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THE POSTAL REVENUE AS AN INDICATOR OF PRIVATE BUSINESS.

In no other statistics of either Goverument or private business are the pulsations of trade so readily and so unerringly distinguishable as in the postal revenues. The entire country is tributary to them, and every department of life, whether of a business or social nature, feels the need of the service which they represent. They derive their sustenance, however, largely from the demands of business, and hence they are quirk to respond to the changes from normal conditions.

In view, therefore, of the present strong indications of a revival of prosperity, it may be well to trace the course of the postal revenues for the past few years, not only as a matter of general interest, but in order to de. termine how far these indications may throw light upon the future of the revenue.

To properly estimate the influences of business, it will be necessary to examine the figures from the larger and the smaller offices separately as well as in conjunction. In this examination the foregoing tables, marked C and 1), will be found of service. The figures from the larger offices were obtained specially from the Auditor's Office, and not without much labor; and I regret that the time at my disposal would not permit their extension back to 1870, when the general exhibits in Table B begin. The comparisons by quarters will in all cases be made with those of the corresponding period of the immediately preceding year, unless otherwise specially stated. It will also be well to bear in mind that the comparisons are based upon the ordinary postal revenue alone, exclusive of the receipts from official stamps and the net profits of the money-order business.

THE PANIC OF 1873.

Prior to the autumn of 1873 the country had enjoyed a long season of uninterrupted and unexampled prosperity. The war had been fol. lowed by the restoration of business and social intercourse throughout the entire land, and the utmost activity prevailed in all the branches of private industry. Immigration was pouring in, our unoccupied territory was rapidly filling up, and our products were sought in all the markets of the world. Money was plentiful, and there seemed to be no end to the possibilities of business. All this was suddenly checked by the failure, in September, 1873, of a large banking-house having branches in Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, with extensive and influential connections both in this country and in Europe, and whose credit had once been regarded as hardly second to that of the Government. This failure precipitated a large number of others, and financial disorder became everywhere prevalent. Credit was gone, and without credit business must suffer.

The crisis found the postal revenues in a most flourishing condition. The average annual rate of increase for the three years prior to the 30th of September, 1873, was 7.3 per cent. The ordinary revenue for the year ended September 30 amounted to $23,519,531.76, an increase of $1,596,893.61, or 7.2 per cent. over that of the preceding year. The increase for the quarter ended September 30 alone was $621,374.19, or 11.4 per cent. The effects of the commercial disaster were not long in making themselves felt-the revenue for the quarter ended December 31 exhibiting an increase of only $350,917.37, or 6.2 per cent. For the quarter ended March 31, 1874, there was an increase of $455,458.03, or 7.6 per cent. The quarter ended June 30 showed an increase of only $250,661.68, or 4.2 per cent. There was an increase of only $70,537.66, or 1.1 per cent., for the

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quarter ended September 30. The increase for the rear ended September 30, 1877, the first year of the panic, was $1,127,577.74, or 4.7 per cent. Here it may be well to notice the effects of a vew element entering into tbe postal revenue. Postal cards were introcluced in 1873, the first shipments to postmasters having been made under date of May 17 of that year, The issues to the 30th of June were 31,094,000 cards, but it is not likely that any considerable portion of these was used prior to the 1st of July. For the year ended June 30, 1874, the issues pumbered 91,079,000, making a total to that date of 122,173,000 cards, valued at $1,221,730.00. The ordinary revenue for the year ended June 30, 1874, embracing the first nine months of the panic, showed an increase of $1,678,414.27, or 7.3 per cent. as compared to the previous year.

The quarter ended December 31, 1874, showed an increase of $465,192.71, or 7.7 per cent. For the quarter ended March 31, 1875, there was an increase of $229,156.05, or 3.5 per cent. The quarter ended June 30 exhibited an increase of $288,714.81, or 4.7

For the quarter ended September 30 there was an increase of $313,378.31, or 5.1 per cent. The revenue for the year ended September 30, 1875, amounted to $25,973,551.41, an increase of $1,296,441.91, or 5.2 per cent., and the increase for this year was founded upon the revenue for the first year of the stringency.

