The Congressional Globe, Volume 13, Part 2: Twenty-Eighth Congress, First Session Page: 16
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APPENDIX TO THE CONGRESSIONAL GLOBE.
28th Cong 1st Sess.
Report of the* Postmaster General*
Senate and H. of K,eps
quirement of the law. The lowest priced guns are
not always the cheapest. The loss of lives, during
the last war, and since that time, from the bursting
of guns on board our ships, is said to have been
nearly as much as the loss from the enemy's shot.
Ammunition, as well as guns, is, by law, to be pro-
' cured in the like manner from the lowest bidder.
Powder, made from the nitrate of soda, in lieu of
the nitrate of potash, appears as well, and is about
as strong, when first made, as that manufactured
from saltpetre; but deteriorates daily, and is nearly
worthless in a few months; and yet this inferior in-
gredient cannot be detected, except by a chemical
analysis. True economy, hence, would seem to
dictate that a different rule than that of giving contracts
to the lowest bidder, regardless of the skill and char-
acter of the manufacturers, should prevail in pro-
curing the ordnance, arms, and ammunition for the
A series of experiments have been made at the
"Washington navy-yard, by Professor Johnson, to
test the qualities of coal of different kinds; a prelimi-
nary report of which is appended. Charles Reeder,
Professor Johnson, and Dr. Thomas P. Jones, have
been engaged in making experiments upon safety-
valves for preventing explosions in steam-boilers.
Professor Johnson has also made a scries of experi-
ments to test and improve the strength of iion, upon
the principle of thermotension. After these several
experiments shall have been completed, reports will
be made concerning them.
It has been found that the force allowed by the
act of the 31st August, 1842, is inadequate for the
performance of the duties required in an efficient ad-
ministration of this department. An estimate has,
therefore, been submitted for three additional clerks
for the office of the Secretary of the oNravy; three for
the Bureau of Construction, Equipment, and Re-
pairs; two for the Bureau of Provisions and Clothing;
and one to take charge of ail the books and papers
of the late Board of iYavy Commissioners, and the
library of the department.
The estimates from the different bureaus, and the
commandant of the marine corps, of the sums that
will be required for the proposed service of the
coming year, are sent with this report.
Ail which is respectfully submitted.
To the President of the United States.
REPORT OF THE POSTMASTER GENE UAL
Post Office Department,
December 2, 1843.
Sjk: It is cause of satisfaction lo the undersigned,
in submitting to you a statement of the condition of
the Post Office. Department and its operations for
the past year, that he is enabled to say that, for the
two years he has had the honor of supoimteiuhng its
affairs, the annual current expense* have been met
by its annual revenue; that an extension of the ser-
vice has been made, commensuiate to the growth
and spread of our population.
The idea of making the Post Ollioo Department a
source of revenue to the Government, has not been
entertained by any one charged with its management
since the termination of the last war; during a short
period of which, an inciease of fifty pel cent, upon
the then rates of postage was imposed for revenue
purposes. Nevertheless, the pi ineiple upon which
it was originally established—that us expenditures
should be limited by its income.—lias been distinct-
ly engrafted upon all the legislative enactments con-
cerning its organization, and pi\bcnl>mg the duties
of those charged with their admnrstration.
I have thought this principle, upon which the de-
partment has been established, a sound and safe one
for the Go\eminent, and am opposed to iis aban-
donment. If, however, the expenditures oi the de-
partment weie fixed by law, and appropriations
from the general treasury annu illy made to meet
them, much of that labor and responsibility in the
supervision of the service, which now rest upon its
chief, would be lemoved.
It is no small task, to say nothing of the re-
sponsibility, so to adjust the mail service of the
"United States as to accommodate the. wants of the
community, and at the same time to produce, by its
own operations, the revenue to meet its own
expenditures. This reflection suggests to mo
the propriety here of doing an act of justice to those
who have been associated with me m this depart-
ment, by a frank acknowledgment of the able assist-
ance which they lutve given by their constant and
zealous labors; thus enabling me to give to the coun-
try the best service which the means of the depart-
ment would allow.
