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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1873, by
HENRY PICKERING, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
PRESS OF JOHX WILSON AND SON.
The Post-office Establishment in 1791. — Applications for Ap
pointment as Local Postmasters. — Colonel Pickering and
IMMEDIATELY after entering upon office as PostmasterGeneral, Colonel Pickering looked around for a house, but not finding one that was suitable and the winter coming on, it was thought hest not to attempt to remove his family from Wyoming until the spring. As a school at Nazareth, in which he had proposed to place his boys, was found to be full, Mr. Bradley, having succeeded Mr. Bowman in that charge, continued to give them instruction at home.
The postal provisions made by the old Congress of the Confederation were temporarily continued from session to session of the first Congress under the new Constitution, Mr. Osgood remaining in office as Postmaster-General. In his last report made to the Secretary of the Treasury, January 20th, 1790, he says,
“ The gross receipts, in any one year, have not exceeded thirty-five thousand dollars, and for the two last years have been at about twenty five thousand dollars a year.” He gives his opinion of the causes that led to this unproductiveness of the system ; among them the heavy rates of postage: that on a single letter between New York and Savannah being thirty-six cents, which, he says, “ almost amounts to a prohibition of communication through the Post-office.”
An act, passed the first session of Congress after Colonel Pickering's appointment, raised the salary of the Postmaster-General to two thousand dollars, with an assistant, to receive one thousand dollars, and a small allowance for a clerk. Two years afterwards his salary was raised to two thousand four hundred dollars, that of his assistant to twelve hundred, and two thousand five hundred dollars was further allowed to be distributed among five sub-clerks. The rates of postage were established by law, in the two first Congresses under the Constitution, ranging in prices, for single letters, from six cents — if carried thirty miles or less — in sums proportioned to distances up to twenty-two cents for “ not exceeding four hundred and fifty miles," and twenty-five cents for all distances "more than four hundred and fifty" miles; a “ single letter” was not to weigh more than a quarter of an ounce avoirdupois; those weighing more than one quarter, and not above two, were charged double postage, and so on.
Colonel Pickering's manuscripts illustrate the contrast, in the arrangements and apparatus of the Post-office department, between that day and this; as, for instance, the following letter from him to the Secretary of the Treasury: