until it is now reduced to a
system based on the lowest rates, which under proper and efficient
management must, and no doubt will, result in self-sustaining the
department: certain abuses have of course to be corrected.


Mr. Plitt states in his report that the number of persons employed in
the English post-office, London, is one thousand nine hundred and
three.[56] This number comprises all the letter-carriers and receivers
employed within a circle of twelve miles from the post-office. In this
circle letters are delivered at the residence of the person addressed
and taken up from the receiving-houses five times per day. There is
besides an inner circle of three miles from the post-office, within
which there are seven deliveries per day, and also seven collections
from the receiving-houses, to go by the general post, as late as five
o’clock P. M.[57]


“This privilege is entirely abolished under the late new law. Members of
Parliament, even before the law was passed, were restricted as to the
number of letters they were allowed to frank, and were, besides, obliged
to put the day of the month upon each letter franked by them.” The
privilege, however, was not _entirely_ abolished, inasmuch as it was
granted to the Minister of Finance and some of his agents.


Stamps of one penny and twopence each were first introduced on the 6th
of May, 1840, and since that period there has been an increase of nearly
three hundred thousand letters. Mr. Plitt strongly advocates the cheap
postage system.


In Paris, where there are six deliveries of the “Petite Poste” per day,
the carriers of the General and “Petite Poste” letters are the same. In
a report made by Rowland Hill on the French post-office, in October,
1839, speaking of this plan, he says, “The plan of employing one set of
letter-carriers for the delivery of all letters appears to work
exceedingly well in Paris. All that I heard and saw in Paris tends to
confirm the opinion I have already expressed, that great convenience and
economy would result from the union of the two bodies in London.”


“SEC. 16. _And be it further enacted_, That no obscene book, pamphlet,
picture, print, or other publication of a vulgar and indecent character
shall be admitted into the mails of the United States; and any person or
persons who shall deposit or cause to be deposited in any post-office
or branch post-office of the United States, for mailing or for delivery,
an obscene book, pamphlet, picture, print, or other publication, knowing
the same to be of a vulgar and indecent character, shall be deemed
guilty of a misdemeanor, and, being duly convicted thereof, shall for
every such offence be fined not more than five hundred dollars, or
imprisoned not more than one year, or both, according to the
circumstances and aggravations of the offence.”

Apart from this act, there is an understanding between the
postmaster-general and postmasters generally relative to obscene and
vulgar postal matter. So far as the secrets of the office are concerned,
that understanding is “contraband.” But this is not sufficient. If the
post-office is to be used as the medium through which the vilest works
of art pass so readily, and calculated to corrupt the innocent and
excite the passions of youth by high-colored pictures, the public, at
least, should know how and why so many reach the persons to whom they
are directed, and to what extent this espionage extends. It would
require no breach of the observance of postal rules to ascertain almost
at a glance the nature of the book or picture which comes under the head
of “indecent postal matter.” These publications, varying in accordance
to the artistic taste of the originators, pass through the office in the
shape of splendid photograph albums, handsomely-bound books, embossed
prints, transparent cards, and “yellow-cover pamphlets,” _à la Dr.
Young_, and photograph cards of a most indecent character. At other
times they are posted as letters, addressed chiefly to young ladies,
containing a card and making the most dishonorable proposals. In several
instances the parents have shown the author these letters, and upon a
close examination he feels satisfied that the only motive the writer had
was to corrupt and demoralize, without the most distant idea of ever
reaping the fruits of his villany. The imagination cannot conceive or
pencil paint a more hideous picture of a fiend than one who would thus
attempt to corrupt the young and innocent by such means. The idea could
only have been suggested by the devil, and as readily carried out by his
agent. Artists of well-known reputation lend themselves to this work of
destruction; and specimens denote the highest order of talent, as well
as the most exquisite workmanship of art,—art devoted to the production
of the most vulgar and disgusting subjects the human mind ever conceived
or a diseased imagination conjured. That very intellect which should
have shed a halo over the pure things of earth is here devoted to the
production of things evil.

A tendency to sap the foundation upon which rest the pillars of
morality, and to poison the minds of youth, seems to be a prevailing
vice. High literary attainments, great mental powers, have been brought
into the arena to battle for crime, lasciviousness, and vice. In all
ages the vile corruption of man’s nature, aided by genius and talent,
has been manifested in the production of things evil. The rapid and, we
may say, alarming increase of crime, the callousness manifested at the
recital of human suffering, the want, or, rather, the absence, of a
correct moral standard in every thing appertaining to social life, the
sneering at the tenets of our holy religion, the assumption as it were
of omniscient powers on the part of sinful men, have led to a state of
things which will require stronger measures than that of mere reasoning
to remedy.

Our streets of a night are flooded with the daughters of vice; temples
are dedicated to licentiousness, sanctioned by the authorities, who
grant them “license” as it were to corrupt youth and demoralize the
masses. Intemperance and pauperism are the results of the “law’s
license” to common crime. Thus the dark shadow of vice extends its fatal
power over that portion of the human family from whose domestic circle
the voice of prayer never ascends. There instead is heard the sound of
rattling glasses: loud oaths, the bacchanalian song, there throw around
the circle of which they form the nucleus an atmosphere to poison and
destroy. Much of all this can be traced to the estimate men place upon
the modern mode of education. If genius invents something that places
vice in a brilliant light, in and through which all that is startling in
picture-view or description presents new features to the novice in
licentiousness, it becomes at once an institution from whence flows a
stream that poisons a city. In an instant these productions take
miniature shapes: art combines with the genius of the originators, and,
lo! they go forth through the post, spreading ruin and desolation
everywhere. It is that very facility which the post affords that gives
power and influence to these fiends; and, alas! how many, dazzled by the
“refinement of vice,”—refined by the touch of art,—fall into the snare
by the very excitement they produce! Many of these photographs of the
more vile character reach “young ladies’ seminaries.” Many books of a
similar character find their way hither, and thus corruption works its
way to the ruin of their inmates.

We would have—what under no other circumstance would we suggest to the
department—_an espionage over all suspicious postal matter_.


That country must be in a bad way where the heads of the several
departments find it necessary to resort to the most infamous means of
tracing out suspected traitors. Thus, in the postal department, every
letter is subject to the system of espionage, and the innocent as well
as the guilty alike suspected and their private correspondence betrayed.
In time of rebellion, insurrection, or an attempt to assassinate a king
or an emperor, there might be some excuse for the exercise of such
precaution; but in the absence of such startling causes the system is
both mean and cowardly. In France, at the present time (1865), private
letters, newspapers, and pamphlets are subjected to the most anxious
scrutiny. A large portion of every day is devoted to such examinations
by a skilful and energetic body of men. Between the time when letters
are received at the chief office from the district-offices and the time
they are sent out again, two hours elapse. _During this period they are
in the hands of the police._ The police have a list of certain
addresses, and are furnished with examples of the handwriting of every
one in whose correspondence the government is interested. With these and
practised eyes the officials set to work, carrying all suspected letters
into the Cabinet Noir, where they are read, copied, delayed, stopped at
discretion; and the police are very discreet about seizing letters: it
is done as seldom as possible. The system is so perfect, it works so
well, that the only chance of evading it is to correspond under assumed
names, changed with every letter; and this is actually done by people
who are not more treasonable than the majority of Frenchmen, but who,
being eminent and powerful, are condemned to the degradation of shifts
like these, or every letter they write would be read by the police.
Governments maintained thus are never safe in power.


The following article we take from the “Philadelphia North American and
United States Gazette” of the 13th July, 1865. The view the editor takes
is simply, however, from a hastily-arranged statement made shortly after
the appointment of Mr. Dennison as postmaster-general. We have our
doubts about its accuracy, inasmuch as the short time for reductions of
salary and other expenses would not lessen the debt against the postal
department and yield a surplus of seven hundred thousand dollars. Well
may the editor say, “_How long this is likely to continue we cannot

“For the first time in many years the United States Post-Office
Department has become a paying institution, the revenues of the last six
months having yielded a surplus of more than seven hundred thousand
dollars above the expenses, and the ensuing six months will tell still
better. How long this is likely to continue we cannot say. During Mr.
Blair’s administration of this department he reduced the expenditures to
such an extent as to afford an astonishing contrast with the old
Buchanan dynasty, when the annual deficit of the department was five
millions of dollars. We thought Mr. Blair’s management unprecedently
good; but still he could not bring the department to a paying standard,
which his successor has now done very handsomely. Mr. Dennison has done
this by means of a system of the most stringent and searching economy,
reducing the force of employees everywhere, cutting down salaries and
allowances, examining carefully into items of expenditure, the
management and compensation of contractors, &c.

“In fact, Governor Dennison brought to the conduct of our postal affairs
the excellent training he had received in the executive government of
Ohio, like his predecessor in that office, Mr. Chase, and he has looked
carefully into every thing under his charge with an eye to economy and
efficiency, and the service, instead of suffering by this scrutiny, has
been largely benefited. But with the renewal of our authority in the
South comes back a region wherein before 1860 the postal service was
always carried on at a heavy loss to the National Government. It hardly
admits of a doubt that this deficit was owing solely to the running of
great numbers of useless mails to gratify local influences. This was
consequent upon the predominance of Southern politicians at Washington.
Their demands for favors of this kind were incessant, and, as they were
generally with the ruling element in Congress, they got whatever they
asked for. It may be inferred that modesty was not one of their faults,
and that they did not lose any thing for the want of asking.

