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England, a rate of two cents per half In all countries sufficiently advanced ounce pays the salaries of letter-carriers, in civilization to realize the idea of a as well as other expenses, leaving a large National Post Office, a sufficient sense of surplus revenue, that, in this country, a the advantages of the diffusion of know. rate of five cents per half ounce, oughi, in ledge has prevailed, to lead to the partial time, to entitle the public to the delivery of exemption of the postage duties on jourletters at all dwellings within the usual na!s, pamphlets, and other printed papers; precincts of cities, towns, and villages, but it must be distinctly understood, in without further expense.
considering this with reference to the orThe total abolition of the franking ganization of the United States Post system is a condition indispensable to Office, that although in other countries any efficient system of Post Office reform. such printed matter is transmitted through Such a system is subject to inevitable the Post Office at a cost which is small abuses, whether it be confined to public comparatively with the general postage offices or extended to members of Con- duties, there is still a charge made for gress. It may, perhaps, be contended such packets more than sufficient to pay that the daily stipend allowed to mem- the expense of their transport; and it is bers of Congress was based upon the necessary also to remember, that in all supposition that they were to be exempt those countries the Post Office is not from postage on their correspondence. merely a public institution for the We answer, that the possession of the cheap, rapid, and safe transmission franking privilege on their part was an of correspondence, but also a direct advantage not altogether unqualified; it source of revenue. In the liberal form doubtless exposed them to much frivolous of government established in this counand impertinent correspondence, as well try, it seems to be conceded that the as to inconvenient solicitation and im- gross revenue of the Post Office ought portunity for franked covers for the con- not to exceed its expenses; in other veyance of the letters of parties whose words, that it should be an institution correspondence should legitimately be for mere public convenience, and that subject to postage. Such was proved to correspondence is not an eligible object be extensively the case before the parlia- of taxation. It ought not, therefore, on mentary committee in London, and there the one hand, to be expected that journals is no good reason to suppose it otherwise or other printed matter should be carried in this country. The pre-paying system by the Post Office at a less rate than will exempt all members of Congress from would cover their expenses fairly estipostage on the letters they receive; and if mated; for it is admitted here that it it be thought expedient, a fair augmenta. would be unjust to make up the defition of their daily stipend may be allowed ciency by a tax on other correspondence, by law to cover the probable amount of and there is no other source out of which postage of the letters on public business it could be made good. It would, on the which they may transmit. At a five cent other hand, be even more objectionable rate, a dollar per day wouldcover the to lay an excessive rate upon these than average number of twenty single letters. upon written correspondence. Hitherto
The correspondence of the public al journals, without regard to their size offices will be transmitted, as it now is, or weight, have been transmitted at à subject to the same charge as other certain rate per single copy, varying packets, except only that its postage may under certain limitations in proportion to stand as a matter of account between the distance. This is attended with inthese offices respectively and the Post conveniences and objections nearly simiOffice. To transmit through the Postlar to those which prevail against the Office, free of charge, the correspondence single and double system of letter postand documents of the public offices, and age. One journal will spread over a yet to make the Post Office pay its own quantity of paper ten times that of anexpenses, is tantamount to paying the ex- other, will have ten times the weight, penses of the postage of the state by a and be attended with ten times the exiax levied in the shape of a postage on pense of transportation, yet the postage the correspondence of private individuals. of the two will be the same. By late inThe postage like the other expenses of ventions and improvements in the manuthe state, can only with justice be paid facture of paper, single sheets can be out of the treasury; to levy it as a tax made of any size that is required, and on correspondence is doing what the there is consequently no other limitation legislature never contemplated.
to the size of a single printed sheet, ex
cept the magnitude of the printing press
Cost of on which it is worked. There is, there.
