Notes from the Past

Postage Stamps Authorized in United States

In 1847, major changes in handling the mail were underway in the United States.  It was then that postage stamps were introduced.  The enabling legislation which authorized postage stamps and ended the use of postmaster's provisional stamps was noted in Laws and Regulations for the Government of the Post Office Department published in 1847 as follows:
AN ACT
To establish certain post routes and for other purposes.
Sec. 11, And be it further enacted, That to facilitate the transportation of letters in the mail, the Postmaster General be authorized to prepare postage stamps, which, when attached to any letter or packet, shall be evidence of the payment of the postage chargeable on such letter, which said stamps the Postmaster General may deliver to any deputy postmaster who may apply for the same, the deputy postmaster paying, or becoming accountable for the amount of the stamps so received by him, and if any of said stamps shall not be used, but returned to the General Post Office, the amount so returned shall be credited to such deputy postmaster; and such deputy postmaster may sell or dispose of any stamps so received by him, to any person who may wish to use the same; but it shall not be lawful for any deputy postmaster to prepare, use, or dispose of any postage stamps not authorized by and received from the Postmaster General; and any person who shall falsely and fraudulently make, utter, or forge any postage stamp, with the intent to defraud the Post Office Department, shall be deemed guilty of felony, and on conviction shall be subject to the same punishment as is provided in the twenty-first section of the act approved the third day of March, eighteen hundred and twenty-five, entitled "An act to reduce into one the several acts establishing and regulating the Post Office Departments."
Approved, March 3, 1847.


Posted May 29, 2000

Editor's Note:  Modern philatelists are indebted to Theron Wierenga who republished this volume in 1980.  Italics follow the original.

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