“In places where a weekly mail would have answered, a daily,
semi-weekly, or tri-weekly mail was run, and so where a place of
somewhat more consequence needed a semi-weekly mail a daily mail would
be run. Instead of making every post-office a paying one, by making it
the depot for a sufficient population, swarms of unnecessary offices
were created to gratify local politicians, the effect of which was that
none were remunerative. We are sorry to say that this evil afflicts the
service in many parts of the North, and that there is great need of
discontinuing offices now in existence. Sometimes the ambition or the
jealousy of villages led to this multiplication of useless offices, but
generally it was caused by the Congressmen catering for their political
supporters. Since the year 1860 the necessities of the government have
compelled the department to reduce both the number of these offices and
of the mails run. The deficiency always visible in the postal revenues
at the South, aside from the causes we have referred to, arose also from
the evil policy of the slaveholding oligarchy. Four millions of the
Southern population were prohibited from a knowledge of reading and
writing, and of course the post-office was not needed for them. The
planter had no right to complain of being reduced to a weekly mail; for
in a region of six square miles there might not be more than three
families using the post-office, the rest being all slaves, or illiterate
‘poor white trash.’

“Yet these planters would make a vast deal of fuss about their mail
facilities, and to satisfy them the National Government sustained an
annual loss of millions of dollars. It was not only the prohibition of
letters toward the slaves that caused the loss, for the poor whites
labored under no such prohibition, and yet were as ignorant as the
slaves; but it was the total absence of all provision for the education
of the masses of the population throughout the South. The poor whites
could not read newspapers if they received them; they could not write
letters, nor could they read them. Moreover, the mail-matter was still
further reduced by the refusal to allow anti-slavery newspapers to
circulate at all in the South. A merchant could not receive the
commercial papers of the North, because of their sentiments about
slavery; a clergyman could not receive the religious papers of the
North, for the same reason. If a man in any of the interior districts
received frequent letters from the North, he would be sure to find them
a matter of inquisitorial questioning, and would be obliged to give an
idea of the nature of his correspondence.

“The question how the postal service can be rendered permanently
remunerative at the South involves three distinct and very important

“How can the ignorant masses of the Southern population be educated in a
knowledge of reading, writing, and arithmetic, and insured hereafter the
benefits of a well-established common free-school system for their

“How can we relieve the national mails of that infamous espionage which,
down to the present time, has been rigidly enforced in every hole and
corner of the South, sometimes by the post-office itself, but generally
by outside parties, though always in the interest of the plantation
aristocracy and their political agents and domination?

“How can we prevent the renewal of the old evil of supernumerary
post-offices and superfluous mails all over the South, and so gauge the
service that each office shall pay expenses and each mail be well filled
with paying matter?

“These are the problems to be solved, and it behooves us all to reflect
upon their exceeding difficulty when we complain that our postal
department is not better managed. Although the franking system is bad
enough in all conscience, it is not responsible for the bulk of the
postal loss. From what we have said above, it must be plain that the
despotic social system, established for the benefit of the plantation
aristocracy, has been annually paid for largely out of our pockets. We
have paid five millions of dollars annually as a premium upon Southern
ignorance. We have helped the planter to keep his slaves and his poor
white neighbors in ignorance and degradation, and, in order the better
to enable him to enforce his cruel and abominable despotism, we have
given him the surveillance of our mails, and allowed him to terrorize
over them as he saw fit. Mr. Dennison, we can readily believe, is not
the man to put up with this hereafter; but it requires vigilance to
prevent it altogether, and the exercise of other powers than his to
remedy the great evil,—Southern ignorance.”


Under the old postal arrangement, the salary of postmasters of the
principal cities was limited to $2000. This compensation was derived
from a commission out of their receipts, which could not exceed the
amount named. This would appear at first as small pay for such an
important position,—more particularly as under the administration of
Postmaster Blair the salary was raised to $4000: yet there is not a
postmaster but would willingly go back to the old system. Under the
former provision of the postal law postmasters were allowed the amount
arising from the rent of letter-boxes in their respective offices as a
perquisite, and also certain other matters, which shrewd men knew well
how to place under this head. During the existence of this system the
desire for the office far exceeded that which was and is likely to be
manifested under the latter, inasmuch as $4000 per annum and _no
perquisites_ is scarcely a desirable position for an ambitious and
popular politician. Many a business-man, outside of the political ring,
would consider it quite sufficient, however: _business-men are not
cormorants_. It is true, even under the old law, by an act passed March
3, 1847, the rent of boxes to be credited to the postmaster was limited,
restricting the amount so received to $2000,—consequently limiting his
salary to $4000: for all over and above that amount he had to account to
the department. Under some administrations postmasters became rich,
whether by husbanding their actual income or the perquisites are
questions simply of conjecture.


The first attempt to establish the penny post in the United States was
in the years 1839-40. It was simply a speculation, and resulted at first
in almost total failure, but revived again under more enterprising
parties. Previous to this, however, contrary to the laws of
Congress,—particularly the law of 1825, sect. 19, which enacts that no
stage or other vehicle which regularly performs trips on a post-road or
on a road parallel to it, and no packet, war, or other vessel which
regularly plies on a water declared a post-road, shall convey
letters,—certain persons, actually availing themselves of these modes of
conveyance, _constituted_ themselves “private posts,” travelling as
passengers, and carried packages containing valuable letters, documents,
and other available matter: these were, of course, transported as
baggage or freight. The conveyances used by these men passed regularly
over post-roads, and thus they travelled in company with their powerful
opponent, “the post-office department.” It was also well known to the
department; but as they _were not special posts_, the law of 1825 did
not reach them. Still their system was a secret one, and hard to be
detected. The law, however, of 1827, sect. 3, enacts that no person
other than the postmaster-general or his authorized agents shall set up
any foot- or horse-posts for the conveyance of letters and packets upon
any post-road which is or may be established as such by law.

This law paved the way for the establishing penny posts by individuals
in cities and even in rural districts. At first they were called
expresses, but soon they assumed a more postal shape. The
postmaster-general’s annual report of December 2, 1843, stated that
“numerous private posts, under the name of expresses, had sprung within
a few years into existence, extending themselves over the mail-routes
between the cities and towns, and transporting letters and other
mailable matter for pay to a great extent.” Suits were commenced against
parties residing in New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland. It appears
from the postmaster-general’s report of November 25, 1844, that the
government had been unable to suppress the private expresses, which were
still continued “upon the leading post-routes.” In this and in the
former annual report he recommended legislation by Congress for their
suppression. There is yet no law of Congress to suppress these
expresses. Governments, more particularly that of ours, cannot enact
laws that will interfere with the commercial interests of the people. It
may facilitate every movement by such laws as are legitimate; but taking
out of the hands of individuals their _legitimate_ business, connected
with no department of the government, becomes at once not only a
monopoly, but assumes the complexion of tyranny. The decision of the
judges in the cases referred to settled the question, until compromise
stepped in and the government came down to the “penny system,” and thus
satisfied the public.

In 1860 Mr. Holt, the postmaster-general, by virtue of the act of March
3, 1851, by a formal order declared all the streets, lanes, avenues, &c.
within the corporate limits of the cities of Boston, New York, and
Philadelphia, to be post-roads, and notified all engaged in the
transportation and delivery of letters for compensation in said cities,
that they would expose themselves to the penalties imposed by the third
section of the act of March, 1827. The private expresses in the cities
named acquiesced in the legality of the step, with the exception of one
in Philadelphia long and familiarly known as “Blood’s Express,” and
subsequently, “Despatch.” In despite of the act of 1851, or the penalty
imposed under that of 1827, Blood’s Express continued its regular
delivery of letters in defiance of the department. A bill in equity was
filed with a view of restraining the company from this habitual and
persistent violation of the postal laws; but, upon full argument and
consideration had on the questions involved, the injunction was denied.

The mere existence of a postal department of the government is not an
establishment of monopoly. No government has ever organized a system of
posts without securing to itself a monopoly of the carriage of letters
and mailable matter; but this was never intended to control individual
enterprise in the express line. Judge Grier, who indorses the decision
of this case, says,[58] “The business of private carriers of letters and
mailable packets, even on principal mail-routes, is lawful unless
legislatively prohibited. A private monopoly, secured by prohibitory
legislation, cannot require the suppression of a rival business of
competitors who do not infringe the prohibition, merely because the
continuance of their business would lessen or destroy the profits of his
monopoly. A like rule applies in determining the effect of a
government’s legislative prohibitions to secure its own postal monopoly.
The monopoly cannot be extended beyond the legislative prohibitions,
merely because the continuance of a specific business which has not been
prohibited would reduce the postal earnings of the government, or even
frustrate the purposes of its exclusive policy.” Streets, lanes, alleys,
and avenues were not, in the opinion of the judge, “post-routes.” Public
streets intersecting a municipal town are as highways distinguishable
specifically from the general public highways of a State beyond the town
limits. The streets are, indeed, as thoroughfares, general public
highways of the State; but, independently of this character of
thoroughfares, the streets are specially _local highways_ of the town.
Internal affairs of municipal towns affecting their local interests
alone are always regulated more or less by their local governments. So
far as these streets over which the mail may be carried are entitled to
be termed “post-roads for the passage of the mail,” there is no
question; but whether Congress has the right to declare the streets of a
city post-roads for any purpose is questionable.

