• Maine Town Strives To Hold Onto Powerful Post Office Presence During 1837 Financial Crisis

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    The United States Post Office Department is one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by the United States Constitution. It traces its roots to 1775 during the Second Continental Congress when Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first postmaster general.  The department was created in 1792 from Franklin’s operation.  U.S. mail has been significant for both communication and modernization. By the 1820s, it employed nearly three-quarters of federal employees, spread widely throughout the country.  Cheap postal service required infrastructure. Better roads were built by states. The Post Office ran into troubles after the financial crisis of 1837. The self-supporting mandate for a vastly larger country meant it became very expensive to send long distance letters while even short-distance posts grew costly.  In the early days, the Post Office was a major vehicle for patronage politics, with victorious politicians awarding their supporters with plum jobs, sometimes with little or no concern for efficiency.   The situation was no different in the state of Maine.

    Offering a 1 ¼ pp, 8 ¼ x 13 ¼, ALS, from Alfred Pierce, Greene [Maine], July 27, 1837, to Timothy J. Carter, who represented Maine in the House of Representatives, complaining that a petition has been sent to the Postmaster General seeking to remove the post office from Greene to another town and providing a list of all the voters with a breakdown of their party affiliation – Democrats, Federalists – from Greene and Leads, responding to Carter’s inquiry.

    Pierce writes, “Your letter of the 24th is received. The following are the names of persons in the towns of Greene and Leeds to whom you can address public documents, news-papers, &c.”  He then lists the names of 27 voters.  “I understand that a Petition is about to be sent to the Post-Master General praying the removal of the Post Office in this place to another part of the town, which would be very improper. If such a Petition should appear there during your session this fall, will you have the goodness to inform me? I have written Gov. Parris [5th Governor of Maine] upon the subject. He informs me that he has handed the letter to the P.M. Genl.

    “Respectfully yours,

    “Alfred Pierce”

    The letter contains a clean integral address leaf with Pierce’s free frank.

    Folds, expecting toning. Very readable and a fine example of postal history and the value placed on post office retention.

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