JEFFERSON, Thomas (1743-1826), President. Printed document signed ("Th:Jefferson") as Secretary of the State, a circular letter addressed to an unidentified state Governor or other official, New York, 4 August 1790. 1 page, large folio, integral blank, a few small smudges, extreme edges a bit frayed, otherwise in fine condition.
CONGRESS AUTHORIZES THE CONTINUATION OF THE U.S. POSTAL SERVICE
An Act of the First Congress authorizing an act of the previous session entitled "'An act for the temporary establishment of the post-office,'" to be "continued in force until the end of the next session of Congress, and no longer." At the bottom are the printed signatures of Speaker F.A. Muhlenberg, Vice President John Adams and President Washington.
Prior to the 1775 Continental Congress' creation of the Post Office Department, the postal system consisted of a loose organization of colonial postal riders organized under Royal authority as early as 1671. When the U.S. Federal Government became operative, the postal system was placed under the Treasury Department, a position it maintained until it acquired a more independent institutional status in 1839, although it would not be officially recognized as an executive department until 1872. By this time, a network of some 2,000 miles of roads had grown from the few early post roads.
Many Federalists including Hamilton envisioned the Postal Service as a source of revenue for the government, to accrue to the Treasury Department annually to fund its general operations. Jefferson was at the forefront of opposition to this conception, arguing that proceeds should instead be recycled back into the postal service in order to strengthen it and increase its efficiency. He believed strongly that the U.S. postal system "had great importance as the only means of circulating political intelligence," that delays in written communication impeded the functioning and success of a popular government, and that an efficient postal system was especially crucial in the event of another war.