When Blood’s Express was first established, its main object was to
accommodate merchants, mechanics, and professional men generally, by
furnishing a medium of communication with their customers, clients, &c.,
which would anticipate the slow movements of the old postal mode of
delivery. If this continued to be its legitimate object, it is very
probable the commercial community would have taken a much greater
interest in it than they did; but, unfortunately for this new postal
system, it assumed the character of a “Parisian Bureau,” for the
reception and delivery of small documents, wherein “love, courtship, and
marriage” were all treated with an eye to _excitement_ rather than as a
virtuous incentive to their study and moral consequences. Young and
inexperienced girls were gradually led into (initial) correspondence
with “fast young men;” foolish widows and old maids to advertise for
husbands, and equally silly, weak-minded elderly gentlemen to imitate
their example. Added to this, many made this penny system the medium to
originate practical jokes, and thus the “express” became a sort of
Pandora’s (_postal_) box for “all sorts of people” to try experiments
with fickle fortune, either by marriage or swindling. Both in some
instances succeeded.

The same was attempted when the government took charge of the “express;”
but the department soon put a stop to this nonsensical practice by
ignoring as legitimate matter every thing of an _initial_ character.
Young girls, foolish widows, old maids, and weak-minded men, who could
without much publicity send and receive communications through “Blood’s
Express,” found a post-office somewhat too dignified an institution for
their _childish_ intellects.

Still, this class of people,—and it takes all kinds to make up a
world,—added to another class who make of crime a pastime and
licentiousness a pleasure, adopted other modes of carrying on their
“vocation,” which we here allude to under the head of “Indecent postal


Tales of the Post-Office.


   “Oh, grief beyond all other griefs, when fate
   First leaves the young heart lone and desolate
   In the wide world, without that only tie
   For which it loved to live or feared to die!”

I was seated at my desk; the index-box was filled with letters,—the
great Southern mail having just arrived.

“Are there any letters for me, sir,—Henry Middleton?”

I glanced my eyes at the applicant: there was something in his voice,
look, and manner which for a moment riveted my attention. He appeared by
no means annoyed at my scrutiny of his person, no doubt ascribing it to
the nature of our situation. He was apparently about twenty-three years
of age; eyes dark and penetrating; a shade of melancholy passed over his
countenance and withered the sunshine of hope; a mouth of the most
marked character conveyed to the observer a knowledge of his; the lower
lip firmly compressed, and the curl of the upper denoted strong and
agitated feeling, and an irritable temperament. Having gathered this
much from Henry Middleton’s personal appearance, I took out from the box
M a handful of letters. One was addressed to him: the handwriting was
evidently that of a female. He seized it with a nervous grasp, a
momentary gleam of hope lighted up his shadowy countenance, and he
rushed out of the office. For the first time in my life I felt a degree
of curiosity to know the contents of another’s letter: it was a strange
and to me a new feeling. In vain I battled with the demon which seemed
rising within me; in vain I turned over letter after letter to withdraw
my mind from this dangerous focus of thought: it was utterly useless.
That night I dreamed of being condemned for breaking open letters
intrusted to my charge.

Towards evening on the day following, to my extreme joy Henry Middleton
stood at the window.

“I wish to pay the postage of this letter, sir.”

Twenty-five cents I informed him was the charge. The letter was in my
hand: Middleton had departed. The address, Miss Amelia Templeton,—a
small seal with the impression M upon it,—was the padlock to my
curiosity. My brain grew giddy with the intensity of desire. I held the
epistle up to the light,—the paper was coarse and thick. I peeped into
the folds: ah! what is that?—part of a sentence visible:—

“Love, Amelia, acknowledges no tie but that of its own creation.”

What a sentence! In vain I tried to follow it up; not a word beyond this
could I make out. Here I was left in the dark: then my imagination
completed a volume of surmises. He, Middleton, was endeavoring to
persuade Amelia to elope with him, or rather to follow him here, and the
above line constituted a portion of the argument used by him to effect
this object.

Such were my conjectures relating to the affair, derived from such
evidence as the reader is now acquainted with.

A month passed over, and my note-book contained several incidents of an
interesting nature; but the lovers, as I concluded them to be, occupied
so much of my thoughts that I could pay but very little attention to the
rest. I awaited impatiently the return of the mail which should bring
the answer from Amelia. At length it came. To Henry Middleton. I
instinctively caught it up. I felt as if I were an interested person,
and had a right to see—that is, without breaking the seal—as much of
the letter as I could; but Amelia had folded it so carefully that it
defied all attempts to gather any connected sentence. Gracious heavens!
what do I see? By turning up a portion of the inner fold with the blade
of my knife, I read,—

   Yours, affectionately,

It was now certain that Amelia was lost to Henry. She had proved
faithless by marrying another. How would he bear up against the
thunderbolt aimed direct at his heart? I again endeavored to penetrate
further into this letter: another fold was carefully raised; the words,
“a parent’s curse,” “cruel necessity,” “your absence,” “forced into
marriage,” burst upon my sight. I had actually worked myself into a
fever, and had partly determined to keep the letter from Middleton,
feeling assured that its contents would prove a death-blow to his hopes.
While debating the subject with myself, he appeared at the window. I
held the letter in my hand. A tremor of almost conscious guilt passed
over me, and, if he had watched my countenance, he could not have failed
to detect something indicative of my crime. I handed him the letter: he
gazed upon the well-known hand, a smile of joy irradiated his visage; he
tore it open, hastily devouring its contents; a sudden and awful change
came over his face; the exclamation of “oh, God!” escaped him: he raised
his right arm, pressing the distended fingers against his forehead, and
fell upon the floor in horrid convulsions!

       *       *       *       *       *

He lay upon the bed of death,—his eyes partly closed, and his hands
clasped together in convulsive agony. I stood beside him, awaiting the
result of the paroxysm. In a few moments he regained consciousness: he
gazed languidly around the room, exclaiming, “Where am I? Who did

“One,” I replied, “who is willing to serve you.”

“Oh, then, as you are my friend, burn that fatal letter! While it
exists, I am wretched: it is the curse of the few short moments I have
yet to live. I have read it until each word, nay, each letter, seemed as
a coal of fire consuming my very heart-strings. It is chained to my
brain, and each thought I bestow upon it acts as an electric shock to
heighten my misery. I essayed to destroy it; but dared not,—cannot.”

I took the letter and deliberately burned it: he watched its
disappearance with a maddening glare, and, when it was entirely burned
to ashes, he burst into a hysterical laugh, and fell back upon the bed.

It is scarcely necessary to inform the reader that, after the scene at
the post-office, I caused him to be conveyed to my room, and he had
continued in a state of delirium during the whole of that time. On
recovering from the hysterical affection caused by the excitement of
destroying the letter, he became more calm.

“I thank you,” he muttered; “I remember it all, and you have been my
true friend. Heaven will bless you for it: my prayers—they are all I
have to offer—shall be breathed for thee and thine.”

“Compose yourself,” I answered; “think of nothing now but your recovery
and return to your friends.”

“Friends!—ha, ha, ha! Who talks of friends? Ah! yes; you that are a real
one, and never felt the venomed tooth of a smiling hypocrite in your
flesh. No, I will speak; bear with me a while. Think, only! he was my
chum at college, the companion of my youth, the friend of my more
matured age, and we lived in the hope of ending our days beneath the
same roof; but now the broad canopy of heaven cannot shelter both of us
alive. One or the other should—must die, and fate accords it to me.”

“You distress yourself. Do not speak of these things.”

“I speak of them, my dear sir, to drive away the curse of recollection.
Left alone to dwell upon them, I would go mad. I will relate to you
something of my short but eventful history. It is simple; there is no
romance in it: it is one of those incidents which occur in every life
among men of the world. I was not suited for the world: it has crushed
me. Amelia has wounded the heart that loved her. But no more of that. We
were cousins, destined at an early age by our parents for each other. We
grew up in the perfect knowledge of the happiness which awaited us: we
were young, we were lovers. There is not a stream, there is not a
mountain of our native home, but could tell a tale of our early loves.
We have wandered over the one and sat beside the other, when the moon
shed her pale and silvery light upon its waters. There nature smiled
upon us, and we in return rejoiced that she was so good. Pardon my
folly, sir; but those were moments of pure, unalloyed bliss. There came
one among us, who, in my dreams and my waking hours of madness, I have
cursed. It was Sinclair, my friend. I will not enter further into the
details of my history. I will not relate to you the causes which induced
me to quit home: suffice it, however, to say that I was unfortunate. I
wrote to Amelia. The fatal answer and the result of it you are already
acquainted with, and it is to your kindness that I am indebted for those
few days added to a life of insupportable wretchedness. My nervous
system, susceptible of the slightest shock, my mind weakened by the
hereditary disease of our family, consumption, could not battle against
the accumulation of domestic misfortunes, and a jealous feeling which I
harbored of Amelia. I left home: my misery is now complete; my former
suspicions have proved true. She is faithless! This, sir, is all: bear
with me but a short time, and then I will tell you the rest. I feel
myself sinking; listen. Oh, God! oh, God!—I—I——” He gasped for breath;
the muscles of his face worked as if struggling to retain life; his eyes
became fixed; his lips muttered sounds,—they were unmeaning. I took his
hand: it was cold and stiff. I gazed upon his face: Death’s seal was set

       *       *       *       *       *

In the Episcopal churchyard, near C—— Street, is to be seen a neat
marble slab, with the following inscription:—

   to the
   Memory of
   aged 24 years.
   Sic transit gloria mundi._


   “Though grief may blight, or sin deface
   Our youth’s fair promise, or disgrace
   May brand with infamy and shame.
   *       *       *       *       *
   A mother, though her heart may break,
   From that fond heart will never tear
   The child whose last retreat is there.”


