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Postal Administration Of The United States Of America

( Originally Published 1893 )



THE object in view in writing under the above heading, is to touch upon such points as may present more than ordinary interest to the large number of persons now engaged in the study of Philately, and the pleasures derived from the same. Philatelists of the present day require to become more conversant with those matters appertaining directly to the means adopted for the careful handling of and the despatching of mails, as well as to a general knowledge of the inside as well as outside service which is necessary in the performance of and in conducting the postal administration of countries.

The improvements made in this respect, with reference to the United States of America, are such as to form an excellent basis upon which to prepare a paper, and in consequence is now presented to your notice, and which it is hoped may in a measure serve to promote greater interest in a general way, as well as beneficial in an instructional view of the subject under consideration.

Mr. John wanamaker, the late Postmaster-General, during his term of office put forth every endeavor to perfect the administration of his department, and with a satisfactory result. His systematic study of the postal administration and customs of other countries, combined with a careful consideration of the work accomplished by his predecessors in office, and his careful thought in planning further improvements, have all added very materially to the present efficiency of that department of the public service.

Statistical reports show that a continual development of every branch of the system has gone on. The policy adopted was to meet the demands and wishes of the people, a policy which, though in a measure entailing extra expenditure on the Department, nevertheless must be admitted as adapting itself to the convenience of the people, a matter of the greatest importance to them, who are by necessity compelled to make use of the postal service frequently, and with the majority of the people, daily.

The growth of the postal service in the past four years has been very marked, as shown by the increase in the mileage of over seventy-five millions of miles. For the four years beginning the first of April, 1889, the receipts and disbursements from all sources will amount to about $561,000,000, and as no defalcation of the public money has occurred, the record can be considered as possessing more than ordinary interest.

For the four years in question, as far as can be ascertained, the net increase in the postal revenue has exceeded eighteen and a quarter of a million of dollars, as against about half that sum for the four preceding years, which represents a larger sum than the gross revenue of the Department in 1861. Should the increase he maintained in a like proportion, the gross postal revenue in 1900 will likely exceed $132,000,000. These figures tend to show the vast amount of labor and care which is involved in this department of the country's service.

In 1876 (Centennial year), there were only 87 free delivery offices and less than 3,50o money order offices, whilst at the present day there are 601 of the former and 16,689 of the latter.

In 1884 the railway mail service consisted of 4,356 men, while it now numbers 6,40o men well adapted in every way to their business.

The decrease in errors has been particularly noticeable, showing that the greatest possible care is given by the administration to the public welfare and to the selection of such employes as will best conduce to reduce the errors to a minimum.

Four years ago, the number of errors registered against railway postal clerks was in a ratio of 1 to every 3,643 pieces, while at the present time it is in the ratio of r to every 5,466 pieces. •

Among the leading improvements may be mentioned the following : A postal museum, to which a large number of foreign countries, as well as a great many Americans, have contributed, is an established fact, as will he manifest to any visitor to the department exhibit at the World's Fair in Chicago.

Tests of stamp-cancelling machines, intended to hasten the despatch of mail in the larger offices, have resulted in the award of contracts by which, under the successful operations of the machines and at an expense of only $40,000 annually, delays are prevented and a saving of $140,000 in the award of clerk hire has been made.

Money order facilities were extended to every office where the compensation of the postmaster amounted to $200 or more per annum ; as a consequence, the number of money order offices during the past four years has been increased over 8o per cent. and the number in the last year over 5o per cent. The full execution of this order will bring the number of money-order offices to 20,000.

The number of miles of railroad upon which the railway postal clerks perform service has increased from something over 133,00o in 1889 to something over 165,000 in 1892.

The savings resulting from the reletting of contracts for the transportations of mails have amounted in four years to a round million of dollars, as well as increasing the usefulness of the service.

In the suburbs of many of the large cities quicker distributions and collections have been provided for by means of the electric roads, and the number and extent of the city distributions on railroad trains have been increased over 50 per cent.

The efforts of the postmaster at St. Louis to provide for the sorting of mails in transit on street cars have, after a period of two years, been crowned with success, and the way is opened for the application of this principle to cities generally where street car lines radiate from the post offices.

Three new kinds of postal cards have been introduced, two of the ordinary kind, one larger and one smaller than the one so long in use, and the third a double postal card with paid reply.

On January the first, a new set of stamps was issued to celebrate the advent of Columbus, to be in use during the year 1893 only.

American delegates have attended the Postal Union at Vienna and taken a leading part in its deliberations.

Money order conventions were made with the postal administrations of the following foreign countries:—Newfoundland, Bahamas, Trinidad, Tobago, Austria-Hungary, British Guiana and Luxembourg.

Parcels post conventions between the United States and the following countries : Leeward Islands, Salvador, Costa Rica, Danish West India Islands, British Guiana, Windward Islands, Eucador, and the Republic of Honduras.

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