Weight Postage fore, ample scope for the abuse of the
(av'ge) Stamps privilege of transmission of printed pa
Journals & Periodicals. Ounces. per 100. pers at reduced rates under the present
Edinburgh Review,(reprint) 7 7.00
1.50 system. In accordance with the principles North American Review, 13
13.00 which characterize the reform system of postage in regard to letters, it would fol- The weight of each paper being once low that printed papers should equally ascertained, and being uniform, or nearly be liable to postage by weight, and pre. so, stamps for its free transmission would payment by stamps. All the reasoning be prepared and delivered to its publish. which establishes the advantage of these ers, at a corresponding price per hundred. principles as applied to letters, are equal. No practical difficulty is found in this ly applicable to printed papers; but as proceeding, which has been for several the latter are transmitted in packets of years in operation in England. Each greater bulk and weight than letters, and stamp has the name of the journal to therefore the labor and expense chargewhich it belongs, engraved upon it, so able per individual packet upon them will that the stamp of one journal cannot be be proportionably less than letters, it is used for another. equitable that they should be charged at The practical arrangement of a system a less rate by weight. It would be diffi- of pre-payment on newspapers and pericult, perhaps impracticable, to ascertain odicals, may at first produce some little the exact expense of their transmission inconvenience, but this will be temporary and delivery through the Post Office; but those who desire to have newspapers if that expense could be ascertained, it or periodicals forwarded to them by post, should regulate the rate of their postage. must pay a subscription which will In the absence of such an estimate, a include the postage. The mode of uniform rate of two cents per ounce for stamping the papers, adopted in England, all distances might be adopted subject to is the simple and obvious expedient of such future modification as experience putting a stamp on the paper on which might suggest.
the journal or periodical is printed, which With a view to ascertain the practical stamp carries it free through the Post effect of such a rate, we have ascertained Office to any part of the country. The the weights of the principal daily and same object may be accomplished, though weekly papers published in New York, not with the same facility, by enclosing and of other periodical publications to the papers in stamped bands, each band which this regulation would be applica- carrying a stamp proportional to the ble. These are given in the subjoined weight of the papers it encloses, or the table together with the rates of postage adhesive stamp might be easily affixed to which would be chargeable upon them. the papers themselves, as they are to
letters. It is evidently equitable that Cost of Weight Postage
printed matter should be chargeable by (av'ge) Stamps
weight, and in reference to this principle, Journals & Periodicals. Ounces. per 100.
we have ascertained a fact which is Courier and Enquirer,
worthy of attention. When newspapers
13 $1.87 Journal of Commerce, 18 1.62
are wet, as they are always when fresh Evening Post,
from the press, they are twenty-five per Commercial Advertiser, 1
cent. heavier than when dry; but as they Express,
1$ 1.50 are put up for the Post Office wet, it fol. Tribune,
87} lows that the public is put to the needHerald,
87% less expense of transporting through the Morning News,
country many tons of water under the American,
name of newspapers and periodicals. Broadway Journal, 15 1.12 For every four tons of printed paper thus Sun,
874 carried, there is one ton of water ;-jourNational Intelligencer, (Washington)
nals and periodicals should, therefore, be Saturday Emporium,
dried before they are sent to the Post
18 1.75 Hewett's Shakspeare,
Office, otherwise their proprietors cannot American Review,
justly complain of being charged twentyHunt's Magazine,
5} 5.30 five per cent. extra for their transmission. New Englander, (quarterly) 85
It would be important to the objects of
this inquiry to obtain, by reference to the per pound, the quantity consumed in that business done by the Post Office under time by the public cost £5,221,352. In the existing system, an approximate esti. 1784, the duty was reduced, and the mate of the gross revenue to be expected average price became four shillings per under a reformed system. The publish- pound, during which the quantity coned reports of the Post Office department sumed cost £9,417,699. Thus a reducafford, however, no sufficient data on tion of 33 per cent in this article, which to found such a calculation. We produced an increased return in money are therefore compelled to use for our of one hundred per cent., and threefold purpose the data afforded by the reports consumption of the commodity: of the Post Office department of Great To the increased consumption of the Britain.