It was a cold, dreary morning in the month of December, a heavy snow lay
upon the ground, and the wind whistled around the northeast corner of
the post-office; the streets were nearly deserted; none ventured out but
those whose business rendered it absolutely necessary. I sat at the
window watching the flakes of snow as they peeled from the roofs of the
opposite houses and scattered their whitened particles on the pavement

The Southern mail had arrived, and all the business-letters were
delivered; a drowsy feeling crept over me, and I was just falling into
the Lethean lake of forgetfulness,—that dreamy portion of our life,
without which this paradise, this glorious world, with its riches and
its charms, would be as a howling desert.

   “Sleep, sweet restorer, balmy sleep.”

But I am digressing. I was awakened from my slumber by a slight touch
upon the elbow and a tremulous voice uttering the words, “Sir! sir!”

“Madam!” cried I, starting up.

“I am sorry to disturb you, sir, but I wish to know if there are any
letters from my son?”

Honest creature: she looked the picture of distress; the widow of hope
as well as kin, her age apparently about fifty, her dress neat but
indicating poverty,—the hand of Time had furrowed her cheek and left his
impress there.

“From your son, madam?”

“Yes, sir, my only son: a good, brave boy, and my only dependence; he
lives in New Orleans, and sends me my little allowance every month. Is
there any, sir?”

“What is your name?”

“Williams, sir,—Mary Williams.”

“Here are two letters, ma’am, for Mary Williams.”

“That is me, sir; and that is his handwriting, dear, good boy! he never
will forget his aged mother.”

“Fifty cents, ma’am.”

“Fifty cents, sir! my William always pays for the letters.”

“In this instance he has failed to do so.”

“What shall I do?”

“I think you said, ma’am, that your son sends you a monthly allowance:
so probably one of these letters contains it.”

The letter was opened, and, as I anticipated, a ten-dollar bill was

After the departure of the old lady I began to weave an imaginary tale
from the simple incident attending her appearance. Her son was in New
Orleans: it was true, the season was healthy,—the winter there being in
point of salubrity the very antipodes of the summer,—still, an undefined
presentiment of a something yet in embryo glided across my brain. I
noted down the facts that had already occurred, and in the mean time
gathered materials for other tales.

Two months passed away, and a letter remained in the post-office for
Mrs. Mary Williams. In taking it up I accidentally noticed the careless
manner in which it was folded. The following scraps of sentences were
distinct and legible:—

“Business very dull—but two dollars a day—sickness—doctor’s bill—I never
go to the gambling-house—what made you think so?—send money next week.”

It was evident from this that William had got into bad company, and
although he denied frequenting the gambling-houses, those sinks of
iniquity, those common sewers for draining from the weak and dissipated
their hard earnings, yet I felt assured that he was lost, and his mother
left in her old days poor and destitute, relying upon the cold charity
of the world for the common means of subsistence. Her brave and noble
boy, as she had fondly called him, was now drawn into the vortex of
vice, from whose baneful and impetuous influence the tears, the cries,
the agonizing grief of her who doted upon him, to whose existence her
whole soul seemed linked, could not rescue him. The spark of filial
affection was extinguished, and the love of pleasures, the gratification
of passions, dissipation, and debauchery, had usurped its place. The
winter was now passed away with its wrath: storms and tempests with
their hail, rain, and snow were rushing down the tide of time, and
spring was seen smiling in the dim perspective. It was, I think, in the
early part of March, when Mrs. Williams stood at the window. Her whole
appearance was changed. I forgot to mention she had previously sent for
and received the letter to which I have above alluded. Sickness and
sorrow had done their work. Her eyes were sunken, her cheeks more
furrowed, and poverty still more strikingly displayed in her person. To
her question, “Are there any letters for me?” that powerful monosyllable
“No!” was another shock to the poor mother. She stood a while in
silence, the tears rolled down her cheeks, she struggled a while to
restrain her feelings, then fast flowed the sorrowing waters from a
heart surcharged with grief. She turned to depart, but faltered, and at
length overcome, she sat down upon the steps of the post-office and wept

There is something unnatural in the weeping of the aged. Youth is the
seed-time of the harvest, and hath its sunshine and clouds. But age is
the garnered fruit, the sere and the yellow leaf of all that was
beautiful. When age weeps, ’tis for youth, not for itself. I gazed on
the heart-broken woman before me, and thought of her many nights and
days of anguish. I thought of all her bright visions of hope and joy
which shone through her son and lighted the path of her future. They
were all vanished, and here she lay in utter darkness and desolation.

I spoke to her: she looked up. I told her if she would leave her address
I would send a letter, as soon as it came, to her home.

“Home!” she exclaimed; “I have none! Yes, yes, I have!” Reader, it was
the poor-house!

Week after week elapsed: no letter came for the aged widow. One day I
accidentally took up a New Orleans paper. Curiosity prompted me to read
it more carefully than usual: the paper fell from my hand; my worst
apprehensions for Mary Williams were realized.

       *       *       *       *       *

I stood at the bedside of the widow,—she lay on one of straw, beside
which stood a table containing sundry bottles of medicine, and near her
a Bible, upon which were a pair of common steel spectacles, black and
rusted with age. She instantly recognized me.

“Ah! you have brought me a letter from my dear boy. I knew he would not,
could not, desert his poor mother. How is he? where is he?”

       *       *       *       *       *

Reader, here I close my sketch, the remembrance of which haunts me
still, and the last sigh, the last pang of the heart-broken widow will
be as the monitor to prompt me to deeds of charity, with a heart alive
to the cries of the suffering, and a feeling of joy at their alleviation
which I could not previously have experienced.


The morning was one in May, the first of the month. All nature was
smiling and putting forth, like the gay daughters of earth, her
ever-beauteous charms. I had just returned from a long ramble in the
country, and reluctantly seated myself at the window to distribute the
thoughts, the opinions, the love, the hatred, the wisdom, and the
follies of mankind through the medium of letters.

Passing over several commonplace, everyday applicants, I was at last
struck with the interesting appearance of a young lady who could not
have attained the age of eighteen. There was, however, a certain
expression of the countenance, a lurking devil—if I may use the
expression—in her eye, denoting alike ungovernable passions and a
reckless disregard of the consequences attending their gratification.
The study of human nature for years, and a close observation of all its
wire-workings _and mappings of the face_, which my position had a
tendency to improve, have made me conversant with many of those signs
which the bad passions of the human heart cannot keep in its deep
recess, but send forth as warnings to the young and unwary to shun them
as they would a pestilence. She gave her name as Caroline Somerville.
There were fourteen letters to her address, the postage of which
amounted to nearly three dollars. Her correspondence seemed to embrace
the four quarters of the globe: for amongst them were two ship
letters,—one from Bordeaux, the other from a small town in Scotland. I
immediately set her down as one of our best female customers.

I think it was on the third day from her first application at the office
that I noticed in her handwriting a note addressed to a merchant of this
city,—a man of family and reputed a model of his sex, and a pattern for
husbands. This excited an unusual excitement within me.

What could she have to do with Middleton? There was nothing in common
between them. His situation in life, his moral character and standing in
society were all opposed to the bare supposition of such a thing.

In the mean time, by the usual method, I deciphered the following words:
“Pardon the freedom”—“No. 26 Gaskill Street”—“alone, seven
o’clock”—“drop a note”: these were all I could make out; but they were
sufficient. The character and plots of the siren were no longer a
subject of doubt. I knew her as well from those unconnected sentences as
if her whole history had been written out before me. She was, in the
literal sense of the word, A FEMALE SEDUCER.

The next question that presented itself to my mind was, would Middleton
pay any attention to her? That he would not admitted scarcely a shadow
of doubt: he might probably reply to her note, but only to refuse and
remonstrate with her upon the folly and imprudence, if not guilt, of
her conduct.

I handed him the letter myself: he remarked immediately that it was not
one of business. The seal was broken and the letter was read with an
eagerness that surprised me. He placed it carefully in his pocket-book
and departed. Towards evening Caroline received through me an answer
from Mr. Middleton, in which I discovered he promised to meet her. From
that period there came a change over his dream of life: I could not but
mark the wasted form and haggard looks which others would attribute to
different causes. I possessed the key to unlock the truth, but _that_
formed no part of my _vocation_.

Weeks, nay, months, elapsed, and I was only reminded of this
circumstance by the daily appearance of Middleton. The few short months
were as years upon the calendar of his face, while the curse of memory
was dragging him with an iron grasp to an early tomb. One day he told
me, in a manner evidently intended to convey the request more as a
matter of business than otherwise, to deliver his letters to no person
but himself: “remember,” he repeated, “to _no one_, if you please, sir.”
I promised to follow his instructions strictly. He had his reasons, and
I knew it.

