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The American Postal Network, 1792–1914


Editor: Richard R John

4 volume set: 1920pp: 234x156mm: 2012
978 1 84893 115 2: £350/$625

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Leaflet

The American postal system is widely regarded as a prototype of modern governmental organizations. It is also considered to be a precursor for a number of large-scale businesses and was central to the communications revolution of the nineteenth century. This four-volume reset collection documents the history of this remarkable institution, locating it within the wider administrative network that coordinated the circulation of people, information and goods. It involved several modes of transportation and communication (steamboats, railroads, telegraphs) and linked the many mass distributors of print media and consumer goods.

The pamphlets in this collection document major controversies over communications policy. They link the postal system with debates on cultural values, economic development, political corruption and public finance. The sources in each topic are organized chronologically and set in context with extensive editorial commentary. The collection will be of interest to specialists in the history of law, economics, business, politics and communication as well as historians of the long nineteenth century.

  • Materials are selected from both public and private collections
  • Includes more than eighty complete texts
  • Provides full scholarly apparatus, including an extensive general introduction, volume introductions, headnotes and endnotes
  • Consolidated index in the final volume

Volume 1: Administration

General Introduction

Timothy Pickering, Instructions to the Deputy Postmasters (1792); John M'Lean, Post-Office Law, Instructions and Forms (1825); Francis O J Smith, A Letter Relating to the Administration and Present Condition of the Post Office Department (1835); Arthur W Austin, A Memorandum Concerning the Charlestown Post-Office (1835); Proceedings of a Convention of Delegates ... on the Subject of the Location of the Post Office [In New York City] (1836); ‘Cincinnatus’, Freedom’s Defense: Or a Candid Examination of Mr Calhoun’s Report on the Freedom of the Press (1836); Lysander Spooner, Unconstitutionality of the Laws of Congress, Prohibiting Private Mails (1844); Seven Years in the Boston Post Office By an Ex-Clerk [1854]; Nahum Capen, Correspondence Respecting Postal Improvements, and the Removal of the Boston Post Office (1858); J D Westcott, Exposition of Facts and Law, in the Case of G G Westcott, Esq, Postmaster at Philadelphia (1859); San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Report ... on the Condition of our Postal Affairs (1864); Oliver Wood, Eleven Months as Special Agent in the Postoffice Department (1868). The Legality of Wells Fargo's Letter-Carrying Business: Post Office Department, Wells, Fargo & Co’s Letter-Express (1880); Horace F Page, The Origin, Methods, and Important Public Uses of the Letter Service of Wells, Fargo & Company [1880]. Abraham D Hazen, The Post Office Before and Since 1860, Under Democratic and Republican Administrations (1880); Thaddeus B Wakeman, The Unanswered Argument against the Constitutionality of the So-Called Comstock Postal Laws (1880); Richard Henry Dana, The Appointment and Tenure of Postmasters (1895); Charles Emory Smith, Greatest Business Organization in the World: The United States Postal Service (1899); Louis F Post, Our Despotic Censorship (1906); James M Beck, Constitutionality of the New Federal Law Regulating Journalism (1912)

Volume 2: Contracting

Steamboat Subsidies and the Overland Mail
Edward Mills, Statement ... in Relation to his Mail Contract with the United States Government [1850]; A Few Suggestions Respecting the United States Mail Steam Service (1850); W C Templeton, Proposals for and Advantages of a Regular Mail Communication ... by Steam Packets between New Orleans and Vera Cruz (1851). E K Collins: E K Collins, Memorial (1851); Anon., Competition [1851]. Patriotic Speculations: How to Get Your Foot Out of It [1851]; Robert B Forbes, On the Establishment of a Line of Mail Steamers from the Western Coast of the United States on the Pacific to China (1855); E K Collins, The Ocean Mail Service (1857); B B Meeker, Overland Mail Route from Lake Superior to Puget’s Sound (1858); John Roach, Letter ... Suggesting the Experiment of Advertising for Proposals of the Lowest Rates (1876); Pacific Mail Steamship Company, The National Advantages of Government Aid to American Commerce (1877)

Railway Mail
Controversies: George Bliss, Reply to a Late Letter of the Post-Master General (1842); Executive Committee of the Delaware and Raritan Canal and Camden and Amboy Railroad and Transportation Companies, Report of a Committee of the Joint Board of Directors (1847); Cave Johnson, Letter ... in Answer to a Publication Made by the Joint Board of Directors of the Delaware and Raritan Canal and Camden and Amboy Railroad and Transportation Companies (1847); Executive Committee of the Delaware and Raritan Canal and Camden and Amboy Railroad and Transportation Companies, Reply (1847). Railroad Conventions: Duff Green, Circular to the Presidents of Railroad Companies [1851]; Proceedings of a Convention ... on the Recommendation to Reduce the Pay for Mail Service to Rail Road Companies (1854). The Civil War: Statement Made by the Railroad Companies Owning the Lines Between Washington and New York (1864); Correspondence Between the President of the Virginia Central Rail Road Company and the Postmaster General in Relation to Postal Service (1864). Payment to Railroads for Carriage of Mail: Isaac Hinckley, Postal Cars or No Postal Cars? A Question to Be Settled by the Action or Inaction of Congress (1874); George S Bangs, Railroads vs Postal Cars (1875); George S Bangs, Discussion of the Proper Method of Compensation to Railraods for the Transportation of the Mails (1875). The Contest between Post Office and Railway: W W Baldwin, The Railroad Mail Pay: A Memorandum [c.1904]; C S Mellen, Correspondence Between the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Co. and the Post Office Department Regarding the Carriage of Mail (1909)