The amount of annual transportation of the mail,
as ascertained on the 30th June, 1842, was 34,835,-
991 miles: the cost of which was $3,110,783.
The amount of annual transportation on the 30tli
June, 1843, was 35,252,805 miles: the cost of which
It will be observed, that the cost of transporta-
tion for the last year was Jess by §134,499 than it
was for the previous year; whilst the transportation
throughout the year was greater by 416,814 miles.
The number of post offices supplied in 1842 was
13,733; and the number supplied in 1843 was 13,814.
To accommodate the service to the extension of s
population, reductions in the service in some sections,
and an extension or increase in other portions of the
Union, were rendered necessary.
The aggregate of these reductions was §134,253,
and the amount of additional and new service was,
$98,555. For a more detailed statement of service
I refer your Excellency to the report of the First
Assistant Portmuster General.
For similar reasons, it became necessary to dis-
continue, in the year preceding 1st July, 1843, 400
post offices; and to establish, during the same pe-
The total expenditures of the department for the
fiscal year ending the 30th June, 1842, as stated in
the report of this department to the House of Rep-
resentatives under date of the 28th of February,
1843, were §4,975,370 42. In this amount was in-
cluded £392^664 51 for debts paid out of the special
appropriation at the extra session.
The total expenditures of the service for the year
ending 30th June, 1843, were £,4,374,713 75, inclu-
ding payments on account of debts due by the de-
partment, for which the appropriation above was
The amount of gross revenue for the year ending
the 30th June, 1841, as stated in my annual repurr
of 3d December, 1842, was $4,379,317 78. That of
1842 wa& $4,546,246 13.
The revenue of 1843, so far as the returns exhibit
the amount for the year ending 30th June, is §4,295,-
A considerable portion of the current revenue of
the department, for the years 1842 and 1843, has
been absorbed in the payment of demands claimed
by deputy postmasters for expenditures in previous
years, by the allowance of credits therefor m the
settlement of their accounts; which credits, so al-
lowed, have been charged to the expenditures of
those years; the probable amount of which is not
less than §50,000.
It will at once occur to the impartial nund, that a
public service so complicated and extensive as that
of the Geneial Post Oifiec, requiring the harmo-
nious co-operation of twenty thousand agents and
officers scattered over the "vast extent of our terri-
tory, must be subjected to occasional, if not vexa-
tious interruptions, by the infidelity of some of its
agents, and often by causes which no exertion can
oveu'ome, or foresight a\oid.
It is the duty of the head of this department, un-
der the regulations and restrictions of law, to pro-
vide bv contract for the iranspoitation and regular
delivery of the mails. This duty is performed once
in four yems, in taeh of the great divisions of the
Union, and from time to time, as the public ex-
igencies ic quire. Bonds wnh schedules for the ar-
rived and departure of every mail are taken to the
Government, so as to provide for the contmuous
travel of the mail in unbroken connexion, by the
division of time and distance m suitable proportions.
When failures in the icgular dehveiy of the mails,
arising from negligence of contractor or their agents
take place, the law is rigidly enforced by fines and
deductions from their pay; and when that is found
inefficient to produce a strict performance of the
contract, the lnghei and only power gKc-ntothe
Postmaster General, of annulling the contract, ex-
When the extent of our territory, and the condi-
tion and nature of the public highways and chan-
nels of intercommunication arc considered, there is
more cause for admiration of the general regularity
of the system, than reason of just complaint at oc-
Upon two of the great mail-routes—the one from
Washington city to New Orleans; the other from
Baltimore to Cincinnati—there have been experi-
enced, within the last few months, irregularities in
the &crucc3 which have given rise to complaint?; mcuv
ifested through the public press, The causes of
these failures have been investigated; and where
they have been found to arise from neglect or inakj
tention on the part of contractors, the proper arm
only corrective has been applied. . ^
Many of the failures, however, on these two
lines have been caused by obstacles wholly beyond
the competency of the most vigilant contractor to
overcome. The mail upon the great Southern route
is transported by railroad and steamboats from
Washington city to New Orleans, with the excep-
tion of the distance between Madison, in Georgia,
and Mobile, in Alabama. Between these points it
is transported in post-coaches daily. The whole
time allowed is seven days eight and a half hours;
in winter, twenty-four hours more are allowed.
