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History of the Postal Service from the 
Earliest Times 

The American System Described with Full Details 

of Operation 

A Fund of Interesting Information upon All Postal Subjects 

• •• • • • • 

• • %• • • • 

'• • • •• 

Washington, D. C. 

Second Edition Revised and Enlarged 
Copyright 1917 Louis Melius 

• • • • 


Postmaster General Burleson 

Biographical Sketches of the Postmaster General and His 
Four Assistants 

Albert Sidney Burleson, of Austin, Tex., Postmaster General, was born June 7, 
1863, at San Marcos, Tex.; was educated at Agricultural and Mechanical College 
of Texas, Baylor University (of Waco), and University of Texas. Was admitted 
to the bar in 1884; was Assistant City Attorney of Austin in 1885, '86, '87, '88, '89 
and '90; was appointed by the Governor of Texas, Attorney of the Twenty-Sixth 
Judicial District in 1891; was elected to said office, 1892, '94 and '96; was elected to 
the 56th, 57th, 58th, 59th, 60th, 61st, 62d, and 63d Congresses; appointed Postmaster 
General March 4, 1913, and confirmed March 6, 1913. 

John C. Koons, First Assistant Postmaster General, entered the service as a 
Railway Postal Clerk; was transferred to Washington and made Post Office Inspector, 
subsequently made Chief of the Division of Salaries and Allowances and member of 
the Parcel Post Commission, in which latter connection his services were considered 
of especial value and importance. Appointed Chief Post Office Inspector and upon 
the resignation of the late First Assistant Postmaster General, Daniel C. Roper, 
was named to succeed him. His legal residence is in Carroll Co., Md. 

Otto Praeger, Second Assistant Postmaster General, was born in Victoria, Tex., 
1871. Legal residence, San Antonio, Tex. Took a course of instruction in the 
University of Texas and was a student on political economy under David F. Houston 
now Secretary of Agriculture. Engaged in the newspaper business at San Antonio 
in 1887 — San Antonio Light and San Antonio Express; was for a time city clerk of 
said city; was engaged in newspaper work as Washington correspondent when 
appointed Postmaster of Washington, D. C, and in August, 1915, was appointed 
Second Assistant to succeed Hon. Joseph Stewart. 

Alexander Monroe Dockery, Third Assistant Postmaster General, is a native of 
Missouri, born in Daviess County, educated at Macon Academy; studied medicine, 
graduated and practiced it for a while but later engaged in the banking business. 
Served in Congress from March 3, 1883, to March 3, 1899. Member of Committee of 
Appropriations, twelve years; Committee Post Offices and Post Roads, four years; 
Governor of Missouri from 1901 to 1905; was author of the bill extending the special 
delivery system to all post offices; also extending free delivery service to small 
cities; advocated the first appropriation for rural delivery. Chairman of the com- 
mission which bore his name, constituted by Congress for administrative reforms in 
the conduct of public business, and author of the act creating a new accounting system 
for the Treasury Department and many other public measures which have made his 
name familiar to the public and political life of the country. 

James I. Blakslee, Fourth Assistant Postmaster General, was born at Mauch 
Chunk, Pa., December 17, 1870. Public school education, supplemented with 
special courses at Bethlehem Preparatory School, Cheltenham Military Academy 
and High School, Pottstown, Pa.; was connected with the Lehigh Valley and Penn- 
sylvania railroads as telegraph operator and assistant yardmaster; Lieutenant, Com- 
pany E, Eighth Regiment, National Guards, 1897; commissioned same rank and 
regiment, U. S. Volunteers, and appointed quartermaster and commissary. Reserve 
Hospital Corps, U. S. Army, during the Spanish-American War. Removed to 
Lehighton in 1899. Chairman Democratic Committee of Carbon County, 1905. 
Assemblyman, Pennsylvania Legislature, 1907-09 term, and subsequently made 
Secretary Democratic State Committee, where his organizing ability won him 
national recognition. 


This little work on postal affairs aims to familiarize postal 
employes and others with the operations of the Post Office Depart- 
ment in all its varied and numerous details. No attempt was made 
to cover the wide field of postal activity and inquiry for which a 
much larger book and much greater space would be required. 
It is simply meant to be a book of reference, a sort of hand-book 
on postal subjects for busy people who may not care to read 
lengthy accounts or stories which a few paragraphs might suf- 
ficiently explain, or care to wrestle with columns of figures which 
are best given in official reports and chiefly valuable to public 
men for legislative purposes, for comparison and survey. 

All necessary postal knowledge of immediate public interest 
is herein set forth in such compact shape as to acquaint the reader 
with what he might want to know, or direct his inquiry to sources 
of wider information if the desire was not satisfied with the refer- 
ence thereto which this work might afford. In general it will be 
found amply sufficient for all ordinary purpose as the scope of 
subjects is as wide as the active operations of the Department 
at present include. 

The special articles referring to subjects of general postal 
interest cover a considerable range of inquiry and deal more fully 
with those matters which are but briefly mentioned in that portion 
devoted to the purely business details of the Department. Much 
of this material is new and all of it treated so as to interest the 
reader. These articles on general postal topics in connection 
with the other matter herewith given, relating to the service, 
may please some one here and there and perhaps justify the publica- 
tion of this little contribution to the literature of the time. 

L. M. 
Washington, D. C. 
March 15, 1917. 


To Mr. Ruskin McArdle, late Private Secretary 
to the Postmaster General, now Chief Clerk of the 
Department, whose friendly regard I have long en- 
joyed and whose courteous and considerate treat- 
ment to aU with whom his official relations have 
brought him into contact, this little volume is re- 
spectfully dedicated as a mark of appreciation and 
a token of deep and lasting esteem. 

The Author. 


The operations of the postal service are conducted by divisional arrange- 
ment with the duties of each accurately and specifically defined. Previous 
to this administration much of the work of the various bureaus was 
found to be overlapping each other and exercising a separate authority 
in correlated matters. These oflBcially related duties were each brought 
under a proper head, insuring prompt attention and fixing a definite 
responsibihty which has been found to be of recognized benefit and value. 


Postmaster General. — ^Albert S. Burleson, Texas. 
Private Secretary. — Robert E. Cowart, Texas. 
Chiej Clerk. — Ruskin McArdle, Texas. 
Assistant Chief Clerk. — William W. Smith, Tennessee. 
Division of Solicitor. — 

Solicitor. — William H. Lamar, Maryland. 

Assistant Attorneys. — J. Juleen Southerland, North Carolina. 
Walter E. Kelly, Ohio. 
Edwin A. Niess, Pennsylvania. 
John A. Nash, Pennsylvania. 

Bond Examiner. — Horace J. Donnelly, District of Columbia. 

Law Clerk. — Arthur J. Kause, Ohio, 
Division of Purchasing Agent. — 

Purchasing Agent. — James A. Edgerton, New Jersey. 

Chief Clerk. — Frederick H. Austin, Missouri. 
Division of Post Office Inspectors. — 

Chief Inspector. — George M. Sutton, Missouri. 

Chief Clerk. — J. Robert Cox, North Carolina. 
Appointment Clerk. — Vacant. 
Disbursing Clerk. — William M. Mooney, Ohio. 


First Assistant Postmaster General. — John C. Koons, Maryland. 
Chief Clerk. — John W. Johnston, New York, 
Division of Post Office Service. — 

Superintendent. — Goodwin D. Eliaworth, North Carolina. 

Assistant Superintendent. — William S. Ryan, New York. 
Division of Postmasters* Appointments. — 

Superintendent. — Charles R. Hodges, Texas. 

Assistant Superintendent. — Lorel N. Morgan, West Virginia. 

Assistant Superintendent. — Simon E. Sullivan, Maryland. 
Division of Dead Letters. — 

Superintendent. — Marvin M. McLean, Texas. 


Second Assistant Postmaster General. — Otto Praeger, Texas. 
Chief Clerk. — Eugene R. White, Vermont. 

6 The American Postal Service 

Division of Railway Mail Service, — 

General Superintendent — Wm. I. Denning, Georgia. 

Assistant General Superintendent. — George F. Stone, New York. 

Chief Clerk. — Chase C. Gove, Nebraska. 
Division of Foreign Mails. — 

Superintendent. — Robert L. Maddox, Kentucky. 

Assistant Superintendent. — Stewart M. Weber, Pennsylvania. 

Assistant Superintendent at New York, — ^Edwin Sands, New York, 
Division of Railway Adjustments. — 

Superintendent. — ^James B. Corridon, District of Columbia. 

Assistant Superintendent. — George E. Bandel, Maryland. 

office of the third assistant postmaster general 

Third Assistant Postmaster General. — ^Alexander M. Dockery, Missouri. 
Chief Clerk. — William J. Barrows, Missouri. 
Division of Finance. — 

Superintendent. — William E. Buffington, Pennsylvania. 
Division of Postal Savings. — 

Director. — Carter B. Keene, Maine. 

Assistant Director. — Charles H. Fullaway, Pennsylvania. 

Chief Clerk. — Harry H. Thompson, Maryland. 
Division of Money Orders. — 

Superintendent. — Charles E. Matthews, Oklahoma. 

Chief Clerk. — F. H. Rainey, District of Columbia. 
Division of Classification. — 

Superintendent. — William C. Wood, Kansas. 
Division of Stamps. — 

Superintendent. — William C. Fitch, New York. 
Division of Registered Mails. — 

Superintendent. — Leighton V. B. Marschalk, Kentucky. 

office of the fourth assistant postmaster general 

Fourth Assistant Postmaster General. — ^James I. Blakslee, Pennsylvania. 
Chief Clerk. — J. King Pickett, Alabama. 
Division of Rural Mails. — 

Superintendent. — George L. Wood, Maryland. 

Assistant Superintendent. — Edgar R. Ryan, Pennsylvania. 

Chief Clerk. — Lansing M. Dow, New Hampshire. 
Division of Equipment and Supplies. — 

Superintendent. — ^Alfred B. Foster, California. 

Assistant Superintendent, — ^Vacant. 

Chief Clerk. — Vacant. 

office of the auditor for the post office department 

Auditor. — Charles A. Kram, Pennsylvania. 

Assistant and Chief Clerk, — Terrence H. Sweeney, Minnesota. 

Law Clerk. — Faber Stevenson, Ohio. 

Expert Accountant. — ^Lewis M. Bartlett, Massachusetts. 

The American Pobtai* Service 

Electrical Accounting SyslefB* — 
Chiefs of Division* — 

Louis Brehm, UlinoSa. 
Joshua H. Clark, Maryland. 
James R. White, District of Columbia. 
Miscellaneous Division. — ■ 

C/tie/.— Jasper N. Baiceb, Kansas. 

Report of Postmaster General, Pascal Year Ending June 30, 1917 

The long continued agitation between the railroads and the 
Post OfEce Department over the method of payment for mail 
transportation is in process of settlement by actual tests. The 
contention is whether the basis of payment shall be by weight or 
by the space used. While the space rate is the higher of the two 
it lends itself to rational readjustment, and is therefore best for 
government needs. The tests made show a saving of shout 
$7,000,000 per annum by the space method. 

The eflSciency standard now required of Postmasters, has It 
is stated, greatly improved the service and the announced policy 
of the Department to reappoint all those who render meritorious 
service has been adhered to and will be continued. 

During the year ending June 30, 1917, 38 second class oflSces 
were advanced to the first classy 135 third class to second, and 
1,203 fourth class to third. Average annual salary of post-oSSce 
clerks is now $1,142 per annum^ city carriers $1,126.50. 

Removals of employees for cause are now rarely made, statisties 
show less than one per cent in both the post office and city carrier 

It is recommended that where because of unusual conditions, 
rural carriers cannot be obtained at the maximum rate of pay, 
advertisements be issued calling for proposals for the performanee 
of such service. 

Motor vehicle routes are now In operation on a total length 
of over 41,000 miles, avera^lnj^ 54 miles per route, at an averse 
cost of $1,786.49 per route. 

There are now 43,463 rural routes in operation, covering 
1,112,556 miles. Cost of rural service decreased 0.011 per 
patron during the year 1917j cost per mile decreased 0.114 cent 
per mile. 

9. The American Postal Service 

The cost per mile of travel by star-route contractors is $0.1024. 
Cost per mile of travel by rural carrier is $0.1510. This difference 
in cost is receiving departmental consideration. 


! Shipment of parcel post packages increased 14 per cent in 1917, 
the increase representing more than 25,000,000 pieces. Cooper- 
ation of postmasters in bringing the insurance feature particu- 
larly that of partial damage prominently to public notice, has 
resulted in an increase of over 8,000,000 insured parcels over the 
showing of 1916.' 

Growing carelessness in addressing letter mail resulted in 
13,000,000 letters being found undeliverable during 1917, an 
increase of 21 per cent. 

The report shows an audited surplus for the year of $9,836,211 
the largest in the history of the department. The increase over 
the preceding year was 5.66 per cent, while the increase in cost 
was 4.45 per cent. The audited revenues for the year amounted 
to $329,726,116. 

Remarkable growth in postal savings is shown. In 1917 there 
were 674,728 depositors with a total of $131,954,696 to their 
credit. The average balance for each depositor was $195,57. 
This was an increase over the previous year of 71,791 in the 
number of depositors, $45,934,811 in the amount and $52,90 in 
the per capita balance. 




Latest Facts 7 

General Postal History 11- 

Beginning of Personal Communication 12 

Postal History of England 12 

Penny Postage 13 

General Post Office in London 14 

French and German Postal History 15 

The American Colonial Period 16 

Under the Continental Congress 16 

The Crown Postmasters 17 

Post Offices and Post Roads Established 18 

The Period of Progress 18 

Postage Stamps Introduced 19 

Progressive Steps Taken 19 

Historical Data 20 


Questions of Finance. Postal Revenue — How Derived and Expended 

Revenues and Expenditures 21 

Method of Expenditure 21 

Appropriations 22 

Auditor 23 


Departmental Operations — General and Detailed Descriptions and Cost of Service 

History of Rural Free Delivery 24 

Rural Delivery Defined 25 

The Struggle for Rural Delivery 25 

The Advantages of Rural Delivery 26 

Rural Delivery as Viewed by President McKinley 27 

First County Rural Delivery 27 

Country- Wide Extension, Rural Delivery 28 

How Rural Delivery Enhances the Value of Farm Land 28 

Per Capita Cost, in Rural Delivery 29 

Some Necessary Conditions, Rural Delivery 31 

Annual Cost per Patron by States and Pieces Handled 31 

Population and Extension, Rural Service 32 

Motor Vehicle Routes, Rural Delivery » . 32 

Village Delivery 34 

City Delivery 35 

Star Routes 35 

Postal Savings 35 

Money Order System 36 

Stamp Books 36 

Postal Cards 37 

Division of Stamps 37 

Classification 37 

Purchasing Agent 38 

Dead Letter Office 38 

Mail Locks 89 

Mail Pouches 39 

Post Office Supplies 41 

Special Delivery 42 

Foreign Mail Service 42 

Topography Branch 43 

Division of Post Office Service 44 

American Postal System 45 

Considerate Treatment of Newspaper Mail 45 

10 The American Postal Service 


Special Articles 


Stamp Manufacture, Bureau Engraving and Printing . 46 

Post Office Inspectors 48 

Railway Mail Service 48 

Parcel Post, Opposition Thereto 49 

Interesting Facts. Postmasters General 53 

Withdrawal of Letters from the Mail 54 

Handling of the Mail in Department 54 

Cost Accounting 55 

Cleansing Mail Bags 55 

Farm-to- Table Movement 55 

Postal Service in Alaska 57 

Standardization of Post Offices 58 

Postal Savings Circulars in Foreign Tongues 58 

A Patriotic Editor 59 

Damage, Parcel Post Mail 59 

Opinion of Daniel Webster on Mail Extension 60 

Blind Woman on Pay Rolls 61 

Wanamaker — Four Postal Reforms 62 

The Rural Carrier as a Weather Man 64 

New Box Numbering System, Rural Routes 65 

Wireless Telephones, Rural Service 68 

Parcel Post Exhibits at County Fairs 70 

The Great Express Service of the Government 71 

The Telephone and Parcel Post in Cooperation 72 

Speeding up the Service — Rural Mails 73 

Training Public Officials 74 

For the Benefit of the Fourth Class Postmasters 76 

Public Work and Private Control 77 

Protecting the Public Records 78 

Registry and Insurance Service, 1916 78 

Readjustment Rate, Second Class Mail 79 

Peculiar Customs, European Rural Delivery 80 

What Was a Newspaper in 1825 ? 81 

Women in the Post Office Department 82 

Railroad Accidents, Construction of Cars 83 

Public Ownership of Telegraph and Telephone — Burleson 83 

Liquor Carried by the Mails 84 

How the Post Office Department Helps the Farmer 85 

Expediting the Mails on Star Routes 87 

Abraham Lincoln Postmaster in 1837 88 

A Central Accounting Office for Each County 88 

Millions of Money for Good Roads 89 

$14,550,000 for Rural Post Roads 91 

Mail Extensions by Air and Motor Truck Houtes 92 

Care Required in Preparing Contracts 93 

Birthday American Postal Service 93 

List of Postmasters General 94 


Miscellaneous Matters 

General and Financial Summary 95 

Items of Interest 97 

Old Laws and Regulations 104 

Queer Collection Holiday Mail 108 

Feeding the Cats 110 

Couple of Distinguished Canines IID 

Soldier's Sister a Mail Clerk 112 

Index to Items of Interest \\% 



General Postal History 

The need of communication was doubtless one of the earliest 
activities of the Ancient World, not for public use but for govern- 
ment purpose. In Holy Writ we learn that the Israelitish Nation 
made early use of the means at hand. In the first Book of Kings 
it is stated that Queen Jezebel wrote letters in Ahab's name, 
sealed with the King's seal, and sent them to the elders and nobles 
in the city. In the Book of Esther mention is made of sending 
letters by posts to all the King's provinces. There are also 
evidences that the Assyrian and Persian nations established 
stations, or posts a day's Journey apart, at which horses were kept 
ready saddled with waiting couriers for the transmission of public 
orders and edicts. Xenophon mentions that Cyrus employed 
posts throughout his dominions and Herodotus speaks of the large 
structures erected for post stations. The mail service of China 
dates far back into antiquity. It is said that in the fourteenth 
century there were 10,000 mail stations in the empire. Peru, 
remarkable for its early evidences of civilization, had according 
to the historian Prescott, communication established from one end 
of the country to the other. There is, however, nothing to show 
that ordinary human affairs received any attention at this early 
period, the activities of rulers being devoted entirely to govern- 
mental interest and concern. The affairs of commerce and trade 
were probably carried on by personal enterprise, by voyages of 
trade discovery by water or expeditions on land. 

The method of using couriers for transmitting intelligence was 
evidently long continued, being the only means known by which 
such need could be met, or the one which most naturally suggested 
itself. The Romans employed couriers for the promulgation of 
military and public orders to their scattered provinces, private 
letters being sent by slaves or by such opportunity as occasion 
afforded. It is said that Charlemagne employed couriers for 
public purposes, but the practice was discontinued after his death, 
special messengers being used when occasion required. England 
employed couriers for public purposes in the thirteenth century, 
and in the fourteenth century Louis XI returned to the practice 


12 The American Postal Service 

of employing mounted couriers and established stations but only 
for government purposes. 

The Beginning of Personal Communication 

As early as the beginning of the thirteenth century the need of 
personal communication was recognized and the University of 
Paris arranged for the employment of foot-messengers to bear 
letters from its thousands of students to the various countries in 
Europe from whence they came. This plan lasted until 1719. 
In the fifteenth century an attempt was made and the custom 
prevailed for some time, of sending letters by traveling trades- 
men or dealers who made regular trips in certain directions for 
barter, purchase or sale. The tremendous stimulus given to the 
development of commercial conditions by the crusades, made 
business intercourse necessary, and the post riders who had siu*- 
plus horses soon found use for them in the conveyance of passengers 
and ultimately in the transmission of general information which 
finally resulted in a fixed compensation and which method re- 
mained in use for a considerable period. 

The real beginning of letter posts for private and business 
purposes, dates from the year 1516, when Roger, Count of Thurn, 
established riding posts in the Tyrol, connecting Germany and 
Italy. A letter post had been established in the Hanse towns in 
the thirteenth century, but the actual commencement of such 
activities dates from the year 1516. The Emperor Charles V 
made these riding posts general throughout his dominions and 
appointed Leonard, Count of Thurn, his postmaster general. 
I The Counts of Thurn and Taxis held this monopoly by regular 
succession for many years afterward. The rapid growth of English 
civilization made postal progress necessary for its people and this 
brings us to the period of most interest to students as well as the 
average reader. 

The Postal History of England 

As much of our postal system is naturally based on that of 
England from our early Colonial dependence, it is of interest to 
note the various steps of English progress and development in 
connection with the subject. 

The first English postmaster general of whom any account can 
be given was Sir Brian Tuke, who is described on the records of the 
year 1533 as "Magister Nuncrorum, Cursorum, Sire, Postarum," 

The American Postal Service IS 

but long subsequent to this appointment of a postmaster general 
the details of the service were frequently regulated by proclama- 
tion and by orders in council. During the earlier years of Queen 
Elizabeth, most of the business of the postal service to and from 
England was managed by the incorporated "Merchant Strangers'* 
who appointed special postmasters among themselves. 

The accession of James I, necessitating more frequent com- 
munication between London and Scotland, led to many improve- 
ments in the postal service. It was ordered that the posts should 
travel not less than 7 miles an hour in summer and 5 miles in 
winter. In 1619 a separate postmaster general for foreign parts 
was created. Thomas Witherings was one of the successors in 
this office and entitled to rank as one of the many conspicuous 
postal reformers in the continental service. All letters were then 
carried by carriers or footpads 16 or 18 miles a day. It required 
two months to get answers from Scotland or Ireland to London. 
He directed that all northern mail be put into one "portmantle" 
directed to Edinburgh and separate bags to such postmasters as 
lived upon the road near to any city or town corporate, which 
was the first step in the separation of mail since carried to such 
perfection here and elsewhere. 

Penny Postage Attempted 

The income from the post office in 1643 was but 5,000 pounds. 
Ultimately the posts both inland and foreign were farmed out to 
John Manley for 10,000 pounds a year by an agreement made in 
1653. About this time an attorney of York, named John Hill, 
ventured upon the plan of placing relays of post horses between 
that city and London and undertook to convey letters and parcels 
at half the former charge. He aimed to establish penny postage 
for England, two-penny postage for Scotland, and a four-penny 
postage for Ireland. But the post office was regarded in that day 
as a means of revenue and incidentally of political espionage and 
government did not approve of such individual enterprise. His 
letter carriers were literally trampled down by Cromwell's soldiers, 
and the enterprising attorney narrowly escaped severe punishment.' 
Another attempt at penny postage for London was established by 
William Duckwra, a custom house employe, and Robert Murray ,► 
a clerk in the excise office. Duckwra carried for a penny and regis- 
tered and insured, both letters and parcels up to a pound in weight 

14 The American Postal Service 

and $10 in value. He established hourly collections and ten 
deliveries daily for the central parts of London and six for the 
suburbs The Duke of York had, however, a patent covering 
this service and suits were laid against him which put an end to 
his enterprise. 

The systematic employment of women in post office and tele- 
graph service was for a long time an experiment and a problem, 
but it afterwards proved a success. Under new regulations in 
1870, women were employed as telegraphists for eight hours 
daily with pay according to age, intelligence and practical ex- 
perience. At the close of 1880, there were a thousand women so 
employed in the cities of London, Edinburgh, and Dublin, and 
nearly as many in minor postal positions throughout the Kingdom. 

General Post Office at London 

The necessary authority for the establishment of a general 
post office at London to cover the British dominions, including 
the American Colonies, was given by act of Parliment in 1657. 
Under this act the postal affairs of England were conducted for a 
great length of time with but little if any improvement. It was 
not until the memorable pamphlet of Sir Rowland Hill was issued 
in 1837 that any real progress was made or any attempt made 
worthy of mention. Postal conditions were so unsatisfactory 
that he made the whole subject a matter of profound inquiry and 
his pamphlet on "Postal Reform" stirred the nation and led to a 
complete reformation of the entire postal system and was the 
beginning of the British post office as we see it today. 

The important events in English postal history given above 
and that which follows in chronological order are abridged from the 
Encyclopedia Brittanica, 1891 — 1720, organization of cross roads 
and rural posts; 1753, establishment of post office in American 
Colonies under Benjamin Franklin; 1774, improved mail coaches 
and organized mail routes; 1821, first conveyance of mail by steam- 
packet; 1830, first mail coach by railway; 1834, postage stamps 
invented by James Chalmers, Dundee, Scotland; 1835, overland 
route to India; 1838, Postal money order system; 1840, general 
and uniform penny postage (per half ounce) ; 1855, first street 
letter boxes put up in London; 1856, Postal Guide issued; 1861, 
Postal Savings Banks instituted; 1870, transfer of telegraph to 
state and postal cars introduced; 1881, postal orders issued; 1883, 
parcel post established. 


The Amebican Postal Service 15 

French and German Postal History 
The French Postal System was founded by Louis XI in 1464. 
It was largely extended by Charles IX, 1565, and generally 
improved under Henry IV and Louis XIII. Napoleon abolished 
the board system by which the French service was then conducted 
and recommitted the business to a postmaster general as it had 
been under Louis XIII. Napoleon greatly improved the service 
in all its details, and the measures he adopted and the reforms he 
introduced in 1802 remained in force for many years afterward 
and are probably in use now with such additions as developments 
suggested. The most important reforms in French Postal History 
were the extension of postal facilities to all the communes, effected 
under Charles X, 1829; adoption of postage stamp, 1849, under 
Louis Napoleon. Issue of postal notes to bearer, 1860; Postal 
Savings Banks, instituted 1880. 

The development of the Prussian or present German postal 
system was mainly due to Dr. Stcphan, who was also the chief 
organizer of the International Postal Union. This Prussian 
system, incorporated into the admirably organized post and 
telegraph service of the empire, began with the Great Elector, 
1646. In Strasburg a messenger code existed as early as 1443. 
A postal service was organized at Nuremberg in 1570. The first 
mail steam packet was built in 1821; the first transmission of mails 
by railway was in 1847; telegraph service in postal affairs, 1849. 
A regular delivery by letter carriers attached to the state postal 
system existed in Berlin as early as 1712. 