As I had anticipated, his wife, a lovely woman, in the fulness of life’s
bloom, rich in accomplishments, the _observed_ of all _observers_,
called at the office; I could detect beneath the bland smile the
canker-worm of domestic sorrow; the seeds of misery were sown, the
harvest was ripening.

“Are there any letters here for Mr. Middleton?”

If I detest any thing in the world, it is the telling of a white lie; it
soon leads to a black one. I replied that there were, but orders had
been given to deliver them to no person but himself.

“Orders, sir?—did he leave such orders?”

“He did, madam.”

She struggled with passion; it was, however, in vain. The words,
“perjured villain,” escaped her, and she left the office.

I could now imagine their domestic scenes,—conscious guilt on the one
side, injured and insulted innocence on the other. But even this was
doomed to have an end.

A report ran through the city that a murder had been committed at No. 26
Gaskill Street. Good heavens! The dwelling of Caroline! I hurried to the
scene of blood, and there lay the dead body of Middleton, and beside
him, in the custody of two officers, his murderer,—a youthful paramour
of this modern Jezebel.

He forfeited his life upon the gallows, and Caroline Somerville died of
_mania a potu_ in the alms-house.

What became of the wife of the unfortunate Middleton? the reader may
inquire. Do you see that little red frame-house which stands alone; that
one with the neat little garden connected with it? There resides Mrs.
Middleton, the once happy wife, together with her four small children:
to maintain them she takes in washing. Yes, reader, such, alas! is her

The tide of public opinion rolls from crime, even while it carries upon
its bosom many a bark freighted with the unhallowed cargo, and involves
many an innocent victim in its reckless and overwhelming course. She is
now alone in the world, with none to sympathize, none to alleviate her
anguish. Her little ones are the peopled world in which she moves;
beyond that all is chaos.




We had written this portion of our work with feelings of gratitude to
the brave men who achieved the glorious victory over the rebellious
armies of the South, and looked forward to the time when Abraham Lincoln
in triumph could repeat his words, uttered long before the surrender of
Lee’s army: “_When the rebellion is crushed, my work is done._” That
work was done, and four millions of people were rescued from slavery;
not alone from the fact of any determined opposition to the institution
as it was and existed under the Constitution, but the effect of the
rebellion itself.

Freedom under the administration of Abraham Lincoln became a reality,
what before was but a name,—a shadow! He had just reached that point:
his labor was nearly done, armies had surrendered, and the power of the
government fully sustained. The shout of gratitude went up from the four
points of our country, North, South, East, and West, and was carried to
other nations with a rapidity unequalled in telegraphic or steam
history. In the midst of this rejoicing, at a time when every heart
throbbed with pleasurable emotions and a nation’s gratitude was about
being manifested by brilliant illuminations and rejoicings, the demon of
hell sent a fiend forth to destroy the life which had given a new one to
our nation.

Our country was an Eden on the morning of the fatal day whose evening
shrouded it in the deepest gloom. All nature was joyous, all men happy
save those who inaugurated the rebellion and looked upon the downfall of
slavery as the end of an institution upon which they sinned and grew
rich,—vampire-like living on the blood of their fellow-creatures!
Abraham Lincoln stood in the garden, the Eden of our country, the Adam
of a new order of things,—a recreated world! The tree of liberty had
been planted, its apples had been eaten eighty years before, and the
curse of slavery followed. But now the tree was clear of its “Dead Sea
fruit,” which had withered its branches; anew it blossomed, anew the
rich, ripe fruit of freedom loaded its stems, and hung suspended,—bright
jewels on a living tree. It was, is, and ever will be the tree of
knowledge to a free and independent people, the golden fruit of all that
is good, whose roots were watered by the tears of the grateful, and
whose soil was enriched by the blood of those who died in defending it.
Abraham Lincoln stood in this garden, the man of the people, as was the
first man of God. There came up from the four corners of our land in
lightning flashes the congratulations of twenty-five millions of _free_
people. Proudly there he stood; the smile on his face was lighted up by
the sunshine of his heart. Then it was that a wretch, whose vocation and
associations had totally demoralized him, crept into this Eden, wherein
all was joy and happiness,—his vile nature, envying a nation’s return to
peace, aimed to destroy it. The name of this serpent was J. Wilkes
Booth, the tool of Southern chivalry, the assassin by whose hand Abraham
Lincoln fell. The moment that the spirit of this martyr passed from
earth to heaven, the chains fell from the limbs of four millions of
people, and the doom of slavery was sealed forever! The 14th of April,
1865, may be dated as an era in our country’s history long to be
remembered, for Abraham Lincoln died in carrying out his great work of
emancipation. He lived to see the last battle fought, lived till the
power of the rebellion was broken, and then, having finished the work
for which God had sent him, he passed away from this world to that high
and glorious realm where the patriot and the good shall live forever.

   “For the stars on our banner grown suddenly dim,
   Let us weep in our sorrow, but weep not for him;
   Not for him who departing leaves millions in tears,
   Not for him who has died full of honors and years,
   Not for him who ascended fame’s ladder so high,
   From the round at the top he has stepped to the sky:
   It is blessed to go when so ready to die.”


    The murder of Abraham Lincoln, President of the United
    States, on the 14th of April, 1865.


   The drapery of death enshrouds,
     In its dark, funereal pall,
   Each quiet home. Its gloomy shade
     Reveals the grief of all.
   A country mourns. The moaning winds
     Sigh requiems of woe;
   E’en from the shifting clouds the tears
     In crystal showers flow.

   Our Father’s dead! from our sad hearts
     Goes up one burden’d strain,
   Till every trait of his great life
     As monuments remain.
   We fondly, thro’ the vista dim,
     Our tearful visions cast,
   And live in memory o’er again
     Each history of the past.

   We watch him in the ship of state,
     On a treacherous, bloody tide:
   ’Neath his firm hand the nation’s bark
     In triumph on shall ride.
   His eagle eye, through shadows dark,
     Still saw the beacon light;
   His heart, unwavering, placed its trust
     In God and freedom’s right.

   Now came the promised shore in view,
     Now dawned the glorious day;
   The darksome river brighter grew,
     Reflecting victory’s ray
   Rebellion falls—a bleeding form—
     Upon the crimson deck;
   While Slavery sinks beneath the stream,
     A black, dismantled wreck.

   A peaceful rainbow bends its hues
     Across the mighty strand;
   It faded soon:—a ruler loved
     Fell ’neath a traitor’s hand.
   Mid festive scenes the assassin comes
     To act the dastard deed:
   The nation’s heart was wounded
     When she saw the patriot bleed.

   The stripes that deck Columbia’s flag
     Grew pallid at the sight;
   The brilliant galaxy of stars
     Flashed with a vivid light.
   The unseen spirit of our land
     Seem’d living in her wrath,
   And threw the starry banner’s folds
     Across the murderer’s path.
   But from her clasp the assassin fled,
     Like all the rebel horde,
   Who spurn our colors with their heel,
     And grasp the traitor’s sword.

   Centuries ago, that day,
     A saddening act was done,
   That rocked the earth in horror
     And dimmed the radiant sun.
   The Anointed One was crucified,
     Mid agony and shame.
   “Father, forgive them!” still he prayed,
     Whilst _they_ reviled his name.

   Towards the mount of Calvary
     The heavy cross was borne
   By one of Afric’s sons, a race
     Now abject and forlorn.
   The cruel yoke was on their life,
     Its curse upon their head,
   Till another raised its ponderous weight:
     For it his blood was shed.

   Upon Good Friday’s holy eve
     The stalwart Roman band
   Removed the cross, lest its dread form
     Pollute the Jewish land.
   Upon Good Friday’s holy eve
     Columbia’s noblest son
   Laid down the weighty cross he bore:
     The martyr crown was won.

   When in the capital to him
     A monument shall rise,
   The record of a nation’s love,
     The tribute of her sighs,
   We’ll vow that traitorous deeds no more
     Shall desecrate our fame;
   No more the blot of slavery
     Shall stain Columbia’s name.

   PHILADELPHIA, April 19, 1865.


[1] In 1516 a regular line of posts was established in the Tyrol,
connecting Germany and Italy, by Roger, Count of Thurn and Taxis. His
successors received from the Emperor of Germany repeated _enfeoffments_
of the imperial post, and extended it over the greatest part of Germany
and Italy. Venice, Genoa, Leghorn, and Naples were thus connected with
Hamburg, Bremen, Lubeck, and Frankfort-on-the-Main; and the active
commerce which had sprung up between these cities became facilitated by
such postal advantages as the system afforded. The Counts of Thurn and
Taxis retained their postal monopoly till the fall of the German Empire.

[2] Ambassadors and heralds—those sacred ministers of the kings of
Greece in that primitive age of civilization and the cultivation of the
arts—were the “posts” by which demands were made by one power from
another, and redresses and grievances settled. These heralds were
equally respected by friends and foes. They travelled in safety through
the midst of embattled hosts, proclaimed to the silent warriors the
commissions with which they were intrusted, or demanded, in return,
truce, or time to consult and settle disputes, &c.

[3] “And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus’ name, and sealed it with the
king’s ring, and sent letters _by posts_ on horseback, and riders on
mules, camels, and young dromedaries.”—_Esther_ viii. 10.

