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pondence passing through the post- But there are other sources from offices, and paying postage. The which there would be a still greater present system of high postages increase. Many business men, unhas the effect, first, of causing a large der a system founded on the princi. portion of the correspondence of ples which we have enumerated, the country to be carried on inde. would find that the best mode of pendent of the mails. Who goes advertising is by a printed circular from Hartford to New York, or to the very individuals with whom even to New Haven, without carry- they wish to communicate. A ing leiters, unless he takes his start wholesale merchant in New York so suddenly that no body knows of knows his regular customers, and his going? The probability is that he knows or can know the address on the route between New York of thousands of other retail dealers and Boston, or on that between in his line. Let the mails be made New York and Philadelphia, or on cheap, and what mode of advertithat between Philadeiphia and Bal- sing would be so efiectual as to timore, the number of letters con- communicate directly with his cusveyed by travelers is, at least, as tomers, by sending them just that great as the number conveyed by information which he wishes to lay the public mails. Take away the before their eyes ? high price of postage, and all these Reduce the price of postage, and letters rush into the post-offices how many other things beside letas naturally as water runs down ters would be carried by the mails. hill.
Not only letters and bank notes, The present system, again, has the and printed paper, but light packa. effeci of causing a very great suppres
ges of any description, from half sion of correspondence. There are an ounce to a pound or few men, women, or children, capa- would seek such a mode of conveyble of writing letters, who are not
This has been found to be conscious that under a different sys- the case in England, to so great an tem, their letters would be twice or extent, that it is becoming necessathrice as many as they now are. ry to restrict the right of traveling Especially is this true of those in by mail to packages of a convenihumbler circumstancesấof the wid. ent bulk and shape. ow separated from her sons—of 2. Another benefit of the reform those sons separated from each is, that under the new system, other. To such persons, a letter of all postmasters and other persons friendship is often a far greater employed in the post-offices, are luxury than it can be to any others. more easily held to a strict accountAnd to how great an extent is cor- ability in regard to the monies passrespondence between such persons ing through their hands. The actually suppressed by the present method of keeping accounts with system. These too, are the very deputy postmasters in England, persons who have the fewest oppor- was, we believe, much the same tunities of forwarding letters by with that which exists here, which private conveyance. How great an is necessarily complicated and ex. increase of correspondence by the tended. But in that country, they mails must there be from these two had reason to apprehend that under sources—the throwing of letters in the old system, collusion between to the mails, that now pass through different postmasters, or between other channels--and the writing of clerks in different offices, to assist letters that are now suppressed for each other in defrauding the dethe want of a cheap and regular partment, was not very unfrequent. conveyance
It may be more unfrequent in this
country ; but if a new system will of conscience to exercise the privibe more effectual in preventing lege only within the letter of the temptations to this kind of fraud, law. But how would the profession that, certainly, will be a great ad. of such scrupulousness be received vantage.
by the public press? With what 3. Another advantage of the new ill-suppressed smiles would it be resystem, far more important in our ceived on the floor of the House of opinion, is that the temptations to Representatives, or along the more petty frauds upon the post-office dignified concentric semicircles of would cease. Little vices, general- the Senate? And ought such things ly practiced in the community, as this to be endured as a part of even when they are practiced with the public morals of a free and out reflection, and therefore without high-minded people ? conscious self-reproach-have an 5. By the adoption of a system effect, unnoticed perhaps, yet dis. like that which has been described, astrous, on public morals. No lit. all parts of the country would be tle meanness is more common with brought into a closer communicathe American people, than the mean- tion with each other. Ties of affinness of trying to evade the pay. ity and blood, as well as of busiment of legal postage. How often is ness, connect thousands and thouintelligence communicated through sands of individuals in the remotest the mail by some cabalistic mark on districts of the country,
In this the margin or the wrapper of a respect, our country differs from newspaper. How often is a double almost every other. Elsewhere, letter folded so as to pass for a sin. the people of each distinct province gle one. How often is the post- have a distinct lineage of their own, master regarded as a sort of natural and a provincial dialect; and all enemy, whom it is meritorious to their ancestors for uncounted gencircumvent, and the defrauding of erations have lived and died on the whom is a mere spoiling of the same soil on which they live, and Egyptians. A new system, that on which their children will live would cut up these temptations by after them. How different is it the roois, would be an invaluable here! Elsewhere the members of blessing in respect to the morals of the same family, for the most part, the community.