These principal items of postal history concerning France and 
Germany are condensed from the excellent articles upon the sub- 
ject as found in the Encyclopedia Brittanica, edition of 1891, as 
well as the information on English postal history, for which 
acknowledgment is made in its proper place relating to the 
Postal History of Great Britain. 

1^ The American Postal Service 

The American Colonial Period 
The earliest attempt to provide postal facilities for the colonies 
was in 1672 when Governor Lovelace, of the New York colony, 
established monthly service between New York and Boston. 
An office was later established at Philadelphia from which weekly 
mail was received and sent. By the signing of letters patent in 
1691 the control of the American posts was vested in Thomas 
Neale, commonly called the "Neale Patent." In that year Neale 
and the Royal Postmasters General appointed Andrew Hamilton, 
Postmaster General of America. All the colonies except Virginia 
cooperated with him in improving and extending the service. 
A weekly post was established between Portsmouth, New Hamp- 
shire, to Boston, Saybrook, New York, Philadelphia, Maryland 
and Virginia. Five riders were engaged to cover each of the five 
stages twice a week. In 1707 the crown purchased the good will 
of the American post and continued John Hamilton, the son of 
Andrew, in that office at an annual salary of 200 pounds. In the 
year 1737, Franklin became postmaster at Philadelphia and 
generally supervised the other offices of the colonies. In 1753 he 
was one of the deputy Postmasters General, but was dismissed in 
1774 by Governor Hutchinson, of Massachusetts, because of his 
adherence to the patriotic cause. 

Under the Continental Congress 

But Franklin was not to remain idle for when the Continental 
Congress met at its second session at Philadelphia, July 26, 1775, 
they resolved to have a post office system of their own and 
he was selected to carry on the work. A salary of $1,000 per 
annum was voted him with permission to employ a secretary and 
a comptroller with a salary of $340 per annum to each, and a line 
of posts ordered established from Falmouth, New England, to 
Savannah, Ga., with postages 20 per centum less than those 
afforded by parliament. However, Franklin's great diplomatic 
ability soon secured him a transfer to a wider field of usefulness 
and his son-in-law, Richard Bache, jvho had been comptroller, 
was named to succeed him. The lj0ger kept by this gentleman 
is still preserved among the archives of the Department. It 
consists of about 3 quijjes of foolscap, written over in a neat and 
legible hand. Ebenezer Hazard, who had been the Constitu- 
tional postmaster at New York, so termed to distinguish him from 
the British deputy at that place, was appointed to succeed him. 

The American Postal Service 17 

In 1782, an act was passed by the Colonial Congress establishing 
a line of posts between New Hampshire and Georgia, the salary 
of the deputies not to exceed 20 per cent of the revenues. The 
rate of pastage at that time on letters weighing not over 1 penny- 
weight and going not more than 60 miles was equal to 5}/^ cents 
and a proportionate charge for greater weights and distances. 

The Crown Postmasters 
In a well- written article in the Washington, D. C, Evening 
Stavy of July 26, 1913, upon the occasion of the celebration of the 
one hundred and thirty-eighth year of the American postal serv- 
ice, the activities or self -assumed powers of the English or crown 
postmasters and its effect in encouraging the independent senti- 
ment of the time was stated as follows: 

"These crown postmasters had, or at least they exercised, the 
right of * spying' upon the mails intrusted to their care. This 
made it difficult and dangerous for the liberty-loving colonists to 
communicate with each other. The zealous representatives of 
England also professed to exercise a supervising care over the news- 
papers which were printed in the colonies, and made arbitrary 
rules and regulations against those who were too Uberal or out- 
spoken in their expressions of condemnation of things as they then 
were and who dared to urge the liberty and independence of the 
colonists. Some papers were shut out of the mails and some were 
forced to tone down their utterances. A pound sterling was 
demanded to carry 250 papers, 130 miles. 

"The post office led in the unification of the colonists. Paul 
Revere was the confidential post rider of Massachusetts. The 
tea party in Boston Harbor would have been but a neighborhood 
affair but for the agency of the post office and the patriotic pub- 
lishers who spread the news up and down the Atlantic coast. 

"The postal service did more than any one other agency to . 
unify and unite the colonists. It brought their interests antT- 
endeavors to a common meeting point. It brought the leading 
men and women to know and exchange ideas one with another. 
Printing presses were established about the same time that the 
postal service was begun in America. Postmasters enjoyed the 
privilege of sending their mail free of postage, so most postmasters 
became publishers. In this way the news of the doings of the 
various jealous colonists was disseminated and the opinions of 
these early postmaster-publishers were given wide circulation. It 
added an incentive to trade and intercourse. By making the 
coloniafts acquainted it dissipated jealousies. The growth of the 
post office from the humble beginning of a sturdy carrier from New 
York to Boston loaded with * divers letters and small portable 
packages' (you see they had parcel post even in those days), 
solidified the colonists and made their independence possible." 

18 The American Postal Service 

Post Offices and Post Roads Established 

During the Continental Government, the receipts of all the 
post offices did not exceed $35,000 and in 1789 were $10,000 less. 
February 20, 1792, an act was passed establishing post offices and 
post roads within the United States, the first general law. The con- 
tracts made were to run eight years and the salary of the Postmaster 
General was increased to $2,000, and $1,000 for his Assistant. 
The original number of post offices (that is for the first year) was 
seventy-five and the mail routes less than 2,000 miles over which 
mails were carried by horse, stage, or sailing packets. In 1795, 
the number of postoffices had increased to 453, and the routes to 
over 13,000, and the net revenue to over $42,000. This closes 
the period of Continental management, except ordinary details and 
changes which bore no relation to any especial object or purpose. 

The Period of Progress 

From 1801 dates the great advance in modern methods, ideas 
and accomplishment. It then occupied forty days to get a letter 
from Portland, Me., to Savannah, Ga., and bring back an answer, 
and forty-four at Philadelphia for a reply to one addressed to 
Nashville, Tenn. Ten years later the time had been reduced to 
twenty-seven and thnty days. By 1810 there were over 2,400 
post offices and the post routes covered over 37,000 miles. Marked 
improvements began soon after this period. The office of Second 
Assistant Postmaster General was created and the scale of postages 
changed. Single letters of one piece were charged from 8 to 25 
cents, according to distance. Sunday delivery of mail at post 
offices was inaugurated about that time in the face of great ob- 
jection from the religious bodies of the country, the strife being 
kept up for many years. 

In 1813 the mails were first conveyed in steamboats from one 
port town to another, the Government paying 3 cents for each 
letter and 1 cent for newspapers. The postal laws of 1816 made 
a further change in postage which lasted until 1845. The new 
scale charged letters consisting of one piece of paper, not going 
over 30 miles, 6 cents; not over 80 miles, 10 cents; not over 150 
miles, 12j^ cents, and not over 400 miles, 18% cents, and for 
greater distances, 25 cents. On the ninth of March, 1829, Hon. 
William T. Barry, of Kentucky, was commissioned Postmaster 
General by President Jackson, and called to a seat in his Cabinet, 
being the first Postmaster General to receive that honor. 

The American Postal Service 19 

Postage Stamps Introduced 
Early in 1836, pony expresses as they were called, were put into 
operation on the principal turnpike roads of the Southern and 
Western States for the purpose of carrying letters of persons de- 
siring greater expedition, press news and Government dispatches, 
at triple the ordinary rates, but the experiment was abandoned, 
not proving profitable. In July, 1838, the Department was 
reorganized and an Auditor appointed. The office of Third 
Assistant Postmaster General was also created at that time. 
Railroads were declared post routes by act of Congress, in July, 
1838, and the mails carried upon them. Postage stamps of the 
five- and ten-cent denominations with the faces of Franklin and 
Washington, respectively, were introduced in 1847. Previously 
all postages were collected entirely in money, prepayment being 
optional. July, 1851, a new series of stamps was adopted, con- 
sisting at first of denominations of 1 and 3 cents, but afterwards 
of larger amounts. 

Progressive Steps Taken 

Rapidly sketched for reference, the more important progressive 
steps that followed show that during the administration of Presi- 
dent Tyler, while Hon. Charles A. Wickhffe, of Kentucky, was ^ 
Postmaster General, many reforms were instituted, such as cheap- ^-^ 
ening the postage, improving the manner of letting routes by 
contract, prohibiting private expresses, and restricting the frank- 
ing privilege. Prior to this period, letters were not rated by weight 
but by enclosures. For instance, a letter containing three bank- 
notes for which the single letter charge would be 18% cents for 
over 150 miles, was then charged 75 cents, the inclosure making 
it a quadruple letter. Under the new system the rate was meas- 
ured by the weight, all weighing not over half an ounce were 
regarded as single letters and carried for 5 cents for distances not 
over 300 miles and 10 cents for greater distances. In 1850 the 
"foreign desk," from which ultimately grew the admirable arrange^ 
ment of the Postal Union, was instituted by Hon. Horatio King, 
of Maine. Through the efforts of Judge Hall, of New York, 
Postmaster General under President Fillmore, the postage on 
letters was reduced to 3 cents. The registration system came in 
under Postmaster General Campbell, of Pennsylvania, during the 
administration of President Pierce, i The Free Delivery Service 

20 The Amekican Postal Service 

was inaugurated in 1863 by Hon. Montgomery Blair, of Maryland, 
also the money order system in 1864, in Lincoln's administration. 
The Railway Mail Service dates from July, 1862, when Judge 
Holt, of Kentucky, ordered its establishment, the first railway 
postofiice being from Quincy, 111., to St. Joseph, Mo., on the 
Hannibal and St. Joseph Railway. 

Historical Data 

A summary of historical data covering some of the principal 
features of postal progress may be given in chronological order 
as follows: Postage stamps first issued at New York, July, 1847; 
stamped evelopes first issued, June, 1853; letters registered, July, 
1855; newspaper wrappers. Act of Congress, February, 1861; 
Free City Delivery, July, 1863; Money Order System, November, 
1864; International Money Orders, October, 1867; Postal Cards, 
May, 1873; Postage reduced to 2 cents, October, 1883; Special 
Delivery, October, 1885; Rural Delivery, October, 1896; Postal 
Savings, January, 1911; Parcel Post, January, 1913. 

The maximum number of post offices in the United States, 
76,945, was reached in 1901, since which time by the introduction 
of rural delivery the number has steadily declined, 21,011 having 
been discontinued. July, 1916, there were 55,934 in operation. 
Extent of post routes in miles in 1790 was 1,875. In 1915 the 
number was 1,672,169. The miles of service performed in 1915 
amounted to 617,527,795. The entire compensation paid to 
postmasters in 1789 was $1,657. In 1916 the estimated amount 
was $31,150,000. 


Questions of Finance 
Postal Revenue — How Derived 

The revenues of the Post OflSce Department are derived from 
sales of stamps, stamped envelopes, newspaper wrappers and 
postal cards, second-class postage (pound rate) paid in money, 
box rents, money order business, balances due from foreign postal 
administrations, miscellaneous receipts, fines and penalties, and 
from unclaimed dead letters and postal matter. Its greatest 
revenue is received from postage paid on mail matter. The 
amount so received in the last fiscal year was $287,001,495.13, or 
91.97 per cent of the total revenue received. Of this amount 
$20,174,973.93 was received from mailings of second, third and 
fourth-class mail matter on which the postage was collected in 
money, the remainder, $266,826,521.20, being the postage paid 
by means of stamps. Entire revenue, 1916, $312,057,688,83. 

Revenues and Expenditures 

The audited revenues and expenditures of the Post OflSce De- 
partment for the year 1916, show that the ordinary postal revenue 
yielded $303,232,143.36; revenue from money order business 
$8,130,545.47, and from postal savings business $695,000. Total 
revenue received, $312,057,688.83. Expenditures: On account of 
the current year, 1916, $297,637,128.87. On account of previous 
years, $8,566,904.27. Total expenditure during the fiscal year 
1916, $306,204,033.14. Excess of revenue over expenditure, 
1916, $5,853,565.69. Amount of losses by fire, burglary, etc., 
$24,419.62. Surplus in postal revenue for fiscal year 1916, 

Method of Expenditure 

Expenses of the postal service are paid as follows : 

By Postmasters. — ^Postmasters are authorized to pay their own 
salaries, the salaries of clerks and carriers attached to their oflSces, 
rent, light, and fuel, and other expenses of their oflfices from postal 

By Warrants Drawn upon the Treasurer of the United States. — 
These warrants are in payment of the contracts for transporta- 
tion of mail, supplies, and other obligations that cannot be paid 
direct by postmasters. The accounts are prepared for payment 


22 The American Postal Service 

by journals in the Bureau of the Post Office Department having 
jurisdiction over the appropriations and certified to the Auditor, 
who reviews them and forwards the journals to the Division of 
Finance. Warrants are then drawn for the amounts due to 
contractors, countersigned by the Auditor and mailed direct from 
the Department to the payees. 

By Disbursing Postmasters, — Certain payments may be author- 
ized by the Postmaster General to be made by postmasters desig- 
nated as disbursing officers. The Department authorizes and 
directs disbursing postmasters, one in each State, to pay the 
monthly salaries of rural delivery carriers. In addition thereto 
the Department authorizes other postmasters who are designated 
as disbursing officers, to pay the salaries of railway mail clerks, 
and in some instances the salaries of postoffice inspectors and 
other employes of the postal service. When the receipts of an 
office are not sufficient to meet the pay rolls authorized by the 
Department, the postmaster is instructed to make an estimate 
of the deficiency and forward a requisition to the Postmaster 
General therefor. An accountable warrant drawn on the Treas- 
urer of the United States for the sum needed is then forwarded to 
the postmaster who deposits the same in a depository bank and 
issues his check in payment of such salaries. 

By Transfer Draft. — If a balance appears to be due a post- 
master after his term of office has expired and his accounts have 
been adjusted, the Auditor certifies the amount due and upon 
this certification a transfer draft issued by the Department and 
drawn on a postmaster in the State in which the former post- 
master resides, is forwarded in settlement of the account. 

How Appropriations Are Made for the Department 

Appropriations for the Post Office Department are made by the 
Congress upon estimates submitted to the Postmaster General 
by the heads of the various bureaus according to the nature and 
needs of the service. After examination and approval by the 
Postmaster General, these estimates are sent to the Secretary of 
the Treasury where the estimates for all Departments of the 
Government are assembled for transmission to Congress. Hear- 
ings on the estimates submitted by the Postmaster General are 
then held by the House Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads, 
the members of which go over the items in detail, the various 

The American Postal Service 23 

bureau heads being in attendance to explain more fully, if need be, 
the public necessity and requirements of the estimates submitted. 
The Postmaster General may also be called upon to explain these 
estimates if the Committee so desire. At the conclusion of these 
hearings, the result of such inquiry and the recommendations of 
the Post Office Committee are submitted to Congress and are 
considered in Committee of the Whole. When the post office bill 
is under consideration and upon its passage through the House 
of Representatives it is in charge of the Chairman of the Committee 
on Post Offices and Post Roads, who answers all inquires made and 
defends the action of his committee in submitting these estimates 
to Congress for its action and approval. 

Auditor for the Post Office Department 

All accounts of the Post Office Department are audited by the 
Sixth Auditor of the Treasury, who is the Auditor for the Depart- 
ment. When the Department was reorganized in 1836 this 
position was created for the purpose of relieving the Postmaster 
General of the responsibilities of this particular form of official 
duty. The statutes define these duties which are numerous and 
important, the fiscal relations, owing to the great growth of the 
postal service, being of such magnitude and involving such an 
amount of detail that the office has become one of the greatest 
of the auditing branches of the Treasury Department. The 
annual reports of the Auditor to the Postmaster General show the 
financial condition of the Department at the close of each fiscal 
year and are a part of the Postmaster General's report to Congress. 
A very large force of clerks is required to conduct the operations 
of the office and the most approved devices and methods are used 
to facilitate the dispatch of business. For greater convenience 
the office of the Auditor is lodged with the Post Office Department. 


Department Operations— General and Detailed De- 
scriptions and Cost of Service 

History of Rural Free Delivery 

The subject of Rural Free Delivery occupies so much public 
attention both in the press and among the people, and the Depart- 
ment has shown such interest in the matter and done so much to 
make the service popular and attractive as a public measure, that 
it is worthy of some considerable space in a work devoted entirely 
to postal affairs. Aside from tabular work which has no proper 
place in descriptive accounts of departmental operations, a very 
good idea of what rural delivery is and aims to accomplish, may be 
gathered from the articles which follow this introductory reference. 

The history of Rural Delivery dates from January 5, 1892, 
when Hon. James O'Donnell, Member of Congress from Michigan, 
introduced the first bill in Congress relating to the subject. This 
bill carried an appropriation of $6,000 but failed of passage. 
March 3, 1893, Congress appropriated $10,000 for experimental 
purposes but this sum together with $20,000 appropriated July 
16, 1894, for the same purpose, was not used, Postmaster General 
W. S. Bissell, of New York, deeming the amount insufficient. 
On June 9, 1896, $10,000 together with the prior appropriation 
of $30,000 was made available, and experimental rural free de- 
livery service was established by Postmaster General Wilson, of 
West Virginia, on October 1, 1896, simultaneously, on three 
routes in that State — Charlestown, Uvilla and Halltown. 

At the close of business June 30, 1916, there were 42,927 rural 
routes in operation, 42,766 carriers covering 1,083,070 miles and 
serving 5,719,062 families, representing a total population of 
26,307,686, and at the cost of $51,715,616. Aggregate daily 
travel by rural carriers, 1,063,305 miles. Average length of rural 
routes, 24.96 miles. The first complete county service was in 
Carroll County, Maryland. Available reports show that between 
the years 1905 and 1909, delivery of mail on rural routes increased 
87 per cent. In 1913, 2,745,319,372 pieces of mail were delivered; 
in 1915, 3,193,326,480; 1916, 3,022,755,601. Cost of delivery per 
patron: 1915, $2,060; 1916, $1,966. Average annual pay of 
carriers was $1,162.50, including motor vehicle service. For 
horse-drawn routes the average was $1,155.48. 

The American Postal Service 25 

Rural Delivery Defined 
The doubts, uncertainties and the delicate questions involved 
in the early days of rural delivery when the subject was viewed 
with concern, cautiously tested as an experiment and its extension 
in various directions regarded as perhaps outside the bounds of 
original intent and therefore to be approached with considerable 
reserve, is well illustrated when petitions from Utah and other 
mining sections of the West for the establishment of such service 
to supply isolated communities devoted exclusively to mining, 
raised the question in the administration of Postmaster General 
Charles Emory Smith as to the proper definition of rural free 
delivery. It was held by the First Assistant Postmaster General 
that the term "rural" meant communities not included in cities 
or incorporated villages, and that it did not necessarily imply that 
the persons so situated should be engaged in farming pursuits. 

The Struggle for Rural Free Delivery 
The aim and purpose of rural delivery was to place the rural 
resident on something like equal grounds with the dweller in the 
cities so far as mail facilities were concerned, not exactly so, for 
conditions were dissimilar, but to such reasonable extent as 
circumstances would permit. For years there had been a grow- 
ing discontent among farmers and the people in the smaller towns 
and villages because of the postal advantages afforded to the 
cities, and the more populous communities. They felt themselves 
deprived of opportunities and benefits which others enjoyed and 
could not understand why the accident of location should make 
such a difference. Postal service was intended for all the people, 
not a part, not merely for those who had chosen to live in cities 
but for those outside as well. This desire to share at least in 
the benefits so freely accorded to others became at length so out- 
spoken and insistent that recognition could no longer be denied 
and the matter was finally introduced into Congress and an at- 
tempt made to secure legislation upon the subject. 

The magnified diflSculties of such a proposition as rural delivery 
contemplated had long deterred action, and when the attempt was 
finally made, the question was viewed with such caution and 
approached with such hesitation and the apprehension of an 
unknown and indeterminate expense so bound up with possible 
failure of real benefit in proportion to cost, that postal authorities 

26 The American Postal Service 

hesitated to take the initial step. Even when a sum of money was 
appropriated the task seemed too great for successful accomplish- 
ment, and it was only when further delay was vigorously opposed 
that the step was taken. Congress voted $40,000 to make the 
experiment and with that to begin with active measures were 
taken and the rest is postal history. 

4 The Advantages of Rural Delivery 

The question has frequently been asked to what extent and in 
what way has rural delivery service benefited the country sections 
of the United States. Many magazine articles have been written 
to show the general advantages it affords in rendering rural condi- 
tions more tolerable and enduring the inconveniences to which 
such life is subject. In one particular at least, it has been of im- 
mense advantage and that alone has secured it great public favor. 
It has given the farmer his daily paper. This great educator of 
our modern civilization, an almost indispensable necessity of our 
times, was practically denied the rural resident before the advent 
of this service, but now the avenues of communication are so far- 
reaching and the service so well conducted, that publishers of 
daily papers have not only been able to greatly extend their circula- 
tion in every direction, but actually to bring the morning news- 
paper to the farmer's door at an hour which places him on- an equal 
footing with his city neighbor in all the advantages which early 
news can give, but which is of special advantage to the farmer 
who has something to sell and is thus directed to the best market 
for his purpose. 

The combined opportunity which both publisher and sub- 
scriber now enjoy in country sections reached by rural delivery 
and the use made of it is forcibly illustrated in a recent statement 
published in a South Dakota paper. A rural carrier stated that 
when he started service some years ago there were but three farmers 
on his two routes who took daily papers. There are now something 
like 200 dailies taken by patrons on these routes, some farmers 
subscribing for two or three. j 

What rural delivery has done in other directions may be summed 
up as follows : It has broadened the field of industrial opportunity, 
touched as if with magic power the possibilities of human endeavor, 
and transformed conditions to a degree almost marvelous. It 
has brought special delivery almost to the door; secured good roads 

The American Postal Service 27 

and maintains them by oflScial interest and concern; has attracted 
the attention of the various States to this question and obtained 
results; it has made farm lands more valuable and contributed to 
increased production; it has abridged time by rapid communica- 
tion; brightened all environment, and made ordinary dull routine 
interesting and attractive; it has lessened toil by the instructive 
suggestions which Government experiment and inquiry affords, 
and has made the home a center of influence and crowns domestic 
life with all that makes for peace and contentment. 

Rural Delivery as Viewed by President McKinley 

The favorable opinion entertained of the advantages of the rural 
free delivery service when it was yet in the experimental stage and 
doubts were expressed as to its practical benefit, cost considered, 
is well set forth by President McKinley in his annual message to 
Congress, December 3, 1900. 

"This service ameliorates the isolation of farm life, conduces 
to good roads and quickens and extends the dissemination of 
general information. Experience thus far has tended to allay the 
apprehension that it would be so expensive as to forbid its general 
adoption or make it a serious burden. Its actual application has 
shown that it increases postal receipts, and can be accompanied 
by reductions in other branches of the service, so that augmented 
revenues and the accomplished savings together materially reduce 
the net cost." 

The First County Rural Service 

The first full county service was inaugurated in Carroll County, 
Maryland, and at a time when weather conditions made it some- 
thing of an undertaking. December 20, 1899, was the date 
selected and winter with its storms and snow had put the roads 
in the worst possible condition. Sixty-three post offices and 
thirty-five services by star route contractors, were discontinued 
in one day and rural free delivery service substituted. West- 
minster, then a third-class office, was made the distributing center 
but postal stations were established in villages where post offices 
had formerly been located. 

Service started with four two-horse postal wagons and with a 
postal clerk in each to issue money orders, register letters and cancel 
stamps on the letter mail collected. These wagons supplied mail 
to twenty rural carriers at designated points and brought all the 

28 The American Postal Service 

territory within easy and convenient reach. This initial service 
first covered 387 square miles of the 453 in the county, but soon 
afterward embraced it all. 

The inauguration of so great a change in postal service created 
antagonism and a strong delegation came to Washington to enter 
protest. But the manifest advantages which soon began to appear, 
silenced all opposition, and the great majority of the protesting 
citizens withdrew their opposition and bore convincing testimony 
to the eflficiency and value of the service. The cost of the service 
in the first three months was $4,543, saving by service superseded, 
$2,805, Increase of postal receipts was $1,501.75 leaving net cost 
of the whole county service for three months at only $236. 

This successful county experiment attracted wide attention and 
full county service was thereafter rapidly established in many 

Country-wide Extension, Rural Delivery 

The extension of rural delivery has increased from year to year 
and the cost of the service has grown in corresponding proportion. 
The great next step would be country-wide extension, which has 
been frequently mentioned on account of the vast possibilities 
bound up in such a measure. This would, however, involve a very 
considerable expense. It is estimated that to extend this service 
to all rural patrons wherever located would cost something like 
$100,000,000 more. While such complete service is the logical 
conclusion of all rural delivery effort and may be expected to 
engage public attention in the near future, as it is the only means 
left by which the thousands of people now deprived of such benefits 
can be reached and accommodated, such a tremendous advance 
must be seriously considered before any definite steps can be 
taken, but rural delivery will never reach the point of greatest 
usefulness until this country-wide extension is an accomplished 
fact and people everywhere are permitted to equally enjoy the 
benefit which it confers. 

How Rural Delivery Enhances the Value of Farm Land 
Many arguments have been advanced by the friends of rural 
delivery to show the almost immeasurable value of this service 
to the farming communities of the nation, but there is one case 
which has come under the notice of the publisher which presents 
an argument of such striking force that it is worthy of special 


The American Postal Service 29 

Mr. Marion F. Holderman, of Washington, D. C, states that in 
1885 he bought 135 acres of farming land three miles east of Ran- 
toul, 111., in Champaign County, for $44 per acre, and that in 1901 
rural delivery was established enabling the delivery of the Chicago 
daily papers at his gate in the morning, thus giving him all the 
advantages of the Chicago market and the opportunity of the 
shipment of grain, stock, and farm products the same day that 
these published market reports appeared. This fact so greatly 
enhanced the value of the land through these succeeding years 
that he was able to sell this property for $225 per acre on March 1, 
1917, thus netting him a profit of $24,435. No improvements 
were made on the farm except necessary repairs and painting of 
the buildings. 

He states that if there had not been rural delivery he would 
have had to go to the post office for his mail at least twice a week 
which at the lowest estimate for the time of the person, vehicle, 
and the horses would have cost him over $225 per annum, and as 
there are 105 families on the route besides himself, the saving to 
the patrons of the route by this service is over $23,850 annually, 
besides the value of the land increase, and the many other ad- 
vantages which have followed. 

