This section is from the book "Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: A Guide To Correct Writing", by Thos. E. Hill. Also available from Amazon: Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: The How-To-Do-Everything Book Of Victorian America.
Prepaid letters, bearing upon the outside the name and address of the writer, are not advertised, but if not called for within a time set by the writers, are returned to the persons sending them, without charge.
Before making any contract for carrying the United States mails, except on railways, and, under certain circumstances, upon steamboats or other vessels, the Postmaster-General must give public notice by advertising once a week for six weeks, in one or more newspapers published in the State or Territory where the mail service is to be performed (one of which papers must be published at the State or Territorial capital), and such notice must describe the route, the time at which the mail is to be made up, the time at which it is to be delivered, and the frequency of the service.
Every proposal for carrying the mail over any specified route must be accompanied by the oath of the bidder, that he has the pecuniary ability to fulfill his obligations and that his bid is made in good faith and with the intention to enter into contract and perform the service in case his bid is accepted; that the signatures of his guarantors are genuine, and that he believes them pecuniarily responsible for and able to pay all damages to the United States arising from his failure to fulfill his contract. The guarantors must be one or more responsible persons. Proposals for carrying mails are delivered sealed, and are kept sealed until the bidding is closed, and are then opened and marked in the presence of the Postmaster-
General and one or two of the Assistant Postmasters-General, or any other two officers of the Post-Office Department, to be designated by the Postmaster-General. Any bidder may withdraw his bid, in writing, twenty-four hours before the time for opening it.
All bids are recorded and preserved by the Postmaster-General. Postmasters are forbidden to give any bidder a certificate of the sufficiency of his guarantor or surety before the guarantee or contract is signed by such guarantor or surety, and if he "knowingly makes any false or illusory certificate," may be forthwith dismissed from office and fined or imprisoned, or both.
No contract for carrying mails on land can be made for a longer term than four years, nor on the sea for more than two years. No mail contractor can receive any pay until he has executed his contract according to law and the regulations of the department. The laws prescribe the manner of carrying mails in detail, prohibit sending letters by private expresses, provide for carrying letters on vessels, steamboats, etc., and punishment for obstructing or delaying the mail.
Railway routes on which mails are carried, including those in which the service is partly by railway and partly by steamboat, are divided into three classes, according to the size of the mails, the speed at which they are carried and the frequency and importance of the service, so that each railway company receives, as far as practicable, a proportionate and just rate of compensation, according to the service performed. The pay for carrying mails on any railway of the first class does not exceed $300 per mile a year, on railways of the second class not more than $100 per mile a year, and on those of the third class not more than $50 per mile a year, unless one-half the service on any railway is required to be performed in the night, when twenty-five per cent. additional may be paid by the Postmaster-General.
On all railways carrying mails, the person in charge of them is transported free, and mail-matter and the route agent are to be carried on any train. The pay for carrying mails on railways which receive government aid is fixed by Congress.
Among the conditions of the railway postal service are the following: That the railway shall furnish mail trains with postal cars sufficiently large, properly fitted up, furnished, warmed and lighted for the accommodation of route-agents and the necessary clerks to accompany and distribute the mails.
The clerks sort the mails for each station on the route and the post-roads connecting therewith, while traveling, and deliver the mail bag thus made up at mail-stations, by kicking or throwing it from the car at places where the train does not stop, or by handing it to the authorized mail-mes sengers at depots where the train halts.
The Postmaster-General establishes post-offices at all such places on post-roads defined by law as he may deem expedient.
Postmasters are divided into five classes. Those of the fourth and fifth classes, who do the least business, are appointed and may be removed by the Postmaster-General, and the others are appointed by the President, holding their offices for four years, unless sooner removed.
Every postmaster must reside within the delivery of the office to which he is appointed, and before entering upon its privileges, emoluments and responsibilities, must execute a bond to the Government with good and approved security, and if it is designated as a money-order office, his bond contains an additional condition for the performance of his duties and obligations in connection with the money-order business.
Every person employed in the postal service must take and subscribe to an oath that he (or she) will faithfully perform all the duties required of him (or her), and abstain from everything forbidden by the laws in relation to the establishment of post-offices and post-roads within the United States; and that he (or she) will honestly and truly account for and pay over any money belonging to the United States which may come into his (or her) possession or control. Every person employed in the postal service is subject, however, to all penalties and forfeitures for violations of the laws relating to such service, whether he has taken the oath of office or not.