live and die at their native home. 4. The demoralizing influences stead, or within a few miles of the of the franking privilege, would be spot where they were born. The entirely removed by the introduc- American, on the other hand, is tion of the new system. On this born for migration, and those who point we will not enlarge. Suffice were nurtured under one roof are it to say that all political parties found, after a few years, scattered charge each other with the most un. east, west, south and north, hundreds scrupulous and corrupt abuse of of miles apart. Travel from New this privilege-abuse that violates England westward, through New the letter as well as the spirit of the York, through Pennsylvania, through law by which the privilege is crea. Ohio, through Indiana and Illinois, ted. What champion has come far into the woods of Iowa or Wis. forth in any quarter to vindicate konsan, and every where you find the members of Congress and pub- New England names, and hearts lic functionaries, of his own party, that warm towards their kindred against so dishonorable an imputa. here. There are men and women tion? We know there are individ. of every employment and condiuals invested with the franking tion, whose most intimate associaprivilege, with whom it is a matter tions and dearest alliances are, many of them, hundreds and hun which hold our Union together, and dreds of miles away. There is the keep these States from falling apart teacher whose trials would be light in the agitations of faction. The ened, and his heart cheered, if he system, spread through the whole could freely communicate by letter land, and connecting every human with those who were once his in- habitation with every other, is every structors or his companions in study. where the channel of a vital enerThere is the minister of the Gospel, gy. The more we perfect the systhe home missionary, to whose self. tem-the more numerously letters denying work free communication of business, of friendship, of scien. with friends, brethren and helpers tific enquiry, or of benevolent and far away, is of the greatest mo. patriotic enterprise, pass between ment. There is the young man, the east and the west, between the exposed to strong temptations, whom north and the south-just so much a free and frequent correspondence the more do we strengthen the ties with his mother, or his sisters, or that make us one people. with another friend still dearer to Another inquiry remains, on his hopes, might keep from falling. which we will offer some considera. There is the anxious wife or mother, tions. Is the establishment of such who sees the health of some dear a system practicable in our country? one in the family beginning to fail, There are two great difficulties at and who would like to get one the outset, which must greatly em. word from the old family physician. barrass the attempt to move the pub. There are the planters of new lic mind in behalf of this reform. towns and villages, laying the foun. First, the newspaper press, espe. dations civil, ecclesiastical and lit- cially in our large cities, and most erary, who would love sometimes of all at the seat of government, to get a short answer to one short has an immediate interest against question from the judge, the 'squire, any effectual change. Many of the the minister, the schoolmaster, or evils of the present system, arise the deacon, whom they knew in old out of the monstrous inequality be. Connecticut or in the old Bay State. tween the postage of letters and But how, in that new country, can the postage of newspapers-an in. they raise the half dollar to pay the equality which is, in effect, a tax post-office tax upon a single ques. upon correspondence, for the bene. tion? It is of no small importance fit of newspaper publishers. The politically and morally, as well as postage on a letter of half an ounce in respect to commercial interests, weight or less, from New York to to make the means of communica. Buffalo, is twenty-five cents, while tion between these scattered friends over the same route the postage of and kindred, as perfect and as cheap a newspaper, weighing from two to as possible. How much would the four ounces, is one cent. Besides ties of kindred and friendship be. this, the newspaper editors receive tween the remotest portions of the all their exchange papers, to any country be strengthened; how would amount, free of postage. Thus it the chain of love be kept bright; comes to pass, that while the bulk how would sentiment, thought, know- and weight of the mails consist ledge, feeling, flash along that chain chiefly of newspapers, so that the like the electric stream-if the post-office system seems to exist for means of communication, or rather the benefit of the publishers, the of communion, should be thus expense of transportation is paid by cheapened and perfected. Our post- a tax on letters. Or, to state par. office system as it now is, is one of ticulars, the letters carried by mail the most powerful of the influences are in weight, compared with the newspapers, as one to twenty-two; expected, as things now are. The compared with other printed mat- great newspapers at the seat of ter, they are as one to four. Of the government, are probably more inwhole weight of the mails, the let- terested than any others, in the preters are about 5 per cent. But of sent system. Their circulation by the revenue accruing from postage, carriers, in the city where they are 86 per cent. is assessed upon the published, is of course much less letters, and only 13per cent. upon than that of the leading newspaall the printed matter. In other pers in the great commercial cities. words, of a mail weighing 100 lbs., Far the greatest portion of every 5 lbs. are letters, 95 Ibs. are news. daily issue must be despatched by papers and pamphlets. If the post- the mails into all parts of the Unage on this mail is $10, of that ion. During the session of Con. amount $8.66 will be paid for the gress, reams of papers from the 5 lbs. of letters, and $1.33 for the offices of the Globe, the Madisonian 95 lbs. of printed matter. On the and the National Intelligencer, are same principle, then, on which a sent in the mails free of all postage, great English landholder naturally under the franks of the honorable contends for a heavy duty on im- members, whose speeches they conported grain, or the proprietor of a tain. It is not improbable that with Pennsylvania coal-mine for a heavy the franking privilege abolished, duty on imported coal-on the same and with the postage on newspapers principle on which an English bish- so adjusted that they shall no longer op, with his princely revenues and be conveyed for less than cost, his seat in the House of Lords, those presses at Washington, which contends against ecclesiastical re- now control the politics of the form, it will not be strange if the country, would not soon be shorn of proprietors of newspapers in the more than half their political power. large cities, and especially at the Such a result we should by no seat of government, are found in means deplore. Yet it cannot be opposition to any thorough reforma- expected that the power now wieldtion of our present system of post- ed by those presses, will be emage.