Taking his estimate of saving to each family along a route and 
allowing for six families for each mile, three on each side of the 
road, and there being 1,037,259 miles of rural delivery roads in 
the United States, it can be seen what an aggregate wonderful 
saving this has made, not counting the property, personal and 
educational value of such a service to the people. 

It will be seen that by this showing that the saving to the patrons 
of 1 mile of rural delivery service ($1,350) will more than pay what 
it costs the Government for a 24-mile route at a rate of $1,200 
per annum. 

The Per Capita Cost in Rural Delivery 

The per capita cost in the Rural Delivery Service has been a 
matter of considerable interest to those who are following the pro- 
gress and extension of this branch of the public service. The great 
advance which has been made in this service and the still greater 
extent to which it is proposed to extend it, embracing ultimately 
all patrons wherever located, naturally raises the question of cost 
as a whole and the cost per patron. 

30 The American Postal Service 

Charles Emory Smith, Postmaster General in 1900, who was 
one of the staunch friends of rural delivery in its early days, said 
the gross cost could be estimated by three methods, cost per square 
mile, cost per capita, and cost per county. Adhering to the sub- 
ject in hand it may be stated that he found the cost per capita at 
that time to be 92.7 serving a population of about 2,000,000 people 
on something less than 3,000 routes. There is no reliable data 
covering the period to 1910 upon this subject, but taking an 
estimate based upon close calculation, it is found that notwith- 
standing the tremendous growth of this service during that time 
reaching in 1910 over 41,000 routes and accommodating over 
20,000,000 patrons, the cost per capita had arisen to only 1.797, 
and now with nearly 43,000 routes and serving over 26,000,000 
people as patrons, the cost per capita is but 1.966. No answer 
as to cost considering the known value of such service could be 
illustrated more forcibly than by the figures here presented. If 
the undeniable benefits of rural service to the people can be given 
with ever-increasing eflSciency at a cost no greater than that, it 
can be reasonably assumed that the people who live upon the farms 
of the United States and endure the hardships of such life with its 
many attendant inconveniences are certainly entitled to their 
share of public benefit, especially when as shown, the cost is so 
small compared to the inmeasurable advantages afforded. 

The city delivery service of the nation with its 34,000 carriers 
costs now over $43,000,000. No computation of cost per capita 
in this service has ever been made and relative comparison cannot 
be given but such figures as are available show that in 1911 the 
per capita cost of serving the people in the cities of the country 
was $1.40 and that in 1916 this cost had increased to $1.75. 
When the comparatively comfortable conditions under which 
city delivery is conducted is considered, and the proportionate 
difference in appropriation taken into account, it will appear that 
the excess of cost in rural delivery is no greater than might natu- 
rally be expected from the peculiar nature of the service, the terri- 
tory to be covered, and the almost insurmountable conditions 
with which it has to contend. Indeed, it is a matter of surprise 
that the cost of service per capita under the circumstances is so 

To keep down the public expense to so low a figure while extend- 
ing this service to millions of people heretofore denied this privi- 

The American Postal Service 31 

lege, should be a matter of congratulation and encourage the hope, 
as well as assure the ultimate end towards which all rural delivery 
aims and activities are directed, viz., country-wide extension. 

Some Necessary Conditions of Rural Delivery 
England, France and Germany antedate us in the establishment 
of rural delivery, but the service there is bureaucratic, originating 
always with the post office officials and dominated by red tape 
requirements. Ours is democratic and cooperative. It is estab- 
lished upon petitions sent through Representatives in Congress, 
irrespective of party affiliation. However, any application re- 
ceived from a postmaster, or individual, showing reasonable 
warrant for the establishment of a rural route in any community 
will be given careful consideration by the Department. It is 
absolutely free, the only conditions the Government makes in 
establishing and maintaining service is that those who desire to 
avail themselves of its beneficent provisions shall do their part 
towards rendering it of public advantage, viz., by mending their 
roads, building bridges over unbridged creeks and streams, see 
that the county commissioners give prompt attention to such 
needs and provide themselves with suitable receiving boxes, con- 
veniently placed along the roadside that the carrier can readily 
deposit and collect mail without alighting from his conveyance. 
Patrons can do much towards aiding the Government in this matter 
and they doubtless do their bit in a willing and accommodating 

Annual Cost Per Patron, and Pieces Handled in Rural 
Delivery Service 
A study of the annual cost per patron in the rural delivery 
service for the year 1916, shows that in the States of California 
and Utah, and in the District of Columbia, it was less than $1 each. 
In the States of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecti- 
cut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, 
Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Caro- 
lina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, 
Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia, it 
was more than $1 and less than $2. In Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, 
Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, 
Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, 
Ohio, Oklahoma, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming, it was more 


3£ The American Postal Service 

than $2 and less than $3, and in North and South Dakota it was 
over $3 and less than $4. Annual cost of service for patron de- 
creased from 2,066 in 1915 to 1,966 in 1916. 

The annual cost per piece of mail handled on rural routes was 
lowest in the States of Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massa- 
chusetts, Rhode Island, Utah, and the District of Columbia, 
and highest in Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, North and South 
Carolina, and Tennessee. Annual cost per price handled was 
.0144 in 1915 and .0150 in 1916. 

The States which had the largest number of patrons served on 
rural routes (over a million in each) were Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, 
Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, 
Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas. The States which had less 
than 100,000 patrons served were Arizona, Delaware, Montana, 
Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Utah, Wyoming and the 
District of Columbia. 

Population and Extension of Rural Service 
Relative to the provision in the act making appropriations for 
the rural service for the fiscal year 1917, "that rural mail delivery 
shall be extended so as to serve as nearly as practicable the entire 
rural population of the United States," it should be stated that 
rural delivery service covered, at the end of the fiscal year 1916, 
1,037,259 miles of roads, while star-route service was operated 
upon 139,634 miles. 

It is estimated that there are 2,199,646 miles of public roads in 
the United States, so that there remain 1,022,753 miles or roads on 
which no mail service is in operation. 

At the end of the fiscal year 1916 an estimated population of 
26,307,686 was served by rural routes, 520,000 by star routes, 
and approximately 10,000,000 by fourth-class post offices. The 
total rural population in the United States is placed at 43,991,722. 
It will be seen, therefore, that while 83 per cent of the rural popula- 
tion is receiving convenient mail service, 47 per cent of the rural 
road mileage is uncovered. 

Speeding Up the Rural Service by Motor Vehicle 
This is a time of intense activity. Action is demanded every- 
where and "get there" is the cry of the day. Brevity and speed 
are in close fellowship in the business world and competition spurs 
on towards the greatest possible endeavor in any direction where 

The American Postal Service 33 

advantage lies. Expedients no longer serve. Only that which is 
best and in the highest degree efficient, can hope to survive. The 
introduction of the motor car in transforming conditions and pro- 
ducing wonderful changes is characteristic of this pushing age. 
Time is money. The motor has demonstrated its value, and 
dominates the field of all far-reaching enterprise. Business men 
recognize its tremendous possibilities and advantageous help in 
saving time and abridging distance. It spells efficiency in com- 
mercial life and men strain a point to bring themselves up along- 
side their pushing and wideawake neighbors in availing themselves 
of this great modern aid to the completest equipment. The farmer 
realizing what it can accomplish in his peculiar domain, has has- 
tened to supply himself with what will contribute to his profit, 
and he finds in this great adjunct to energetic industrial life the 
means of increasing his business and enlarging his vision of oppor- 
tunity and desire. 

Motor vehicle service is of course an innovation upon the 24-mile 
horse-drawn route, and as any innovation upon old-established 
custom may expect to meet objection in the administration of 
public affairs, especially when such an innovation contemplates a 
readjustment of routes and a possible reduction of carriers, ob- 
jection was raised in some quarters, but the desire to secure all 
the benefit which the parcel post could give by the opportunity 
afforded by zone extension, was a determining factor in the case, 
and the Postmaster General, availing himself of the power vested 
in him by act of Congress, ordered its establishment, due regard 
being had to the limitations and conditions under which it could 
be operated. Experience has justified the wisdom of such action. 
Motor vehicles were accordingly introduced into the rural service 
in 1915 to meet this demand for greater expedition in service and 
the transportation of increased amounts of parcel post and mail 
matter on extended routes and principally from the larger cities. 
These routes must, however, be 50 miles in length and the compen- 
sation is fixed at not more than $1,800 per annum, the carriers 
to furnish and maintain their own motor vehicles. On June 30, 
1916, 500 of such routes were in operation with a total length of 
26,878 miles, averaging 53.756 miles per route, with an annual 
cost of $877,824, or an average of $1,755.65 per route. These 
motor routes superseded horse-drawn vehicle service formerly 
costing $1,093,106 a year, or an annual saving of $5 15,282. Motor 

84 The American Postal Service 

routes are of especial benefit in sections where railroad facilities 
are lacking. The greater distance covered by motor routes makes 
it possible for a much larger number of persons in given localities 
to communicate with one another on the same day, eliminating 
the necessity for taking the mail to postoffices for redispatch and 
in some instances transshipment over one or more railroads. 
Better facilities are also afforded for the transportation of pro- 
ducts of the farm. Indianapolis, Ind., is a conspicuous example 
of the efficiency of this service in reducing postage; a 20-pound 
package mailed on a rural route from one office in Marion County 
addressed to a patron of a rural route on another, which would 
have cost 24 cents, can now be carried for 15 cents, and a 50-pound 
package from one point to another, the cost of which would have 
been 54 cents will now cost but 30 cents. 

Village Delivery 

In furtherance of the desire of the Government to do every- 
thing in its power to oblige and accommodate the people of the 
country and enlarge every privilege which could advance their 
interests or provide for their comfort, the question of the exten- 
sion of village delivery, for which there has been considerable 
demand, but which has heretofore received little encouragement, 
was taken up with a view of securing such action from Congress 
as would allow further extensions to be made, the original appro- 
priation being too limited for the purpose. 

Between the very great facilities afforded the dwellers in the 
cities and the almost equally great accommodation shown to those 
in the rural sections, village delivery was but imperfectly con- 
sidered and the benefits and advantages which a more direct 
attention to these needs could have secured, was allowed to remain 
in abeyance, or at least not given the attention it deserved. 

But the claim of the residents of small towns to equal privileges 
with more favored localities was at length recognized and village 
delivery which was established and put into operation in 1912, ^, 
was extended until 280 of such towns now have this accommoda-™! 
tion, employing 400 carriers. The entrance salary paid village -' 
delivery carriers is at the rate of $600 per annum, and increased 
to $690 per annum after twelve months of satisfactory service. 
Only communities where the annual post office receipts amount 
to $5,000 are entitled to this service. 

The American Postal Service 35 

Carriers appointed at third class offices are not subject to civil 
service rules as such offices are not classified. When the receipts 
amount to $8,000 per annum, the office is advanced to second 
class and the village delivery carriers are given a civil service 

City Delivery 

In 1864 the number of city delivery offices was 66, number of 
carriers 685, cost of service, 1864, $317,063.20. In 1916 the 
number of offices was 1,864, number of carriers 34,114, and the 
cost of service $43,136,818. Average annual salaries of carriers 
for the past four years has increased from $1,080.22, to $1,115.46. 
Carriers enter the service at a salary of $800 per annum and are 
promoted annually on their service record through the various 
grades until they reach the salary of $1,100 at first class offices, 
and $1,000 at offices of the second class, after which promotion 
depends upon their exceptional efficiency. 

Star Routes 

June 30, 1916, the number of star routes was 11,187, length in 
miles, 147,167, average cost per mile of length of routes e$54.16, 
per mile of travel $0.1026. In the renewal of contracts on certain 
routes in the western States under new form of advertisement 
there was a reduction in the cost of operation of $130,000. 

Star routes are so-called because originally, a "star" appeared 
on the advertisements for contract bidding to distinguish them 
from other contracts and because of the words "with due celerity, 
certainty and security" which appeared in connection with such 
contract service. The purpose of star route service is to serve 
post offices off the line of railroad travel and incidentally such 
families as may live between those post offices who erect boxes or 
hang out satchels to receive their mail, also to collect mail where 
proper provision has been made for the purpose. 

No bid submitted under an advertisement for star route service 
will be considered unless the bidder shall agree in his bid that in 
the event of the contract being awarded to him he will reside on or 
contiguous to the route and give his personal supervision to the 
performance of the service. 

Postal Savings 
The postal savings system was inaugurated January 3, 1911. 
In June, 1916, the number of depositors was 602,937 and the 

36 The American Postal Service 

balance to the credit of depositors was $86,019,885.00. The 
denominations of postal notes or certificates are $5.00, $10.00, 
$20.00, $50.00 and $100.00, and they may be purchased at any 
postal depository. The interest allowed by the Government is 
2 per cent. These deposits may be exchanged in amounts of 
$20.00 and multiples thereof, for 23^ per cent U. S. Postal Savings, 
registered or coupon bonds. Postal certificates are made at the 
Bureau of Engraving and Printing. 

Money Order System 
Dr. Charles F. Macdonald, who had been greatly interested and 
had taken an active part in the establishment of the money order 
system, was upon its inauguration in May, 1864, appointed as 
superintendent. He is often called the "father of the money order 
system" and doubtless with some considerable justice. He 
labored untiringly to make it a success, and upon his death in 1902 
it was found that he had bequeathed $2,000 to the United States 
to be used by the Postmaster General in the improvement of that 
service, and Congress by act of October 22, 1913, accepted the 
gift, and the commission appointed by the Postmaster General in 
furtherance of the act recommended that a vignette of Dr. 
Macdonald be placed on the money order draft forms. This 
recommendation was approved by the Postmaster General and 
carried into effect. Orders issued: 1916, 121,636,818. Amount, 
$719,364,950.46. Orders paid and repaid: number, 122,379,113. 
Amount, $720,584,719.58. Net money order revenue for 1916, 

Stamp Books 

The need for some convenient way of handling postage stamps 
when more were purchased than immediately required and which 
need was long felt and operated as a bar against the purchase of 
stamps in any considerable quantity for occasional use, led the 
Hon. Edwin C. Madden, Third Assistant Postmaster General, 
to consider some method of remedying this lack, and on March 
26, 1900, after considerable experiment with paper of various kinds 
to suit the purpose, devised the stamp book now in use of which 
millions of copies are annually sold. In 1916, the Department 
issued 28,005,930 of these books and the demand for them is 
constantly increasing. These books are made in six different 
kinds — ^books containing 24 and 96 stamps of the 1-cent denomina- 

The American Postal Service 37 

tion; 12, 24 and 48, of the 2-cent denomination, and a book con- 
taining both 1-cent and 2-cent stamps, viz., 24 1-cent, and 24 

In this connection it may be but just to divide the credit of the 
origin of the stamp book with Captain Bain of the Bureau of 
Engraving and Printing, who, it is said, had the project in mind 
for some time previous to its inauguration as a pubUc accommoda- 
tion. Mr. Madden is usually given the credit but, as stated, the 
credit may perhaps be fairly divided, as it is understood that 
both these gentlemen collaborated in the perfection of the project. 

Postal Cards 
The postal cards now so generally used at once sprang into 
public favor when adopted in this country in 1873. Their use 
has not only been a means of carrying intelligence in easy and 
convenient form, but has contributed to commercial enterprise 
in many forms, and many directions as the growing demand for 
them in the business world amply indicates. The number issued 
to postmasters in 1916 was 1,047,894,800 and the value of these 
cards was $10,784,307.00. 

Division of Stamps 
Postage stamps and other stamped paper 

on hand in post offices, July 1, 1915. .$104,035,823.48 
Stamped paper charged to postmasters . . 287,352,176 . 84 
Sales by postmasters, July 1, 1915, to 

June 30, 1916 277,728,025 . 20 

Stamped paper on hand in post offices, 

June 30, 1916 112,332,714.66 

The reduction in stamp sales which followed the outbreak of 
the war in Europe and the gradual recovery is shown in the 
increases, viz., for the quarter ending September 30, 1915, the per- 
centage of increase was 3.01; for December 31, 1915, it was 9.04; 
for March 31, 1916, it was 9.87; for June 30, 1916, it was 11.25. 

Interesting information concerning the manufacture of stamps, 
etc., is given in the article relating to the Bureau of Engraving 
and Printing on page 46. 

Division of Classification 

This division is charged with the consideration of all questions 
relating to the classification of matter admitted to the mails, 
intended or deposited for mailing, including the determination of 
the admissibility of publications to the second class of mail matter, 

S8 The American Postal Service 

the limit of weight and size of mail, penalty envelopes and the 
franking privilege. This office is in the Bureau of the Third 
Assistant Postmaster General to whom all questions upon this 
and kindred subjects should be addressed. 

Purchasing Agent 

Under the direction and control of the Postmaster General, this 
officer has the supervision and purchase of all supplies for the 
Department, whether under contract or not, for the Post Office 
Department proper or for any branch of the postal service. The 
Postal Laws and Regulations provide that a Bureau officer con- 
trolling an appropriation, may authorize postmasters and other 
postal officials to purchase supplies chargeable to that appropria-j 
tion subject to the approval of the purchasing agent in eachi 

The Dead Letter Office 

All undeliverable mail matter comes within two classes, unmail- 
able and unclaimed. The first comprises such as is not suffi- 
ciently prepaid or so incorrectly, insufficiently or illegibly ad- 
dressed that the destination could not be discovered. All letters 
of this class containing matter of value is classified and recorded 
and a considerable amount of money can thus be returned to the 
owner. The larger part of such unmailable matter contains ar- 
ticles of merchandise, photographs, etc. The undeliverable let- 
ters are those that though properly prepaid and correctly addressed 
are unclaimed, not taken out of the office, though effort had been 
made by advertisement to find the owner. 

Letters and parcels received for 1916 amounted to 10,839,890. 
Of this number 3,677,194 pieces were delivered, 101,485 filed, 
7,019,436 destroyed and 41,775 under treatment. Checks, drafts, 
money orders and other valuable papers of the face value of 
$2,303,119.56 were found in undelivered letters, practically all 
of which was restored to the owners. The net revenue from the 
sale of undeliverable articles of merchandise and currency found 
loose in the mails, etc., aggregated $53,665.69. Advertised letters 
returned from the Dead Letter Office now require the payment of 
1 cent, the revenue of this for the past six months amounted to 
$11,000, making net revenue $64,665.69, or within $10,000 of the 
whole amount required to conduct the operations of the office. 

Formerly all dead matter came to Washington for examination 

The American Postal Service S9 

and disposition. Now there are twelve large cities in the country 
geographically arranged, to which dead matter is sent in addition 
to what is received in Washington. This has made it possible to 
largely reduce the force in the Washington office. The establish- 
ment of the Dead Letter Office dates back to 18^5. 

Mail Locks 

There are four kinds of locks used by the Department, in protect- 
ing the mails, the brass padlocks seen on letter and package boxes, 
the iron lock used on mail pouches, the inside letter box lock, and 
the registered lock used to protect the more valuable mail. The 
locks and keys are made by the Government in the equipment 
shops at Washington. Of the iron lock there are something like a 
million in use. These locks are made at a cost of 8}^ cents each 
and weigh but 2^/5 ounces, the lightest and best lock ever used for 
the purpose. Locks previously in use cost a great deal more 
to make and keep in repair and were much heavier. The study 
of economy in various forms during the past four years has made 
it possible to introduce many reforms in the manufacture of 
locks of which the above is a significant example. Steel is now 
largely used in all lock equipment on account of the high cost of 
brass. All equipment used in mail transportation is made by the 

Mail locks and keys were formerly made by contract, but during 
the administration of Postmaster General Dickinson it was 
decided to do this work under Government supervision. Public 
policy, no less than economy dictated this course. While the 
manufacture of Government locks was surrounded with all pos- 
sible safeguard and precaution there could be no absolute assurance 
that the mechanism would be kept secret, would be safe from imi- 
tation, so the Government, both for security to the mails and for 
economic reasons, decided to have the work done under its own 

Mail Pouches and Sacks 

In the general scheme of mail bags used in the postal service the 
term "pouch" is used to apply to all mail bags designed for lock- 
ing by means of mail locks, and the term "sack" is used to apply 
to all mail bags used in the postal service which are designed 
for closing but not locking. 

Under the term "pouch" may be mentioned those bags used 

40 The American Postal Service 

for inclosing through registered mail, saddle bags, designed for 
transportation of mail on horseback; inner registered bags, used 
for holding registered matter and inclosed in another receptacle; 
and the ordinary pouches for first class mail matter such as letters, 
etc. ; also the mail catcher pouch, the use of which is restricted to 
the exchange of mails with moving trains. 

Under the term "sacks," which are designed for closing, as a 
rule, but not locking, comes the ordinary sack for newspapers and 
parcel post matter, and bearing a cord fastener which bears a label 
case and also serves for closure purposes. The standard bag is 
made of No. 8 canvas, of best quality, and withstands usage for 
several years. The sacks used for foreign mails, ordinary and 
registered, are not provided with a closure device but are tied 
with a string and secured with a lead seal, but it is expected in the 
near future these classes of bags will be equipped with a locking 

During the last ten years the weight of pouches used for ordinary 
service has been rapidly diminishing. The average weight of 
pouches in 1907, largest size, was about 9 pounds 5 ounces each, 
while those now being introduced into the service weigh 2]/^ 
pounds each. This reduction in weight being due largely to the 
elimination of leather parts. Many old-style pouches are still 
in use, viz., made of a heavy canvas body, leather bottom and a 
light weight top; costing about $2.16 each; the "1908" pouch 
made of a heavy canvas bottom with leather band and a lighter 
weight canvas top and body, costing about $1.44 each. These 
pouches are now being rapidly replaced with the all-canvas pouch 
costing less than 70 cents each. Catcher pouch used in the 
exchange of mails on moving trains costs 80 cents each. Wherever 
possible, the Department has eliminated expensive leather and 
other parts in the production of its equipment. 

There are approximately 600,000 pouches and 4,000,000 sacks 
available to the service at present. The all-canvas pouch which 
the Department now furnishes costs between 69 and 70 cents, while 
the largest size domestic standard sack cost a little less than 
73 cents, smaller sizes in proportion. Pouches and sacks are 
purchased by contract but kept in repair by the Government. 
New pouches of new types are also manufactured by the Gov- 
ernment, nearly 80,000 being made in the Mail Bag Repair Shop 
during the past year. 

The American Postal Service 41 

The principal movement of mails is from the east to the west, 
from the great commercial centers to the less densely populated 
districts. This ebb and flow is natural in ordinary times, but is 
greatly increased both in volume and quantity when the immensely 
stimulated holiday trade changes conditions in all directions and 
calls for the exercise of administrative ability in meeting ex- 
traordinary demands and supplying suddenly developed needs. 
These conditions are met by a system of distribution devised 
to meet just such needs, whereby congestion is relieved at one 
point and pressing demands accommodated at another, the various 
mail bag depositories under capable management rendering such 
necessary aid. The whole supply of bags has been handled as 
much as ten times in one year through these depositories without 
which the peculiar conditions of the service could not be met. 
Mountain carriers in the northwest require special pouches espe- 
cially in the sections where snow shoes are needed. The carriers in 
Alaska with their dog-teams have also special makes of pouches 
and thus all conditions are met where peculiar needs require it. 

Post Office Supplies 

In June, 1872, Congress authorized the establishment of a blank 
agency for the purpose of supplying the smaller post oflSces with 
blanks and stationery. The appropriation was $132,500. In 
1883 the scope of this enactment was enlarged and the Depart- 
ment undertook the tremendous task of supplying all the post 
oflBces of the country with stationery and all the office equipment 
and appliances needed in the conduct of public business. The 
amount of a recent appropriation for the purpose was about two 
and a half million dollars. From this blank agency has grown 
the Division of Supplies, which furnishes all supplies needed except 
mail bags, locks and keys, which come under the equipment 
branch, of which this division is a part. Supplies are sent to 
postmasters upon requisitions made out upon blank forms fur- 
nished for the purpose. These requisitions are carefully revised 
by clerks and allowances made conformably to practice and 
customs. Money order and postal note requisitions are also 
handled in this division. Supplies are required in enormous quanti- 
ties for public use. In twine alone the required amount for 1916 
was 2,000,000 pounds, or 680,000 miles of it. Ink 15,000 gallons. 
Facing slips more than a billion; pencils, pens, blanks, envelopes 

42 The American Postal Service 

and paper in staggering amounts. The utmost economy is prac- 
ticed in sending out these immense supplies that waste may be 
prevented and the money appropriated used to the best advantage. 
The capable management of the Superintendent and those in 
charge of the Division of Equipment and Supplies, has produced 
gratifying results in all directions and rendered service which has 
been recognized and appreciated. 

Special Delivery 

Special delivery was authorized by Act of March 3, 1885, during 
the administration of Postmaster General Vilas. Established 
October 1, 1885. At first restricted to free delivery oJBSces in towns 
of 4,000 or more inhabitants. August 4, 1886, it was extended to 
all free delivery offices. Special delivery service is made to all 
persons within the carrier limits of city delivery and to patrons of 
rural service who reside more than 1 mile from post offices, but 
within half a mile of rural routes. Deliveries are made at all first 
and second class post offices on Sundays and at other offices if 
open on Sunday, and at all offices on holidays. Auditor's report 
shows that for the quarter ending September, 1916, the amount 
expended for this service was $633,713.21. The number of pieces 
delivered was nearly 8,000,000, or a yearly average of some- 
thing like 32,000,000. 

Foreign Mail Service 

The foreign mail service of the United States dates back to 
1868, when James H. Blackfan was chief clerk of the Department. 
This service was then in charge of the chief clerk and when the 
office of Superintendent of Foreign Mails was created he was 
placed in charge of it. These mails are carried under the Act of 
1891. All mails not carried by the mileage basis under this act 
are carried by non-contract vessels on the weight basis. The 
total cost of this service in 1916 was $2,228,341. The rate of 
compensation allowed under the general statute for the sea con- 
veyance of United States mails by steamers of American register, 
not operated under the ocean mail Act of 1891, is not exceeding 
the full postage of the mails conveyed. The two principal offices 
from which foreign mail is dispatched are New York and San 
Francisco. Clerks are assigned to this service as need requires. 
Under the regulations of the Universal Postal Convention, mail 

The American Postal Service 48 

matter other than parcel post, may be dispatched whether fully 
prepaid or not, but as double the amount of postage is collectable 
when not fully prepaid, postmasters in this country have been 
instructed whenever practicable to notify senders of short-paid 
letters that such double expense might be avoided. On registered 
articles and parcel post packages, full prepayment is compulsory. 
Rate of postage is 5 cents for the first ounce or fraction of an 
ounce, and 3 cents for each additional ounce or fraction thereof. 
Letter postage for England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and British 
possessions goes at 2 cents an ounce. International parcel post 
rate is 12 cents per pound or fraction of a pound. 

