“Constitution, known as the Postal Clause or the Postal Power, empowers Congress “To establish Post Offices and post Roads”.
Will the handlers of PRISM ask Congress for permission to open our snail mail? If the Post Office is privatized, then who is to prevent this? Our e-mail is being diverted to giant factory with no windows. Will Prism Post Offices open up in your town? Can a special ink be made that can be read by the PRISM computer that will allow handlers to read your mail – without opening the envelope? This ink could be sold to Kinkos and Staples at a cut-rate price. Then there is the ink in our printers to be contaminated with PRISM INC.
American Revolutionaries overthrew the British Monarchy with Freedom of the Press. It appears they sent newspapers through the King’s Mail and wanted to make sure there was a new postal system that spread the news of REVOLUTION. E-mail has caused the decline of the Post Office, and help put it in debt. But, it was the Christian Republican Rightwing that put it under when they made a law that bid the postal service to pre-pay retirement for postal workers. Now that our e-mails are being opened by the U.S. Government, and other orginizations, it is time to reborn the intent of True Patriots which had to be the spreading of the idea of a violent overthrow of the King and Queen’s Kingdom in America. No soooner was this done, then the status quo wanted to do away with the delivery of radical newspapers.
The PRISM spy network has made cyber-roads to our very door, has knocked down our door, and is hunting down anything that looks like a radical idea. This constitutes supression of ALL radical ideas, some that may be good for OUR DEMOCRACY vs. our nation. Does PRISM respect the bounderies of sovereign nations? No! Does it respect Democracy? No! Then, what is it good for? Surely it is not good for us – or anybody!
The Postal Clause was added to the Constitution primarily to facilitate interstate communication, as well as to create a source of revenue for the early United States. There were some early disagreements as to the boundaries of the Postal Power. John Jay, in a letter to George Washington, opined that the postal service should not be burdened with the responsibility for handling newspaper delivery, and also suggested that the Post Office be placed under the supervision of the executive branch (a suggestion which later led to the creation of the Post Office Department). Thomas Jefferson feared that the postal service would become a source of patronage and a waste of money. Jefferson also expressed doubt at granting Congress the power to designate post roads, as he considered road building to be a state responsibility.
The Clause has been construed to give Congress the enumerated power to designate mail routes and construct or designate post offices, with the implied authority to carry, deliver, and regulate the mails of the United States as a whole. An early controversy was whether Congress had the power to actually build post roads and post offices, or merely designate which lands and roads were to be used for this purpose, and to what extent that power could be delegated to the Postmaster General. The U.S. Supreme Court construed the power narrowly during the early part of the 19th century, holding that the power consisted mostly of designation of roads and sites, but gradually gave way later on, allowing appropriation of land for postal purposes.
The Postal Power also includes the power to designate certain materials as nonmailable, and to pass statutes criminalizing abuses of the postal system (such as mail fraud and armed robbery of post offices). This power has been used by Congress and the Postmaster General to exclude obscene materials from the mails, beginning with an act in 1872 to ban lottery circulars from the mails, as well as the Comstock laws in 1873. These attempts at limiting the content of the mails were upheld by the Supreme Court, but in the 20th century, the Court took a more assertive approach in striking down postal laws which limited free expression, particularly as it related to political materials. The First Amendment thus provided a check on the Postal Power.
The first postal service in America arose in February 1692, when a grant from King William and Queen Mary empowered Thomas Neale “to erect, settle and establish within the chief parts of their majesties’ colonies and plantations in America, an office or offices for the receiving and dispatching letters and pacquets, and to receive, send and deliver the same under such rates and sums of money as the planters shall agree to give, and to hold and enjoy the same for the term of twenty-one years.”