Volume 3: Reform, Part I: 1792–1861

Jeremiah Evarts (ed), An Account of Memorials ... Praying that the Mails May not be Transported, Nor Post-Offices Kept Open, on the Sabbath (1829); Jeremiah Evarts, The Logic and Law of Col. Johnson’s Report to the Senate on Sabbath Mails (1829); 'The Virginia Society' for Promoting the Observance of the Christian Sabbath, To the People of the United States [c.1830]; Barnabas Bates, An Address ... on the Memorials to Congress to Prevent the Transportation of the Mail, and the Opening of the Post Offices on Sunday (1830); Edmund Charles, Suggestions upon the Nature and Disadvantages of the Present Post Office Tariff (1844); 'Franklin', An Examination of the Probable Effect of the Reduction of Postage (1844); Amasa Walker, Cheap Postage, and How to Get It (1845); Cheap Postage Association, Constitution of the Cheap Postage Association (1848); Joshua Leavitt, Cheap Postage: Remarks and Statistics (1848); Barnabas Bates, A Brief Statement of the Exertions of the Friends of Cheap Postage (1848); New York Cheap Postage Association, Cheap Postage: A Dialogue on Cheap Postage (1849); Lysander Spooner, Who Caused the Reduction of Postage in 1845? (1849). Cheap Postage: New York Cheap Postage Association, An Address of the Directors of the New York Cheap Postage Association, to the People of the United States (1850); Report of the Committee on Literature of the Senate of New York, on Postage Reform, Made to the Senate, Feb 19, 1850 (1850); Elihu Burritt, Ocean Penny Postage (1854); New York Postal Reform Committee, Proceedings of a Public Meeting (1856)

Volume 4: Reform, Part II: 1861–1914

Postal Telegraphy
Gardiner G Hubbard, Postal Telegraph (1869); Leonidas Trousdale, The Postal Telegraph System (1869); The Postal Telegraph. Statement of a Few Facts Showing What has Been Accomplished in Europe, and What the Development Might Be in America (1872); S F Covington, The Postal Telegraph (1875); Charles A Sumner, The Postal Telegraph (1879); F H Giddings, Railroads and Telegraphs: Who Shall Control Them? (1881); New York Board of Trade and Transportation, A Postal Telegraph and Telephone: What Has Been Accomplished in Great Britain (1882). The Business Practices of Western Union: J A Price, Postal Telegraphy (1882); Some Serious Considerations Concerning a Governmental Telegraph (1883); E B Vedder, A ‘Postal’ or Government Telegraph Would be Unconstitutional, Inexpedient, and Dangerous (1888); Gardiner G Hubbard, Postal Telegraph: An Address Delivered ... Before the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New-York (1890)

Parcels Post
James L Cowles: James L Cowles, A Parcels Post: A Cent a Pound (1894); James L Cowles, The Post-Office the Citadel of American Liberty (1899). New York Postal Progress League [1903]; C A Hutsinpillar, The Parcels Post (1904); George H Maxwell, Perils of Parcel Post Extension: Centralization of Trade (1908); S R Miles, The Menace of a Parcels Post [1909]. Charles William Burrows: Charles William Burrows, Further Thoughts on Parcels Post (1908); Charles William Burrows, One Cent Letter Postage: Second Class Mail Rates and Parcels Post (1911). The Widening of the Debate on Parcels Post: W P Bogardus, Post Parcels [1911]; Emma Franz, The Parcels Post: The Mail Order House and their Effect upon the Future of the United States [1911]. George Hoyt Allen, I Want a Parcels Post [1911]. Debates over the General Parcels Post: World Postal League, The Public Service Post Office (1914); Merchants’ Association of New York, Against Further Extension of the Parcels Post Service (1914)

Second-Class Mail
John J Hamilton, A Plea for the Business Freedom of the American Press (1906); Wilmer Atkinson, Inquiry into the True Meaning and Intent of the Postal Laws Relating to the Public Press (1908); Wilmer Atkinson, Guessing and Figuring Having Failed Try a Few Ounces of Common Sense (1911); James J Britt, Second-Class Mail Matter: Its Uses and Abuses (1911); Frank E Noyes, Zone Rates for Second-Class Mail (1913)

ISBNs: 9781848931152 978-1-84893-115-2

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