Topography Branch 

The impetus given to this branch of the service, the making of 
maps, by the rapid growth of rural delivery, the reorganization of 
which made the completion of county maps an almost immediate 
necessity, has considerably stimulated activity in this direction 
and been productive of great benefit generally. Recompilations 
of State maps have been made, old drawings brought up to date 
and diagram maps replaced by those of the regular edition. The 
making of maps has developed into quite an industry in recent 
years owing to the greatly increased need for such matter. Few 
people realize how necessary such aid is in determining questions 
of administrative concern, especially in such vast areas of public 
enterprise as the growth and extension of the rural delivery and 
star route service involves. 

These public maps are very largely used for post routes and alto- 
gether this branch occupies quite an important place in Depart- 
ment operations. Of the post-route class 43,258 were printed dur- 
ing the year of 1916, 1,545 were sold to the public, together with 
5,983 county and 1,963 local center maps (blueprints) the balance 
having been distributed to the postal service, to other Depart- 
ments and to Members of Congress. In the blue-printing plant 
7,964 county maps, 13,330 local center maps, and 10,347 mis- 
cellaneous plans, forms, etc., were made. 

Of the 3,010 counties in the United States there are 2,630 in 
which rural delivery service is in operation. Accurate maps, 
showing rural service in 984 of these counties, have been com- 
pleted, while preliminary maps for 755 others, giving similar in- 
formation, have been drawn. Base maps and other data are in 

44 The American Postal Service 

hand which will be used in the compilation of maps of 432 addi- 
tional counties. Active steps are being taken to procure informa- 
tion from every possible source for use in compiling maps of the 
459 remaining counties. 

These maps of every county in the United States in which 
rural service has been established, are made on a scale of 1 inch to 
the mile. They show all public roads, rural routes, post offices, 
houses, school-houses, churches and streams. Negative prints 
are sold at 35 cents each by application to the Third Assistant 
Postmaster General. Lists are furnished on request showing 
maps completed. 

Division of Post Office Service 

On the first of July, 1916, a new division was created in the 
office of the First Assistant Postmaster General to be known as the 
Division of Post Office Service. This new division absorbs tlvl 
duties formerly performed by the City Delivery and the Division 
of Salaries and Allowances. All persons employed directly in post 
offices as well as the city carriers will now come under the control 
of this division. It will also include every function relating to the 
handling and the moving of the mails in the cities and towns of the 
country. More efficiency and better results generally are conHl 
fidently expected to follow this change which is in line with the 
general policy of placing all closely related duties under the sam^ 
jurisdiction and control. 


Special Articles on Postal Subjects 

The American Postal System 

The genius of the American Postal System is found in the har- 
monious cooperation of its several parts, in direction and in 
operation; wise poHcy and purpose as seen in the formulation of 
plans, with willing assistance in operation to render such plans 
effective. The Postmaster General directs the policy, the bureau 
heads execute what is determined upon and the benefit or failure is 
seen in practical administration. All alike share in achievement, 
the mind that conceives, the heads that direct, and the force upon 
whose faithful and intelligent effort the outcome depends. 

A form of Government democratic in all its parts and tendencies 
requires fidelity and patriotic purpose in performance from every- 
one to whom any trust is committed, and in every successful 
accomplishment of any given plan or purpose, the measure of suc- 
cess is always in proportion to the interest taken or the industry 
with which such plan or purpose is pursued. Loyalty alike to 
administrative endeavor or the public welfare is imperatively 
required and unless this is faithfully and ungrudgingly given no 
plan can succeed, even the best devised must surely fail. There 
is such a thing as patriotic devotion to public duty and no man 
is fit to hold an office of trust no matter now small it may be 
ho does not consider this as an obligation to be met and honestly 
ischarged. If any one thing has contributed to make our postal 
establishment prosperous and great it is the conscious acceptance 
of the full meaning of such an obligation. This has distinguished 
Americans in all public employment, emphasizing the stirring 
words of Lord Nelson, England's great naval commander, whose 
injunction to patriotic response upon a memorable occasion 
deserves to be remembered in civil life as well, for loyalty and 
patriotism are as much in accord there, as much demanded in 
ordinary civil functions as in the more heroic, but not less honorable 
^^and useful pursuit common to our national life. 

^B Considerate Treatment of Newspaper Mail 

^B When General Gresham was Postmaster General in President 
^■Irthur's administration, the Washington correspondent of the 
^Kjouisville Courier-Journal complained to him about the non- 


46 The American Postal Service 

delivery of newspapers mailed by private individuals. "What do 
you think is the reason?" asked General Gresham. "I attribute 
the failure," said the correspondent, "to the carelessness of post 
office officials. A newspaper in their mind is a very small thing 
and it is handled accordingly. If the address is the least unintelli- 
gible no effort is made to decipher it and it is tossed on the floor 
and if the wrapper happens to be torn it shares the same fate, and 
I believe that newspapers are often torn open and read without 
any conscientious scruples whatever." 

"I am glad you told me about the alleged carelessness that exists 
in post offices in the country," said General Gresham. "I shall 
give the matter prompt attention. If I cannot work out a reform 
in that respect, I would remove a postmaster for breaking the 
wrapper of a newspaper or making away with it as quick as I 
would if he had torn open a letter. One is as sacred as the other." 

Bureau of Engraving and Printing 
Stamp Manufacture 

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing in which all the postage 
stamps used by the Government are manufactured is a wonder- 
ful institution every way. Every known appliance and all that 
the mechanical skill and ingenuity of the Director, Hon. Joseph 
E. Ralph, and his very capable expert and designer, Mr. B. R. 
Stickney, could devise, have been brought into requisition for 
the purposes the Bureau is intended to serve. 

The various operations required in printing postage stamps 
alone, of which such enormous quantities are annually required, 
would seem a great undertaking, but when to this is added the 
printing of all the paper money, bonds and securities used by the 
Government, the magnitude of the task may be understood. 
Between four and five thousand people find employment within 
the Bureau, the greatest establishment of its kind in the world. 
Thousands of visitors annually witness the wonders therein dis- 
played and come away impressed with the marvels they have 
seen in the adaption of means to a definite purpose. The care 
and comfort of the employes is a matter of deep concern to the 
Director and every possible method of providing for both, by 
approved means of sanitation and ventilation, is availed of. The 
air is washed and strained to cleanse it of all impurities and full 
hospital provision made for those who may need medical care and 
attention. Nothing seems to have been forgotten or overlooked in 

The American Postal Service 47 

this most wonderful of all government establishments and the 
result is that under favorable working conditions the utmost that 
may be expected is fully realized. 

The ordinary postage stamps are in denominations of from 1 
cent to $1 and of nineteen kinds. The output is 40,000,000 daily, 
or something like thirteen billions per annum, with a face value in 
1915 of $221,875,000. They are printed in sheets of 400 each, 
which are divided and subdivided until the sheet contains 100 
stamps in which amount they are sent to the post oflSces for public 
use. The various processes used in manufacture, the printing, 
gumming and perforating, are separately performed on the sheets 
of stamps; those intended for slot machines are printed and per- 
fected on a rotary press which performs all the operations at once. 
This press, the invention of Mr. Stickney, after seven years of 
labor, will save 65 per cent of the cost of printing stamps per 
annum or $280,000, and will completely revolutionize stamp print- 
ing from intaglio plates. It combines twenty-three operations in 
one. It prints, gums and perforates the stamps, cuts them 
into sections of 100 stamps each, or will finish the stamps in coils 
of 500 and 1,000 stamps per coil. It turns out the finished product 
ready for shipment to the postmasters of the country. As an 
object lesson to further show the tremendous proportions of this 
postage stamp industry, it may be stated that the daily output 
would cover approximately eight acres of land if laid flat or make 
a chain of stamps 703 miles long if laid end to end. The sheets of 
100 stamps each sent to post oflSces in 1915, piled up one upon 
another, would make a shaft over 6 miles high, and placed end to 
end would make a strip over 16,000 miles long and as there are 
ten rows of stamps on each sheet, a strip of single stamps would be 
more than 160,000 miles long, enough to girdle the earth six times 
with something over. 

The paper required to print these stamps for the year 1915 
amounted to 1,200,000 pounds, and to make this paper and to 
obtain this amount, 3,500 spruce trees were ground to a pulp. 
Converted into lumber this would have built fifty houses complete. 
The amount of ink required was 670,000 pounds. 

When the post oflSce inspectors, unannounced, visited the Bureau 
at the close of the fiscal year of 1915 to check up the accounts, they 
were found correct to the last one-cent stamp, a high compliment 
to the excellent accounting system in practice at that institution. 

48 The American Postal Service 

Orders for stamps are received daily from the Office of the Third 
Assistant Postmaster General and shipped by the Bm-eau. 

Post Office Inspectors 

The Division of Post Office Inspectors is in many ways one of the 
most interesting in the postal service. The duties are varied and 
of especial importance, as the Post Office Inspector when on duty 
for the Department is the official representative of the Postmaster 
General and clothed with all due official authority. The purpose, 
of such officials is to have ready at hand reliable men for confiden- 
tial work. Unusual capacity is required, tact, judgment, patience 
and courage. The duties of an inspector are not measured by the 
ordinary hours of employment, but depend altogether upon the 
nature of the work he is called upon to perform, day and nighl 
in successive order, being synonymous terms when especial servi( 
is required. Complaints are generally the basis of inquiry and 
operation, but the scope of duties takes a wide range, involving] 
special work of any kind and in any direction. Irregularities in 
the service form the principal basis of complaints, but violations of 
postal laws, frauds and depredations upon the mails furnish a 
proportionate share. 

The inspectors are assigned to duty in geographical divisions 
of the country under an inspector-in-charge, with the Chief 
Inspector at Washington in general control. As a rule inspectors 
do duty in their divisions, but under the orders of the Postmaster 
General they may be sent anywhere. They are expected to be 
familiar with the Postal Laws and Regulations and conduct their 
inquiries in accordance therewith. The division is directly under 
the Postmaster General and in the classified civil service, and the 
selections made for this important service represent men of intelli- 
gence and integrity. Volumes could be written of the strategy 
employed and methods pursued in tracing criminal operations. 
The more agreeable duties, however, require an equal amount of 
skill though attended with less danger and difficulty. The force 
of inspectors has been largely increased in recent years because of 
postal growth and development in all directions. 

The Railway Mail Service 
The Railway Mail Service of the United States, the mosi 
splendid of all the branches of the postal service, owes its origin t< 
Hon. S. R. Hobbie of New York, First Assistant Postmast( 

The American Postal Service 49 

General in the administration of President Jackson. Upon his 
return from Europe in 1847, he made a report to the Department 
giving his impression of the traveling post ojQSce in England. The 
Department was then struggling with many difficulties in the dis- 
tribution and bagging of the mails and one plan after another 
was tried with but indifferent success. Finally Judge Holt, 
Postmaster General in 1862, determined to try the English system 
and the first railway post office was introduced in the postal 
service of the country. The overland mails were then carried 
by stage coaches from the west side of the Missouri River to Cali- 
fornia and the immense accumulation of mail matter at Saint 
Joseph, Mo., destined for the Pacific Coast and the intermediate 
States, induced the Postmaster General to establish the first 
railway post office on the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad 
(Quincy, 111., to St. Joseph, Mo), the pioneer road in Railway Mail 
Service history. The growth of the Railway Mail Service has 
been marvelous and its achievements unequalled in modern 
progressive developement. Three thousand five hundred railroad 
mail routes, aggregating 502,937,359 miles of service and employ- 
ing nearly 19,000 postal clerks and supervisors with salaries 
amounting to over $26,000,000 attest the strength and greatness 
of this magnificent arm of the postal service. Of the 14,369,582,- 
586 pieces of mail matter distributed and re-distributed during the 
past year, 14,367,325,426 pieces, or 99.984 per cent, were handled 
correctly — a record which should be a matter of pride to every 
man who wears the badge of the R. M. S. The fifteen divisions 
in which the whole service is divided each complete in itself, but 
responsive to central control and direction in Washington, has 
brought the system to such a state of perfection that but little 
remains for further experiment. 

The Parcel Post and the Opposition to Its Establishment 

The splendid showing made in the recent reports of the Post- 
master General touching the growth and development of the 
Parcel Post in this administration must be of interest to the people 
of the country for whose benefit this measure has been so suc- 
cessfully conducted. Its admitted usefulness brings forcibly to 
mind the struggle through which this measure passed before the 
force of public opinion and the evident advantage it foreshadowed, 
secured its ultimate adoption. 

50 The American Postal Service 

While in the American RepubUc history is rapidly made and 
startling changes are not of infrequent or uncommon occurrence, 
it is, however, true that subjects which provoke discussion because 
cherished interests are endangered or settled opinions of public 
policy liable to be overthrown, require time in which to adjust 
themselves to changing conditions. 

The student of political economy will be interested to note how 
these changes of time and condition affect the opinion and views 
of men identified with public affairs. What seems wisdom and 
good judgment in one generation is opposed and set aside in 
another, both acting for the general welfare and inspired by patri- 
otic purpose. 

The proper scope and purpose of government, in its relation to 
the people whom it serves, is always a matter of deep concern, 
not only as to the views held by those appointed to administer 
public affairs, but also in the opinions and ideas of the people 
themselves. While a great principle may remain in many minds 
the same, unchanged and reluctant to change, conditions may 
operate to produce views entirely dissimilar and completely at 
variance with those of another and previous period. 

Two greatly divergent and distinctive opinions have divided the 
thinkers and the statesmen of our country as to the proper func- 
tions of such a government as this. This difference arising from 
the educational environment of many leaders of public opinion, 
easily became a matter of accepted political or party belief between 
those who held to the limitations of delegated authority and those 
who inclined to wider power and greater privilege. Both have 
had earnest and strenuous advocates, but the tendencies of the 
times conclusively point to the growing acceptance of the latter 
as more suited to a great and growing nation whose needs may not 
be fettered by tradition or obstinate blindness to the march of 
progress, but must recognize the paramount interests of the 
people whose welfare should always be the chief concern. 

The Parcel Post is now a recognized benefit to the country. All 
classes and conditions profit by its mutual advantage. Its 
gigantic strides to popular favor cannot be measured or ade- 
quately described. The burdensome exactions of the high tariffs, 
which corporate enterprise so long interposed, have been lifted 
and closer relation established between buyer and seller, by 
which both are the gainer. As no compromise was possible where 

The American Postal Service 51 

monopoly was concerned, it remained for the Government to set 
aside the question of limited powers and give the people of the 
country the benefit to which they were entitled, but which monop- 
oly denied, viz., the opportunity to profit by the use of the facili- 
ties which were at hand and which have proven so thoroughly 
effective. Two names stand out prominently in this connection, 
the statesman whose thorough knowledge of the subject and whose 
earnest and intelligent efforts shaped and directed this great pub- 
lic measure, and the public official whose hearty cooperation as- 
sured its success. Hon. David J. Lewis, of Maryland, and Hon. 
Albert S. Burleson, the Postmaster General, deserve the thanks of 
the country for their work in this beneficial enterprise and the 
meed of praise will not be withheld. 

The old-time belief in the necessity of curbing the ambitious 
designs of those who were striving to open the way to an enlarge- 
ment of government privilege is strikingly seen in the attitude of 
Postmaster General Jewell in his annual report to Congress in 
1874. In referring to the activity then already seen to widen the 
scope of the Post Office Department and engage in enterprises 
held by many at that time and the Postmaster General in par- 
ticular, as foreign to the sphere of duties and intended purposes 
and powers of the Department, Mr. Jewell said: 

** I would suggest that the time has come when a resolute effort 
should be made to determine how far the Post Office Department 
can properly go in its efforts to accommodate the public, without 
trespassing unwarrantably upon the sphere of private enterprise. 
There must be a limit to governmental interferency and happily 
it better suits the genius of the American people to help themselves 
than to depend on the State. To communicate intelligence and 
disseminate information are the primary functions of this Depart- 
ment. Any divergence from the legitimate sphere of its opera- 
tions tends to disturb the just rule that, in the ordinary business 
of life, the recipient of a benefit is the proper party to pay for it, 
since there is no escape from the universal law that every service 
must in some way be paid for by some one. Moreover, in a 
country of vast extent like ours, where most of the operations of 
the Department are carried on remote from the controlling center, 
the disposition to engage in lateral enterprises, more or less foreign 
to the theory of the system, may lead to embarrassments whence 
extrication would be difficult." 

Although the advocates of the privileged rights of private enter- 
prise have ever resisted the entrance of government into the field 

52 The American Postal Service 

of national endeavor, the triumphant progress of the Parcel Post 
under Departmental direction has silenced all captious objec- 
tion, for its admitted adaptation to the needs of the country and its 
growing popularity among the people, attests the fact that no 
limitations can be wisely set in public affairs which bars the 
progress of an intended benefit. 

An attempt was later made in 1901 to check the growth of pub- 
lic sentiment favorable to the establishment of the Parcel Post, 
for which a bill has been introduced into Congress, by a con- 
certed movement, by whom originated is not known, which aimed 
to arouse the merchants in rural sections in opposition thereto, a 
widespread propaganda, the object of which was to flood President 
McKinley with a stereotyped circular signed by these rural mer- 
chants all over the country, in order that such measure might not 
meet with his approval because of the wreck and ruin it would be 
sure to create. To what extent this movement was carried or 
what attention it received from President McKinley is not known, 
but the fears of Postmaster General Jewell or the alarm of the 
rural merchants were not borne out in the light of subsequent 
events, as the successful progress of the Parcel Post has abundantly 

This popular measure was, however, not to be secured for the 
public good without strenuous effort, even in these later days 
when its early adoption was so clearly foreseen. It still had to 
encounter opposition, the lingering echo of previous struggle. 
Its friends had to meet and combat resistance, w ithin and without 
the halls of legislation and it was only by determined purpose and 
a concert of effort that criticism was finally silenced and the 
measure written into the statutes of the nation. Congress 
passed the act, August 24, 1912, and the struggle of nearly half a 
century was at an end with the popular will triumphant. 

First recommended in 1892. Law passed by Congress August 2, 
1912. Became operative January 1, 1913. It is in operation on 
45,000 rural routes and a billion parcels are carried annually. 
Parcels may be sent C. O. D., may be insured, 3 cents for parcels 
valued up to $5 or less and a low graduated scale up to $100. 
Indemnity is paid for partial loss or damage. Rate is charged 
by weight in pounds and by zones. Books are now admitted 
and all classes of proper merchandise accepted. Weight is 
limited to 50 pounds for first and second zones (150 miles) 

The American Postal Service 53 

and to 20 pounds beyond. Postmasters will give all necessary 

Interesting Facts about the Postmasters General 

Excluding the border States, the South, properly speaking, has 
had but two men in the office of Postmaster General since the days 
of Benjamin Franklin — ^Joseph Habersham, of Georgia, and Albert 
Sidney Burleson, of Texas. The more populous States of the east, 
with their political power and material advantages, have had 
the greatest number of such appointments, 23 of the 48 men 
who have held that office having come from that section. The 
border States have had 15 and the west only 8. It was not until 
1866 that the west was at all recognized in the appointment of 
such cabinet officer, when Alexander W. Randall, of Wisconsin, 
was chosen by President Johnson. Subsequently that State fur- 
nished three more Postmasters General, viz., Howe, Vilas and Payne. 
In 1829 the Postmaster General became a member of the cabinet by 
the action of President Jackson, his first appointee to that posi- 
tion, Hon. William T. Barry, of Kentucky, receiving that honor. 

In considering the States of the Union which have been most 
fortunate in appointments to this office, it is found that Pennsyl- 
vania and New York have each had 6 to their credit; Connecti- 
cut, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, 4 each; Massachusetts, 
Maryland, and Ohio, 3 each, and the remainder scattered 
among the 18 States from which all the Postmasters General 
have been selected. 

The term of service was, it seems, much longer in the olden 
days than at present. From 1775 to 1850 — 75 years — ^there were 
only 17 men in that position, Gideon Granger, of Connecticut, 
having served 13 years and 8 months, and Return J. Meigs, of 
Ohio, 9 years and 3 months. From 1850 to 1913 — 63 years — there 
have been 31 men in that office. Whether the shifting currents of 
political life and expediency, or other causes, have operated to 
make changes in this office, it appears that many occurred in 
the administrations of some of our chief executives. Roosevelt, 
for instance, had four Postmasters General; Grant, Arthur, and 
Cleveland (in the latter 's two terms) also had 4 each; Washing- 
ton and Buchanan, 3; Jackson, Fillmore, Lincoln, Hayes, and 
McKinley, 2 each. The remainder of the Presidents evidently 
retained the men they had originally appointed. 

54 The American Postal Service 

Withdrawal of Letters from the Mail 

It may not be generally known that a letter once mailed can be 
withdrawn. Such is, however, the case. Letters may be with- 
drawn from the mails at the office of mailing by satisfactory identi- 
fication, a written address in the same handwriting, if address 
was written, or such other evidence as will satisfy the postmaster 
of the applicant's right to withdrawal. If letter has already been 
dispatched the postmaster may telegraph to the point of destina- 
tion for withholding such letter from delivery, or to a railway 
postal clerk in whose custody the letter is known to be, carefully 
describing the same and requesting its return. A sum must be 
deposited with the postmaster sufficient to defray all expenses 

Handling of the Mail 

Official mail comes to the Department addressed to the several 
Bureaus. It is then opened, assorted to the various divisions and 
redistributed to the clerks according to the subjects named or 
special duties assigned to each. The divisions are supervised 
by the official in charge, under whose direction the work is done 
and by whom the responsibility is assumed. He advises with 
and suggests methods of operation, and in important matters in- 
volving special correspondence, assumes direct charge himself. 
Letters written by clerks are submitted to the chief for examina- 
tion before being initialed for mailing, or for the signature of the 
Bureau heads where such signature is required. Letters are 
answered according to date of receipt all reasonable promptness 
being enjoined. Filing is done according to the nature and duties 
of the various bureaus and the character of correspondence and 
papers in use. Approved systems are followed and metal filing 
cases generally employed. In the Bureau of the Fourth Assistant 
where monthly reports are received in connection with the regular 
mail, during the month of January, 1917, the amount so received 
aggregated 72,000 pieces, and 46,000 pieces of mail were dispatched. 
Ordinary hand work could not dispose of such amounts with the 
force assigned, therefore mechanical devices for opening and sealing 
mail are employed for the purpose. Messengers gather the 
outgoing mail by regular rounds and it is dispatched as soon as 
brought to the mailing room. A work of considerable magnitude 
in this Bureau is now being conducted, viz., the purging of the ac- 
cumulated rural and star route files and correspondence which 

The American Postal Service 55 

had so grown in bulk as to make both search and handling difficult. 
It was a much needed reform and will be found of especial value in 
filing operations. 

Cost Accounting 

By means of an accurate cost-keeping system devised for the 
equipment shops, but which can be adapted to any form of clerical 
expense, great improvements have been made and savings effected. 
All mail equipment is now supplied at a greatly reduced cost and 
in improved form. Supplies for post offices are judiciously and 
economically handled under the system now in operation, all dis- 
coverable waste checked and the service greatly benefited. The 
direct, the indirect and the overhead charges can now be clearly 
ascertained in any form of manufacturing enterprise and the 
cost in any direction definitely known. It was a long felt need in 
economical administration and its introduction in the Post Office 
Department has been of decided advantage. 

Cleansing Mail Bags 

The life of a mail bag is about six years and after being dragged 
about on railroad platforms and other places they accumulate an 
amount of dust and dirt which renders them unfit for handling 
when returned to the bag shop for repair. The old practice was 
to shake them out by hand, but in the hurry and haste of business 
this was but imperfectly done and there was constant complaint 
among the operators and clamor for a better system. After 
many experiments and various tests a method was at length 
devised which cleans them thoroughly and does away with the dis- 
comfort under which the work was done. The method finally 
adopted consists of large tumbling barrels or cages made of wood 
with slats and fashioned in the shape of a star, holding several 
hundred bags each. Driven rapidly by electric power the bags 
are thoroughly shaken, the escaping dust confined in a tightly 
constructed room and carried off by blowers into an immense can- 
vas bag resembling a dirigible balloon when inflated. At stated 
intervals the end of this bag is opened and the dirt and dust 
removed. Four thousand bags a day are now successfully treated 
by this process. 

The Farm-to-Table Movement 

As the farm-to-table movement is now attracting a great deal of 
public attention and is directly connected with the postal service 

56 The American Postal Service 

by its afforded means of communication, some observations upon 
the subject may be worthy of mention. 

There are four fundamental facts connected with the subject, 
viz., the points of production, places of consumption, methods of 
operation and means of communication. Production is upon the 
farm, consumption in the cities and towns, methods, to be deter- 
mined by experience, and the mode and means of conveyance, a 
government function. 

Regarding the first of these divisions, certain facts are apparent. 
The balance of trade, eight to one is against the farmer at the 
point of production; he receives very much more than he sends. 
Why this disproportion? It is caused either by lack of interest 
in the subject, or because of lack of practical experience in the 
successful management of such business enterprise. The remedy 
in either case is in his hands. If interest is wanting he should culti- 
vate it; if he has made experiments and they have failed of proper 
results, he should not become discouraged but try again. High 
prices in the cities lead the residents there to seek relief by direct 
dealings with the producer. The consumer will reach him if he 
puts himself in touch with the man who is seeking, and the desire to 
sell his goods and do business, should lead the producer to inquire 
how best it can be done The postmaster can help him by advice 
and counsel and it should be a pleasurable duty for the post- 
master to advise and confer with, and put the producer (who is his 
patron), in the way of profitable business intercourse with the man 
in the city who needs him and is only too anxious to find who he is, 
where he lives, and what he has to sell. 

While the country postmaster at the point of production has a 
duty to perform in advising with the producer (for the post- 
master is to all intents and purposes the "middleman" in this con- 
nection) the city postmaster has also a duty to perform in assisting 
the resident there to find the most convenient places of produc- 
tion and how such places can be easily reached and what can be 
procured there that the city resident wants and needs. Many 
postmasters are now paying especial attention to this matter on 
account of the urgent necessity which the high prices, and dimin- 
ished quantities of provision that come to the cities, render so 
necessary, but conditions require that many more should be 
engaged in that direction to afford all the benefit this great measure 
of the Government was intended to give. 