article, by diminution of price, there is It is a principle established by univer- no practical limit, but there is a limit sal experience, that the consumption or which it is the business of the financier, use of any commodity increases rapidly the statist, and the economist, to ascerin proportion as its cost is lessened, and tain, at which the greatest return in this increase is generally in a much high- money is obtained by reduction of price. er ratio than that of the red tion of There is a certain point in the price of price. The following example of the an article, at which either an increase or practical operation of this law will illus- diminution of price will produce a ditrate it. They are selected from various minished return, and in cases where parliamentary returns and reports pub- profit alone is concerned, this is the point Tished in Great Britain and ascertained for the producer to aim at; but in the generally by reference to the register of case of the postage, where no revenue is customs and duties. When soap fell one- sought for, the problem presents itself eighth in price, its consumption was in- under somewhat modified conditions. creased one-third ; when sixteen per cent. There the object is to ascertain that price was taken from the price of tea, its con- which will create the greatest possible sumption was doubled. After 1823 the amount of intercommunication, giving a price of silks fell twenty per cent., and return which will not fall short of the twice the quantity was bought and worn. gross expenses of the establishment. At the same time coffee fell about twenty. In the case of the English postage five per cent., and the quantity used was system, it was a matter of dispute, when tripled. Within the twenty years preced- the reform was agitated, whether the ing 1837 cotton goods fell about fifty per Post Office should be continued as a cent., and their consumption was increas- source of revenue at all; and parliament ed four hundred per cent. When the re- appears, accordingly, to have faltered on duction of the stamp duty upon newspa- that point, by giving to the government pers took place in England, their price an hypothetical pledge, that if the estabwas reduced by one-third, yet the actual lishment of the new system should cause sum expended on them by the public a deficit in the general revenue of the was augmented. The same result en- kingdom, by reason of the diminished sued when the duty on advertisements amount supplied by the Post Office, was reduced.
they would make such deficit good by A curious example of the effect of the other means. It is clear, therefore, that reduction of price in the case of an ob- it was expected, at least by some who ject of mere personal gratification, is favored the new system, that the nett afforded in the example of the Tower; revenue of the Post Office would fall off the fee of admission to see which, being —but it was contended by all that it previous to 1837 three shillings, was would restore itself after the lapse of a reduced successively, first to one shilling, reasonable time. The results, so far as and then to sixpence. In the six months they are yet known to us, are in accordending November, 1837, 7,533 persons ance hoth with these apprehensions and were admitted to see it, at three shillings expectations. The annual amount of the per head. In the six months ending No- nett revenue of the Post Office, immedivember, 1838, 31,333 persons were ad. ately before the reduction of postage, was mitted, at one shilling per head; and in $7,842,067, and it had been declining in the six months ending November, 1839, amount from former years. The nett 56,213 persons were admitted to it at revenue of the first year, under the new sixpence per head.
system, was $2,322,370, and that of the During the three years ending 1783 second year, $2,675,380. Subsequent the average price of tea was six shillings to this period, we do not possess the official returns, but it is understood that be raised by postage here, there cannot there is an annual increase, which, in be any reasonable grounds for doubt that about five years from the establishment the gross returns will cover the Post of the new system, will restore the reve- Office expenses. In addition to the large nue to its former amount.
increase of correspondence, which the The estimated annual number of let reduction of postage must itself produce, ters transmitted through the Post Office, the abolition of the franking privilege in the years 1839 and 1840, the last of will add largely to the revenue. That the old and the first of the new system, which is now executed at the cost of showed an immediate increase of a hun- those who write chargeable letters, will dred per cent. The next year, 1841, be hereafter executed, as it ought to be, showed a further increase of 40 per cent. at the proper cost of the writers. on the original amount, and the actual The effect of a diminished rate of postincrease of the total correspondence of age, and the consequently augmented the kingdom, according to the latest number of letters in increasing the total returns, has been in the ratio of about
revenue accruing to the Post Office, is three to one.
illustrated in a striking manner by the These data, imperfect and insufficient following table, which exhibits the coras they must be admitted to be, neverthe- respondence of a single week of four less tend to sustain the prevalence of the towns in Great Britain. They are at general law of reduction of price, in its very different distances from the capital, application to postage. When it is con- but it must be remembered that this dif. sidered that the rate which we have ference of distance, however great, prosuggested is two-and-a-half times higher duces no appreciable effect upon the than that which yields a large revenue Post Office expenses of each letter in England, no revenue being desired to
Chargeable letters dispatched to London in the week beginning 15th January, 1838. Number
Contrib. per head, of Single Total
expressed in hundredths letters. postage. postage. Population.
of a penny:
It is clear, from this table, that the within reasonable limitations, and that it lower rates of postage, so far as they are would be in the highest degree unjust, and instrumental in augmenting the corres- indeed an insufferable abuse of official pondence, have the effect of increasing power, to spread post offices over such the gross returns. It is true that the thinly peopled districts that the business proximity of places has, in this instance of transmission and delivery could only also, tended to increase the amount of be executed at a loss greatly exceeding correspondence, but not to any extent the correspondent amount of the postage. sufficient to account for the great differ- The overplus must either be defrayed ence in the amount of the gross revenue by an excessive charge, levied on the shown in the above table.
correspondence with more populous It has been frequently urged in favor places, or out of the revenues of the of maintaining a high rate of postage in General Government.
