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Saturday, September 22, 2018

To establish Post Offices and Post Roads

[The Post Office] is perhaps the only mercantile project which has been successfully managed by, I believe, every sort of government. 

 - Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations (Book V, Ch 2)


Obviously, Smith never met Congressman Issa...

Anyhoo, the Post Office has been around since before we had even declared independence--with Ben Franklin made the first Postmaster General--showing just how important communication in general and the postal service in particular is.  The Articles Congress passed An Ordinance for Regulating the Post-Office of the United States of America in 1782.  

Once the US Congress ramped up under our Constitution in 1789, the House wanted to continue the existing regime: 

[U]ntil further provision be made by law, the General Post Office of the United States shall be conducted according to the rules and regulations prescribed: by the ordinances and resolutions of the late Congress, and that contracts be made for the conveyance of the mail in conformity thereto...

But the Senate had other ideas, and on September 11:

Mr. Butler, in behalf of the committee appointed on the tenth of September, on the resolve of the House of Representatives, providing for the regulation of the post of flee, reported, not to concur in the resolve, and a bill upon the subject matter thereof;

And, on the question of concurrence in the resolve of the House of Representatives:

It passed in the negative.

Ordered, That the bill, entitled "An act for the temporary establishment of the post office," have the first reading at this time.

It's not apparent from the record how much, if any, debate there was on the bill.  It zipped through the Senate, and was passed even more rapidly by the House.  The act was extremely brief and its operation was limited through the next session, though it had to be renewed the following August, and again in March after that (when service was also extended to Bennington in the new state of Vermont!).

Regardless, today marks when the United States of America, in order to form a more perfect union, borrowed yet again from the Articles Congress and (re)created the position of Postmaster General.  Congrats to Samuel Osgood, to whom the honor was bestowed a few days later...

ntodd

September 22, 2018 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink

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