“There is no doubt every available means of conveyance were adopted to
carry these important letters throughout the kingdom, as the greatest
speed was needful in the emergency. He sent men on horseback, and upon
other creatures as swift as horses, and upon mules, both young and old,
according as the places were nearer or farther off. So he ordered the
letters to be sent by post.”—_Bp. Patrick._

[4] The ruins of the palace of Persepolis are still to be seen near
Istaker, on the right bank of the united waters of the Medus and the
Araxes. Travellers speak of them with admiration, not unmixed with awe.
Many pillars still remain standing,—a melancholy monument of the wealth,
taste, and civilization of the Persians, and, in this instance, of the
barbarian vengeance of the Greeks.

[5] See Oddy’s European Commerce; Anderson’s History of Commerce, and
Historical Disquisitions of India.

[6] Dr. James Mease. 1811.

[7] Historical Sketch of the Progress of Trade (1811).

[8] To Cadmus, who founded the kingdom of Thebes [1448 B. C.], is
ascribed the introduction of alphabetical writing into Greece. At least
sixteen letters of their alphabet claim him as the author. But as the
order, names, and form of the characters greatly correspond with the
Phœnician, it seems very probable that the Greek letters were formed
from them, and that Cadmus did not invent, but copy them.

[9] And the Lord said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto
the first: and I will write upon _these_ tables the words that were in
the first tables, which thou brakest.—Exodus xxxiv. 1.

In the ark of the covenant, so carefully preserved by the Jews, was
Moses required to put the two tables of stone on which the Ten
Commandments were written with the finger of God. We are expressly told
that the ark contained nothing besides these tables. Aaron’s rod, the
pot of manna, and the copy of the law were _by_, but not _within_ the
ark.—1 Kings viii. 9.

[10] Meerman, well known as a writer upon the antiquities of printing,
offered a reward for the earliest manuscript upon linen paper; and, in a
treatise upon the subject, fixed the date of its invention between 1270
and 1300. But Mr. Schwandner, of Vienna, is said to have found in the
imperial library a small charter bearing the date of 1243 on such paper.
But more than one Arabian writer asserts the manufacture of linen paper
to have been carried on at Samarcand early in the eighth century, having
been brought thither from China; and, what is more conclusive, Casiri
positively declares many manuscripts in the Escurial of the eleventh and
twelfth centuries to be written on this substance.—_Bibliotheca
Hispanica Arabica_, t. 11, p. 9.

[11] The scuttle-fish emits a liquid strongly resembling ink.

[12] The Rosetta stone, or rather a fragment of it, was discovered by a
French officer of engineers, Mons. Bouchard, in August, 1799, when
digging the foundations of Fort St. Julien, erected on the western bank
of the Nile, between Rosetta and the sea, not far from the mouth of the
river. It was deposited in the British Museum in 1802.

[13] Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, book 1, chap. iv.

[14] These epistles of Solomon and Hiram are those in 1 Kings v. 3-9,
and in 2 Chronicles ii. 3-16.

[15] Letters were generally in the form of rolls, round a stick, or, if
a long letter, round two sticks, beginning at each end and rolling them
until they met in the middle. Books of every size were called _rolls_.
Our word volume means just the same thing in its original signification.
Jer. xxxvi. 2; Ps. xl.; Isa. xxxiv. 4. The roll, book, or letter was
commonly written on one side: that which was given to Ezekiel, in
vision, was written on both, within and without.—Ezek. ii. 10. Letters
then, as is the custom in the East at present, were sent in most cases
without being sealed; while those addressed to persons of distinction
were placed in a valuable purse, or bag, which was tied, closed over
with clay or wax, and so stamped with the writer’s signet. The Roman
scrinium, or book-case, a very costly cabinet, shows how these rolls
were preserved. They were put in lengthwise, and labeled at top.

[16] The mail was carried on horseback with the ancient pack-saddle,
vulgarly called “saddle-bags.” In passing along, he announced his
approach by blowing a “ram’s horn.”

[17] The number of letters annually transmitted throughout the kingdom
is estimated at about 77,000,000; the gross receipts for postage (1837)
were £2,339,737 18_s._ 3_d._; the total cost of management and
transportation, £698,632 2_s._ 2_d._,—leaving a balance of £1,641,105
10_s._ 1_d._ as the revenue received by the government from the
department. The number of franked letters was 7,000,000,—and 44,500,000
newspapers, which were free of postage.

[18] Since the text was written,—namely, on the evening of Monday, the
6th of June,—the Lord Chancellor in the one house and Viscount
Palmerston in the other communicated a message of the queen of her
majesty’s gracious intention to confer on Sir Rowland Hill a sum of
£20,000, and asking her faithful Commons to make provision for the same.

[19] Condensed from a work entitled “Her Majesty’s Mails: an Historical
and Descriptive Account of the British Post-Office.” By William Lewins.
London, Sampson Low, Son & Marston, 14, Ludgate Hill. 1864.

[20] “He fills his mind with a vain or idle picture;” or, “He feeds his
mind with empty representations. He dwells with eagerness upon the
painted semblance,” &c.

[21] “A mind regardless of life [if sacrificed in a good cause].”

[22] Hinton.

[23] That such scenes should have taken place here is not so strange,
when we take into consideration the fact that all England was witch-mad,
and the epidemic raged there subsequent to those atrocities which
disgraced our colonial history. Even now the blush of shame reflects its
hue on those pages devoted to witchcraft in New England, from the cheeks
of those who cannot read our country’s history without referring to
them. During the seventeenth century 40,000 persons are said to have
been put to death for witchcraft in England alone. In Scotland the
number was probably, in proportion to the population, much greater; for
it is certain that even in the last forty years of the sixteenth century
the executions were not fewer than 17,000. In 1643 the madness
may be said to have reached its highest pitch; for in that year occurred
the celebrated case of the Lancashire witches, in which eight innocent
persons were deprived of their lives by the inherent falsehoods of a
mischievous urchin. The civil war, far from suspending the prosecution,
seemed to have redoubled it. In 1644-45 the infamous Matthew Hopkins was
able to earn a livelihood by the profession of witch-finder, which he
exercised, not indeed without occasional suspicion, but still with
general success. And even twenty years later the delusion was still
sanctioned by the most venerable name of the English law!

[24] It was enlarged in 1737, burned down in 1776, rebuilt in 1778. The
present building has a steeple 198 feet high.

[25] The building occupied by the post-office originally belonged to the
corporation of the Middle Dutch Church, and was their place of worship
from the close of the seventeenth century until 1844. Up to that period
it was the oldest church-edifice remaining in the city. A great part of
the wood-work of the steeple, completely wrought, was brought from
Holland. The building itself was of stone. During the Revolution it was
near the upper verge of the city, its location being upon Nassau, Cedar,
and Liberty Streets. When the British took possession of the city in
1776, they used it as a barracks for the soldiers. It was afterwards
converted into a hospital, and finally the pews were removed and it was
made a riding-school. In 1790 it was repaired, and again devoted to the
worship of God. It was purchased by the General Government in 1861, for
the purpose of a post-office, for $250,000.

[26] “Ten Years among the Mail-Bags.” By J. Holbrook. 1856.

[27] Thomas Makin appears to have been one of the most early settlers in
the province of Pennsylvania. In 1689 he was second master of the
Friends’ grammar-school in Philadelphia, which was the first of the kind
in the province, and instituted about that time. In 1699 he was clerk
for the Assembly, at four shillings per day. He was called “a good

In the “Mercury” of November, 1733, his death is thus announced:—“Last
Tuesday night, Mr. Thomas Makin, a very ancient man, who for many years
was a schoolmaster in this city, stooping over a wharf-end to get a pail
of water, unhappily fell in, and was drowned.”

[28] Watson’s Annals.

[29] This building, known for many years as “The London Coffee-House,”
stood at the southwest corner of Front and Market Streets. It was
erected in 1701 by Charles Reed, and was first used as a “coffee-house”
by William Bradford, the printer.

[30] On very meagre authority it is stated that there was a “play-house”
in New York in 1733. In an advertisement in “Bradford’s Gazette” of that
period, a merchant gives his place of business as being “next door to
the play-house.” This reference is all that has been found respecting
it. What kind of a play-house is alluded to here remains a secret to
those who take an interest in dramatic reminiscences.

[31] This gentleman was mayor of the city in the years 1750 and 1755.

[32] The play on this occasion was “George Barnwell.”

[33] This lady was drowned, together with her maid-servant, in the
winter of 1767.

[34] A manuscript note in the file of the American Mercury, preserved in
the City Library, says that Franklin wrote the first five numbers and
part of the eighth of this series. The rest were written by J. B.,
probably Joseph Breintnail, a member of the _junto_, whom Franklin
describes as a “good-natured, friendly, middle-aged man, a great lover
of poetry, reading all he could meet with, and writing some that was
tolerable; very ingenious in making little nicknackeries, and of
sensible conversation.”

