Notes By H. B. Phillips | Vol. 1 | Adams – Burns

Appendix: Establishment of Post Offices in California, November 1, 1848

///Appendix: Establishment of Post Offices in California, November 1, 1848
Appendix: Establishment of Post Offices in California, November 1, 1848 2017-05-26T15:42:53+00:00

Transcript of letter from Third Assisted Post Master General to William V. Voorhies about the establishment of Post Offices in California, November 1, 1848.

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Appendix: Establishment of Post Offices in California, November 1, 1848

Post Office Department,
November 1st, 1848


Being authorised by an act of Congress approved 14th August, 1848, to employ an agent in making arrangements for the establishment of Post Offices and for the transmission, receipt and conveyance of letters in California, I hereby appoint you such agent. The duties with which you are to be charged, will not be confined to any one branch of the Department. They will embrace whatever may appertain to the operations of the Contract, Appointment and Fiscal Bureaus of this Department in California.

A rule having been created by law, and the same being put into operation by the employment of Steamships, extending along the whole coast of California, your first duty will be to proceed o the selection of suitable persons for Postmasters at San Diego, San Pedro, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Monterey, and at such points on the Pacific at which the United States Steam Mail Packets shall touch as may need such appointments. For San Francisco, a Postmaster has already been appointed, Samuel Yorke At Lee Esq., who will repair by the first opportunity to that place. Of course, you will not take steps for appointing Postmasters at any of the above named places, on finding that such appointment would be inexpedient or unnecessary, by reason of not having a mail supply or for any other cause. On making such selection you will report the same to the Department at Washington for appointment, in the mean time placing the nominee in the performance of the duties of his office by a temporary letter of appointment, signed by yourself, to cease on receiving a commission from the Post Master General, or official information that the appointment has been refused. With Your report of the nomination of any Postmaster, you will forward his bond, duly executed by himself and sureties, certified by you to be sufficient and filled with such an amount as you deem adequate for the case. You will also cause him to be duly sworn on entering upon his duties. You will furnish him with the proper blanks for Post bills, accounts of mails sent, account of mails received, quarterly returns, and whatsoever else may be necessary to enable him properly discharge his duties of Postmaster and to keep and render full and faithful accounts.

You will also instruct each Postmaster how to perform his duties and especially that he render his accounts for each quarter immediately after the experation thereof to the Post Master General of the United States at Washington. The collection of the balances arising at each office, is a duty that will demand your utmost care and vigilance.

Before selecting Postmasters for offices not receiving their mail by the Government Packets, you will ascertain by what road, and from what point on the coast the same is to be supplied, and as no route into the interior of California has yet been created by Act of Congress, you will have to make the supply of each office situated in the interior, conditioned upon the expense thereof being defrayed out of the net proceeds of such office. This restriction will necessarily keep the Post route arrangements, which you may create from upon an economical footing. With or without

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Appendix: Establishment of Post Offices in California, November 1, 1848 Page 2
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this restriction, the observance of economy in this respect, is important, otherwise one or two points might absorb all the means which couls arise in California for the support of mail service, leaving the others destitute.    At present no more can be contemplated than semi-monthly or weekly transportation, by the cheapest mode of conveyance unless the same can be obtained at any favorable terms, within the yeild of the offices.    You will bear in mind that no contract can be made for a longer period than four years, that the quarterly periods are for three months commencing on the 1st of January, 1st of April, 1st of July and 1st of October, and that arrangements, accounts and settlements should be made to conform to these divisions of time, unless the circumstances be such as to render it impossibly.    On making some arrangements, you will immediately report the same to the Department at Washington, for such order and contracts as the Post Master General may make in the prmises, in the mean time giving a letter of authority to perform the duties required.

Whether the compensation is restricted to the proceeds of the office or not you will first determine in your own mind a limit for that compensation by the rate per mile per annum.    Horseback conveyance of the mail on the present routes in the United States for weekly conveyance will vary from three to six dollars per mile per annum.    There may be some few instances in the cotton growing regions where the wealh of the country is considerable, but the white population very sparse, where the compensation will rise perhaps as high as $10 per mile per annum for weekly horseback conveyance.

You will make the contracts at the lowest offers the competition will produce and not rise above the scale of prices indicated by the foregoing remark.    The distance is to be counted but one way.

You will make provision in the contract that payment is not to be made until service is preformed and certified to and in every instance of omission there is to be an abatement of the price.

A proper supervision is to be established and maitained to insure performance or deduction in pay.
Aillian Nelson Esq., United States Consul at Panama will be the Mail Agent of the United States for the Pacific Mails.    You will promptly advise him by the earliest opportunity of every office put in operation upon the coast, with those in the interior depending on them respectively for their supply, so that he may properly bag the mails for those places.

You will prepare before leaving the United States and take on with you an adequate supply of all the blanks needed by yourself and the Postmasters in California.    Also mail keys, locks and bags of different kinds needed for that service.    The iron locks and key belonging to it will be used for the interior mails, the brass lock and key for the mails conveyed by the Steam Packets.    Hereafter, as the system enlarges in California, further discrimination in the mails may be made by placing the brass lock upon the most important interior routes. At present the iron lock is deemed sufficient.

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You will make report by every mail of the condition and progress of the business under your charge and will be careful at the expiration of each quarter to render those official returns, which will show the state of all pecuniary arrangements of the Department in California, and the indebtedness and credits of each party, whether Postmaster, Contractor or others, and keep the Post Master General advised from time to time of the state and progress of settlements in the country, and what routes should be created by law to furnish them with the mail.

The postage for California is 40 cents on each single letter which is a letter not exceeding half an ounce in weight, between any place in California and any place on the Atlantic coast, and 12-½ cents between any place on the Pacific.    Double, treble letters and so on, will be charged with double, treble and the like increase of rates.

I am respectfully,
Yours obt. Servt.
C. Johnson
Post Master General.

Wm. V. Voorhies Esq.