Notes from the Past

Lotteries and the Mails

For many years lotteries were forbidden by law in the United States.  One occasionally sees an incoming foreign letter marked with the something like "This letter may contain forbidden material."  This often indicated letters suspected of distributing lottery information and tickets.  This attitude was reflected in the Laws and Regulations for the Government of the Post Office Department published in 1847 as follows:
AN ACT
Amendatory of the Act regulating the Post Office Department

Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That no postmaster or assistant postmaster shall act as agent for lottery offices, or under any color of purchase, or otherwise, vend lottery tickets; nor shall any postmaster receive free of postage, or frank, lottery schemes, circulars or tickets.  For a violation of this provision the person offending shall suffer a penalty of fifty dollars.

Approved, March 2, 1827.


Posted June 1, 2000

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

Index of 508 Notes from the Past

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