The quarter ended December 31, 1875, showed an increase of $405,199.97, or 0.2 per cent. There was an increase for the quarter ended March 31, 1876, of $505,793.18, or 7.5 per cent. For the quarter ended June 30 the increase was $287,492.67, or 4.4 per cent. The quarter ended September 30 exhibited only the slight increase of $107,746.49, or 1.6 per cent. The revenue for the year ended September 30, 1976, was $27,279,783.72, an increase of $1,306,232.31, or 5 per cent. The business engendered by the Centennial Exposition at Pbil. adelphia undoubtedly contributed much to this increase. The issue of postal cards alone showed an increase for the year over the year ended September 30, 1875, of 43,919,000, or 38 per cent. The 30th September, 1876, closed the first three years of the panic. The average annual rate of increase in revenue during the three years was 4.9 per cent. If surprise be felt that even so great an increase was exhibited, it must be remembered that the postal service profited largely by the correspondence growing out of the adjustments between debtor and creditor, and the complicated proceedings of the bankruptcy act, necessitating the use of the mails. The benefits in this direction, however, were ap. parently at an end, and the first epoch of the depression had closed.

For the first time an actual falling off was exhibited; the quarter ended December 31, 1876, showing a decrease of $234,064.60, or 3.4 per cent. At this point the tables marked and D may be used to trace the increase or decrease as between the larger and smaller oflices. The 30 larger offices showed a decrease of $180,682.20, or 6.5 per cent., while the decrease at the remaining offices was $53,382.40, or 1.2 per cent. The quarter ended March 31, 1877, exhibited a pet decrease of $74,476.72, or 1 per cent; the large offices showing a decrease of 8113,517.76, or 4.1 per cent., and the smaller offices an increase of $39,040.98, or.8 per cent. The total falling off for the six months ended March 31, was $308,541.32, or 2.1 per cent.; the large offices showing a decrease of $294,199.90, or 5.3 per cent., and the smaller offices a decrease of $14,341.12, or .16 per cent. This was the period of extreme depression, and it was also the priori covered by the Presidential election of 1876, and the settlement of that question by the Electoral Commission. But this was not the end of the depression. For the quarter ended

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per cent.

June 30, 1877, there was a slight net increase of $17,202.54, or .2 per cent.; the larger offices showing a decrease of $181,735.50, or 6.8 per cent., and the smaller offices an increase of $198,938.04, or 4.8 per cent. For the quarter ended September 30, there was a net increase of $153,921.77, or 2.3 per cent.; the larger offices showing a decrease of $86,163.75, or 3.4 per cent., and the remaining offices an increase of $240,085.52, or 5.9 per cent. The revenue for the year ended September 30, 1877, was $27,142,366.71, a decrease of $137,417.01, or .5 per cent. The larger offices showed a decrease running throughout the entire year of $562,099.15, or 5.2 per cent., and there was a net increase for the year at the smaller offices of $424,682.14, or 2.5 per cent.

For the quarter ended December 31, 1377, there was an increase of $687,039.60, or 10.3 per cent.; the larger offices showing an increase of $79,846.05, or 3.1 per cent., and the smaller offices $607,193.55, or 14.9

For the quarter ended March 31, 1878, there was an increase of $137,277.89, or 6.1 per cent.; the larger offices showing an increase, however, of ouly $7,688.12, or 2 per cent., and the remaining offices of $429,589 77, or 9.6 per cent. The quarter ended June 30, exhibited an increase of $196,260.96, or 7.3 per cent.; the larger offices showing an increase of only $52,274.74, or 2.1 per cent., and the remaining offices $413,986.22, or 10.4 per cent. For the quarter ended September 30, the total increase was $170,014.27, or 2.5 per cent.; the larger offices showing an increase of $68,260.91, or 2.8 per cent., and the smaller offices $101,753.33, or 2.3 per cent. For the year ended September 30, 1878, the revenue amounted to $28,932,959.40. This was an increase of $1,790,592.69, or 6.5 per cent. This increase was, however, founded upon the revenue of a year (ended September 30, 1876) of the most extreme depression. The increase indicated no revival of business, since the larger offices showeil an increase of only $208,069.82, or 2 per cent., while that of the smaller offices was $1,582,522.87, or 9.2 per cent. As compared to the year ended September 30, 1876, the increase for the intervening two years to September 30, 1878, was only $1,653,175.68, or 6 per cent., an average annual increase of 3 per cent.

