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Dead letters.

--The whole number of dead letters returned to the General Post-Office, is estimated at 2,500,000, including about 500,000 "drop letters," and 50,000 "held for postage. "--Deducting these two classes, the number of letters actually conveyed in the mails, and failing to reach the persons addressed, may be estimated at little less than two millions a year. Particular efforts have been made to ascertain the true reasons why letters, especially those with valuable enclosures, failed to reach their destination, and it is satisfactorily established, in the large majority of cases, that the fault is with the writers themselves, either in misdirecting or illegibly directing their communications. By way of illustrations it is stated as the result of inquiries which have been made, that more than sixty per cent. of the letters containing money recently restored to their owners, failed to reach their destination entirely from being misdirected, held for postage, or addressed to transient persons. In reference to letters with valuable enclosures other than money, the results have been found still more glaring; over 80 per cent, have been either misdirected, held for postage, or addressed to transient persons. These are the proportions of cases explained. Further investigations on this point will tend further to exemplify these positions.

The whole number of dead letters containing money, registered and sent out during the year ending June 30, 1859, was 9,726, of which 8,574 were delivered, leaving 1,152 unclaimed. The whole amount of money received was $45,618.14; amount restored to owners $41,143.74.

The number of letters registered and sent out containing valuable enclosures other than money, such as bills of exchange, drafts, bonds, treasury warrants, &c., was 8,647, of which 7,738 have been restored to the owners, leaving unclaimed 909. The amount of the enclosures was $2,502,298.11; the amount of the enclosures in sterling was £6,983,15s.5d.; the amount of the enclosures in francs was 104,421.

Among the difficulties enumerated by the Postmaster General in the way of returning to writers dead letters not containing enclosures of value, are the following:

"Thousands of letters are written by transient persons, of whom the postmaster at the mailing office know nothing. Again: many letters are addressed at random to transient persons who are traveling, and on unimportant matters; and the writers of such, if found and notified, would probably not reclaim them. These facts have been demonstrated by actual experiment made in this department. Out of one thousand cases, two-thirds of the writers did not care to recover their letters; and in four hundred and forty-five cases out of fifteen hundred the writers of the letters could not be found."--U. S. Mail.

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June 30th, 1859 AD (1)
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