[35] As an improvement on the above, cartridge-paper of a peculiar kind
was used in 1778. When the American army entered Philadelphia, in June,
1778, upon the evacuation of the English troops, there was a want of
paper fitted for the construction of cartridges. It was advertised for,
and but a small quantity procured. An order was then issued demanding
its instant production by all people in that city who had it. This
produced but little, and most probably on account of its scarcity. A
file of soldiers was then ordered to make search for it in every place
where any was likely to be found. Among other places visited in July,
1778, was a garret in a house in which Benjamin Franklin had previously
had his printing-office. Here were discovered about twenty-five hundred
copies of a sermon which the Rev. Gilbert Tennent had written (printed
by Franklin) upon “Defensive War,” to rouse the colonists during the
French troubles. They were all taken and used as cases for
musket-cartridges, and at once sent to the army; and most of them were
used at the battle of Monmouth. The requisites in cartridge-paper were,
of course, thinness, strength, pliability, and inflammability; and such
paper was necessarily scarce then.

[36] In 1776 was adopted the standard to be used by the
commander-in-chief of the American navy, “being a yellow field, with a
lively representation of a rattlesnake in the middle, in the attitude of
striking;” underneath were the words, “_Don’t tread on me_.”

The same year the cruisers of the colony of Massachusetts hoisted a
white flag, with a green pine-tree and the motto, “_Appeal to Heaven_.”

[37] The author is indebted for the chief sources of information
contained in this table, to that admirable and useful annual entitled
“The Old Franklin Almanac,” a title as modest as its contents are useful
and instructing. It should be found in every house.

[38] This article appeared about the time Judge McLean was a candidate
for the Presidency, and was brought out to bear upon his success. There
is no denying the fact but what there was more truth than poetry in the

[39] A man by the name of Carroll, residing in Charleston, South
Carolina, was accused of being intimate with slaves, and also as a
receiver of stolen goods, particularly the article of cotton. He was
dragged from his house (August, 1835), and received twenty lashes; he
was then stripped from his waist upwards, tarred and feathered; he was
then marched in procession through the streets and lodged in the jail;
he was also compelled to leave the city. The law, it seemed, sanctioned
the action of the mob; for he was actually received in the prison from
this self-constituted authority.

[40] Constitution of the United States, art. ii. sect. 2.

[41] This took place on the 1st of July, 1857, by which the mails were
to be conveyed between Washington and New Orleans in four days and a
half, by way of Richmond and Lynchburg, Virginia, Bristol, Knoxville,
Chattanooga, and Grand Junction, Tennessee, and Jackson,
Mississippi,—all by railroad, with the exception of a gap of ninety
miles in Mississippi.

[42] See Addenda.

[43] The postal money-order system was approved by Congress, May 17,
1864. It went into operation July 4, 1864.

[44] February 1, 1864.

[45] Other classes of carriers receive higher salaries and other
considerations from the government, which renders the office one of
considerable importance, and requiring influence to obtain.

[46] At this present writing a soldier who lost a leg at the battle of
Gettysburg occupies this position.

[47] The returns from 1846 to 1851 are for the six years under the law
of March 3, 1845. Those from 1852 to 1863 are under the reduced rates
established by the acts of March 3, 1851, and March 3, 1855.

[48] Volney.

[49] The postal history of Russia, like that of all other countries, is
based upon its trade and commerce. Its railroads and canals, running
through its vast extent of country, afford equal facility for its mails.
Russia has her distributing cars for mails, and from its every post they
are rapidly carried throughout the kingdom.

Recently the French Government has introduced mail-cars on the routes
from Paris to Brest and from Paris to Calais. Mails to Germany, or at
least to certain portions of its postal latitude, are thrown out at a
point between Paris and Calais, at what is termed the “Junction Road.”
To follow up this portion of postal history would furnish a most
interesting account of the whole system, and show to the world how
insignificant are all other policies of rule, political, scientific, and
military, when compared with that of TRADE AND COMMERCE.

[50] In connection with the English post-office there is a savings-bank,
which is also a money-order office. This bank is open for business
during the same hours as for money-orders.

[51] The island is situated in the Ohio River, one hundred and
eighty-eight miles below Pittsburg, and two and a half miles from the
beautiful little town of Parkersburg.

[52] We were told by an officer of the department that the meaning of
this section of the postal law is not made sufficiently clear, but it is
generally understood by those who have control of an office. This is not
the case; for we know one large newspaper (weekly) proprietor who,
taking the section literally, sends a very large edition of his paper
through the Philadelphia post-office to all his subscribers, and defends
himself under this order from the general post-office:— “_Weekly
newspapers (one copy only) sent by the publisher to actual subscribers
within the county where printed and published, free._”

[53] New York Review.

[54] For a number of these addresses the author is indebted to that
excellent paper entitled the “United States Mail.”

[55] There is a small paper published in Albany, New York, entitled the
“Stamp Collector’s Record.” It is entirely devoted to the _cause_ of
stamps and their collectors. It furnishes also considerable information
upon the subject in connection with foreign stamps.

[56] The number of individuals employed in the English post-office is
very considerable. On the 31st of December, 1857, it gave employment to
twenty-three thousand seven hundred and thirty-one persons, while the
number has been since considerably increased. More than two thousand of
these clerks are employed in the chief office in London. The number of
persons employed in the post-office of France amounts to twenty-six
thousand and seventy-one; but then it should be remembered that the
extent and population of France are greater than the extent and
population of Great Britain.

[57] It may be added here that these deliveries are distinct from what
is termed the “general delivery.” As all the principal mails arrive in
London in the morning, there are but three deliveries a day by the
carriers of the general post. These carriers are distinguished from
those belonging to the two-penny post or city delivery by wearing the
livery of the department, viz.: a scarlet coat with a blue collar, and
buttons stamped with an impression of the royal arms.

[58] Persons anxious to examine more closely into this subject, which,
however, is now settled, no doubt finally, by a compromise with the
parties, are referred to the opinion of the court, “United States _vs._
Kochersperger,” in report of the postmaster-general for the year 1860.



   A Chapter of Accidents, 366.

   Abolition Papers in the South, 195.

   Addenda, 410.

   Addresses on Letters should be legible, 337.

   Advertised Letters, 314.

   African Post, 88.

   Alphabets of Different Nations, 30.

   American Flag, 173.

   Ancient Writing-Materials, 35.
     Ink, 41.
     Ruins, 19.

   Andersonville Post-Office, 365.

   Appointment-Office, Postal, 268.

   Appleton’s Postal Guide, 339.

   Augustus Cæsar, 14, 20.

   Austria, the Carrier System, 364.


   Bache, Richard, 146.

   Barry, William T., Postmaster-General, 190.

   Bells, Christ Church, 97.

   Biographies of Postmaster-Generals, 187.
     Samuel Osgood (1789), 187.
     Timothy Pickering (1794), 188.
     Jos. Habersham (1795), 189.
     Gideon Granger (1802), 189.
     Return J. Meigs (1814), 189.
     John McLean (1823), 190.
     William T. Barry (1829), 190.
     Amos Kendall (1835), 193.
     John M. Niles (1840), 207.
     Francis Granger (1841), 207.
     Chas. A. Wickliffe (1841), 210.
     Cave Johnson (1845), 211.
     Jacob Collamer (1849), 212.
     N. K. Hall (1850), 212.
     Samuel Dickinson Hubbard (1852), 213.
     James Campbell (1853), 213.
     Aaron Vail Brown (1857), 214.
     Joseph Holt (1858), 215.
     Horatio King (1861), 217.
     Montgomery Blair (1861), 217.
     William Dennison (1864), 224.

   Blair, Montgomery, Postmaster-General, 217.
     Extract from his Report, 220.

   Blood’s Despatch, 394.
     Legal Opinion on, 394.

   Books, Ancient, 40.

   Boston Post, 94.

   Bradford, William, Colonial Postmaster, 118.

   Brintnall, David, 96.

   Brown, Aaron Vail, 214.


   Campbell, James, Postmaster-General, 213

   Carrier-Pigeons, 50.

   Carriers, Letter, 255.

   Charles I., Postal System under, 61.

   Charlemagne, Postal System under, 21, 58.

   Chinese Post, 58.
     Decoy System, 317.

   Collamer, Jacob, Postmaster-General, 212.

   Colonial Post, 90.

   Colonies, the, 90.

   Commerce, 21.

   Commercial League, 21.

   Complaints about Mistakes, 370.

   Confusion of Tongues, 47.

   Congress, Colonial, 176.
     Places held, 175.
     under the Constitution, 177.

   Contract-Office, Postal, 268.

   Curiosities of the Post-Office, 357.

   Curious Cartridge-Paper, 163.
     Inscription on Letters, 343.

   Cyrus, King of Egypt, his Postal System, 19.


   Dead-Letters, 307.
     Account of, 309.
     Curiosities of, 313.

   Declaration of Independence, 98, 162.

   Decoy-Letter System, 314.
     in China, 317.

   Dennison, William, Postmaster-General, 224.

   Dishonest Merchant, 332.

   Distribution of Letters in Europe, 364.

   Domestic Postage, 264.

   Dove, Noah’s, 49.
     the Carrier, 60.


   Early Posts, 98.

   Egypt, 19.

   Egyptian Pyramids, 19.

   Elements of the American System, 206.

   Elements of the British Postal System, 205.

   Employees in the English Post-Office, 382.

   English Post-Office History, 57, 382.
     Charles I., 61.
     Elizabeth, 60.
     Postal System, 58.
     Post-Office, Inside View, 243.
     under Edward IV., 59.

   Espionage over Letters in France, 386.
     in the Southern States, 196.

   European Postal History, 57.
     Posts, Summary of, 81.


