« AnteriorContinuar »
RESOLUTION AND MEMORIAL relative to the reduction of postago.
Resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurMemorial to Congress con ring herein, That the following memorial be adopted, and that cerning post-each of our Senators and Representatives in Congress be surage
nished with a copy of the same.
In behalí of our constituents, the people of the State of Illinois, we recommend to the especial attention of the National Legislature that subject of general complaint, the high rate of postage upon letters. In this young State we feel, in a peculiar manner, that inconvenience which operates with so much severity upon thousands of our citizens who are remotely separated from their early friends. There seems to be a necessity for exempting, by law, a class of public agents from this burthen; but were it not deemed inconsistent with a just regard to legislative convenience to restrict the franking privilege to the executive department of the Government alone, such restriction would lead irresistably to a clearer apprehension of the inconvenience to which the mass of the people are exposed by the present exorbitant charges for let. ter postage. Those who are exempt by law, or whose ample means place them above the consideration of small expenses, can with difficulty be made to sympathize with that large, intelligent, industrious and deserving portion of society who suffer under this abuse, and to whom the benefit of our extended nail arrangements is virtually prohibited.
To show the extremity of this inconvenience during the present unusual dearth of money it may be useful to advert to a fact of frequent occurrence in this State. Letters have been enquired for at the post office, and seen by the person to whom they were directed, who has then endeavored to raise the money to meet the postage without success, and they have eventually gone to the department among the dead let. ters. Cruel incidents of this description are common at every post office, and in o'll parts of our country the high rate of postage, in every quarter, repressing correspondence, and amongst a valuable portion of society, prohibiting it altogether. It would seem to wear the character of not only a practical absurdity, but of a high handed abuse, to establish for the professed convenience of the public an institution which affords an accommodation to a limited lew, while the niass of the people are not only too poor to reap any substantial ben. efit from it, but are prohibited from devising any scheme of their own to accomplish the object which this m nopoly fails to effect. Private enterprise imight accomplish with equal certainty and speed for the whole people, what the department now practically accomplishes for a limited portion only. It is well known that letters are constantly transported, and in vast numbers, between our great Atlantic cities by private enterprise. Under a just and reasonable rate of postage, this
successful competition with the public mail could never suc. ceed.
Some idea may be formed relative to the extravagance of the present charges for letter postage by adverting to calcula. tions in ude in England previous to a recent experiment adopted there, under a greatly diininished rate. It was found thit about one thirty-sixth part of a penny on each letter weighing one quarter of an ounce would defray the cost of carrying the mail between Edinburg and London, four hundred miles. This calculation led to the very important retorin of establishing a uniforin charge upon every single letter transported by mail, without regard to distance. To quote the words of the British report: "If the charge for postaye be made proportionate to the whole expense incurred in the receipt, transit, and delivery of the letter and in the collection of its postage, it must be made uniformly the same froin every post town to every other post town throughout the United Kingdom, unless it can be shown how we are to collect so small a sum as the thirty-sixth part of a penny.” It admits of demonstration that the expense of transporting a letier by mail between the most distant points of the United States is less than one cent.
Whilst these facts show the enormity of the existing charges, they cannot fail to demonstrate the propriety of an uniform charge on each letter transported by mail without regard to distance, and that in establishing such charge our smallest silver coin, the half diine, should be the maxi. mum. When it is considered that a vast amount of correspondence by letter is effected upon our great thoroughfares through the medium of private conveyance, which would seek the public mail in preference, were the charges less exhorbitant, and that an immense portion of our population are nearly cut ofl' from such communication by the present high rate, it may not be unreasonable to say, that the uniforın charge of five cents for the postage of a single letter would vield more to the department than it now receives, whilst the object of its institution would be more fully accomplished.
Relative to the franking privilege, the additional expense to the department on that account is probably over-rated; but so far as the public service is concerned, it would seem more just to çrovide for such expense through the ordinary channel of appropriation, than to extort any portion of it so directly from the hard earnings of the laborious emigrant. That decidedly just and salutary feature in the English reform, which determines the charge of postage on a sealed package by weight, without regard to the number of pieces enclosed, should not be overlooked.
Our present method of prying into letters, by post masters and clerks, although countenanced by law, is not only unjust but exceedingly impertinent. It is a practice so revolting to all manly and correct feeling, that many of our post masters can
never condescend to be madc the tool of the department in carrying out a system of espionage which they consider so disreputable, and so little called for by the public interest. How infinitely unworthy the magnanimous spirit of a great nation to require that our public servants shall tear open the envelope of a suspected pamphlet or newspaper, to see that the treasury is not about to be despoiled of its due by the informa. tion surreptitiously conveyed, that somebody's “friends are well.” How much is annually saved to the nation by this gross assault upon the proprieties of life or how should it be expected that laws which sanction such rudeness can be re. spected by a free people? A reform which would be moderate and limited, compared with that which has met favor in England, might result in the following advantages:
1. A price more equivalent to the service rendered would be established.
2. The odium attached to the public mail conveyance, as an exorbitant government monopoly, would be removed, and the inducements to private enterprise to compete with it be reduced, if not destroyed. "
3. The charge for letter postage would be uniform as well as just; the accounts more readily kept, and the duties of the post office more correctly and economically performed.
4. The people would acquire the habit of resorting wholly to the use of the public mail, and the increased correspondence prove at least an equivalent to the reduction upon the ratc of postage; which rate, if fixed at five cents, would still exceed, by more than ten fold, the actual mean cost of the receipt, transit, and delivery of the letter.
