Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/209

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1900. 1905.
Length of line kilometres
miles .
of which under- { kilometres 10,969 11,460
 ground { miles. . 6,812 7,117
Length of wire {kilometres
{ miles
of which under- { kilometres 49,934 52,014
 ground. { miles 31,009 32,301
Number of offices open to the
20,768 26,912
Receipts Marks
Number of messages:
Home service. .. . 28,643,849 30,275,833
International.. . 12,356,840 15,300,309

†Exclusive of Württemburg and Bavaria.


1901. 1905.
 Length of line . . . miles 59,460  85,450 
 Length of wire . . .  „ 731,174  1,672,415 
 Number of messages . .  766,226,337   1,207,400,000 

Bibliography.—Von Beust, Versuch einer ausfiihrlichen Erkldrung des Postregals, . insbesondere in Anschauung d. h. rom. Reichs Teutscher Nation (3 vols., Jena, 1747–1748); Avis instruct if au public; pour la petite paste [de Vienrte] (1772); Ueber die kleine Past in Wien (1780); A. Flegler, Zur Gesch. d. Posten (1858); Stephan, Hein. Gesch. d. preuss Post (1859); Fischer, Die Verkehrsanstalten der deutschert Reichs (1873); Von Linde, Haftverbindlichkeit d. Postanstalt; W. Kompe, Das Handelsgesetzbuch u. das Postrecht; Gad, Die Haftpflicht d. d. Postanrtalten (1863); Eug, Hartmann, Erttwickelungsgesch. d. Postert (1868); P. D. Fischer, Die d. Portund Telegraphic-Gesetzgebung; O. Dambach, Das Gesetz iiber das Postwesen des deutschen Reichs (1881); Archiv f. Post u. Telegraphic; F. X. von Neumann-Spallart, Uebersichten iiber Verkehr in d. Weltwirthschaft; Deutsche Verkehrszeiturtg; W. Lenz. Katechismus d. d. Reichspost.


The origin of the Italian post office may be traced virtually to Venice and to the establishment of the “ Corrieri di Venezia ” early in the 16th century. As early as 1818 the Sardinian post office issued stamped letter-paper. The total number of letters, newspapers and book-packets conveyed in 1862 was but III,733, 3IQ. In 1900 there were 7234 post offices; letters conveyed amounted to 180,34Q,449, post. cards 82, 544, 547, newspapers, &c., 301,495,580, samples 9,117,526, official letters, franked, 46,302, l2I, postal packets 8,170,988, and registered letters of a declared value of £12,931,026. The receipts amounted to £2,429,000 and the expenses to £1,980,000.

United States

The early history of the post office in the British colonies in North America has been referred to above. Benjamin Franklin was removed by the home department from his office of postmaster-general in America in 1774. On the 26th of July

1775 the American Congress assumed direction of the post offices, re-appointing Franklin to his former post. Shortly afterwards, when Franklin was sent as ambassador to France his son-in-law, Richard Bache, was made postmaster-general in November 1775.

In 1789 the number of post offices was 75; in 1800, 903; in 1825, 5677; in 1875, 35,734; in 1885, 51,252; in 1390, 62,401; in 1895, 70,064; in 1900, 76,688; and in 1905, 68, 131.

The following table gives the financial statements for a number of years:—

 Year.  Extent of post
routes in miles.
Revenue. Expenditure.
1875 277,873 $26,791,360 $33,611,309
1880 343,888 33,315,479 36,542,804
1885 365,251 42,560,844 49,533,150
1890 427,991 60,882,097 65,930,717
1895 456,026 76,983,128 86,790,172
1900 500,982 102,354,579 107,740,268
1905 486,805 152,826,585 167,399,169

The revenue quoted does not include any allowance for the large quantity of official matter carried for other public departments, &c., indeed, the postmaster-general, in his Report for 1906, estimated that if the due allowance were made il would add approximately $20,000,000 to the revenue. The post office department is compelled to carry anything sent under a penalty frank, and franks are used by all the departments and their agents for the purpose of carrying everything they choose to send (Report, postmaster-general, 1893). The expenditure does not include the amounts certified to the Treasury for the transportation of mails over aided Pacific railways, or any allowance for the use of such buildings as are provided by the government.

Contrary to expectations repeatedly expressed, each year shows a deficit. This is partly explained by reductions in charges. The rate of postage on first-class matter was reduced from three cents to two cents on the 1st of October 1883, and the unit of weight was increased from half an ounce to one ounce on the 1st of July 1885. On the latter date, also, the postage on second-class matter was reduced from two cents to one cent per pound. This low rate has led to wholesale violation of the purpose of the law. In his report for 1899 Mr Emory Smith, postmaster-general, estimated that “fully one-half of all the matter mailed as second-class, and paid for at the pound rate, is not properly second-class within the intent of the law "; and that the cost of mere transportation of this wrongly classed matter exceeded the revenue derived from it by more than $12,000,000 for the year.

Until 1863 the rates of postage were based upon the distances over which the mails were conveyed. In 1846 these rates were—not exceeding 300 m., three cents; exceeding 300 m., ten cents. In 1851 the rates were reduced to three cents for distances not exceeding 3000 m. and ten cents- for distances exceeding 3000 m. The use of adhesive postage stamps was first authorized by act of Congress, approved on the 3rd of March 1847, and on the 1st of June 1856 prepayment by stamps was made compulsory. In 1863 a uniform rate of postage without regard to distance was fixed at three cents, and on the 1st of October 1883, the rate was further reduced to two cents, the equivalent of the British penny postage.

All mail matter for distribution within the United States is divided into four classes. First-class matter includes letters, postal cards, post cards and anything sealed or closed against inspection. Second-class matter includes all newspapers and periodicals exclusively in print that have been “entered as second-class matter,” and are regularly issued at stated intervals as frequently as four times a year from a known office of publication and mailed by publishers or newsagents to actual subscribers or to newsagents for sale, and newspapers and publications of this class mailed by persons other than publishers. The rates of postage to publishers are one cent a pound, and to other than publishers, one cent for each four ounces. T hird-class matter includes printed books, pamphlets, engravings and circulars in print or reproduced by a copying process. The rate for third-class matter is one cent for each two ounces. Fourth-class matter is all mailable matter not included in the three preceding classes which is so prepared for mailing as to be easily withdrawn from the wrapper and examined. The rate is one cent for each ounce.

The franking privilege, which had grown to be an intolerable abuse, was temporarily abolished in 1873, but the post office now carries free under official “penalty” labels or envelopes (i.e. envelopes containing a notice of the legal penalty for their unauthorized use) matter which is of an official character, the privilege being extended to congressmen and government officials (see FRANKING). As late as 1860 the mails conveyed nothing but written and printed matter. They now admit nearly every known substance which does not exceed four pounds in weight (this restriction does not apply to single books), and which from its nature is not liable to injure the mails or the persons of postal employés. A delivery system existed in a number of cities of the Union in 1862, the carriers remunerating themselves by the collection of a voluntary fee of from one to two cents on each piece of mail delivered. A uniform free delivery system was first authorized by law on the 3rd of March 1863, and was established on the succeeding 1st of July in forty-nine cities. The number of carriers employed the first year was 685. On the 1st of July 1884 there were 3890 letter-carriers in one hundred and fifty-nine “free delivery cities.”

The free delivery service has grown rapidly. On the 1st of July 1901, 866 cities and towns were included in the scheme, and