ployed to advance such a consumThe newspapers published in the mation. If the reform of our postsmaller towns, have not the same office system is ever to be effected, vested interest in the existing sys- it must be demanded by another tem. On the contrary, the unrea- sort of public opinion than that sonable cheapness of newspaper which is manufactured by the agenpostage, as compared with every cy of the great central newspapers other kind of postage, gives to
with their • affiliated presses.” their competitors in the great cen- The other great difficulty which ters of commercial, political and must embarrass at the outset, any religious intelligence, an unnatural attempt to promote a reform, is advantage over them. If the gov- found in the factitious consequence ernment did not undertake to carry which the franking privilege gives the great newspapers from Boston, to every man who happens to be a New York, and Washington, to all member of Congress, and in the parts of the Union, for much less facilities for electioneering, which than cost, (indemnifying itself, be it the present system affords to each remembered, by a tax on letters,) of the great parties that divide the the circulation and the influence, nation, and especially to whatever and consequently the character, of party happens to have the ascen. the country newspapers, would be dency. Without the abolition of greatly in advance of what can be the franking privilege, there can be
no effectual reform. Members of ble number of judicious men to inCongress, however patiently and vestigate the whole subject, the facts patriotically they may listen to any which might thus be ascertained, proposal for the reduction of post- would show what is practicable. age, which promises to leave their Some things, however, the present franking privilege untouched, will state of knowledge on this subject for a long time to come, look most authorizes us to regard as certain, unfavorably on any scheme which which indicate what would probably threatens to curtail this precious be the result of such an investigaperquisite. We may be sure that tion. no Congress, of whatever party, We have already stated, on the will vote to divest themselves of the authority of the report of the Postright of defraying the expenses of master General, for the year ending their correspondence, by a tax on December, 1840, that 95 per cent. of the letters of the commonalty, till the weight of the mails consists of they are compelled to do so by printed matter. It may fairly be some manifestation of the public assumed, then, that 50 per cent. of will, too plain to be misunderstood, the expenses of the department are and too earnest to be trifled with. chargeable to the account of newsNor will any party in the posses- papers, periodicals and pamphlets. sion of power, willingly forego the Suppose, now, that this amount of use of those electioneering agen- matter should be either entirely excies, and those multiplied facilities cluded from the mails, or so taxed for influencing the public mind, with postage as to pay its own exwhich the present system affords penses. The expenditures of the them. The party—by which we post-office department are at once remean not the millions who vote duced from $4,750,000, (the amount with the party, but the few who in round numbers for the year 1840,) shape its policy and direct its move- to $2,375,000. But the revenue ments-will always feel that just from letters, under the present now, while the great crisis of anoth- system, is, in round numbers, er election is not more than four $4,000,000,* raised by an average years distant, the greatest good re- postage of 15 cents on each letter. quires them to retain in their hands Without calculating, then, on any every agency that can help them in increase in the number of letters, the struggle. The reform must be from the reduction of postage, withdemanded by a movement indepen- out calculating on any saving by dent of party influences, and by a the principle of advance payment, movement too strong to be resisted, without calculating on any gain by or nothing can be done.
the charge of postage on all the But supposing these difficulties to letters which now go free, the avebe overcome, is any system of rage postage might be reduced at cheap postage, analogous to the pen- once to something less than 9 cents ny postage system of Great Britain, on each letter, without any decrease practicable in the peculiar circum- of the revenue, by the single expestances of our country-with our dient of making newspapers and extent of territory; with our many pamphlets pay for themselves. bad roads ; and with great districts only sparsely populated, where the
* These numbers are all taken from the majority of the people have little report (of Mr. Niles) for 1840. The reoccasion for any vehicle of corres- port (of the present Postmaster General) pondence ? It is not for us to for 1841, contains no such statement. answer this question in detail
. If at the time when the present article was
The report for 1842 bad not been made Congress would commission a suita- printed. Vol. I.