The American Postal Service 57 

The methods, the best methods to obtain the end desired, both 
at the point of production, where the supply is found, and at the 
point of consumption to which this supply is to be transported, 
must be discovered by the actual results which the various methods 
that have been tried have produced, or were found to be most 
advantageous and most successful. Many plans have been 
suggested and tried out, but it must remain for experience to 
demonstrate and determine which of these is best and most 
likely to secure advantageous benefits. 

The remaining question is the part the Government is called upon 
to perform to reap the most possible results and make the farm- 
to- table movement popular and profitable. The Government 
is more ready to act than either producer or consumer seem to be; 
to extend every privilege and afford every accommodation which 
postal enterprise or the public purse can provide, that this, in 
some sense paternal relation of government to people in benevolent 
provision for their welfare, may secure all that its most sanguine 
projectors ever hoped to accomplish. It has the support of Con- 
gress, and the Postmaster General has omitted no word or act 
which could in any manner contribute to its success and stands 
ready to do the utmost that his great office and his great opportu- 
nity afford, to make this measure a benefit and a boon to all the 

The readjustment of prices will come, and the remedy appear, 
when the elimination of so much handling, packing, repacking and 
distributing with its consequent loss and its increased cost, de- 
creases the cost which the consumer has to meet for all this added 
labor, and for which he pays the price, and from which burden 
the parcel post by its direct and better system of exchange aims 
to free and relieve him. 

Postal Service in Alaska 

Alaska is so far off that its interests do not commonly concern the 
people to any great extent. The Government, however, takes a 
more paternal view of its only territorial possession in North 
America, and has paid particular attention to its progress and 
development, especially in postal affairs and the means of com- 
munication among the people. Alaska has now 170 post offices 
of which 45 have money order facilities. It has 21 star routes 
with an aggregate length of 4,544 miles and an annual travel of 

58 The American Postal Service 

249,33 1.10 miles. Annual rate of expenditure, $260,518.50. Aver- 
age rate of cost per mile traveled, $1.04. Average number of 
trips per week, 52. 

Standardization in Post OffiiCe Methods 

During this administration a very important change was made 
in the management and conduct of the larger post offices of the 
country. It was found that the delivery of parcel post matter by 
vehicle was costing from 1 to 6 cents each. Investigation showed 
that this varying cost was largely due to lack of uniformity in 
methods and equipment and that the need of standardization 
extended to every branch of post office service. Postal experts 
were accordingly sent to all sections of the country to study 
existing methods and recommend necessary changes. As a result, 
unnecessary independent divisions in post offices were eliminated 
and two divisions established, one in charge of records, accounts 
and financial services, the other to have charge of the mail handling 
operations. The personnel of the offices also received attention, 
that as far as possible, clerks could be assigned to the duties 
for which they were best fitted. Subsequent investigation con- 
firmed the advantage of such standardization, and the large post 
offices which handle 75 per cent of the nation's mail, have now 
been brought under such improved control that the benefit which 
such intelligent methods, properly carried out, should naturally 
develop, has been abundantly shown. 

Postal Savings Circulars in Foreign Tongues 

The Government has for years been anxious to reach citizens of 
foreign birth residing in the United States for the purpose of in- 
forming them relative to our Postal Savings System. Circulars 
have now been issued in the mother tongue to Bohemian, Bul- 
garian, Chinese, Croatian, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, French, 
German, Greek, Hungarian, Magyar, Italian, Japanese, Lithu- 
anian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Ruthenian, Serbian, Slovak, 
Sloverian, Spanish, Swedish, and Yiddish people here which 
have been widely distributed and are expected to be of con- 
siderable service. The foreign born population in this country, 
according to the census of 1910, numbers over 13,000,000 and it is 
believed that the business of the Postal Savings System would 
be greatly increased if the attention of these people could be 

The American Postal Service 50 

properly directed to its advantages, and these circulars in their 
own language are intended for that purpose. 

Postal Enterprise of a Patriotic Maryland Editor 

It seems from old records on the subject as mentioned in the 
Washington Evening Star, that some of the editors of the colonial 
period of our history had quite a good deal to say and took a very 
active part in shaping political events, particularly in postal 
affairs. One Maryland editor, Goddard by name, when his papers 
were refused in the mails on account of his outspoken views, set 
about establishing what he called "A Constitutional American 
Post Office." He issued a circular, July 2, 1774, announcing his 
plan, and went about the colonies soliciting support. Committees 
were appointed and subscriptions of money secured, postmasters 
designated, riders secured and service established, which was 
instantly patronized. Crown post riders found the roads unsafe 
and resigned. Goddard was printer of the Maryland Journal, 
printed at Baltimore, and by the early part of 1775 he had thirty 
offices and nine post riders, covering the territory from Massa- 
chusetts to Virginia, including Georgetown-on-the-Potomac. 

It was a private service, operated in opposition to the still 
existing British service. Goddard had declared his desire to have 
the Continental Congress assume charge and administer this 
service for all the peple. 

The Continental Congress took up the matter and appointed a 
committee composed of Mr. Franklin, Mr. Lynch, Mr. Lee, Mr. 
Willing, Mr. Adams, and Mr. P. Livingston, who brought in their 
report July 25, 1775. 

The report was taken up and considered the next day, July 26, 
1775, when it was resolved, that a Postmaster General be appointed 
for the United Colonies. The record of the Continental Congress 
on that day (postal independence day), then closes with the 
unanimous election of Benjamin Franklin to be Postmaster 

Damage in Handling Parcel Post Mail 

A study of 4,219 reports received at the headquarters of the 
various Railway Mail Service Divisions during a thirty-day inves- 
tigation, held recently to discover the amount of damage in hand- 
ling parcel post mail and the causes of such damage, it was found 
that in 52.31 per cent of the cases damage was caused by improper 

do The American Postal Service 

preparation of the parcels by senders. The result of this investiga- 
tion may be summarized as follows : 

Cases of damage caused by improper prepara- 
tion of sender 2,207 

Cases of damage caused by improper handling 
by postmaster 107 

Cases of damage caused by improper handling 
by Railway Mail Service employes 43 

Cases of damage caused by improper handling 
by railroad employes 54 

Cases of damage from miscellaneous causes.. . 188 

Cases of damage from unknown causes 1,620 

Total 4,219 

Cases of damage to — 

Eggs 355 8.41 

Butter 99 2.35 

Hats 119 2.82 

Paint 20 .47 

Powders 59 1.40 

Preserves 129 3.06 

Liquids 925 21.92 

Foodstuffs 575 13.63 

Merchandise 1,002 23.75 

China and glass 368 8.72 

Liquids 925 21.92 

Fruit 194 4.60 

Poultry 51 1.21 

Flowers 53 1..26 

Other articles 270 6.40 

4,219 100.00 

Damage cases insured 137 3 . 25 

Damage cases on star routes 304 7. 21 

An Opinion by Daniel Webster on Mail Extension 

In this period of unprecedented postal growth and activity when 
history is rapidly made and great achievements are born in a day, 
it is interesting to recall that in 1835, during the discussion of a 
measure in the United States Senate to establish a post route from 
Independence, Mo., to the mouth of the Colorado River, the 
learned Daniel Webster closed his speech in opposition with the 
following language: 

The American Postal Service 61 

"What do we want with this vast worthless area; this region 
of savages and wild beasts, of deserts, shifting sands, and whirl- 
winds of dust; of cactus and prairie dogs? To what use can we 
hope to put these great deserts or those endless mountain ranges, 
imposing and covered to their very base with eternal snow? What 
use have we for such country? Mr. President, I will never vote 
1 cent from the Public Treasury to place the Pacific Coast 1 inch 
nearer to Boston than it now is." 

"I can safely venture," said Hon. D. C. Roper, late First Assist- 
ant Postmaster General in his speech at the Denver, Colo., Con- 
vention of the National Association of Postmasters, in July, 1913, 
from which this extract is made, "that were Mr. Webster to return 
to earth and accompany me on this western trip he would confess 
in chagrin that in no expression made during his long career as a 
public speaker was he wider of the mark." 

A Blind Woman on the Pay Roll 

It is wonderful how the blind, those who have been denied by 
nature or accident of the most priceless of all human faculties, 
can adapt themselves to conditions whereby the means of sup- 
port may be obtained. All communities and great centers of 
population have doubtless such cases, especially where opportuni- 
ties are afforded by private munificence or public appropriation, 
but there are perhaps few cases where, in Government service, it is 
possible for a blind person to find an opportunity to earn a living. 
The Mail Bag Repair Shop at Washington furnishes such a case 
and it is worthy of notice. 

Twenty-six years ago a blind girl. Miss Hattie Maddox, called 
to see Postmaster General Wanamaker and asked for a place in the 
bag shop. She said, "You give seeing people a two months* trial 
at the work, will you give me that much time to prove that I can 
do it?" She then went to Colonel Whitfield, Second Assistant 
Postmaster General, who had charge of such work, and showed 
him some crocheting she had done and the opportunity she sought 
was given her. She is there today busy with a pile of mail bags, 
stringing them with new cords, finding weak spots and repairing 
them with needle and thread and does the work as well as any of 
those around her. An attendant from her home brings her to her 
daily task and calls for her, and she is one of the most contented 
and happy women on Uncle Sam's pay roll. 

62 The American Postal Service 

Mr. Wanamaker's Four Great Postal Reforms 

Marshall Gushing, private secretary to Postmaster General 
Wanamaker, says in his book "The Story of Our Post Office," 
published some years ago, that Mr. Wanamaker had in mind and 
frequently discussed with public men, four great postal proposi- 
tions, one of which this administration is now vigorously pushing 
forward, while the other three are still in abeyance. These propo- 
sitions were the postal telegraph, the postal telephone, rural 
free delivery and house-to-house collections of mail. He regarded 
them as simple and easy business propositions. 

The first proposed that the thousands of letter carriers of the 
Department should help the telegraph companies collect and de- 
liver messages, and that a few clerks in a central bureau at Wash- 
ington could manage the stamp department and do the book- 
keeping for this part of the business of the companies. Tele- 
grams were to be written on stamped paper, sold by the Depart- 
ment, or upon any sort of paper provided with stamps sold by the 
Department, and be deposited as in the case of letters whether on 
the streets or attached for collection and delivery purposes at 
house doors. These postal telegrams were to be collected by 
carriers on their regular tours of collection and telegraphed to the 
destinations and taken out and delivered in the first delivery. 
Answer to be sent off exactly in the same way. 

Telegraphic business was thus to be cheapened to the public be- 
cause of the lessened cost to the companies by this Government aid, 
commonly estimated at about one third of their whole operating 
expenses. The gain to the Government would be not only the 2 
cents for postage rates proposed for telegrams under this scheme 
but also the impetus given by general correspondence. The gain 
to the companies would be the additional patronage which lower 
rates and regular collection and delivery would give, also the 
saving of this expense and the office use, clerk hire, etc., and 
other expenses incidental thereto. This scheme was in no wise to 
interfere with the use of the quicker form of telegraphing for those 
who preferred it. It was simply intended to bring together in 
concerted action the two great machines for conveying intelli- 
gence, the telegraph plant of the companies and the free delivery 
operating forces of the Department. This, in brief, was his idea, 
but much more extensively elaborated in further supporting 

The American Postal Service 63 

arguments in its favor and in meeting objections where doubts 
of its practicability might be supposed to exist. 

This proposition has been widely mentioned, has had many 
advocates, and it is interesting to note in this connection that 
Postmaster General Burleson entertains a somewhat similar 
idea, and has in three annual reports to Congress urged the mat- 
ter, however, with this difference. Wanamaker's plan did not 
contemplate taking over the telegraph companies, simply entering 
into a mutual business arrangement with them, while Postmaster 
General Burleson goes a step farther by the incorporation of the 
telephone and telegraph into the postal establishment. The 
opposition to the postal telegraph was as strong then as now, its 
constitutionality being questioned by those who oppose it. Mr. 
Wanamaker held that the powers granted to Congress by the 
Constitution were not merely confined to the facilities known at 
the time, but were to keep pace with the progress of the country, 
and Mr. Burleson says, operation of these facilities inherently as 
well as constitutionally, belongs to the postal service. Both are 
thus in accord, differing only in method. The question is one of 
interest and its future development will be watched with consider- 
able concern by all who wish to see further progress in this direction. 

As the second of Mr. Wanamaker's propositions, the postal 
telephone, with its tremendous opportunities and possibilities, 
especially in connection with rural delivery and parcel post 
advantages, the magnitude and success of which even the enthusi- 
astic and optimistic Pennsylvanian did not then foresee, is bound 
up in General Burleson's plan, and the third, the rural free delivery, 
is making such strides towards country-wide extension that it is 
only a matter of time when it may be brought near, the fourth 
of Mr. Wanamaker's propositions remains only to be mentioned. 

This is the use of letter boxes for the collection as well as the 
delivery of mail from and to everybody's door in every city, town, 
village and farming community of the country. This means 
such an immense convenience to everybody that he does not argue 
the case, but simply points out its admitted advantages as a suffi- 
cient reason for its early adoption. A disk at the door-box when 
mail was to be collected would summon the carrier on his daily 
rounds, even if no mail was to be delivered; trips to the letter 
box on the corner would then be no longer necessary, and the ease 
and certainty with which collection would be made, would in Mr. 

64 The American Postal Service 

Wanamaker's opinion, give an impulse to letter writing and increase 
the public revenue to a very considerable extent. It would mean 
two great conveniences to the family, the safe delivery of letters 
at their door and the equally safe collection of mail therefrom. 
Of course to obtain this service, letter boxes would have to be 
provided by the householders, but Mr. Wanamaker believed 
that this complete accommodation would induce people to go to 
that trifling expense in order to gain such an evident advantage. 
It was tried in St. Louis in his time, and worked exceedingly well. 
Postmaster General Wanamaker was an official with a far-seeing 
vision and actively alive to all postal possibilities, and the present 
Postmaster General is fully abreast of him in every form of public 
enterprise which makes for the utmost in postal accomplishment 
(See page 83, for Postmaster General Burleson's views regarding 
Postal Telegraphs and Telephones. 

^ The Rural Carrier as a Weather Man 

It is said that the most common topic among mankind every- 
where is the weather. It follows nearly every greeting and salu- 
tation, introduces conversation, is always a subject of interest and 
affords opportunities of discussion' upon which people can agree 
and disagree without exciting the least disturbance whatever. 

It has so much to do with the temper, the disposition the 
pleasures and the material affairs of life that its compelling interest 
is admitted and the winds and clouds are ever objects of our daily 
attention. The Government recognizes this fact and has brought 
scientific knowledge to bear upon the subject for the benefit of the 
man who tills the soil, for the mariner upon the sea and they who 
dwell in the cities, and for whom wind and weather has also its 
peculiar interest and concern. 

Weather maps are common in the crowded cities and commer- 
cial centers, but are not as convenient of access in the country 
districts, and aside from the reports in the morning papers, the 
farmer has no particular way of acquainting himself with the 
provision the Government has made in this respect. 

It has been suggested that an easy and simple way of inter- 
esting and informing the rural residents of the daily weather 
forecasts would be for the carriers on rural routes who can 
obtain this information to make it known by means of little 
flags attached to their vehicles, for example, a white flag when 

The American Postal Service 65 

the weather will be clear, a red flag when rain is indicated, a yellow 
flag for snow and a blue flag when a cold wave is coming. This 
would be a daily guide, a matter of but little trouble to the carrier, 
and give his daily visits an additional interest to all the patrons 
whom he serves. 

New Box Numbering System for Rural Routes 

In the cities of the country the streets are named and the 
houses are numbered by the authorities. The Department uses 
these numbers and street names in its mail deliveries. A letter 
to be properly addressed to a person or a firm needs only the num- 
ber of the house or building and the name of the street. This 
method is very simple and the mail is speedily and successfully 

In the country districts there are four systems in use by the 
Department, the railroads, and the express companies. The 
first system is where patrons erect boxes at their places of residence 
for the collection and delivery of mail. The letter or parcel 
is simply addressed to the post oflSce, to the patron and the rural 
route is given. The second is where a letter or parcel is addressed 
to the patron at a post office, with the number of the route, the box 
number, the side of the road, and the miles from the office being 
embodied in the box number. The third is where a letter or 
parcel is addressed to a patron at a post office giving the route 
number and the number of the patron's box. The fourth system 
is where mail is addressed to the patron at an office giving the sec- 
tion and township where the patron lives. This latter system 
is used by the railroads relative to freight and express matter and 
definitely locates a person in any part of the United States. The 
addition of the rural route number and box makes the most 
complete designation possible. 

There has been an ingenious plan suggested (if it can be practi- 
cally employed), a newer and more complete method of numbering 
the boxes along rural delivery routes indicating and locating the pa- 
trons thereon which will identify the patron with his place of resi- 
dence, simplify assorting, and afford in many ways advantages 
not offered or included in the old method. 



10. n 

8. a 

6. n 

The American Postal Service 
The Present Method 














4. n 


2. n 




n .3 1 




n .1 

D Post Office 

The Suggested New Method 

The diagram on the following page, which is intended to illustrate 
the suggested new plan, shows that in any given three numbers, 
such as 111, the first figure at the left would be the route num- 
ber, the second figure the number of the box, the third the dis- 
tance from the supplying office. 

Explanation: The first figure as indicated denotes the rural route 
number, the second figure denotes the box and its location on the 
mile, the third or more figures denotes the miles from the supply- 
ing post office. Each mile is divided into four quarters for box 
designation, those on the right have the odd figures 1, 3, 5, 7, 
and those on the left even figures 2, 4, 6, and 8. If there is more 
than one box in a quarter, the other boxes are given the first box 
number in that quarter with the addition of a small letter a, h, c, d, 
etc., after the mile figure or figures. The patron if he lived at the 

The American Postal Service 


first quarter of a mile would be addressed — John Williams, Ray- 
ville, 111., Rural Delivery 111. This would show that John 
Williams lives on rural route number one, at the first quarter mile 
on the delivery part of the route, and that it is the first box on the 
first mile. If he lived on the second mile at the third quarter he 
would be addressed Rural Delivery 152, and his box would be so 
numbered. If he lived on the second mile at the second quarter, 
and on the left-hand side of the road, his box number would be 
142. Where automobile routes are established a capital letter can 
be used instead of the first figure. If it is desired, the section 
number can be used instead of the miles figure or figures, and would 
then show where the patron lived in the township. 

182 . 


162 . 


142 . 

122 . 

181 . 


161 . 


141 . 

121 . 





. 172 

. 152 


. 132a 


. 132 

. 112 

. 171 

. 151 


. 131 


. Ill 

1 1 

P Post Office 

Starting point. 

It is understood that the Department has under consideration 
the question of locating the boxes on the right-hand side of the 
road for the convenience of the carrier. The above system 
can be used whether all the boxes are located on the right side of 
the road or not. The question of entirely abandoning the prac- 

68 The American Postal Service 

tice of numbering boxes is also being considered and if adopted, 
this suggested method of additional identification would of course 
be useless. It is simply mentioned here as an idea to aid in readily 
assorting mail in the office and as a more complete method of 
identification than under the present system. If the Depart- 
ment decides that the name of the owner on the box is sufficient, 
this suggested new plan has no further value and can be regarded 
as one of the many novel ideas in connection with the rural service 
which come up from time to time. 

It may, however, be said that a box once located and numbered 
always retains its identity and no matter how many persons live 
at, or move to or from that locality, the box number retains its 
identity the same as a house retains its identity in a city. 

Wireless Telephones in the Rural Service 

From that memorable day in June, 1875, when Alexander 
Graham Bell discovered a faint sound emanating from the curious 
little machine over which three years of patient labor had been 
spent, until today, when the world is debtor to this great man for 
one of the marvels of the age, the telephone has been a constant 
wonder and especially so at this time, when its adaptability for the 
common uses of life has made it of value wherever civilization 
extends. Mr. Bell was a professor at Boston University and his 
honors came to him at an early age, for he was but twenty-nine 
when the patent that was to make him famous was granted by the 

He exhibited his invention at the Philadelphia Centennial 
Exposition with but indifferent success; no attention was paid him 
until Dom Pedro, Emperor of Brazil, a visitor at the fair, who knew 
the young inventor, placed the receiver to his ear while Professor 
Bell, in an adjoining room, spoke into it and, listening to it a 
moment, looked up with the exclamation, "My God, it talks!" 
Recognition by the judges was then hurriedly given and future 
success assured. 

The fortieth anniversary of the award of this patent was fittingly 
celebrated at the annual dinner of the National Geographic Society 
in Willards Hotel, Washington, D. C, March 7, 1916. The ac- 
coimt of what occurred there, the splendid tributes paid to Pro- 
fessor Bell by the distinguished men present, appears in the March 
number of the National Geographic Magazine, 1916, and presents a 

The American Postal Service 60 

story of achievement of which every American can be justly 
proud, but is not a matter of pride to American genius alone, but 
shared alike wherever men do homage to intellectual worth and 

But what of the future? Can the telephone be brought to still 
other uses than already known? Can it be made adaptable for 
field use, for rural purposes in the country districts of the United 
States? The Electrical Experimenter, for April, 1917, discusses 
a practical possibility in this direction, not for civil pursuits but 
for military needs. It mentions a wireless telephone set, mounted 
on a motorcycle for army purposes by means of radiophonic 
communication in connection with a military aeroplane. This 
is of course intended for military purposes only, but shows the 
great possibilities involved and advantages that may follow fuller 
investigation of wireless methods. All questions of wireless de- 
velopment for military needs, however, may now be safely left 
in the hands of those directly concerned. Perhaps the greatest 
interest centers at present in its possibilities in the field of the 
rural delivery service where its successful introduction would work 
a most tremendous change. If, for instance, it could be used by a 
rural carrier, what a field of opportunity it would open in connec- 
tion with such service. 

Is there a possibility of such accomplishments? It would seem 
that there is from the investigation and discovery of a young 
electrician. Earl Hanson, of Los Angeles, Cal. He recently 
demonstrated to the mayor of Los Angeles and the president of the 
telephone company that his apparatus could send music, talk of 
any kind, whispers and signals without wires. His device is 
so light and small and yet so effective that when attached to a 
bicycle used by a policeman, constant communication could be 
maintained with the laboratory. One or one thousand receivers 
can be attached, and each hears as distinctly as if they were in the 
room from which the sounds proceeded. The only explanation of 
this marvelous process given is that the inventor used very low 
frequency wireless waves in a new way. The great drawback to 
wireless telephony and telegraphy has always been that the air is 
one great "line" and always busy. Hanson's plan aims to over- 
come this, to send messages though the air is split up around him 
by the operation of other stations ! 

All this is wonderful and may require more demonstration to 

70 The American Postal Service 

prove its adaptability, but science is at work and it is not improb- 
able that wireless telephones for rural use and purpose may ere 
long be successfully accomplished. 

The Jasper, Fla., News, voices this prophetic hope in a well- 
written article which recently appeared in that paper, and we take 
pleasure in presenting that portion herewith as a compliment to 
editorial enterprise and a far-seeing vision of coming events. 

"An improvement, which we confidently look forward to as being 
made in the not far distant future, will be the establishment of a 
wireless telephone system at every county seat in connection with 
the rural free delivery service. 

"By means of this wireless telephone, the carrier would be 
enabled to communicate with the post office from any point while 
serving his route, and the post office could call any carrier desired 
and deliver a message which the carrier would get without even 
stopping his automobile. 

"The advantage of an arrangement of this kind can be easily 
seen. The farmer could meet the mail at his number and over 
the wireless, could call a doctor, send a telegram, inquire about the 
the market direct with the buyer, have Uncle Sam to run his 
errands, and many other things too numerous to mention. 

"Truly, we are living in a wonderful age, but more wonderful 
things are coming.'* 

Parcel Post Exhibits at County Fairs 
One of the methods by which the Department is bringing the 
advantages of the parcel post to the attention of the people of the 
United States is by means of exhibits at State and county fairs 
and other civic expositions. While there is no appropriation 
available for such purpose, postmasters who are interested in this 
government experiment to bring producer and consumer together 
and so reduce the cost of living expense have shown such desire 
to aid in this matter and their efforts have been so generally suc- 
cessful in this direction that space has been freely given and great 
benefits have followed in all communities where this plan has been 

From reports at hand it appears that ninety-four of such 
displays have been held in various States and that thirty addi- 
tional fairs were yet to be held at which such parcel post exhibits 
were to be made a special feature. By tens of thousands, both 
city and rural populations have been afforded an opportunity to 
see working demonstrations of the farm-to-table service and been 
enabled to profit thereby. 

The American Postal Service 71 

These exhibits are generally so instructive to the people, the 
farmers so willing to show by card or samples of goods what they 
can furnish, and the postmasters so ready to cooperate in every 
way to make these postal exhibits a success by showing different 
styles of containers, the best method of packing, etc., that no 
opportunity should be lost where county fairs are held to secure 
space for such exhibits and make the most creditable display pos- 
sible. The postmasters are the proper parties for carrying out the 
purposes of the Government in this connection and the Depart- 
ment is anxious that such opportunities be availed of that the 
advantages thus offered may be utilized to their fullest extent. 

The Great Express Service of the Government 

The parcel post, the great express service of the Government, is 
now used so generally and for so many purposes that the mention 
of some of the things that are being shipped may be of interest. 
For instance, at the Lincoln County fair at Merrill, Wis., some time 
ago, there was an exhibit of a take-down house all the parts of 
which had been sent to Merrill by parcel post. Indeed the 
shipment of lumber by parcel post is not now an uncommon 
thing, due attention being paid to postal requirements. 

At Gridley, Cal., a patron entered the office with several small 
sacks of some heavy material and asked to have them forwarded. 
The clerk after weighing them regarded the sacks with some 
suspicion and upon inquiry of the shipper learned that the sacks 
contained dirt, soil from a farm, which he was sending to the 
State University for analysis. Another patron appeared at the 
office in the morning with a package of meat under his arm and 
posted the parcel to a family in Marysville, Cal., remarking at 
the time that Mrs. ordered this meat for supper! 

