Notes from the Past

The Duties of the Postmasters - Part I

The duties of the postmaster were quite specific.  The Regulations for the Government of the Post Office Department included in Postal Laws and Regulations for the Government of the Post Office Department published in 1847 divided the responsibilities into three principal tasks as follows:

The operations of the Department, on the mail routes, and in the post offices are divided into --

    1.  The making up and forwarding of mails.
    2.  The receiving and opening of mails and delivering of letters, newspapers, and packets.
    3.  The keeping and rendering of accounts and payment of balances.

Making up and forwarding mails.  What may be admitted into the mail.

    75.  The mails were established for the transmission of intelligence; the articles, therefore, proper to be sent in them are letters, newspapers, and pamphlets.
    76.  Packets of every description, weighing more than three pounds, are to be excluded, except for public documents, printed by order of either House of Congress, or such publications or books as have or may be published, procured, or purchased, by order of another House of Congress, or a joint resolution of the two Houses, legally franked.
    77.  Bound books of any size are not included in the terms mailable matter, except books sent by Governors of States and bound public documents, legally franked.

It is interesting to note the objective of the mails as stated was communication not transport of material.  Books are an interesting exclusion.  The express companies were expected to provide for the movement of merchandise.

To be continued.

Posted June 20, 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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