Before the Revolution, there was only a trickle of business or governmental correspondence between the colonies. Most of the mail went back and forth to counting houses and government offices in London. The Revolution made Philadelphia, the seat of the Continental Congress, the information hub of the new nation. News, new laws, political intelligence, and military orders circulated with a new urgency, and a postal system was necessary. Journalists took the lead, securing post office legislation that allowed them to reach their subscribers at very low cost, and to exchange news from newspapers between the 13 states. Overthrowing the London-oriented imperial postal service in 1774-75, printers enlisted merchants and the new political leadership, and the new postal system was born. The United States Post Office (USPO) was created on July 26, 1775, by decree of the Second Continental Congress. Benjamin Franklin headed it briefly.
The modern Post Office originated in 1792 as the Post Office Department (USPOD). It was based on the Constitutional authority empowering Congress “To establish post offices and post roads”. The new law provided for a greatly expanded postal network, and served editors by charging newspapers an extremely low rate. The law guaranteed the sanctity of personal correspondence, and provided the entire nation with low-cost access to information on public affairs, while establishing a right to personal privacy.
To cover long distances the Post Office used a hub-and-spoke system, with Washington as the hub and chief sorting center. By 1869, with 27,000 local post offices to deal with, it had changed to sorting mail en route in railroad mail cars. The system of postal money orders began in 1864. Free delivery began in the larger cities in 1863.
The postal system played a crucial role in national expansion. It facilitated expansion into the West by creating an inexpensive, fast, convenient communication system. Letters from early settlers provided information and boosterism to encourage increased migration to the West, helped scattered families stay in touch and provide neutral help, assisted entrepreneurs to find business opportunities, and made possible regular commercial relationships between merchants and the West and wholesalers and factories back east. The postal service likewise assisted the Army in expanding control over the vast western territories. The widespread circulation of important newspapers by mail, such as the New York Weekly Tribune, facilitated coordination among politicians in different states. The postal service helped integrated established areas with the frontier, creating a spirit of nationalism and providing a necessary infrastructure.
The Post Office in the 19th century was a major source of federal patronage. Local postmasterships were rewards for local politicians–often the editors of party newspapers. About 3/4 of all federal civilian employees worked for the Post Office. In 1816 it employed 3341 men, and in 1841, 14,290. The volume of mail expanded much faster than the population, as it carried annually 100 letters and 200 newspapers per 1000 white population in 1790, and 2900 letters and 2700 newspapers per thousand in 1840.
The Post Office Department was enlarged during the tenure of President Andrew Jackson. As the Post Office expanded, difficulties were experienced due to a lack of employees and transportation. The Post Office’s employees at that time were still subject to the so-called “spoils” system, where faithful political supporters of the executive branch were appointed to positions in the post office and other government corporations as a reward for their patronage. These appointees rarely had prior experience in postal service and mail delivery. This system of political patronage was replaced in 1883, after passage of the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act.
Ten years before waterways were declared post roads in 1823, the Post Office used steamboats to carry mail between post towns where no roads existed. Once it became clear that the postal system in the United States needed to expand across the entire country, the use of the railroad to transport the mail was instituted in 1832, on one line in Pennsylvania. All railroads in the United States were designated as post routes, after passage of the Act of July 7, 1838. Mail service by railroad increased rapidly thereafter.
~ Benjamin Franklin ~ George Washington ~
The First U.S. Postage Stamps
The first stamp issues were authorized by an act of Congress and approved on March 3, 1847. The earliest known use of the Franklin 5c is July 7, 1847, while the earliest known use of the Washington 10c is July 2, 1847. Remaining in postal circulation for only a few years, these issues were declared invalid for postage on July 1, 1851.
An Act of Congress provided for the issuance of stamps on March 3, 1847, and the Postmaster General immediately let a contract to the New York City engraving firm of Rawdon, Wright, Hatch, and Edson. The first stamp issue of the U.S. was offered for sale on July 1, 1847, in NYC, with Boston receiving stamps the following day and other cities thereafter. The 5 cent stamp paid for a letter weighing less than 1 oz (28 g) and travelling less than 300 miles, the 10 cent stamp for deliveries to locations greater than 300 miles, or twice the weight deliverable for the 5 cent stamp.