The quarter ended December 31, 1878, exbibited an increase at the larger offices of $219,380.19, or 8.3 per cent., and at the smaller offices a decrease of $192,666.84, or 4.1 per cent. The net increase at all the offices was, therefore, only $26,713.35, or .3 per cent. The quarter ended March 31, 1879, showed an increase of $278,047.87, or 3.6 per cent. ; there being an increase of $278,843.47, or 10.4 per cent., at the larger offices, and a decrease of $ 795.00, or .01 per cent., at the smaller offices. For the quarter ended June 30, there was an increase of $182,987.88, or 7.2 per cent., at the larger offices, and of only $13,939.93, or .2 per cent., at the smaller offices. The total increase at all the offices was $196,927.81, or 2.7 per cent. For the quarter ended September 30, there was an increase of $700,208.16, or 10.2 per cent.; the larger offices showing an increase of $335,454.88, or 13.4 per cent., and the smaller offices of $364,753,28, or 8.3 per cent. The receipts for tliis quarter indicated a marked revival in the business prosperity of the country, after a stagnation lasting nearly six years, and these indications will appear more strongly in the results of succeeding periods.

For the year ended September 30, 1879, the revenue amounted to $30,134,855,59, an increase of $1,201,897.19, or 4.1 per cent.; the larger oflices showing an increase of $1,016,666.42, or 9.8 per cent., and the smalleroffices an increase of only $185,230.77, or.9 per cent. The increase during the year at the larger Offices will be especially noticeable. The comparatively slightivcreaseat thesmaller offices will also be noticed, and it is partially explained by the fact that prior to July 1, 1878, postmas. ters at offices of the fourth class were compensated by commissions on the amount of stainps sold, the rates ranging from 40 to 60 per cent. From the date mentioned, under the act of June 17, 1878, they were , allowerl commissions on the amount of stamps canceled. Prior to the change, large quantities of stamps hall been sold to get the benefits of the coinmissions, and in large part they were ontstanding at the time that the change went into effect, thus reducing the subsequent sales. This matter was fully discussed in my report for the year ended Jme 30, 1877, suggesting a change in the method of compensating postmas. ters at fourth class offices.

The revenue for the year ended September 30, 1879, was $2,855,072.87, or 10.4 per cent., in excess of that for the year ended September 30, 1876. To recapitulate: For the year ended September 30, 1877, there was a decrease from 1876 of .5 per cent.; for 1878 there was an increase of 6,5 per cent.; and for 1879 there was an increase of 4.1 per cent. This was an average annual rate of increase for the three years of 3.3 per cent. This rate was augmented by the revival of prosperity shown at the larger offices during the year ended September 30, 1879.

The revenue for the year ended September 30, 1879, was $6,585,324.83, or 27.9 per cent., in excess of that for the year ended September 30, 1873. This was an average annual rate of increase for the intervening six years of 4.1 per cent. The second epoch of the depression had passed, and an era of prosperity had begun.

For the quarter ended December 31, 1879, there was an increase of 8976,250.38, or 13.2 per cent.; the larger offices showing an increase of $270,961,53, or 9.4 per cent., and the remaining offices $705,288.85, or 15.7 per cent. The quarter ended March 31, 1880, showed an increase of $1,005,933.62, or 12.8 per cent.; the large offices showing an increase of $264,723.75, or 9 per cerit., and the remaining offices $741,209.87, or 15.2 per cent. The quarter ended June 30 exhibited an increase of $817,698.78, or 11 per cent.; the increase at the larger offices being $293,017.74, or 10.8 per cent., and at the sivaller offices $524,681.04, or 11.1 per cent. For the quarter ended September 30 there was an increase of $788,272.21, or 10.4 per cent.; an increase of $282,335.06, or 10 per cent., being shown at the large offices, and of $505,937.15, or 10.6 per cent. at the remaining offices. The revenue for the year ended September 30, 1880, was $33,723,011.58, an increase of $3,588,154.99, or 11.9 per cent.; the larger offices showing an increase of $1,111,038.08, or 9.8 per cent., and the remaining offices $2,477,116.91, or 13.3 per cent.

