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[for the Richmond Dispatch.]
Postage on newspapers.

The decision of Postmaster General Reagan, prohibiting the transportation of newspapers by Express, or otherwise, outside of the mails, has caused much dissatisfaction, as the facilities for getting papers regularly are thereby cut off. From some unaccountable cause, large packages have never reached their destination with any degree of regularity when sent by mail, and, consequently, news dealers were compelled to resort to other means to get their supplies transported. These irregularities have now become of more frequent occurrence than ever, and it may well be doubted whether the system will ever be improved. Had there been any law passed by Congress authorizing this restriction, there still would be room for complaint, as the system is altogether unjust, as it levies an exorbitant tax on a particular branch of trade, altogether unheard of; but, when it is stated that, after a searching investigation, your correspondent, with others better informed, has failed to find a single paragraph authorizing, or that would even justify, Postmaster-General Reagan's const ruction of the law, surely there is sufficient excuse for bringing this matter before the public.

While I would be one of the last on earth to find fault with our Government operations in these trying times, justice to that public which the postal arrangements are intended to benefit, and fairness to that branch of business which has not only been singled out and so exorbitantly and unequally taxed, but suddenly thrown into confusion without a moment's warning, with the most disastrous results to those engaged in it, demand that this matter should not be passed over in silence, but should be thoroughly investigated. I am not one of those who would impute to Mr. Reagan anything like arbitrary use of power; but think, with a host of others, that his conclusions were hastily formed from a misconstruction of the law regulating postal affairs. The following, which appeared in the Montgomery Advertiser, is a sensible view of the matter, and will no doubt be read with much interest, and it is hoped to advantage, by some of those interested. Lynchburg.

‘ "The recent decision of the Postmaster General in relation to the transportation of newspapers and periodicals, does not seem to us to have been warranted by a strict construction of the postal laws of the Confederate States. We are unable to find in the acts of Congress any laws or parts of laws which prohibit the carriage of newspapers outside of the mails without the payment of postage The law of the first session of Congress provided for a certain rate of postage on letters carried my mail, and then, in order to secure a monopoly in the letter- carrying business, a clause was inserted enacting that no letters shall be carried by the express, or other chartered companies, unless the postage on such letters shall have been prepaid; but the prohibition does not apply to newspapers. Books weighing less than four pounds are deemed mailable matter, the same as newspapers and periodicals, yet they are exempted from the operation of the prohibition We can hardly think the Congress intended to make the postal department a huge monopoly. If such was their intention, we must confess we cannot see the wisdom of the act. The postage on newspapers, under the laws of the Confederate States, is more than three times what it formerly was; but the increased burden has been borne without a murmur, notwithstanding the tendency of increasing the rates of postage is to decrease the number of subscribers.

"Had the Postmaster-General merely decided that for all papers sent from the office of publication to actual subscribers the regular rates of postage must be paid, the ruling would not have seemed so entirely arbitrary; but is goes further, and applies to all those purchased by newsmen for sale, as well as those sent to subscribers. This is a new reading of the postal law, and one which we believe has never before been tried in this country.

"We do not desire unnecessarily to find fault with the operations of the Government We are aware how desirable it is for the people to have entire confidence in the honor and capability of its members, but the officers of Government should themselves be extremely careful never to overstep the bounds of the letter of the law. Strict construction should be the motto, and no arbitrary decision ever be given on a point where, to say the least, the law leaves the matter in doubt. In the present instance we think Mr. Reagan has, though doubtless unintentionally, exceeded the powers conferred on him by the postal law.

"According to our understanding of the postal system of the Confederate States, it was designed for the benefit of the citizens. Those who choose could patronize it, and those who felt differently could employ some other method. When Congress said so much should be paid for every newspaper carried by the mail, we do not understand that it said so much should be paid for every newspaper sent from the office of publication, though that seems to be the interpretation placed on the law by the Postmaster-General. The law was designed to be self sustaining; to be so arranged that only those who were benefitted by the use of the mails should be compelled to pay the expense of them. In order to make them thus self sustaining, the rates of letter and newspaper postage were raised; but as Congress remained silent on the subject we presume the rule in regard to papers and periodicals which prevails in the United States, remained unchanged in the Confederate States. Either the decision of Mr. Reagan is wrong, or we are greatly mistaken."

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