That portion of the route between Mobile and
New Orleans* and between Charleston and (Wil-
mington, which is performed by steamboats, is dif-
ficult—often obstructed by high Windsor dense fogs.
If a failure occurs, from any cause, between Wash-
ington city and Madison, Georgia, where the stage
line commences, a double mail is thereby tin ,w~^
upon the stage service, which is often too large to
be transported in a single stage. A portion theicof
is necessarily left for the time; which procure*. con-
fusion and inegularity in-the delivery at Mobile an-J
New Orleans for several successive days. ^ From
causes not unlike these, irregularities and failure.;-
have taken place on the great Western route.
The service between Baltimore and Cincinnati is
on railroad to Cumberland, and a double line of
daily four-horse post coaches to Cincinnati.
This mail, in the fall and winter season, though it
is transported from Cumberland to Wheeling over
the mountains, at a running speed of seven miles
per h'our, cannot be brought to the Ohio river before
dark. Here a dr&vulty is presented, which, as yet,
the department and the contractors have been un-
able to overcome. The proprietor of the fejry
across the river cannot bo induced to encounter the
dangers of crossing the mail stages in the night. In
winter, and in a great portion of the spring and fall,
when the mail arrives at Wheeling after dark, and
in contract time, it is detained, for the reason above,
some ten or twelve hours.
It is matter of regret, that, while the General Gov-
ermiment was expending so much money in con-
structing that great line of communication—-the
Cumberland Road—east and west of the Ohio river,
it omitted to constiuct a bridge over that stream,
The public mail will ever be liable to detention and
interruption at this point, unt il such bridge shall be
erected. Whether it shall be built by the same
Government, and paid for out of the same fund,
which constructed the Cumberland road, must be
left to the decision of that department of the Go\-
einment which has the legislative control of the
I have, thought it due to the President of the Uni-
ted States, who cannot be mdiifeient to any portion
of the public service, and w ho^e attention has been
arrested by the complaints to which I have alluded,
to furnish him with this somewhat tedious, and per-
haps uimeccssnry explanation.
I fan gratified, however, in being able to state that
the service, generally, Is performed satisfactorily to
the public, and with a punctuality in all its depart-
ments which does credit io the several subordinate
agents concerned. Contractors have been promptly
paid as their demands have been presented; and the
revenue of the department collected has been ac-
counted for with unusual and a praiseworthy pun**-
tuality by the deputy postmaot^s.
Greater security ha^ been given to the public mail
by the substitution of new mail locks of an excel-
lent quality, within the past year.
The vigilance of the special agents in ferreting out
and bringing t- > justice depredators, has tended greatly
to lessen, wj'l.m the, past year, violations of the
The difficulties of effecting contucts with the rail-
road, companies for transporting the mails, at prices
iu proportion to the sci vices rendered, and within
the means of the department to pay, m justice to
other poitlons of the Union, as heietoforc reported
by me, still exist; and 1 can do no les^ thnn to refer
to and re-urge the views upon that subject present-
ed to your confederation in my last annual report.
If, however, the power of contracting with these
companies, every four years, shall be continued
with the Postmaster General, 1 would respectfully
suggest that the acts of Congress be so far ( hanged
es to dispense with the idle ceremony and useless
expense of agonising for the lowest bids on thou<
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United States. Congress. The Congressional Globe, Volume 13, Part 2: Twenty-Eighth Congress, First Session, book, 1844; Washington D.C.. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth2368/m1/26/: accessed June 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.