The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 29, July 1925 - April, 1926 Page: 10
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Southwestern Histori cal Quarterly
penditure caused Postmaster General J. Holt, who succeeded A. V.
Brown in March, 1859, to endeavor to reduce the cost by cutting
down the service from a semi-weekly to a weekly basis. The At-
torney General informed him that this could not be done under
the contract. If iolt's predecessor had made a bad bargain, I-olt
was bound by it just the same.24 Naturally no group of business
men would have risked such a great outlay of money and material
on a contract that did not protect them from the maneuvers of a
Federal department faced with the necessity of economizing.25
The trip from San Francisco to Saint Louis generally took from
twenty-three to twenty-five days. Occasionally a mail would come
in several days late, but more frequently it came in two or three
days ahead of the twenty-five days schedule. The officials and
employees did everything within their power to keep the mails
moving; and when passengers and stages were obliged to stop, the
mails went on, carried on the backs of mules or even on the shoul-
ders of the employees.26
News from across the continent was transmitted by means of
the mail route two or three days quicker than the time consumed
in carrying the letters between San Francisco and Saint Louis.
This was because the telegraph conveyed the news to the great
papers as soon as the stage reached the terminus of the wire. By
that means the news would arrive something like a week sooner
by mail and telegraph than by the Tehuantepec route. It should
be noted, also, that the Tehuantepec service was only semi-monthly.
For this reason the line attracted considerable attention as a news
2"Letter from J. S. Black, Attorney General, in reply to an inquiry of
Mr. Holt, the inquiry having been made April 18, 1859. Sen. Ex. Doe. No.
26, 36th Cong., 1st Sess., 1859-1860.
2 Expenditures of the Post Office Department for the year ending
June 30, 1859, were $14,964,493.33, with receipts amounting to $7,968,484.
Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Presidents, V, 576.
"Missouri Republican, November 10, 1858. The following account of
Mr. J. W. Farwell, editor of the Alta California, is typical of various
stories of the heroism of the company employees. Two men in charge of
the mails were carrying them on horseback to Indian Wells on the Yuma,
the next station ahead of them. In a storm one lost his hat and when he
got down to get it his horse ran away. The other lost his horse trying
to recover his blankets which he had dropped. They continued on foot,
but became separated by the blinding sand storm. One found the trail
and made his way in with the mail on his shoulders; but the other was
lost for three days, and would have starved for water but for the fact
that he found a brokendown steer left on the trails by emigrants, killed
it, and drank its blood.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 29, July 1925 - April, 1926, periodical, 1926; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117141/m1/18/: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.