5. A large, deserving, and most useful portion of the community, which is now cruelly and unjustly debarred f.om the use of this important conveyance by the present ex. orbitant rates of letter postage, would reap that benefit from the public transportation of the mail to which every citizen is justly entitled.
6. The greatly augmented correspondence would facilitate commercial arrangements; yield an incalculable addition to social enjoyment, and more essentially promote the object of general education than any other means within the reach of the Federal Government; and we may here be permitted to remark, that whilst millions are annually expended in imparting literary and scien'ific knowledge to the rising generation, the adult mind should also be enlightened, or the guardians of youth can feel no interest in an object so important. Communication by letter is the especial province of mature years, and to a reflecting mind the importance of promoting an interchange of ideas by written correspondence, as a means of inducing the habit of correct thought, of classifying, extend. ing and putting human knowledge to the best use, may be deemed a consideration of sufficient magnitude to demand some attention among the duties of legislation.
7. By regulating the postage on sealed packages by weight,
instead of the present very objectionable method by the number of enclosures, we should not only give a more equitable rate, with increased uniformity and simplicity, but ihc discreditable practice of prying into the contents of sealed pack. ages, so offensive to the public, and often so fatally demoral. izing to the agent who performs that duty, would be wholly superesded.
PREAMBLE AND RESOLUTIONS praying a grant of land on the line
of the Northern Cross Railroad.
The committee of Internal Improvements, to which was Memorial referred the petition of the citizens of Macon county and others residing along the line of the Northern Cross Railroad of the State of Illinois, praying this Legislature to memo. rialize the Congress of the United States to donate to this State each alternate section of land for six miles on both sides of the said Northern Cross Railroad from Springfield to the east line of the State, for the purpose of completing said road, have had the same under consideration, and beg leave to report the principal statements made by said petitioners.
That Macon county is situated in the central part of this State, a distance of eighty miles from the Illinois river, and one hundred miles from the Wabash river; neither of which streams are navigable for more than one-half the year.
That the citizens of Macon and other counties along the route of said road are mostly agriculturalists, and from the great depression of their interests occasioned by the scarcity of money and the consequent very low prices of their farming products, at very distant markets at this time, they state their inability to pay their taxes or their debts. For wheat, one of their principal staple articles, is now only worth sorty cents per bushel at Chicago, distant 180 miles; at St. Louis, wheat is worth only forty cents per bushel, distant 130 miles; and at Springfield it is only worth twenty-five cents per bushel, distant forty miles. And all other productions of the soil are at still more ruinously low prices.
That the cost of cultivating and preparing for market all kinds of agricultural produce, at the lowest rate paid for farming labor, amounts to more than the entire sales of the whole crop of the farms, exclusive of the cost of transportation.
They further state that the lands situated in the interior of the Siate of Illinois are as rich as any in the world, and mostly belong to the United States; that these lands are not intersected by roads, nor traversed by navigable rivers; and, therefore, until railroads are made across these vast prairies to afford cheap and expeditious methods of conveying farın.
ing produce to market, these rich lands must remain unsold and valueless.
That the internal improvement system, began by this State in 1837, embraced the above name Northern Cross railroad, and for the distance of fifty-eight miles thereof, from the Ilinois river to Springfield was completed, when, from the ina. bility of borrowing any more money, or in other words of selling State bonds at par, all the public works of the State were suddenly stopped, leaving the residue at the east end of this road unfinished, and that if Congress would make a grant of waste unsold lands for the purpose of completing the railroads of this State, it would be of the most incalculable benefit and convenience to the United States, to the State of Illinois, and to the citizens residing in the vicinity of said contemplated railroad routes. To the United States Government, by the more rapid sales of millions of acres of land lying in the large sea-like prairies in the central parts of this State, by facilita. ting the transportation of the public mail, by the more expe. ditious conveyance of troops, military munitions and provis. ions, both in tiines of peace and war. Great advantage would also accrue to this State by having the central pirts thereof thickly set.ler, and millions of acres in cultivation at as early a period as possible, thereby yielding a large amount of taxation arnually to enrich her exhausted treasury.
To the citizens already settled, and the inany thousands who would gladly purchase the rich prairie soil if they could have a railroad conveniently situated to carry thereon their products to market, the present prospect of their best market for time to come is along the lake route, either to Canada or New York-for, by the late revision and regulations of the British tariff, a' most valuable trade is opening to all those parts of the State of Ilmois that can find conveyances to the lakes for all their staple articles of exports—wheat, four, beef, pork, lard, &c. Wheat is now admitted free of duty into Canada, and four from Canada is admitted into England at one dollar less duty per barrel than from other foreign ports. It is, therefore, strong reason for presuming that hereafter England will receive large supplies of bread stufts from Illinois by the way of Canada. The average deficiency of wheat or grain for the supply of Engliend for the last len to twenty years is estimated at twenty millions of bushels per annum. Beef and pork are admitted into England by way of Canada at three shillings and sixpence sterling per barrel (or 77 cents.) and eight shillings per barrel (or $1 76 cents) from other foreign ports. Lard is admitted into Eng. land via Canada at eleven cents per hundred pounds; and at forty-four cents from other foreign poris. . . .Tu
Wheat has sustained a higher price in the ports on Lake Erie, for the last year, by len or titteen cents per bushel, than on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. The average price of wheat in New York or Philadelphia, for the last twenty years,