CIRCULAR TO POSTMASTERS.
POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT.
June 10, 1828
THE POSTMASTER GENERAL has lately received, with regret, frequent complaints of the miscarriage of newspapers forwarded in the mail. In many instances, the cause of those complaints are believed to exist in the printing offices- the papers have not been carefully put up and plainly directed. But it is feared, that, at some of the Post offices, there may have been remissness in not having put new envelopes on newspaper packets, where the old ones had become much worn and defaced, and sometimes in having failed to give the proper direction to the packets. To delay the delivery of the newspapers is made a serious offence by the Post Office law. Too much attention cannot be paid to the provision; by a neglect of it, any Postmaster will lose the confidence of the Public and of the Department.
When failures are complained of, the Postmaster, at whose office the packets are mailed, is requested to obtain a statement from the printer, of the different packets forwarded by mail, and the number of papers in each. Occasionally the packets deposited may be compared with this statement and any omission detected.
Postmasters who fail to adopt this suggestion, may be justly chargeable with negligence, and held responsible for all failures.
Packets badly secured, or not plainly directed, should always be returned to the printing office. Where the packet is large, twine should be used, and the direction should be endorsed on one or more of the papers enclosed.
Where the papers are not taken out of the Office by the persons to whom they are directed, immediate notice should be given to the Printer, and on his failing to pay the postage, the papers maybe sold for it, as provided in the Post Office law. On some publications it may be difficult to determine whether newspaper or pamphlet postage should be charged. Some newspapers are published in the pamphlet form, as 'Niles Register;' others in the quarto form, as the 'merican Farmer.' Where a paper is published periodically, on a large sheet, in the common form of a newspaper, it should be so considered. Where the form is different the subject matter must determine its character. If it contains leading articles of intelligence, a summary of political events, or what is generally termed news, and is published weekly, or oftener, it should be called a newspaper. Advertisements are generally contained in newspapers, though seldom, if ever in pamphlets.
In cases where strong doubt remains what character to give the publication, it would be well to charge the most favorable postage, until the decision of the Postmaster General shall be obtained.
When a greater weight is franked than the law authorizes, postage should be charged for the excess.- If the packet contains handbills, or other articles, which cannot be called newspapers or pamphlets, the excess should be charged by the ounce, as for letter postage. But, if the excess consists of newspapers or pamphlets, they should be charged as such.
Everything sent in the mail which does not come under the denomination of newspaper of pamphlets, is subject by law to letter postage.
THE POSTMASTER GENERAL enjoins the utmost vigilance and impartiality on all Postmasters, in the performance of these duties. And he hopes to witness the beneficial result of their zealous efforts in the public confidence reposed in the safety of the mail, and the fidelity of its agents.