   Fanaticism in the Colonies, 91.

   Fatal Letter, the, 357.

   Finance-Office, Postal, 268.

   First Regular Post, 18.
     Riding-Post, 18.
     Stage from Philadelphia to New York, 115.

   Forbidden Articles, 362.

   Franking Privilege, 288, 383.
     curious account of, 297.
     in England, 296.
     in France, 296.
     its Abuse, 293.
     who are entitled to it, 297.

   Franklin, Benjamin, in Philadelphia, 143.
     Death of, 153.
     Epitaph on, 154.
     Letter from, 147.
     Mrs., Letter to her Husband, 142.
     Postmaster (1737), 118.
     Postmaster (1753), 140.
     Postmaster (1775), 142.
     Printer and Editor, 149.


   German Post, 24.

   Glance over the Postal System at the Philadelphia Post-Office, 236.

   Gliddon, George R., on Ancient Egypt, 27.

   Government of Pennsylvania, 102.

   Governors of Pennsylvania from 1682 to 1863, 183.

   Granger, Francis, Postmaster-General, 207.

   Granger, Gideon, Postmaster-General, 189.


   Habersham, Joseph, Postmaster-General, 189.

   Hail Columbia, 172.

   Hall, N. K., Postmaster-General, 212.

   Hamilton’s, Col. J., Colonial Postal Scheme, 94.

   Hanseatic League, 21.

   Hazard, Ebenezer, Postmaster-General, 187.

   Herodotus, 18.

   Hieroglyphical Writing, 42.
     among Indians, 46.

   Hill, Rowland, 73.

   Hiram, King, his Letter to Solomon, 55.

   Holt, John, Printer, 101.
     Joseph, Postmaster-General, 215.

   Hubbard, Samuel Dickinson, 213.


   Important Postal Tables, 259.
     Facts, 284.

   Indecent Postal Matter, 383.

   Independent Post-Office, 100.

   Indian Hieroglyphics, 45.

   Ink, Ancient, 41.

   Ink-Horns, 41.

   Inspection-Office, Postal, 269.


   Jemmy the Rover, 156.

   Jezebel the First Letter-Writer, 54.

   Johnson, Cave, Postmaster-General, 211.

   July 4, 1776, 161, 163.


   Kendall, Amos, Postmaster-General, 193.
     about Abolition Papers, 196.
     his Strict Postal Rules, 201.
     Letter to Southern Postmaster, 196.
     Southern Tyranny, 197.
     the Press, 200.

   King, Horatio, Postmaster-General, 217.


   Language, Origin of, 30.

   Languages, Various, 30.

   Lawsuit, a Curious One, 371.
     Law-Definition of, 338.
     to be repealed, 338.

   Leaves from the Note-Book of a Special Agent, 325, 327, 332.

   Letter-Boxes, 360.

   Letter-Carriers, 255.
     as a Class, 255.
     Belgian, 364.
     in Italy, 364.
     in London, 256.
     in Paris, 383.
     in Prussia, 364.
     their Compensation, 363.

   Letter-Carrying System, 251.

   Letters, 53.
     curious directions on, 343.
     improperly directed, 335.
     in Ancient Times, 53.

   Letter-Sealing, 370.

   Letter-Writers, the First, 54.
     from Solomon to Hiram, 55.
     Hiram’s Answer, 56.

   Liberty-Tree, 166.

   Lincoln, Abraham, 219, 410.

   Literature in the United States, 125.

   Locality of Old Post-Offices, 231.
     of Old Houses, 96.

   Lockett, Lydia, 169.


   Mails in England, 306.
     on the Sabbath, 302.
     the Early, 99.
     to China and Japan, 227.

   Makin, Thomas, Colonial Schoolmaster, 113.

   Market-Days in Philadelphia, 97.

   McLean, John, Postmaster-General, 190.

   Meigs, Return J., Postmaster-General, 189.
     on the Sabbath, 304.

   Messengers in the Olden Time, 49.

   Mint, the First, 188.

   Miscellaneous, 365.

   Money-Order System, 350.


   New Post-Office, Philadelphia, 236.

   New York Post-Office, 99.
     an Act relative to (1785), 115.
     Early History of, 99.

   Newspaper Postage, 265.
     Abuse of, 356.
     English Estimate of, 358.
     Exchanges, 339
     Postmaster-General’s Report on, 341.
     Press, 253, 355.
     Value of, 340.

   Niles, John M., Postmaster-General, 207.

   Noah’s Dove, 49.

   Number of Post-Offices, 206.


   Olden Time, Philadelphia, 122.

   Old Riding-Post, 18.
     Coffee-House, 120.
     Houses, 96.
     Hunting-Club, 116.
     Post-Rider, 92.

   One-Cent System, 363.

   Organization of the Postal System, 267.

   Origin of Posts, Post-Offices, &c., 13.
     Languages, 30.
     Writing-Materials, 35.

   Osgood, Samuel, Postmaster-General, 187.

   Our National Grief, 412.


   Palmer, John, 67.

   Pandora’s Box, Dead-Letter Office, 313.

   Paper, 37.

   Papyrus, 37.

   Pastoral Life, 28.
     Labor, 29.

   Pencils, 39.

   Penn, William, 102, 104, 113, 117.

   Pennsylvania in the Olden Time, 102.
     History of, 102.

   Penny Post first established, 63.
     in America, 392.
     in England, 383.

   Philadelphia Post-Office, 110.
     Architectural View, 237.
     in 1793, 230.
     in the Olden Time, 122.
     Postmasters, 234.
     Post-Office, Inside View, 241.
     Post-Office, Outside View, 239.
     Stage-Wagons, 115.

   Pickering, Thomas, Postmaster-General, 188.

   Plan of Philadelphia, 117.

   Plitt, George, his Report on Foreign Post-Offices, 380.

   Post-Coaches, 271.
     Horses, 20, 93, 271.
     Riders, 19.

   Postage on Printed Matter, 339.
     Domestic, 340.
     Stamp Collectors, 377.
     Stamps, History of, 373.
     curious use of, 378.

   Postal Department, 267.
     Revenue, 282.
     Statistics, 262.
     Tables, Important, 260.

   Postmaster-Generals, a List of, 187.
     a Royal One, 18.
     under the Constitution, 188.
     under the Crown, 94.
     under the Proprietary Government, 187.

   Postmasters in Philadelphia, 234.

   Post-Office, Philadelphia, 110, 230.
     a Political Institution, 16, 203.
     Boston, 94.
     Curiosities, 357.
     England, 57, 382.
     New York, 95, 99.
     solvent, 387.
     Statistics, 260.

   Post-Offices, Ancient and Modern, 13.
     Number of, 206.

   Posts, Early, 98.
     in China, 58.
     in Greece, 14.
     in Rome, 14.
     in the Tyrol, 17.
     under King Cyrus, 18.

   Pratt, Henry, Post-Rider (1738), 121.

   Presidents of Congress, Colonial, 176.
     under the Constitution, 177.

   Press, Abuse of the Freedom of, 356.

   Press, Freedom of the, 355.
     Importance of, 253.

   Prophecy, a Strange One, 157.

   Pyramids of Egypt, 19, 275.


   Queen Elizabeth, 60.

   Quills, 39.


   Railroad Postal System, 286.

   Railroads, Ancient, 273.
     in America, 277.
     in England, 276.

   Rates of Postage, 339.

   Rebellion, 194.

   Regulators in the South, 197.

   Reminiscences, 139.

   Report of Mr. George Plitt, 380.

   Riding-Post, 18.

   Roger, Count of Thurn, 17.

   Romance of the Post-Office, 111.

   Rosetta Stone, 43, 44.

   Ruins of Ancient Cities, 273.


   Sabbath Day, 302.

   Salaries of Postmasters, 391.

   Scenes at the Post-Office, 367.

   Scribe, 40.

   Scriptural Allusions to Writing-Materials, &c., 35.

   Sealing-Wax, 370.

   Society Hill, 122.

   Sons of Liberty, 101.

   Special Agents, 319.
     Agent, Carrier’s Department, 323.

   Stage-Wagons, 96.

   Stamps, Collectors of, 377.
     Curious Use of, 378.
     History of, 373.

   Star-Spangled Banner, 173.

   Style, 38.

   Suggestions, Postal, 361.

   Summary of English Posts, 84.


   Tables, Important Postal, 262.

   Tablets, 37.

   Tales of the Post-Office, 397.

   The Post comes in, 368.

   The Siren, 406.

   The Victim of Love, 397.

   The Widowed Mother, 402.

   Theatres in Philadelphia, 124.

   Tower of Babel, 47.

   Trades and Professions, 27.


   Unmailable Letters, &c., 336.


   Virginia Postal System before the Revolution, 120.


   Walborn, C. A., 249.

   Waldy, Henry, 113.

   Waste Paper, 369.
     Curious Incident connected with, 369.

   Watch your Letter-Boxes, 360.

   Wax, Sealing, 370.

   Wayne, Anthony, 156.

   Wharton, Robert, 117.

   Wickliffe, Charles A., Postmaster-General, 210.

   Work of the Post-Office, 254.

   Writing-Materials, Origin of, 35.


   Yankee Doodle, Origin of, 167.
     the Words, 170, 171.

   Yellow Fever (1793), 221.

   Youthful Mail-Robber, 327.


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