POST OFFICE. A place where letters are received to be sent to the persons to whom they, are addressed.
2. The post office establishment of the United States, is of the greatest importance to the people and to the government. The constitution of the United States has invested congress with power to establish post offices and post roads.. Art. 1, s. 8, n. 7.
3. By virtue of this constitutional authority, congress passed several laws anterior to the third day of March, 1825, when an act, entitled "An act to reduce into one the several acts establishing and regulating the post office department," was passed. 3 Story, U. S. 1985. It is thereby enacted, 1. That there be established, the seat of the government of the United States, a general post office, under the direction of a postmaster general. The postmaster general shall appoint two assistants, and such clerks as may be necessary for the performance of the business of his office, and as are authorized by law; and shall procure, and cause to be kept, a seal for the said office, which shall be affixed to commissions of postmasters, and used to authenticate all transcripts and copies which may be required from the department. He shall establish post offices, and appoint postmasters, at all such places as shall appear to him expedieut, on the post roads that are, or may be, established by law. He shall give his assistants, the postmasters, and all other persons whom he shall employ, or who may be employed in any of the departments of the general pos office, instructions relative to their duty. He shall provide for the carriage of the mail on all post roads that are, or may be, established by law, and as often "he, having regard to the productiveness thereof, and other circumstances, shall think proper. He may direct the route or road, where there are more than one, between places designated by law for a post road, Which route shall be considered the post road. He shall obtain, from the postmasters, their accounts and vouchers for their receipts and expenditures, once in three months, or oftener, with the balances thereon arising, in favor of the general post office. He shall pay all expenses which may arise in conducting the post office, and in the conveyance of the mail, and all other necessary expenses arising on the collection of the revenue, and management of the general post office. He shall prosecute offences against the post office establishment. He shall, once in three months, render, to the secretary of the treasury, a quarterly account of all the receipts and expenditures in the said department, to be adjusted and settled as other public accounts. He shall, also, superintend the business of the department in all tho duties that are, or may be assigned to it: Provided, That, in case of the death, resignation, or, removal from office, of the postmaster general, all his duties shall be performed by his senior assistant, until a successor shall be appointed, and arrive at the general post office, to perform the business.
4. - 2. That the postmaster general, and all other persons employed in the general post office, or in the care, custody, or conveyance of the mail, shall, previous to entering upon the duties assigned to them, or the execution of their trusts, and before they shall be entitled to receive any emolument therefor, respectively take and subscribe the following oath, or affirmation, before some magistrate, and cause a certificate thereof to be filed in the general post office: "I, A B, do swear or affirm, (as the case may be, that I will faithfully perform all the duties required of me, and abstain from everything forbidden by the laws in relation to the establishment of the post office and post road s within the United States." Every person who shall be, in any manner, employed in the care, custody, or conveyance, or mauagement of the mail, shall be subject to all pains, penalties, and forfeitures, for violating the injunctions, or neglecting the duties, required of him by the laws relating to the establishment of the post office and post roads, whether such person shall have taken the oath or affirmation, above prescribed, or not.
5. - 3. That it shall be the duty of the postmaster general, upon the appointment of any postmaster, to require, and take, of such postmaster, bond, with good and approved security, in such penalty as he may judge sufficient, conditioned for the faithful discharge of all the duties of such postmaster, required by law, or which may be required by any instruction, or general rule, for the government of the department: Provided, however, That, if default shall be made by the postmaster aforesaid, at any time, and the postmaster general shall fail to institute suit against such post-master, and said sureties, for two years from and after such default shall be made, then, and in that case, the said sureties shall not be held liable to the United States, nor shall suit be instituted against them.
6. - 4. That the postmaster general shall cause a mail to be carried from the nearest post office, on any established post road, to the court house of any county which is now, or may hereafter be established in any of the states or territories of the United States, and which is without a mail; and the road on which such mail shall be transported, shall become a post road, and so continue, until the transportation thereon shall cease. It shall for the postmaster general to enter into contracts, for a term not exceeding four years, for extending the line of posts, and to authorize the persons, so contracting, as a compensation for their expenses, to receive during the continuance of such contracts, at rates not exceeding those for like distances, established by this act, all the postage which shall arise on all letters, newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, and packets, conveyed by any such posts; and the roads designated in such contracts, shall, during the continuance thereof, be deemed and considered as post roads, within the provision of this act: and a duplicate of every such contract shall, within sixty days after the execution thereof, be lodged in the office of the comptroller of the treasury of the United States.
7. - 5. That the postmaster general be authorized to have the mail carried in any steamboat, or other vessel, which shall be used as a packet in, any of the waters of the United States, on such terms and conditions as shall be considered expedient: Provided, That he does not pay more than three cents for each letter, And more than one half cent for each newspaper, conveyed in such mail.
8. - 8. That, whenever it shall be made appear, to the satisfaction of the postmaster general, that any road established, or which may hereafter be established as a post road, is obstructed by fences, gates, or tars, or other than those lawfally used on turnpike, roads to collect their toll, and not kept in good repair, with proper bridges and ferries, where the same may be necessary, it shall be the duty of the postmaster general to report the same to congress, with such information as can be obtained, to enable congress to establish some other road instead of it, in the same main direction.
9. - 39. That it shall be the duty of the postmaster general to report, annually, to congress, every post road which shall not, after the second year from its establishment, have produced one-third of the expense of carrying the mail on the same.
10. The act "to change the organization of the post office department, and to provide more effectually for the settlement of the accounts thereof," passed July 2, 1836, 4 Shars. cont. of Story L. U. S. 2464, contains a variety of minute provisions for the settlement of the revenue of the post office department.
11. By the act of the 3d of March, 1845, various provisions are made to protect the department from fraud and to prevent the abuse of franking.
12. Finding roads in use throughout the country, congress has established, that is, selected such as suited the convenience of the government, and which the exigencies of the people required, to be post roads. It has seldom exercised the power of making new roads, but examples are not wanting of roads having been made under the express authority of congress. Story, Const. 1133. Vide Dead Letter; Jeopardy; Letter; Mail; Newspaper; Postage; Postmaster; Postmaster general.