The quarter ended December 31, 1880, exhibited an increase of $762,471.62, or 9.1 per cent.; the larger offices showing an increase of $317,028.07, or 10.1 per cent., and the smaller offices $145,413.55, or 8.5 per cent. For the quarter ended March 31, 1881, there was an increase of $610,574.84, or 6.9 per cent.; the large offices showing an increase of $262,323.91, or 8.1 per cent., and the remaining offices $348,250.93, or 6.2 per cent. For the quarter ended June 30 there was an increase of $1,254,900.58, or 15.2 per cent.; the larger offices showing an increase of $521,960.78.or 17.4 per cent., and the smaller offices 8732,939.80, or 13.9 per cent. Especial reasons for this hitherto unparalleled increase will appear hereafter under the head of section 232 of the Postal Regulations. The quarter ended September 30 exhibited an increase of $1,098,969.19, or 13 per cent.; the large oflices showing an increase of $134,772.19, or 14 per cent., and the renaining offices $664,197, or 12.6 per cent. The revenue for the year ended September 30, 1881, amounted to $37,449,927.81, an increase of $3,726,916.23, or 11 per cent. The in

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crease at the larger offices was $1,536,084.95, or 12.3 per cent., and at the smaller offices $2,190,831.28, or 10.2 per cent.

The quarter ended December 31, 1881, showed an increase of $1,490,656.20, or 16.4 per cent.; the increase at the large offices being $591,208.54, or 17.1 per cent., and at the remaining ofhces $599,447.66, or 15.9 per cent. For the quarter ended March 31, 1882, the increase was $1,5:35,737.45, or 16.3 per cent.; for the larger offices it was 8549,118.75, or 15.8 per cent., and for the smaller offices $986,618.70, or 16.5 per cent. For the quarter ended June 30 there was an increase of $873,166.86, or 9.1 per cent.; the large oflices showing an increase of $365,952.54, or 10.3 per cent., and the remaining offices $307,214.32, or 8.4 per cent. For the quarter ended September 30 there was an increase of $1,059,970.65, or 11.2 per cent., the increase at the larger offices being $411,188.91, or 11.6 per cent., and at the smaller offices $618,781.74, or 10.9 per cent. For the year ended September 30, 1882, the revenue amounted to $12, 109,458.97, an increase of $1,959,531.16, or 13.2 per cent. The increase at the large offices was $1,917,468.74, or 13.7 per cent., and at the remaining offices $3,012,062.42, or 12.9 per cent. The particular cause for the abnormal increase appearing in the last six months of the year ended September 30, 1882, will be seen hereafter, under the caption of section 232 of the Postal Regulations above referred to.

For the quarter ended December 31, 1882, there was an increase of $861,253.53, or 8.1 per cent., the larger offices gaining $388,531.30, or 9.6 per cent., and the smaller offices $172,722.23, or 7.2 per cent. For the quarter ended March 31, 1883, there was an increase of $931,144.71, or 8.1 per cent.; the large offices showing an increase of $336,601.40, or 8.3 per cent., and the remaining offices $391,513.31, or 8.5 per cent. The quarter ended June 30 exhibited an increase of $750,071.92, or 7.2 per cent.; the larger offices showing an increase of $252,995.02, or 6.5 per cent., and the smaller offices $ 197,076.90, or 7.6 per cent. The quarter ending September 30 showed a net increase of only $12,478.85, or.1 per cent.; there being an increase of 827,988.75, or .7 per cent., at the larger offices, and a decrease of $15,509.90, or 2 per cent., at the remaining offices. The influence of the approaching change in the letter rate of postage from 3 to 2 cents had operated detrimentally upon the revenue for this quarter. For the year ended September 30, 1883, the revenue was $14.964,407.9%, an increase of $2,551.919.01, or 0 per cent.; the increase at the large offices being $1,006,116.47, or 0.3 per cent., and at the smaller offices $1,518,832.54, or 5.8 per cent.

During the intervening time, from 1873 to 1883, there were no such changes by legislation in the rates of postage (if the issue of postal cards in 1873 is not to be taken as an exception) as to perceptibly affect the flow of the postal receipts, althongh there were some slight modifications among the classes of matter which yield but a comparatively in. significant portion of the revenue.

The course of the revenues from October 1, 1883, by quarterly and other periods, will be traced hereafter under the caption of two cent postage.

SECTION 232 OF THE POSTAL REGULATIONS.

What seems upon cursory examination to be a curious fact in the table is that an abnormal increase is sown during the year ended June 30, 1882, the revenue of that year being $ 1,998,529.70, or 13.7 per cent., in excess of that of the year ended Jme 30, 1881, in the midst of the new era of prosperity, while the increase for the year ended June 30,

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