Notes from the Past

The Duties of the Postmasters - Part IV

In our continuing review of United States mail handling procedures in the mid 19th century we have previously reviewed how packets of mail were prepared by a post office for sending on to the distributing office nearest the destination.  Mail destined for state capitals, distributing post offices, and stops on the post roads was sent 'direct'.  The next portion of 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 concerning the work of postmasters dealt with getting the mail on its way.

Receiving and Despatching mails.

    88.  A postmaster will always be in readiness, in person, or by his assistants, to receive the mail when it arrives, and despatch it with all possible expedition.
    89.  If no special regulation upon the subject has been made in regard to his office, he is allowed seven minutes only to change the mail.
    90.  If the mail be carried in a stage, coach or sulky, it will be the duty of the driver to deliver it as near the door of his office as he can come with his vehicle, but he is not required to leave his horses, neither should he be permitted to throw the mail on the ground.
    91.  He will never detain a mail beyond the time fixed for its departure, except for the arrival of a pending mail, and in that case it should be despatched in time to connect with other important mails, at the place of arrival.
    92.  When the mail is to remain but a few minutes at his office the mail should be made up and ready to put into the mail bag before the time it usually arrives.
    93.  He will stop all packets which he finds going in the wrong direction, and put them in the right one.
    94.  In case of a failure of the mail, he will forward all the packets by the next trip.
    95.  It is inadmissible to send letters in a canvass bag without a leather bag and lock.
    96.  Never deliver the mail bag to the carrier without being certain that it is locked.

To be continued.

Posted June 23, 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

Note:  If the link isn't returned the first try, try again.

Comments? Send me an e-mail
Please include a reference to this item.