An enterprising farmer at Burke, Va., advises the Postmaster 
at Washington, D. C, that he would kill a steer on December 1, 
and would sell the cuts of meat at one-third less than Washington 
retail prices. His offer was advertised in a farm list and in a parcel 
post trade paper and before the steer was killed the meat had all 
been engaged. The cuts were sent to the customers in market 
baskets and containers. The farmer was offered $35 for the steer 
on the hoof, but realized $45 by individual sales and the hide 
paid for help in parting and dressing for market. Orders came 
from Washington, Baltimore, and even from Long Island, N. Y, 

73 The American Postal Service 

The postmaster of Denver, Colo., reported that on Thanksgiving 
Day, 1914, more than 1,000 perishable parcels, 80 per cent of which 
contained turkeys, were received at the Denver oflfice and delivered 
in good condition. 

The list of possible shipments of every conceivable kind and char- 
acter could be indefinitely extended, for it is known that the scope 
of subjects that can be handled by the parcel post is practically 
limitless and only awaits proper enterprise for productive profit 
to those who will engage in it. 

The parcel post is without question a great success. There is 
no other measure of interest connected with the service which 
presents so many economic possibilities. Its great advantage 
over the private carriers is apparent and the benefits quickly seen 
in practical operation. The United States mail goes every- 
where throughout the length and breadth of the country. Private 
expresses are governed by the avenues of profit. The Govern- 
ment is not concerned about profit but regards service as of para- 
mount importance, hence it directs its activities to all regions 
alike, going where there are no express oflBces or ever likely to be. 
This is the great distinguishing feature of the parcel post and its 
benefits as can be plainly seen, are chiefly for the rural sections 
who would be denied these advantages were there no such service 
in operation. 

The whole effort of the parcel post aims to furnish an exceed- 
ingly reasonable method of interchanging commodities between 
the farm and city home, something which no private corporation 
has ever attempted or would undertake to do, all such enterprises 
being purely for gain and profit. The farmer can now find the 
opportunity he has been seeking. By some little care and atten- 
tion to the conditions that assure favorable results, such as putting 
himself in touch with his customers, properly packing and fur- 
nishing a good article at a reasonable price, he can develop a 
profitable market for what he produces, reduce the cost of living 
to others while reaping an advantage for himself. 

The Telephone and Parcel Post in Cooperation 

Elsewhere attention is called to the future possibilities of the 
wireless telephone for rural uses, but in the meanwhile the many 
uses to which the telephone can be put in the common affairs of 
life is being industriously employed in all the rural sections of the 

The American Postal Service 73 

country. The farmers have learned to make daily use of this con- 
venience and it is doubtless employed to almost as great an extent 
there as in the cities and commercial centers. The farmers wife 
can talk to the village store, or the more ambitious establishments 
at the county seat, or perhaps reach a neighboring city for her 
wants, and Uncle Sam is so anxious to oblige her and has made such 
ample provision for the purpose that her wants can receive instant 
attention and be promptly supplied, a matter gratifying alike to 
the customer and the merchant as well. 

It was altogether different before these conveniences were avail- 
able. It probably meant in those days a visit to the city or town, 
or if the need was not pressing the friendly aid of neighborly 
interest and concerns in seeing her wants supplied. In the hurry 
and rush of modern life taking everything for granted and consider- 
ing nothing uncommon, we are apt to pay little heed to the many 
comforts we now enjoy, and of which this Government provision 
for speedily supplying our wants and needs forms no inconsiderable 

The local merchant also comes in for his share of advantage to 
which the telephone and parcel post so greatly contribute. The 
scope of his patronage is now broadened and enlarged. One 
hundred and fifty miles of territory have been added to and is now 
tributary to the field of his industrial enterprise, and he can fairly 
compete with mail order houses by the lower rates of postage within 
this zone — quite an item in his favor — for it is practically a rate of 
1 cent a pound or but little more, which with some business ability 
and advertising push will give him a field of opportunity wherein 
he can enter with every prospect of at least an equal chance with 
any of his competitors. 

Training Public Officials 

The following editorial article from the Washington, D. C, PosU 
while not relating to postal affairs particularly but treating of the 
public service generally, has yet its peculiar significance to postal 
affairs as 80 per cent of all public employees are in some way con- 
nected with the postal service. This very thoughtful and clearly 
expressed editorial contains so much of value upon a subject to 
which but little attention has been given, that the matter may well 
occupy a share of public concern in a country such as ours where so 
large a proportion of its people occupy public position. 

The Post says; 

74 The American Postal Service 

There has been a steady increase in the number and variety of 
Government activities. As industry has become more complex 
more Government agencies have been created for the purpose of 
regulation and control. Unfortunately, improvement in methods 
has not kept pace with the addition of new agencies. 

Touching upon this condition, Prof. Charles A. Beard, of Col- 
umbia University, supervisor of the training school for public 
service, recently asked: 

"How can we educate the public up to an appreciation of the 
necessity for trained and expert service in every branch of the 
Government? How can we order our public service so that it will 
attract the ablest men and women and guarantee progressive 
careers to those who prove loyal and efficient? How can we de- 
velop our civil service commissions into genuine recruiting agencies 
capable of supplying the Government with exactly the type of 
service needed for any given movement and of maintaining a loyal 
and efficient personnel?" 

If promotions were more certain in the Government service there 
would be no dearth of competent men to fill the places higher up. 
To solve this particular phase of the problem, however, it will be 
necessary to have the Government pay higher salaries. Better 
pay is now available in private industry than in the public service, 
and the Government has not yet reached the point where there is 
any general realization of the sound principle that it is better 
in the long run to pay high salaries to efficient men than to employ 
mediocre men at smaller salaries. 

The universities and colleges can do their part in training young 
men who seek elective offices, but a m«n well trained for office might 
lack the qualities which make for political success. Many foreign 
cities are run by experts. A large city frequently hires its chief 
executive from some neighboring town. A competent manager in 
a small city knows that he has an excellent chance of attracting 
attention by good work and getting a promotion. This system 
has been tried out in a small way in the United States, where a 
number of cities have hired managers to take full charge, with 
indifferent results. While progress toward efficiency is apt to be 
slow, the increased discussion of the problem is certain to bear 
good results eventually. 

For the Benefit of the Fourth Class Postmaster 

While the public concern has received the utmost attention, 
there are, however, some questions of interest affecting the wel- 
fare of postal employees which should be given consideration. 
It is but common justice to consider the present method of pay- 
ment to fourth-class postmasters, for it allows them but small 
returns for their labor. If the same high standard of efficiency 

The American Postal Service 75 

is expected of them which should obtain in the service generally, 
they should have their labor properly compensated. At present 
the law restricts the salaries to be paid according to the volume 
of outgoing mail at their office. The rural carrier who works 
under the postmaster is under no such restrictions, is better 
paid, and has more holiday privileges. The fourth-class post- 
master may have to work half days on holidays and Sundays 
and has no leave of absence. The rural carrier has both. The 
position of postmaster may therefore be said to be less desirable 
than that of the carrier, though his official responsibility from the 
nature of his duties is greater. At the recent State conven- 
tion of third and fourth-class postmasters, held at Sunbury, Pa., 
the question was brought up and a reform urged in the matter. 
There is much to be said in favor of a more equitable adjustment, 
and the subject can be approached without detriment to the car- 
rier by a wider and more comprehensive view of the duties of the 
postmaster and a corresponding improvement in the method of 

The introduction of the parcel post as a great common carrier 
is an added feature in connection with this subject. The fourth- 
class postmaster receives much more mail than he sends out. 
This inequality which affects his pay can be largely corrected if 
the postmasters in cities would adopt some practical measures 
towards stimulating orders from city patrons for farm produce 
which could be shipped by mail. The organic act passed by Con- 
gress contemplated such advantageous interchange for the benefit 
of the fourth-class postmaster as well as the city consumer, and a 
steady and persistent effort in that direction by the city post- 
masters would greatly assist in carrying out the intention of Con- 
gress in this respect and popularize the plan in the rural sections 
by the reciprocal advantages it would confer. The fourth-class 
postmaster could, however, greatly benefit himself, even under 
present methods, by making an earnest and industrious effort to 
develop the parcel post idea in his community, embracing the 
opportunities of his official relation to the service by encouraging 
and taking an active part in every detail of postal management, 
of which, just now, the parcel post is so conspicuous a feature 
and whose more extended use among the people would so greatly 
advance his official as well as his personal interest. 

76 The American Postal Service 

Public Work and Private Control 

It is sometimes asked why the Post Office Department cannot be 
managed as if it were in the hands of a private corporation. Many 
reasons might be given, but a few will serve to explain the differ- 
ence and perhaps enlighten the public who may expect more than 
the Department can perform. 

In the first place, the service is throughout closely controlled by 
Congress through its committee on Post Offices and Post Roads, 
and no important variations in the system or the methods of admin- 
istration can be iuitiated without their concurrence, and even 
if any particular or significant change is proposed by such com- 
mittee, it is not always possible to obtain full congressional con- 
sent. Differences between the administrative heads of the 
Department and Congress as to the necessity or advantage of cer- 
tain plans or methods, are not uncommon, especially when any 
proposed changes antagonize existing usage or clash with party 
policy or expediency. When proposed changes invade the domain 
where private enterprise has interests more or less valuable already 
estabhshed, influence may be brought to bear to counteract the 
reforms proposed, based on honest grounds of dissent as to the 
real benefit or practical advantage to be gained by the adoption 
of such measures. Unless it can then be shown that public in- 
terests would be benefited by the changes proposed, the De- 
partment might have difficulty to overcome this opposition. 

In the next place, corporate control moves within narrower 
limits and exercises its power in more direct fashion. In theory 
a corporation is composed of its stockholders, a majority of whom 
nominate the board of directors. This board in turn appoints the 
permanent officials and they exercise full control in operation. 
Wide powers are given to these men and the policies advanced for 
extending influence and gaining profit are generally adopted. It 
is quite different dealing with Congress. New policies are not 
always accepted, sometimes rejected or ignored. It therefore 
follows that private concerns, having a freer hand and no com- 
plicated management to content with, can institute experiments 
and try methods, and if well conceived, obtain results which a more 
restricted authority could only perhaps with difficulty secure. 

A striking contrast between public and private control is seen in 
the appropriation system by which the Departments are governed. 
Aside from the difficulty often experienced in securing additional 

The American Postal Service 77 

help when required, which would be readily given in great private 
concerns because of expected advantages to follow, Department 
needs are sometimes left unsupplied and the dispatch of business 
hindered by delay in this respect, or in the installation of mechan- 
ical appliances so generally used now, and which have in recent 
years to a very large extent, taken the place of human agencies 
in the business world. 

Perhaps one of the greatest difficulties which obtains in public 
work aside from what has been already mentioned and which 
has hampered more rapid progress in the Post Office Depart- 
ment, was the tendency and practice to adhere to old-established 
rules and precedents. These lax methods, which were particularly 
apparent in the business customs and official procedure of the 
Department, were so firmly imbedded in its official life that it 
required a firm hand and a positive purpose to dislodge them. The 
present Postmaster General had both the courage and the desire 
to sweep away these relics of a bygone period and substitute 
newer and more suitable methods to meet progressive conditions 
and the Department is now conducted as it should be, and public 
complaints caused by these obsolete and unsuitable measures is 
now largely avoided. 

These are some of the things that confront and have con- 
fronted the Department in its efforts towards greater efficiency. 
Conditions must be taken into account and understood. The 
Department must always be a public function and under Govern- 
ment control and be conducted, more or less, according to public 
usage. While red-tape rules and customs will to some extent 
remain, great progress has been made in many directions and 
public methods, by skilful management, brought nearer to the 
successes of business life, and the time is near at hand when the 
answer to the interrogatory first propounded, may be made 
in the affirmative. 

Protecting the Public Records 

Among the many useful and necessary reforms accomplished 
by the Postmaster General may be mentioned the institution of a 
hall of records for the protection of the files and valuable papers 
which belong to the Department. These records contain the 
history of postal administration from the beginning and deserve 
the most careful attention, not only on account of their sentimental 
but their historical value as well. The rise and progress of this 

78 The American Postal Service 

index to our developing greatness in postal progress from the days 
of Benjamin Franklin to our own times, is recorded in the volumes 
which form the great official library of the Department. The 
opinions, acts and State papers of every Postmaster General are 
found here and a complete history of the whole postal administra- 
tion could be compiled from these records. 

It is a matter of some surprise that preceding administrations 
paid so little attention to the care and proper housing of these val- 
uable files and papers. For years they were stored in the garrets 
and attic of the old Post Office Building, inconvenient of access, 
and so limited in space that any semblance of order was next to 
impossible. Lying there for years practically undisturbed, a prey 
to the ravages of dust and decay, it is a wonder that they are in any 
condition of preservation whatever. The traces of neglect and 
ill-usage has left its marks visibly upon these old volumes, and 
but for the quality of the material then used and the care in 
binding then demanded for public documents, they would be of 
but little service now. 

To Postmaster General Burleson belongs the credit of rescuing 
these valuable archives of his Department from ultimate destruc- 
tion. Space was found on the first floor of the building for storage 
and arrangement. A force of clerks from each Bureau was 
detailed for this work. The books and papers were removed from 
the nooks and corners to which they were relegated and under 
careful supervision located in the place provided for them. Ac- 
cumulations of dust brushed off, bundles of documents neatly 
arranged and tied anew, frayed edges and loosened covers attended 
to, and the more important historical records set apart for rebind- 
ing when necessary. Protected now from danger, easy of access 
and convenient for reference, with space and light to assist in gen- 
eral preservation, these records can now be readily consulted, time 
is saved in search and conditions in every way made serviceable 
and satisfactory. With an elaborate and carefully devised system 
of indexing, this official record is perhaps the most complete 
of any of the Departments of the Government. 

Registry, Insurance, and CoUect-on-Delivery Services for 
the Fiscal Year 1916 

The number of pieces of mail registered, insured, and sent collect 
on delivery during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1916, is shown 
in the following statement : 

The American Postal Service ^d 

Registered 1916 

aid registrations: 

Domestic letters and parcels 29,091,506 

Foreign letters and parcels 5,179,325 

Total paid registrations 34,270,831 

i*'ree registrations — official 4,965,738 

Total paid and free 39,236,569 

Amount collected for registry fees $3,427,083 . 10 

Fourth-class (domestic parcel post) : 

Total pieces insured (3-, 5-, 10-, and 25- 

cent fees) 24,936,082 

Total fees $1,067,192.29 

Collect on Delivery 
Fourth-class (domestic parcel post) pieces . . 6,300,546 
Fees $630,054.60 

Readjustment of Rate for Second-Class Mail 

One of the vexatious problems with which the Department has 
to deal is that relating to second-class mail matter which costs the 
Government several times over what is received therefrom in the 
way of revenue. In March, of 1911, Congress passed a joint 
resolution authorizing the appointment of a commission to investi- 
gate the subject and make a report thereon. The president se- 
lected Mr. Justice Hughes, of the Supreme Court, President 
Lowell, of Harvard University, and Mr. Harry A. Wheeler, of 
Chicago. This commission found that the cost to the Govern- 
ment of handling and transporting this mail was about 6 cents a 
pound for which the Government received but 1 cent a pound. 
The Department recommended an increase to 2 cents a pound 
which was approved by the commission. February 22, 1912, 
the report was submitted to Congress by the President, who urged 
favorable consideration, but so far no action has been taken. 
Suggestions as to desirable changes in relation to second-class 
mail matter have been made to Congress by Postmaster General 
Burleson, in which several ideas as to a more equitable arrange- 

60 The American Postal Service 

ment were proposed, by which the Government would get a com- 
pensation more nearly in accord with the expense of this service, 
but without result, and the whole subject remains undisposed of 
with the prevailing rate still in force. This class of mail increased 
93,184,891 pounds over that of the year 1915, notwithstanding 
the higher cost of paper and material. The readjustment of rates 
is held to be necessary in view of the disproportion of revenue to the 
cost of handling and transportation. 

Postmaster General Charles Emory Smith in his annual report 
to Congress in 1900, referring to the cost of carrying second-class 
mail matter as hindering the progress of rural delivery extension, 

"In my last annual report it was shown that if a class of 
publications which now, under an evasion of the purpose of the 
law, pay the second-class rate of postage, were really made to pay 
the third-class rate, as they ought to do, it would bring an addi- 
tional revenue to the Government of $12,343,612. This amount 
is lost through an abuse that can be and ought to be rectified. 
It is a public contribution without any public advantage for the 
sole benefit of a few private interests. . . . If it is a question 
between favoring a very limited number of publishers and favor- 
ing twenty-one millions of people who live on the farms of the 
United States, there ought to be no hesitation in serving the many 
rather than the few. The abuse should be uprooted as a public 
duty, the national delivery service should be undertaken as a 
public policy, and when through the overthrow of the wrong 
the right can be established without the slightest additional 
burden, the appeal becomes irresistible." 

Peculiar Customs of European Rural Delivery 
Some years ago at the request of Postmaster General Gary, the 
Secretary of State addressed a letter to each of our ambassadors 
and ministers in Europe, asking for information touching the 
extent and character of rural delivery in the countries to which 
they were accredited. In the answers received it was shown, for 
example, that in Great Britain there was substantially a house-to- 
house rural delivery, only the most inaccessible domiciles being left 
un visited. The English rural postman, traveling chiefly on foot, 
walks from 15 to 18 miles a day, for an average pay of 18 shillings, 
or $4.50 a week. A paternal government provides him with a 
uniform, gives him $5 a year to buy shoes, furnishes him medical 
attendance when sick, and permits him to retire on a small pension 
after ten years of faithful service. 

The American Postal Service 81 

In France rural carriers, who also travel on foot, are paid a mile- 
age of 7}i centimes a kilometer, or not quite 2}^ cents a mile, for 
the distance they cover. The average length of a route is from 
10 to 15 miles, and they are required to cover it every day in the 
year, Sunday included. They receive an allowance for clothing, 
and may retire on a pension at the end of fifteen years. The 
service extends into every commune, and practically all France 
is covered by rural free delivery. 

In Germany the delivery of mails in remote rural districts is not 
exactly free. Extra postage is charged, part of which goes to the 
carrier and part to the government. The pay of carriers, outside 
of this allowance, is from 700 to 900 marks a year, with 100 marks 
additional for house rent (a German mark being equivalent to 24 
cents of our money). 

In Austria-Hungary the rural carrier is hired by the postmaster 
of the local oflSce to which he is attached and paid by him. He is 
authorized to collect a fee of half a cent on all letters and an eighth 
of a cent on all newspapers delivered by him. His average pay is 
about $120 a year. To earn this sum he travels 10 miles a day, 
always on foot. Before he can enter upon his duties he has to 
make a deposit of $80 (or two-thirds of a year's salary) with the 
postmaster as security for carrying out his contract. 

The Belgian rural carrier makes a daily round trip of 15 or 16 
miles on foot, and is paid a salary which varies according to the 
supposed cost of living in the district where he serves, but which 
seldom exceeds $250 a year. He is denied the right to vote, 
and prohibited from taking part in politics. 

What Was a Newspaper? Act of 1825 

During the administration of Postmaster General Wickliffe 
of Kentucky the question was raised what in the meaning of the 
postal law. Act of 1825, constitutes a newspaper. The Shipjring 
and Commercial List and New York Price Current claimed that it was 
a newspaper and entitled to the newspaper rate. It had been so 
regarded prior to 1837, but afterwards as subject to letter postage. 
The Postmaster General wanted light upon the subject and the 
question was submitted to the Attorney General, Hon. H. S. 
Legare for an opinion. As his spirited reply may interest news- 
paper men of today as well as others, the principal parts of the 
opinion are subjoined: 


The American^Postal Service 

"The only light, a very uncertain one, is the use of the word, 
'newspaper* in common parlance or in the English Stamp Acts. 
According to the statute it must be (1) periodically published; (2) 
at intervals not exceeding two days; (3) must contain public news 
or remarks thereon; (4) that it contain not more than two sheets. 
Thus it may be admitted that the paper must be published at short 
intervals, but what is a short interval? There are many weekly 
newspapers, why not monthly? It may be doubted whether the 
intervals need be exactly stated. The passing events may be 
diversified according to the tastes, the fancies, the wants or 
convenience of mankind. The monthly catalogue of new pub- 
lications will be of interest to a scholar, proceedings of tribunals to 
a lawyer, theaters or new fashions iii dress to the idle and the gay, 
etc., bulletins of battles to a soldier, price currents to a merchant, 
etc. A newspaper is more likely to please a majority of readers 
which meets all tastes. Why should a devout man be annoyed by 
puffs of opera dancers, members of a total abstinence society with 
tempting sales of wines and liquors, a plodding man of business 
with dissertations on books, or a bookish man with columns of 
business advertisements?" 

The decision states in conclusion that " The Shipping and Com- 
mercial List to be treated as a newspaper must be sent open and 
without any written signature or note." 

Women in the Post Office Department 

The women of the United States owe an everlasting debt of 
gratitude to Frances E. Spinner for opening to them the door of 
opportunity for employment in the public service. Salmon P. 
Chase was Secretary of the Treasury in the administration of 
President Lincoln and General Spinner was the Treasurer of the 
United States. Many of the clerks of the Treasury had joined the 
army, and General Spinner suggested to the Secretary the employ- 
ment of women in their stead. Though his suggestion met with 
considerable opposition at the time, the wishes of General Spinner 
finally prevailed, and Secretary Chase gave his consent to the 
appointment of women, and the avenues of public employment 
were opened to them. 

Since that time the employment of women in the public service 
has become general, and they may now be found in all the Depart- 
ments, in post offices and as mail carriers on the post roads of the 
United States. The most recent register of employees in the 
Post Office Department shows that it had upon its pay rolls 
for the Department proper, sixty-two women receiving $1,200 per 

The American Postal Service 


annum, thirty-two at $1,400 per annum, ten at $1,600 per annum, 
three at $1,800, forty-three at $1,000 per annum, besides many 
more at lesser salaries. The act of General Spinner in opening 
the door of the public service to women doubtless had its gen- 
eral effect in private employment as well, for from the close of 
the Civil War the entrance of women into the business relations 
of the country may be safely dated. 

Many of the women in the Departments occupy positions of 
responsibility and importance, and fill such positions with credit 
to themselves and the service as well. 

Railroad Accidents and the Construction of Mail Cars 

There were 163 railroad accidents during the fiscal year, 1916, 
of which 155 resulted in injuries to clerks, and eight, exclusive of 
those in which clerks were injured, resulted in loss or damage to 

The following table shows the kind and construction of the mail 
cars in which accidents to clerks occurred: 

Kind of car 

of cars 
in acci- 


of clerks 

in these 


or died 
as re- 
sult of 

in these 

in these 



killed in 











' 1 ' 







Wood-steel re- 




Steel underframe 









Public Ownership of Postal Telegraphs and 

Opinion of Postmaster General Burleson 
Postmaster General Burleson, in his annual report to Congress 

for 1916, made the following statement regarding Postal Telegraphs 

and Telephones : 

"As the former reports pointed out, the private ownership of 

telephone and telegraph utilities places in private hands the 

84 The American Postal Servicb 

control of important vehicles for the transmission of intelligence, 
and therefore infringes upon a function reserved by the Constitu- 
tion to the National Government. Operation of these facilities 
inherently as well as constitutionally belongs to the Postal Service. 
Attention again is called to the legal precedents and the attitude 
of former postmasters general, as briefly stated in my report for 

"That it has been the policy of this Government to ultimately 
acquire and operate these electrical means of communication as 
postal facilities, as is done by all the principal nations, the United 
States alone excepted, is evidenced by the fact that the first 
telegraph line in this country was maintained and operated as a 
part of the Postal Service, and further by the Act of July 24, 1866, 
which provided for the Government acquisition of the telegraph 
lines upon the payment of an appraised valuation, and again by the 
act of 1902, which directed the Postmaster General *to report 
to Congress the probable cost of connecting a telegraph and 
telephone system with the Postal Service by some feasible plan/ 

" * It is an interesting fact that, whereas policies of Government 
have been advocated and some adopted, the constitutionality of 
which have been seriously questioned, the principle of Govern- 
ment ownership and control of the telegraph and telephone finds 
its greatest strength in the Constitution. This opinion has been 
shared by practically all Postmasters General of the United 
States, who have held that the welfare and happiness of the nation 
depend upon the fullest utilization of these agencies by the people, 
which can only be accomplished through Government ownership. ' '* 

Liquor Carried by the Mails 

In view of the rapid spread of prohibition sentiment in the 
country during the past few years, it may be of interest to know 
that the activities then already apparent to check in every pos- 
sible way convenient access to this demoralizing evil, found in a 
limited sense the aid and support of the Post OflSce Department. 

There was a growing suspicion that trajQSc in the carrying of 
liquor from one point to another on the lines of the star-route 
service by carriers was being conducted, and this suspicion after- 
wards developed into loud and persistent complaints which finally 
reached the Department and attracted official attention. It was 
stated that liquor was being conveyed by these carriers to points 
in local option territory and even distributed among the Indians, 

The American" Postal Service 85 

a practice which the Government was particularly anxious to pre- 
vent. The matter was finally brought to the attention of Post- 
master General Von Meyer who at once took steps to interfere 
with this traffic. After some consultation as to the best means 
of stamping out this evil, a clause was inserted in the advertise- 
ment for star-route service and later embodied in every contract 
upon which awards were made. This statement says : " It is further 
agreed that the contractor or carrier shall not transport intoxicat- 
ing liquor from one point to another on this route while in the 
performance of mail service." 

This positive Governmental interference with the traffic in 
liquor by means of the mails may not be generally known, and it is 
mentioned here that credit might be given to Postmaster General 
Von Meyer for an act which destroyed a growing evil, covertly 
conducted, and put a stop to a practice which was doing damage 
in a great many sections. 

By Act approved March 3, 1917, providing for appropriations 
for the Post Office, no letter, postal card, circular, newspaper, 
etc., containing any advertisement of spirituous, vinuous, malted, 
fermented or other intoxicating liquor of any kind, or containing a 
solicitation of an order for said liquors, shall be deposited in or 
carried by the mails of the United States, or be delivered by any 
postmaster or letter carrier addressed and directed to any per- 
son, firm, corporation or association at any place or point in any 
State or territory of the United States, at which it is by the law 
in force in such State and Territory at that time unlawful to adver- 
tise or solicit orders for such liquors or any of them respectively. 

How the Post Office Department Helps the Farmer 
Of all the great Executive Departments, the Post Office comes 
closest to the people and is of particular interest to the farmer 
living away from the great avenues of postal service supply. The 
Postmaster General, from his service in Congress, where the needs 
of the farmer are known, coupled with the opportunities of his 
present position, was able to render him a great service, and that 
he has done so, that his administration has shown his successful 
efforts in this direction cannot be questioned nor denied. 