If such postthis country, that numerous post offices offices, which cannot pay their own have been established in districts so expenses, be established at all, their sparsely peopled, that the whole amount existence can only be defended by their of the correspondence, whatever rate tendency to the general welfare of the may be fixed on, would not pay the country, and although on such grounds expenses of the individual post office. they might be justly maintained by the To this it may be answered, that the Treasury of the General Government, it discretionary power vested in the Gov. would be an outrage upon all principles ernment, for the establishment of local of justice and right to levy a fund for offices, must obviously be exercised their support exclusively upon the letterwriters of New York, Philadelphia, The Post Office service, in England, is Baltimore, New Orleans, and Boston. executed upon the railways, at a greater
In the printed reports of the Post Of- cost than was ever incurred on any main fice department very just and reasonable lines of common roads, but the nature of remonstrances have been made against this service, and its superior efficiency, the exorbitant charges made by Railway amply compensates the public for the inCompanies, and in some cases by Steam- creased expense. These great lines of boats, for the conveyance of the mails. It internal communication are vast chanhas been truly observed that railways nels of social and commercial intercourse, from their very nature are monopolies, into which smaller tributaries, in the and that in many instances competition form of branch railways and common between steamboats is insufficient to pro- roads, pour their streams in countless tect the Post Office from injurious and number and unbounded quantity. Each fraudulent combinations, the effect of main line thus drains an entire Province; which is to extort from the General Gov- the quantity of Post Office business, ernment a rate of freight many times therefore, transacted upon it is greatgreater than that which is charged to er, incomparably, than ever was executed private individuals. This is an abuse on any common road; but it is even which ought to be put down by the su- more remarkable for the superior efficienpreme power of the law, and it is happily cy of its execution than for its increasone in the suppression of which the ed quantity. A house of considerable whole body of the enlightened public will dimensions, constituting a locomotive zealously concur. The rate at which pri- Post Office, is actually erected on wheels vate individuals and companies can carry and transported over the railway at the freight upon railways and in steamboats rate of thirty miles an hour. In this is generally known, and it is within the house are well lighted rooms properly legitimate power of the general govern- furnished with the apparatus requisite ment, aided and countenanced by Con- for the Post Office functionaries; at the gress, to exact from all public carriers stations, as they pass, the letter-bags are the transport of the mails at equally rea- received and delivered; the processes of sonable rates. To maintain that such sortation, weighing, stamping, and bagparties may with impunity exercise an ging are executed in this moving manarbitrary power of fixing one tariff for sion between station and station, so that the government mails and another for no inconsiderable part of the entire busiprivate freight, so as to set at defiance ness of the Post Office is here performed ihe power of the general legislature, while the letters are in the very act of would involve an admission of a degree being transported. But ingenuity is not of feebleness in the Constitution which exhausted even here. Post Offices are would render it unfit to promote the well. established at small and thinly peopled being of the nation for which it was stations, where the flying mail could not framed. The observation which has afford to pause in its rapid course. In been made in one of the Post Master such cases, an apparatus is attached to General's reports, that certain companics the locomotive office, on which the seize the pretext of the mails being re- letter-carrier or guard hangs the bag to quired to be dispatched at particular be delivered as the train approaches the hours, as the ground of an exorbitant station. The bag to be received, is, in demand for their transport, is really so like manner, suspended to an arm, propuerile that it hardly deserves to be se- jecting from a post erected on the side of riously considered.
the railway, awaiting the expected ar
* The establishment of local Post Offices, if left to the discretion of the Post Office department, is subject to the most intolerable abuses. The inhabitants of some remote country place, that they may have the advantage of a good coach-road between them and some desirable market-and contractors, that they may make the road—and small officeseekers, that they may pocket postage perquisites—all make loud requisitions on the department for the establishment of a post office, when there is not the shadow of a chance that it will pay expenses. In such cases the expenses are paid for, not by the people who enjoy the privileges, nor by the public treasury, but by the letter writers of the larger towns. This is manifestly a gross abuse, and we know no way of correcting it better than to limit the power of the Postmaster General. If letters be carried to distant out-of-the-way places, let post-riders be paid, like our city carriers, a cent or two additional. If they must have roads for coaches, they should make them, without looking for unnecessary mail-contracts to cover the cost.