The Parcel Post with all its beneficient possibilities and advan- 
tages received early consideration. It meant so much to the 
farmer that zealous and persistent attention was wisely directed to 
obtain the utmost that could be accomplished. Weight limits 

86 The American Postal Service 

were extended, postage reduced by zone expansion, and the project 
put upon such practical basis that great benefits are aheady 
assured and further progress only waits legislative sanction. City 
and country are now brought together. Suburban express, the 
result of motor service, gives the farmer an easily reached and 
remunerative market and the consumer finds upon his daily table 
the fresh products which this rapid means of communication from 
the farm can so readily supply. The Parcel Post is one of the 
most popular measures of this administration and everything 
possible has been done to foster and perfect it. 

The Rural Free Delivery with its millions of patrons, of which 
over 650,000 were added within the past three years, tells the 
story of administrative accomplishment. The great success of 
rural delivery is peculiarly the farmers triumph. He is now on a 
par with his neighbor in the cities in all that enterprising postal 
service can give. Taken both together, the widely admitted 
success of the Parcel Post as well as the rural delivery, a chapter 
of achievement has been written of which the Department is justly 
proud and against which criticism can find no ground for righteous 

But this is not all that this administration has done for the man 
in the country. The energetic application of the experimental 
legislation appropriating $500,000 for participation in the con- 
struction of improved highways has brought forth an additional 
appropriation of $75,000,000, which will be expended by the 
Federal Government, in cooperation with the States, for the 
improvement of roads over which mail delivery is performed, or 
on which it may be located hereafter. The Rural Credit and Good 
Roads bills are subjects of profound interest which even partisan 
prejudice cannot minimize or obscure. The tremendous advantage 
which these two great measures afford the farmer will be readily 
admitted and recognized when seen in practical operation. The 
need of such beneficient help has long been felt and these two bills 
should make the lot of the farmers much easier. They have been 
getting reasonably good prices for their products and are generally 
prosperous, but the fact remains that but few hold their land free of 
incumbrance. Complete ownership will now be possible. With 
federal aid to road construction and this new rural credits law, 
it should not be long until the greatest prosperity the country 
sections have ever known should be an accomplished fact. 

Thb American Postal Servicb 87 

Expediting the Mail on Star Routes 
Attention is called elsewhere to the benefit of motor vehicle 
service in rural delivery, and it is now proposed to introduce this 
advantage in the star-route service as well. Until a short while 
ago there was no authority for any particular form of conveyance 
to be used in this connection. With the advent of automobiles 
and other motor vehicles, it became evident that great opportuni- 
ties presented themselves by which the transportation of mails on 
this class of routes could be measurably expedited and during the 
present administration the law was so amended that the mode of 
transportation could be specified. 

The demand of the day is for the rapid conveyance of mails in 
every direction and people are no longer satisfied to put up with 
the practices and methods of other days. That mails have been 
conveyed in this service with "due celerity, certainty and se- 
curity" was not enough. Money is paid for service and the best 
that can be given is required. So it was decided to expedite star- 
route service. While there are a number of routes on which auto- 
mobiles are now used in view of the provision of law as covered by 
the order of the Postmaster General, August 14, 1916, amending 
section No. 1424 to correspond with the law as amended, steps are 
now being taken in connection with the award of contracts for the 
the four-year term beginning July 1, 1917, which includes the con- 
tract section from Maine to West Virginia, to require the use of 
motor vehicles wherever the importance of the route seemed to 
warrant and weather conditions would permit the use of such con- 
veyance. One hundred and forty advertisements are now pending 
for such service in this contract section. 

This is going to be a great accommodation for all routes where 
such service can be employed and will give the people the best 
mail facilities that can be devised. It will hasten the receipt 
and dispatch of mails by means of rural carrier connections, be of 
great advantage to the business men along such routes, expedite 
newspaper delivery and in many cases save twenty-four hours over 
the present method. Every effort will be made to introduce this 
more rapid service as quickly and widely as the laws will permit. 
If it is found to work well in this first contract section where 
it is to be tried, it will be extended to others in regular succession 
until the star-route service everywhere has the benefit of this 
improved means of communication. 


The American Postal Service 

Abraham Lincoln Postmaster in 1837 

So much has been said and written about Abraham Lincoln 
that it would seem as if nothing new could be mentioned. In fact 
his history and biography are as well known to the school chil- 
dren as that of George Washington, but it is probably not gen- 
erally known to the postmasters of the country that he was at one 
time in the postal service as a postmaster, and in a book devoted 
entirely to postal affairs it may be of interest to state the fact 
that this additional incident in his life and public career may be 
added to what is already known. 

Mr. T. H. Bartlett, in the Boston Transcript^ says: 

It will interest Lincoln lovers to learn that, as far as known, 
probably the first time that Abraham Lincoln's name was men- 
tioned in print was in the United States Biennial Register for 1837. 
It was in the Post Office Department, as "Postmaster at New 
Salem, 111., Abraham Lincoln, 1 quar., 10-19-48." The Register 
contained the names of every officer and employe for that year. 

So people who keep scrap books in which to note peculiar events 
and occurrences in the lives of great men may add this little 
item to their collection, for everything connected with the life of 
Abraham Lincoln is worthy of notice. 

A Central Accounting Office for Each County 

A very notable and far-reaching measure of public administra- 
tion in the conduct of the Post Office Department was enacted in 
the past session of Congress by which, in order to promote economy 
in the distribution of supplies and in auditing and accounting, 
the Postmaster General was authorized to designate districts 
and central offices in such districts through which supplies shall 
be distributed and accounts rendered. This means in other 
words that one postmaster in a county is hereafter to distribute 
supplies for the other post offices and render an account to the 
auditor for all the offices in a certain county or district, thus simpli- 
fying the whole subject and placing the business involved at each 
of these offices under one central control. This is, however, not to 
give such central office authority to abolish offices, to change 
officers or employees in offices included in such district. 

The law goes into eiBPect July 1, 1917, and the Postmaster 
General will appoint a committee, of which the First Assistant 
Postmaster General will probably be chairman, to estabHsh the 

The American Postal Service 89 

system and select the central oflSce in each district or county to 
which the other offices are to report, and under whose general con- 
trol this plan is to be conducted. 

Millions of Money 'or Good Roads 

That good roads are an important factor in the spread of 
civilization is a statement which no one will dispute. Imperial 
Rome in the zenith of its power perfectly understood this. The 
marvellous genius and industry which constructed its great high- 
ways of commerce and travel, works which have been the admira- 
tion of all succeeding ages, are yet splendid even in their decaying 
greatness. Prescott, the historian, in his romantic history of 
Peru, tells of the wonderful engineering skill displayed in the 
reigns of the early Peruvian rulers in the building of their great 
military roads, which served alike the purpose of a peaceful 
people as well as the rapid assembling of its armies for warlike 
action. No nation now neglects this very important part of its 
economic life, and the United States having become a power in 
universal civilization is fully alive to all the measureless advantages 
which good roads afford. 

Material prosperity waits upon road development and land values 
rise in proportion to road improvement. A few striking instances 
may be mentioned as illustrating this fact. Wallace's Farmer 
has stated that: 

"In Franklin County, New York, where 24 miles of good roads 
have been built, eight pieces of land selected at random increased 
27.8 per cent in value. In Lee County, Virginia, which built 
eighty-four miles of roads, land advanced 25 per cent in value. 
Spottsylvania County, in the same state, improved forty-one 
miles of roads, and the land adjoining sold for $44.75 where 
previous to the improvement it had been bought for just $20 less 
per acre . After Manatee County, Florida, had constructed sixty- 
four miles of macadam and shell highway, the land along the 
road increased more than $20 per acre in less than two years, and 
the land a mile away from the road showed an increase of $10 
an acre. In Wood County, Ohio, where land has been drained 
and bounded by limestone pikes, the values have risen from $70 
to $250 per acre." 

The New York Journal of Commerce says "there are few agencies 
that are so fruitful of economic good, social and political solidarity, 

90 The American Postal Sbrvicm 

and even national spirit." The very great desire of the Post 
Office Department to extend and improve the rural delivery serv- 
ice is an ever present argument in favor of good roads, without 
which no extensions or improvements are possible. The life of 
the country church, the country school, the whole question of in- 
tensive and scientific farming is involved in the subject of good 
roads, and in its wider and broader aspect the question takes on 
a new and a very significient meaning. Originally intended to 
promote and foster the arts of peace, military needs now claim 
national attention. Quoting again from the Journal of Commerce: 
"Mobilization, defense, and the transportation of troops, muni- 
tions, and supplies, are in a large part dependent upon an ade- 
quate system of highways, especially along the sea coasts and 
national borders. The experience of all the warring nations of 
Europe in the present conflict, are ample proof of this. Only 
the future will show whether or not these objects have been kept 
in view when the national appropriation is spent." 

The Government has set aside for the year ending June 30, 
1919, the sum of $14,550,000 as an apportionment to the States 
to aid in the construction and maintenance of rural post roads 
in accordance with the provision of the Federal aid roads law. 
$20,000,000 will be apportioned for 1920, and $25,000,000 for 1921. 
This is the third apportionment under the law, $4,850,000 having 
been apportioned for 1917 and $9,700,000 for 1918. The Bureau 
of Public Roads states that the expenditures for road and bridge 
building in the United States have increased from about $80,- 
000,000 a year in 1904 to $282,000,000 in 1915, or more than 
250 per cent. 

These figures are as amazing as they are impressive, and they 
must carry to the mind of the reader the solicitude of his govern- 
ment for all that makes for national prosperity and advancement. 
There was a time when good roads were a luxury and only a few 
States in the East paid any attention to this question. With the 
advent of the automobile came a great change. Rides for pleasure 
as well as for gainful pursuits required better conditions, and for 
both purposes good roads became everywhere a question of para- 
mount importance. The farmer whose improved surroundings 
permitted this now common luxury, wanted the benefit of it, and 
the demand for better road conditions found its way into the 


The American Postal Service 91 

halls of legislation in the States, and in the Congress of the Nation, 
and the answer to this demand upon the part of the Federal govern- 
ment is the magnificent appropriation which is now available and 
to be expended for this far reaching purpose. 

Rural delivery in which the rural resident is so greatly interested 
will profit most by this liberal government provision, it being 
originally intended for post road purposes, of which rural delivery 
is now the principal and most important part. The rural life of 
the country is to be bettered in every way by the spread of this 
means of postal communication. The Post Office Department is 
always ready to listen to every suggestion which makes for greater 
comfort and convenience in this direction, and to act promptly 
when resulting advantages can be shown. Therefore, the sections 
where rural delivery is not as fully introduced and developed as 
it might be, or inviting fields for exploration and administrative 
action are not yet reached, the people for whose benefit this 
money is to be used should get in touch with the Department and 
bring to its attention whatever information upon the subject they 
may possess which might be fashioned into useful results. The 
Department has many eyes but cannot see all and know all, and 
this is where outside assistance can be of great advantage, and 
would be most gladly welcomed. Postal patrons are the working 
partners of the Postmaster General in all that concerns the im- 
provement and extension of the service, and if they will take the 
same active interest that he does and cooperate with the Fourth 
Assistant Postmaster General, in whose Bureau this rural delivery 
work is centered, great advances in all directions may be readily 

$14,550,000 for Rural Post Roads 

Apportionment to the States from government funds to aid in 
the construction and maintenance of rural postroads in accordance 
with the Federal aid roads law for the year ending June 30, 1919, 
is as follows: 

Alabama $313,456 Maryland 130,871 

Arizona 205,540 Massachusetts 221,261 

Arkansas 250,018 Michigan 435,356 

California 456,167 Minnesota 425,865 

Colorado 257,278 Mississippi 268,751 

Connecticut 92,216 Missouri 508,603 

Delaware 24,411 Montana 298,520 

Florida 170.723 Nebraska 319,445 

Georgia 403,909 Nevada 193,229 


The American Postal Service 

New Hampshire 62,610 

New Jersey 177,357 

New Mexico 238,634 

New York 749,674 

North Carolina 342,556 

North Dakota 229,585 

Ohio 558,043 

Oklahoma 346,489 

Oregon 236,332 

Pennsylvania 690,145 

Idaho 182,471 

Illinois 658,323 

Indiana 406,230 

Iowa 434,653 

Kansas 429,131 

Kentucky 292,984 

Louisiana 203,755 

Maine 144,807 

Rhode Island 34,972 

South Carolina 215,014 

South Dakota 243,175 

Tennessee 340,663 

Texas 876,986 

Utah 170,763 

Vermont 68,128 

Virginia 298,120 

Washington 216,530 

West Virginia 159,713 

Wisconsin 382,707 

Wyoming 183,805 

Mail Extensions by Air and Motor Truck Routes 

As the result of a recent conference between Postmaster General 
Burleson and Secretary of War Baker, and with the approval of 
the President, Congress has been asked to authorize the Secretary 
of War to turn over to the Post Office Department all military 
aeroplanes and motor vehicles not serviceable for military pur- 
poses, or which after the war may be dispensed with for military 

As soon as any aeroplanes are turned over to the Post Office 
Department, aeroplane mail routes will be established in the 
country, as they now are in Italy and France. 

Italy has an aerial mail route from her coast to Sardinia, and is 
able to deliver 500 pounds of miail in two hours. France has a 
similar aerial route between her coast and Corsica. 

The motor trucks procured from the War Department at this 
time or at the close of the war will be available for the parcel post 
truck service. In the view of the Postmaster General, the opera- 
tion of these motor-truck routes would add 100 per cent to the 
value of the parcel post service in the vicinity of the cities where 

The cost of living will be reduced, it is stated, by eliminating 
useless and expensive operation in the postal means of communica- 
tion between producer and consumer; will permit the producer to 
continue production and the labor incident thereto, instead of 
suspending production or labor while conveying produce to con- 
sumers, and will extend the postal zone of coUection-and-delivery 
service in the vicinity of large cities to the point where the actual 
farmer-producer is domiciled rather than where only surburban 
residents and nonproducers live. 

The American Postal Service OS 

Care Required in Preparing Contracts 

Among the most important duties which a postmaster is called 
upon to perform is seeing that contracts for star-route service 
are properly filled out before being sent to the department. These 
contracts are of a legal nature and while the necessary provisions 
are plainly stated and simple enough to be easily understood, 
extreme care must be exercised to see that the instructions are 
complied with. Spaces for the signatures of the contractor, the 
sureties and witnesses properly filled out, dates given, names 
plainly written wherever required and the contractor should per- 
sonally examine the contract to see that all this is carefully done. 
Failure to note these necessary details causes the return of the 
contract for correction, delaying its acceptance and imposing ex- 
tra and unnecessary work upon the contract clerk. It may also 
be stated that as failure to perform service on the part of the 
contractor is liable to bring these contracts into courts of law for 
judicial determination, it becomes of the highest importance that 
nothing required to be done is omitted in preparation and the 
contract be correct in form and in every particular. 

Birthday of the American Postal Service 

On the twenty-sixth of July, 1917, the postal service of the 
United States can celebrate the one hundred and forty -third 
anniversary of its establishment. It was on July 26, 1775, nearly 
a year before the independence of the colonies was proclaimed, 
that the freedom of postal affairs was made an accomplished fact. 
The British control had existed for eighty-three years, from 1692 
to 1775. There was only one line then in existence along the 
coast with but few branches and those far between. This service 
was first managed by private interests under a patent from William 
and Mary, but afterwards directly by the English crown. The 
fullness of time had at length arrived, had brought the auspicious 
day, and postal independence was born ! 

Patriotic sentiment is not wanting in this country of ours, and the 
flag is ever the object of sincere and heartfelt devotion. The great 
strides in postal development from that day to this should make 
the pulse of every citizen, particularly every postal employe, great 
or small, quicken with civic pride as each successive anniversary 
of our great postal establishment brings the date to mind. Post- 
masters might well signalize the day by conspicious display of the 
flag under which such tremendous progress has been made not only 
in postal affairs but in national greatness and glory. 

List of Postmasters General 

Continental Congress 



Van Buren, 

Harrison, W. H., 











Garfield and Arthur, 







Benjamin Franklin, 
Richard Bache, 
Ebenezer Hazard, 

Postmasters General 
Samuel Osgood, 
Timothy Pickering, 
Joseph Habersham, 
Gideon Granger, 
Return J. Meigs, Jr., 
John McLean, 
Wm. T. Barry, 
Amos Kendall, 
John M. Niles, 
Francis Granger, 
Chas. A. Wickliffe, 
Cave Johnson, 
Jacob Collamer, 
Nathan K. Hall, 
Samuel D. Hubbard, 
James Campbell, 
Aaron V. Brown, 
Joseph Holt, 
Horatio King, 
Montgomery Blair, 
Wm. Dennison, 
Alex. W. Randall, 
John A. J. Creswell, 
Jas. W. Marshall, 
Marshall Jewell, 
Jas. N. Tyner, 
D. M. Key, 
Horace Maynard, 
Thos. L. James, 
T. O. Howe, 
W. Q. Gresham, 
Frank Hatton, 
Wm. F. Vilas, 
Don M. Dickinson, 
John Wanamaker, 
Wilson S. Bissell, 
William L. Wilson, 
James A. Gary, 
Charles Emory Smith, 
Henry C. Payne, 
Robert J. Wynne, 
Geo. B. Cortelyou, 
Geo. Von L. Meyer, 
Frank H. Hitchcock, 
Albert S. Burleson, 

New York, 


New York, 
New York, 
Dist. of Col. 

New Jersey, 
New York, 
New York, 
West Virginia, 
New York, 

July 26, 1775 
Nov. 7, 1776 
Jan. 28, 1782 

Date of 
Sept. 26, 1789 
Aug. 12. 1791 
Feb. 25, 1795 
Nov. 28, 1801 
April 11, 1814 
July 1, 1823 
April 6, 1829 
May 1, 1835 
May 26, 1840 
Mar. 8, 1841 
Oct. 13, 1841 
Mar. 6, 1845 
Mar. 8, 1849 
July 23, 1850 
Sept. 14, 1852 
Mar. 7, 1853 
Mar. 6, 1857 
Mar. 14, 1859 
Feb. 12, 1861 
Mar. 9, 1861 
Oct. 1, 1864 
July 25, 1866 
Mar. 5, 1869 
July 7, 1874 
Sept. 1, 1875 
July 12, 1876 
Mar. 13, 1877 
Aug. 25, 1880 
Mar. 8, 1881 
Jan. 5, 1882 
April 11, 1883 
Oct. 14, 1884 
Mar. 7, 1885 
Jan. 17, 1888 
Mar. 6. 1889 
Mar. 7, 1898 
April 4, 1895 
Mar. 6, 1897 
April 22, 1898 
Jan. 15, 1902 
Oct. 10, 1904 
Mar. 7, 1905 
Mar. 4, 1907 
Mar. 6, 1909 
Mar. 5, 1913 



Miscellaneous Matters 

General and Financial Summary 

Entire receipts, 1916 $312,057,688.83 

Ordinary postal revenues 303,232,143 .36 

From money order business 8,130,545 .47 

Postal savings 695,000. 00 


On account of current year, 1916 $297,637,128.87 

On account of previous years 8,566,904 . 27 

Total expenditure $306,204,033. 14 

Excess of revenue over expenditure, 1916 5,853,655 .69 

Rural free delivery ^ 1916: 

Cost per patron, 1915 $2,060 

Cost per patron, 1916 1,966 

Annual cost, 1916 51,715,616.00 

City delivery y 1916, 34,000 carriers : 

City delivery, cost of, 1916 $43,000,000 

Cost per capita (estimated) 1 .75 

Star route y 1916: 

Annual cost $7,726,975.00 

Postal savings: 

Number of depositors, 1916 602,937 

Balance to'bredit of depositors, 1916 $86,019,885 . 00 

Money orders: 

Orders issued, 1916 121,636,818 

Amount $719,364,950.46 

Stamp hooks: 

Number issued, 1916 28,005,930 

Postal cards: 

Number issued, 1916 1,047,894,800 

Value $10,784,307.00 

Dead letters: 

Letter and parcels received, 1916 10,839,890 

Money value found in undelivered letters $2,303,119.56 

Net revenue from sale of undeliverable articles ^St665 . 69 

Mail bags, 1916: 

Number pouches available 600,000 

Number sacks available 4,000,000 

Cost of pouches $0. 70 

Cost of catcher pouches .80 


96 The American Postal Service 

Mail locks, 1916: 

Number general mail locks in use 1,000,000 

Cost, each 8}^ cents; to repair, 3 cents 

Division of supplies: 

Appropriation, blanks, stationery, etc., 1916 $2,500,000. 00 

Special delivery: 

Amount expended for service, 1916 $633,713 . 21 

Number of pieces delivered yearly 32,000,000 

Railway mail service, 1916: 

Number of clerks 19,000 

Number of mail routes 3,500 

Salaries paid $26,000,000. 00 

Correct handling of mail 99.984 per cent 

Cost of transportation $57,900,000 

Star routes: 

Number, 1916 11,187 

Length of miles 147,167 

Average cost per mile, length $54 . 16 

Average cost per mile of travel $0. 1026 

Annual cost $7,726,975.00 

Routes on which there is found rate service 195 

Number poimds carried, 1917 23,411,604 

Cost $280,738.08 

Cost per hundred pounds $1 . 20 

Number of Star routes discontinued on account 

of rural delivery service from Jan., 1904, to 

June, 1917 7,450 

Cost $2,577,728 

Length in miles 72,340 

1900 1917 

Number of routes 22,834 11,208 

Cost mile of length $19 . 02 $54 . 56 

Cost mile of travel 3 . 83 cents 10. 24 cents 

Cost per route $224.81 $723.00 

Registration and insurance: 

Total registration, paid and free 39,236,569 

Amount collected fees $3,427,053 . 10 

Insured parcel post, total pieces 24,936,082 

Total fees $1,067,192.29 

C. O. D. pieces 6,300,546 

Fees $630,054.60 

Items of General Interest 

Statistics show that although 70 per cent of parcel post matter 
comes from the fifty largest cities of the country, these cities only 
receive 17 per cent of parcels for delivery. The smaller post 
offices which receive 65 per cent of the parcels, dispatch only Oj^ 
per cent. 

The annual readjustment of the salaries of presidential post- 
masters, will, according to the provisions in the postal appropria- 
tion bill for 1917, be based on the gross receipts for the four quarters 
ending December 31, instead of March 31, as heretofore. 

Eligibles for fourth-class postmaster places are selected in the 
order of their civil service rating unless good and sufficient rea- 
sons to the contrary are submitted to the Department. Of 32,000 
of such eligibles, 89.5 of those whose names appeared first on the 
list were appointed. In 8 per cent the second highest were selected, 
and in 2.5 per cent, the third. 

The number of postmasters in the United States are, according to 
classes, 567 in the first, 2,211 in the second, 6,414 in the third, 
and 46,742 in the fourth class. Total, 55,934. 

Custer County, Montana, has one of the longest mail routes in 
the United States. This line runs from Miles City to Stacey, 
Olive, Broaddus, Boyer, Graham, and Biddle. It is said to be 
126 miles long and some contend that it is longer. 

The longest star route in the United States is from Helper to 
Vernal, Utah, 116 miles, and the price the Government pays is 
$38,678.70 per annum. The longest route in Alaska, is overland, 
Barrow to Kotzbue, 650 miles. The shortest route is in Pennsyl- 
vania, from Keiser to Natalie, 65/100. There is one route in New 
York, Delhi to Bloomville, 8 miles and back, twelve times a week, 
for which the contractor receives but 1 cent per annum, no doubt 
considering the advantage of carrying the mail as a sufficient 
compensation for taking the job at such a rate. 

There are 3,010 counties in the United States, 984 have rural 
service and steps are being taken to see what can be done with the 


98 The American Postal Service 

remainder, though any considerable progress in such direction must 
be slow as a great deal of preliminary work must be done before 
any real action can be taken. 

That fractions count in a great business organization such as the 
Post Office Department, will be seen when it is stated that post- 
masters during the year, 1916, accounted for a total of $131,625.90, 
arising from gains in fractions of a cent where stamped envelopes 
and wrappers were sold in odd quantities. 

The annual per capita of expenditure for postage in the United 
States has increased since 1912 from $2.58 to $3.04, and the 
gross postal revenue from $246,744,015 to $312,057,688. In the 
fiscal year of 1857, the first full year in which prepayment of post- 
age by means of stamps was compulsory under the Act of March 3, 
1855, the per capita use of stamps was but 19 cents. The increase 
of population in this period has been 257 per cent. Of postage 
stamp consumption 4,968 per cent. 

The sales of postage stamps and other stamped paper for the 
fiscal year 1916 aggregated $277,728,025.20, an increase of 
$21,521,481.49, the greatest sales and the largest increase ever 
recorded, exceeding the entire sales of the fiscal year 1873, which 
amounted to $20,324,817.50. 

The Post Office Department was removed to Washington, D. C, 
first Monday in December, 1800, the seat of Government being 
changed to the District of Columbia at that time. 

Over 100 years ago the question of patronage was already a 
disturbing feature in the management of public affairs. Gideon 
Granger, of Connecticut, Postmaster General in 1814, who had 
been an active and efficient official in the administration of Presi- 
dent Madison, lost his place on account of some disagreement with 
the President, regarding the appointment of postmasters. It is 
not clear whether he resigned or was displaced, but the differences 
of opinion with President Madison led to his retirement from the 

Joseph Habersham, of Georgia, Postmaster General in the 
administration of General Washington, 1795, was the first one of 

The American Postal Service 99 

the long line of Postmasters General to sit in the Capital of the 
Nation, he coming to Washington when the seat of Government 
was established there in the year 1800. 

Post route and rural delivery maps made by the Government 
are on a scale of 1 inch to the mile. These maps show all public 
roads, rural routes, school houses, churches, streams, etc., and 
negative prints can be purchased at 35 cents each by application 
to the Third Assistant Postmaster General. 

The number of claims filed with the Solicitor for the Post 
Office Department in 1916, for the value of postage stamps lost 
by burglary of post offices, was 690, amounting to $144,440.54, 
as compared with 720 claims, amounting to $197,011.88, filed in 
1915. It will be seen that while the number of claims is approxi- 
mately the same, the amount is $52,571.34 less. 

It was the custom in 1857 and prior thereto, to publish the names 
of the postmasters in connection with the post offices as is indi- 
cated by an old Postal Guide published by D. D. T. Leech at that 
time. This was then easily enough done, for the offices then num- 
bered but 13,600 and changes were not as frequent as at present. 
The First Assistant Postmaster General had in his Bureau 18 
clerks, the Second Assistant, 26, the Third Assistant, 25, and the 
Chief Clerk of the Department, who had charge of the Inspection 
Service, had 18. There were then but 11 distributing offices in all 
of New England including Pennsylvania, 8 in Virginia, and the 
Carolinas, 3 in Georgia, 4 in Ohio, 2 in Illinois, Missoiu'i, Ken- 
tucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, 
and Iowa, and 1 each in Maryland, Michigan, Indiana, Texas, and 
California. Aaron V. Brown, of Tennessee, was the Postmaster 
General. The abbreviation for Massachusetts was then "M.S." 
as is seen by an old dating stamp of that period. 

In 1868 money orders were issued at the rate of 10 cents for all 
orders not exceeding $20. By act approved June 8, 1872, the rate 
was reduced to 5 cents for all orders not exceeding $10. By this 
change the Government lost, in the two succeeding years on ac- 
count of this reduction, 2.84/100 on every order issued on the 
5-ceiit basis, showing that such rate at that time was too low. 

100 The American Postal Service 

There were 2,405 rural carriers separated from the service dur- 
ing the year 1915, of which number 1,228 resigned, 232 died, and 
618 were removed. In 1916, there were 2,602 changes, 1,844 
carriers resigned, 208 died and 550 were removed. 


Almost the entire expense incident to the operation of the rural 
mail service is in the compensation paid to carriers. On account 
of their unusual duties, which include the sale of stamps and 
stamped paper, registration of mail, transaction of money-order 
business, etc., duties not required of city delivery carriers, it is 
stated that carriers maintaining a motor vehicle of the capacity 
required by the Department, who work eight hours a day and carry 
perhaps as much as 50,000 pieces of mail a month, should receive 
not less than $2,000 per annum. 

The total number of miles of railroad in the United States in 
1830 was 23, and 634 miles in 1834, on which mail covering 78 
miles, was carried. In 1844 the mileage had increased to 4,377 
and mail carried on 3,714 miles. In 1854 the mileage was 16,720, 
in 1864, 35,085, in 1874, 70,278, and in 1882, 104,813, with cor- 
responding increase of mail carriage. There are now 3,479 railroad 
mail routes with a length in miles of 234,175.13 and an annual 
travel of 502,937,359.43 miles. 

The decision of President Wilson to place all postmasters of the 
country under the civil service law will take away $16,587,300 
of public patronage from the customary method of disposal. At 
the first of the year there were 567 first-class offices in the country 
paying salaries ranging from $3,000 to $8,000, or a total of $2,014,- 
300. Included in this list were the post offices in New York, 
Chicago, St. Louis, Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Balti- 
imore, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Detroit, Cleveland, Toledo 
Columbus, Atlanta, and other large cities. There were 2,213 
second-class offices, salaries ranging from $2,000 to $2,900, or a 
total of $5,235,500. Third-class, 7,437 paying from $1,000 to 
$1,900 yearly, or a total of $9,337,500. Fourth-class postmasters 
are already under the civil service law. 

From 1816 to 1845, a letter carried not over 30 miles paid 6}4 
cents, over 80 and under 150 miles, paid 123^ cents, and if the 

The American PosxAti SERvicB " '. : ^ iOX 

letter weighed an ounce, four times these rates were charged. In 
1851 the 3-cent rate was reached for distances less than 3,000 miles, 
and in 1853 distance limit was abolished and the rate made uni- 
form. This system led to a deficiency in 1860 amounting to 
over $10,000,000. The restriction of service during the Civil 
War, it being then confined to the densely populated States of the 
north, allowed a surplus to appear amounting in 1863 to $2,800,000. 
After the war, deficiencies became the rule for many years, di- 
minishing, however, from year to year as the country became more 
thickly settled. 

By official order it is stated that the Department commends 
and will give record credit marks to rural carriers whose efforts 
result in greater quantities of farm products being transported 
through the mails. 

Notwithstanding the growth of the service together with the 
added work of the postal savings system and the parcel post, the 
Department service in Washington has been reduced by 200, with 
a resultant saving of over $166,000 per annum because of the 
adoption of methods of operation which develop efficiency, and 
permit the changes so necessary to progressive improvement. 

It is estimated that the cost of extending rural free delivery 
service throughout the entire country will be $100,000,000, 
additional. This seems like a vast sum for one form of public 
service, but country-wide extension is also a vast proposition and 
its benefits would be so immeasurably great if it could be accom- 
plished, that the nation might consider the money well spent 
for such a purpose. 

It may not be generally known that fully 80 per cent of all 
civil service employees of the Government are in one way and 
another connected with the postal service. This shows how vast 
and widely extended this service must be and how intimately 
connected with the public welfare. 

The objectionable use to which window-delivery service in the 
cities of the country may be subjected, has led to an active and 
vigorous campaign by the Department to check the possibility of 

iOi ^ ^ The American Postal Service 

making this public accommodation a channel for unworthy pur- 
poses, and this active effort has, it is believed, been productive of 
great good in such direction. 

The danger to life and limb by service in postal cars, to which 
attention is called elsewhere, has led to increased effort to provide 
cars of all-steel construction for better protection in this naturally 
hazardous service. One thousand of this pattern have within a 
recent period been added to those already in use and a liability 
law enacted for the relief of employes. The risks which must 
be taken in this service demand that the best possible protection 
that can be given should be afforded that the dangers of the rail 
may be lessened to the least degree. 

The mails of the United States were first carried on steamboats 
from one post town to another in 1813, the Government paying 
not over 3 cents for each letter and 1 cent for newspapers. 

Railroads were declared post routes by act of Congress in July, 
1838, and the mails carried thereon. 

This administration is certainly doing all it can to save money in 
various directions. An opportunity was presented in the motors 
returned to the Department for repair. These motors have been 
neglected in many instances through indifference or lack of 
mechanical knowledge on the part of postal employes. Each 
returned motor is now given careful examination by an expert 
electrician and from the knowledge thus gained, additional 
instructions as to proper handling of this class of equipment will 
be sent out. The same is true of old cancelling machines which 
have lain idle for a number of years but by the adoption of newly 
designed mechanical attachments have been converted into 
serviceable equipment at a nominal cost. 

The increase in expenditure for rural delivery by periods was as 
follows: 1897, first year, $14,840. Third year, 1900, increased to 
$420,433. In 1905, to $20,864,885. In 1910, to $36,914,769, 
and in 1916 to $51,715, 616. 

Revision of the rural delivery service to eliminate duplication, 
unnecessary retracing and unjustifiable special facilities was con- 

The American Postal Servicb lOS 

ducted in S29 counties in twenty-nine States during the fiscal year 
of 1916, at a reduction in cost of $1,359,162. This saving with 
that made in readjustments in the fiscal year of 1915, made it 
possible to grant all applications for new service and extensions 
where the requirements have been met. It is estimated that the 
whole territory now covered by rural service, with such necessary 
revision, could be operated at a reduction in cost of $3,500,000. 

The commercial shortage in the paper industry is being to some 
extent remedied, at least so far as the Post Office Department can 
aid and assist, by urging the cooperation of every employe in the 
conservation of the waste paper in all of the larger post offices of 
the country. Paper-baling machines are now supplied to the post- 
masters for this purpose, which not only contributes to economy 
in use and adds to the visible supply, but is a matter of revenue as 
well, for what was formerly regarded as waste, and destroyed, is 
now made a matter of profit. 

The numberless curiosities gathered from unmailable and unre- 
claimed articles which found their way into the Dead Letter 
Office from time to time, together with the many articles of postal 
interest to those who delight in antiquities — the old mail coaches 
used in the west, the dog sledges used in the Alaskan service, the 
carriers in uniform of all nations and the many features of interest 
too tedious to enumerate here and which formed a veritable 
collection of postal wonders and delighted thousands of people 
when gathered for display purposes on the first floor of the Post 
Office Department are now, in part at least, in the National 
Museum at Washington and are well worthy a visit when people 
come to the Capital City on a sight-seeing tour. 


The period of greatest activity in extension and general progress 
of Rural Delivery was from 1900 to 1905, the appropriations run- 
ning from $450,000 in 1900 to $21,116,000 in 1905. On February 
1, 1902, the rural letter carriers were placed imder the civil service 
by executive order. 

Salary increases in the Rural Delivery service have been as fol- 
lows: August 1, 1897, $300; July 1, 1898, $400; July 1, 1900, 
$500; March 1, 1902, $600; July 1, 1904, $720; July 1, 1907, 
$900; July 1, 1911, $1,000; September 30, 1912, $1,100; July 1, 
1914, $1,200. 

Some Old Laws and Regulations 

NOTE. — In some old postal publications dating back to 1843 and 1857, a 
number of curious laws and regulations appear which may be of interest to 
people who delight in antiquarian research. Where no date or Act of Congress 
is mentioned in the paragraphs following, they refer to laws or regulations 
prior to 1843 or between that date and 1857. These items are published 
simply as indicating the peculiar views and opinions of the time, and are 
not to be taken as an official guide for the present day, for changes may have 
been made in some cases, amendments in others, some superseded by later 
enactment and all more or less affected by later conditions and needs. No 
attention can therefore be given them except as phases of other days, unless 
indeed existing laws and regulations make them, or some of them still opera- 
tive and in force, which may be determined by consulting the laws and regula- 
tions of today. 

To Senators and Members of Congress, the franking privilege 
was originally limited to 2 ounces in weight, excess to be paid for. 
Act of March 3, 1825. 

The sum of 4 cents was allowed for advertising each letter remain- 
ing unclaimed in a post office if published in more than one news- 
paper. Section 35, Act July 2, 1836, Act of 1825, Section 26, 
allowed but 2 cents for each letter, published three times. 

Newspaper publishers could have printed or written notice sent 
to subscribers stating the amount due on subscription, which shall 
be attached to paper and the postmaster shall charge for such notice 
the same postage as for a newspaper. Act of 1825. 

No ship or vessel arriving at any port in the United States shall 
make entry or break bulk until the mails are delivered to the post- 
master by the master of such ship or vessel. Penalty was $100. 
Act of 1825. 

Section 1, Act of March 2, 1847, permitted deputy postmasters 
whose compensation for last preceding year did not exceed $200 
to send letters written by himself, and to receive through the mail 
written communications addressed to himself in his private busi- 
ness which shall not exceed }/2 ounce, free of postage. Regulation 
293, allowed every deputy postmaster to frank and receive free 
all his letters, public and private, subject to the J^-ounce weight. 
This privilege did not extend to his wife or any other member 
of the family. 


The American Postal Service 105 

Paid letters might be forwarded by private opportunity to 
places where no post offices were established. 

Postmasters were not allowed to give credit for postage, but if it 
was done, letters addressed to such persons on which postage was 
paid or tendered by him could not be detained. 

Act of August 31, 1852, allowed letters enclosed in stamped 
envelopes to be sent out of the mail. 

By joint resolution of February 20, 1845, the Postmaster 
General could make contracts with railroads for carrying the mail 
without advertising for bids as was then the custom. 

The postmaster, or one of his assistants, was required, before 
office was swept or otherwise cleaned of rubbish, to collect and 
examine all waste paper in order to guard against possibility of 
loss of letters or mail matter by falling to the floor or mingling with 
waste paper. Observance of rule was strictly enjoined, its viola- 
tion constituted a grave offense. They were also admonished in 
mailing letters or packets to use all wrapping paper fit to be used 
again, and the sale of such paper was strictly forbidden. 

As late as 1843, postmasters were officially known as "Deputy" 
postmasters following the old custom from the beginning. 

If a newspaper began to arrive at the office in the course of the 
post office quarter, deputy postmasters should demand postage 
in advance of the subscriber up to the end of that quarter. At the 
end of a quarter, they might refund postage on so many of the 
newspapers as had not arrived during the quarter. Advance 
payment of postage was invariably demaded and unless compHed 
with no papers should be delivered even though the postage was 
tendered on them singly. (Act, 1825.) 

Carriers were required to receive and convey a letter (and the 
money for its postage when tendered) if delivered more than a mile 
from a post office and to hand it with the money, if paid, into the 
first post office at which carrier arrived. A penalty of $50 attached 
on failure to do so. (Act of 1825). 

106 The American Postal Service 

Postmasters were forbidden to show any preference between one 
person and another in the arrival or delivery of mail by the unlaw- 
ful detention of any letters, packages, pamphlet or newspaper. 
A fine not exceeding $500 was the penalty and the person was for- 
ever prohibited from serving as postmaster. (Act of July 2, 1836.) 

A ferryman who by wilful neglect or refusal to transport mail 
across a ferry thereby delaying the same, was to be fined $10 for 
every ten minutes of such delay. (Act of March 3, 1825.) 

Letter carriers employed at such post offices as the Postmaster 
General may direct, were allowed to collect 2 cents for each letter 
they delivered. For letters lodged at the post office by direction 
of the individual, the postmaster was to receive 1 cent; news- 
papers and pamphlets 3^ cent; letters received by carrier for deposit 
in a post office, 2 cents, to be paid to the postmaster for a fund 
for compensation of carriers. This was known as the "penny 
post" and was in vogue until the day of free delivery. 

Section 38, Act of March 3, 1825, provided that: Any person 
confined in jail on any judgment in a civil case obtained in behalf 
of the Post Office Department, who makes affidavit that he has a 
claim against the General Post Office, not allowed by the Post- 
master General, and shall specify such claim in the affidavit, that 
he could not be prepared for trial by lack of evidence, the court 
being satisfied in those respects, may be granted a continuance 
by the court until the next term, and the Postmaster General 
authorized to have such party discharged from imprisonment 
if he has no property, of any description, but such release shall 
not bar a subsequent execution against the property of the 

A postmaster was not allowed to receive free of postage, or frank 
any letter or packet, composed of, or containing anything other 
than paper or money. (Sec. 36; Act of July 2, 1836.) 

According to the Postal Laws and Regulations of 1843, only a 
free white person could carry the mail and any contractor who 
employed or permitted any other than a free white person to con- 
vey mail was subject to a penalty of 

The American Postal Service 107 

At post offices where the mail arrived between 9.00 o'clock at 
night and 5.00 in the morning, the postmaster was allowed a com- 
mission not to exceed 50 per cent on the first $100 collected in any 
one quarter (Act of March 3, 1825), but the commission was 
afterwards increased to 70 per cent. (Act of June 22, 1854.) 
No allowance on this account was, however, to be made unless ac- 
companied by a certificate signed by postmaster upon a pre- 
scribed form. 

Post riders and other carriers of mail collecting way letters on 
which postage had been paid, were allowed 1 cent each for such 
service by the postmaster when such letters were delivered at the 
post office. 

"Express mail service" could be established by the Postmaster 
General if deemed expedient, for the purpose of conveying slips 
from newspapers in lieu of exchanges, or letters, except such as 
contained money, not exceeding J^ ounce in weight, and public 
dispatches, marked as above, at triple rates of postage. 

Employment of extra clerks was permitted and authorized when 
actually needed to answer some information calle 1 for by Con- 
gress. Copyists, etc., were paid at the rate of $3 a day; other 
service $4 when actually and necessarily emplo cd. (Act of 
August 26, 1842.) 

Section 442, Chapter 60, says: "Every deputy postmaster will 
consider himself the Sentinel of the Department in regard to its 
affairs in his immediate vicinity; and he will carefully observe and 
promptly report to it everything tending to affect its interests or 
injure its reputation." 

Section 445 says: "If a mail carrier having the mail in charge 
becomes intoxicated, the Deputy Postmaster will instantly dis- 
miss him, employ another at the expense of the contractor and 
report the facts to the Department. 

Section 382, Chapter 53. " Deputy postmasters are in the habit 
of settling their printer's bills only once in two or three years and 
then forwarding the advertising accoimt for several quarters at 

108 The American Postal Service 

once. This must not be done. All such accounts must be for- 
warded with the returns to which they belong." 

Section. 379. "No allowance for furniture will be made to any 
post oflSce when the net proceeds do not amount to $20 per year. 

Act of 1825, Section 39, and Act of 1863, Section 41, says the 
carriers of the "United States City Dispatch Post'' in New York, 
and other city dispatch posts, wherever established, are authorized 
to charge and collect 3 cents on each letter deposited in any part of 
the city, and delivered at another. 

Act of 1825, Section 38, states a deputy postmaster will not 
open, nor suffer to be opened, any packet of newspapers, not 
addressed to his oflfice, under a penalty of $50. A penalty of $20 
was to be imposed on any person not authorized to open mails, 
who shall open any packet of newspapers not directed to himself. 

Regulations 324 and 325 says that the franking privilege travels 
with the person possessing it and can be exercised in but one place 
at the same time, and prohibited deputy postmasters or other 
privileged persons from leaving their frank behind them upon 
envelopes to cover public or private correspondence in their 

Queer Collection in Holiday Mail 

Some years ago, the Cincinnati, Ohio, post office, gave an ac- 
count of the queer combinations and collections of articles found 
loose in the mails at the Christmas season owing to the carelessness 
of senders. These articles vary from value to worthlessness, utility 
to uselessness. Money, jewelry, articles of dress, dainty ribbons 
to choice silk patters, tableware, and even to "corn shellers." 
Many of the articles named were doubtless in combinations and 
sent to one address, but being carelessly wrapped or addressed, 
they could not be assembled for identification or identified singly 
for delivery in the great majority of cases. The list is given 
for the benefit of readers who delight in curious things. These 
articles were held for a week for possible identification and then 
sent to the Dead Letter Office. No attempt has been made at 
classification as more interest is excited by taking them as they 

The American Postal Service 109 

come. Some of the combination must have been very amusing. 
List is as follows: 

A cabinet photograph, pair rubber sleeves, 2 silver quarter-dol- 
lars, sewing machine shuttle, piece of white swiss goods, 2 dimes, a 
brass key, package common tea spoons, 5 cents and 8 childs* 
cards from Beamsville, Ont., for Mrs. J. Carl, Tallassee, Ala., 
and sent to the postmaster of that place for delivery. Two un- 
stamped letters, one to Mrs. Rebecca Washington, the other to 
Wm. Cummings; Q5 cents, plated butter knife, gold plated lead 
pencil, silver quarter, 2 combination tools, 2 pen knives, lot 
photographs, pension affidavit of Jasper Acres, pair knit stockings, 
6 books, false mustaches, pearl pen holder, box of pills, patent 
corn sheller, 2 electrotype plates of "Sellers Cough Syrup," yel- 
low and purple knit hoods. Christmas cards, studs, 2 small drills, 
peacock feather, fountain pen, ladies brooch, butter knife, felt soles, 
letter in match box addressed to postmaster Berlin, sugarspoon, 
celluloid, ring, sleeve buttons, 25 cents, hair switch, open letter to 
J. Lyon, Red, Ky., Ind., which was delivered to him. 

Two pen knives, dime, box violin strings, ladies fashion bazaar, 
bottle "Fruit Laxative," plain gold ring, ear rings, breast pin, and 
thimble (snide) , paper needles, book "Bad Boy's diary," pencil, 
large pen knife, 70 cents, unstamped letter to Adelaide Long, 
iron hook, toy knitting machine, 2 tops of sleeve buttons, hair 
chain, lot crayons, chalk, letter to P. O. Wickley, Augusta, Me., 
unstamped, containing 70 cents in stamps, child's book "The Proud 
Little Lady," magic lantern, watch chain, masonic charm, 3^- 
dozen teaspoons, paper needles, childs mits, comforter and doll, 
2 harmonicons, Bible, child's gingham dress, 2 sticks of candy. 
A wallet containing a gold double eagle, $20 bill, 9 $5 bills, 3 $10 
bills, found by F. A. Montague, in a pouch from Lewisburg, Tenn., 
and returned to postmaster of that town to be delivered upon 
receipt to the sender. 

Gold plated pencil, unaddressed envelope, containing pair of 
lisle thread gloves, black and white stamped ribbon, unin- 
closed letter containing $1 marked from "Joe to Gus." two-cent 
piece, gold and jet pencil holder, butter knife, tidy, white apron, 
pair baby socks, blank check book, dominoes, black cord and 
tassel, red worsted shawl, tidy. Wooden box, lot of candy, 
assortment of rubber sheep. Letter from R. MacFeeley, Wash- 
ington, D. C, to Capt. A. M. Corliss, without envelope, one cent. 

110 The American Postal Service 

German picture cards, meerschaum cigar holder, woman's head 
design. Three plain rings, four watch charms, compass, horseshoe 
cigar cutter, two lanterns, pearl handled table knife, billiard ball, 
silver quarter sewed in some knit work, whisk broom, a false 
tooth, two black ties, three New Year cards, hair switch, curry- 
comb, vanity case, stuffed Aunt Dinah, game "Old Maid," box 
Mason's blacking with brush, j&ddle strings. 

Feeding the Cats 

It is perhaps not generally known that cats are kept and fed at 
the public expense in some of the larger post offices of the country. 
Some years ago (and it may still be the custom) an appropriation 
of from $80 to $100 was annually made for this purpose for the 
benefit of the New York post office, and $30 to $40, spent for like 
service at the Philadelphia office. In an article in the Philadelphia 
Record it was stated that a man in that city had a contract for 
keeping these feline employes of the office in provisions, and it 
was also mentioned that there are about 1,000 of these useful 
domestic animals in the employ of the Post Office Department 
and they are paid for their services by food and shelter. It is 
estimated that about $1,000 per annum is expended in this way 
at the principal post offices and large public buildings of the 

Ferrets are also often employed for this purpose in the great 
public buildings in Washington when the rodents get too numerous 
and damage to papers and files likely to occur. The common 
practice of eating lunches in these government buildings tends to 
the spread of this annoying condition and the cats in the public 
service are held to be a useful and necessary convenience in hunting 
down and interfering with the nibbling propensities of this pest to 
domestic as well as public economy. 

A Couple of Distinguished Canines 

Mention is made in another article of the employment of cats 
in post offices as "mousers," and they doubtless contribute their 
share towards public benefit. The dog, man's most faithful friend, 
so eulogized in song and story, has also, it seems, his part in 
public interest and concern. For many years the postal clerks 
of the country paid great attention to "Owney" an adventurous 
terrier dog who attached himself to the Railway Service and whose 

The American Postal Service 111 

exploits as a traveler and companion on many postal trips and rmis 
made him a familiar and welcome acquaintance wherever he estab- 
lished his temporary domicile. His faithfulness, friendship and 
fellowship, in his way of showing it, was the topic of discourse when 
he made his occasional visits and his praises were told in many a 
newspaper story and he wore the numerous decorations and 
medals with which he was bedecked, the gift of admiring friends, 
with all the dignity and grace becoming a dog so honored and 

"Owney" had an humble imitator and counterpart in canine 
sagacity and wisdom in a dog at Mount Carmel, Pa., whose watch- 
ful guardianship of the office mail and general fidelity won him 
such deserved recognition at home as a remarkable example of 
what a dog can be taught to do, that his fame spread abroad, was 
brought to public attenion at Washington and the post office peo- 
ple awarded him special recognition in the shape of a handsome 
collar, raised by subscription. He got his name in the news- 
papers, but whether all this honor and glory turned his head 
and his attention elsewhere, or some evil-minded person, jealous 
of the costly collar he wore, appropriated it and the dog also, is 
not known, but after being thus honored and decorated and set 
apart from the rest of the canine fraternity, this famous dog 
suddenly disappeared and was never heard of again. 

Soldier's Sister a Mail Carrier 
President Wilson has issued an executive order allowing the 
Postmaster General to appoint as temporary rural mail carrier, 
during the absence of the regular carrier on military duty, the 
person on whom the support of the dej>endents of the regular 
carrier devolves, without regard to civil service requirements, if 
the substitute is found competent. The first appointment under 
the order is that of Miss Edith Strand, of Princeton, 111., whose 
brother was called into the military service, leaving her to care 
for the family. 

In a pamphlet giving a brief history of the postal service, com- 
piled by Mr. Stanley I. Slack during the administration of Post- 
master General Charles Emory Smith from which a few general 
facts are taken relating to our early postal history, appears a state- 
ment that use had been made of the following works — ^Journal 


The American Postal Service 

kept by Hugh Finlay, 1773-74, Brooklyn, 1867. Joyce "History 
of the British Post Office; The Early History of the Colonial Post 
Office by Mary E. Wooley; Leech and Nicholson's History of the 
Post Office Department, Washington, 1879, and the contributions 
of the Postal History of the United States by C. W. Ernst of Bos- 
ton in Vols. XX, 1895, and XXI, 1896; Journal of the Postal 
Union." As none of these authorities have been consulted in the 
publication of this work, or access had to any of them for such 
purpose, this explanation is made so that if anything from the 
above mentioned publications appears herein, drawn from Mr. 
Slack's pamphlet, the necessary acknowledgment might hereby 
be made and due credit given. 


Annual readjustment salaries, 93 

Claims for stamps lost by bur- 
glary, 95 

Credit marks for rural carriers, 97 

Cost, country-wide extension rural 
delivery, 97 

Difference in dispatch parcel post 
matter, 93 

Department force at Washington 
reduced, 97 

Eligibles, fourth-class postmast- 
ers, 93 

Expenditure rural delivery by pe- 
riods, 98 

First Postmaster General to sit at 
Capital, 94 

Gain to Department in fractions of a 
cent, 94 

Increase rural carriers' pay, 96 

Longest mail route, 93 

Longest star route, 93 

Loss to Government by low money 
order rate, 95 

Mails first carried on steamboats, 98 

Number of counties having rural ser- 
vice, 93 

Names of postmasters mentioned in 
1857. 95 

Number of postmasters affected by 

order of President, 96 
Per capita expenditure for post- 
age, 94 
Patronage 100 years ago, 94 
Period of greatest activity, rural 

service 99 
Post routes, rural delivery maps, 95 
Postal employes in public serv- 
ice, 97 
Paper baling machines, 99 
Postal curiosities in National Mu- 
seum, 99 
Postmasters by classes, 93 
Postage stamp sale, 1916, 94 
Railroads declared post routes, 98 
Rural carriers separated from serv- 
ice, 1915-1916, 96 
Rates of postage, 1816 to 1853, 96 
Revision of rural service, 98 
Shortest postal route, 93 
Salary increases, rural carriers 99 
Saving money by motor repairs, 98 
Sale postage stamps, 1916, 94 
Total railroad mileage, 1830, 96 
Window delivery service, 97 
When the Department was moved to 
Washington, 94 



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