JEFFERSON SIGNS AN ACT OF THE SECOND CONGRESS
REMITTING FINES FOR THE FAILURE TO TRANSPORT THE MAILS BETWEEN CHARLESTON AND SAVANNAH
JEFFERSON, THOMAS. (1743-1826). Third President of the United States; principle author of the Declaration of Independence; Governor of Virginia; Minister to France; and influential Founding Father of the United States. Uncommon Printed Broadside Act of the Second Congress, Boldly Signed in ink by Jefferson as Secretary of State. One page, oblong large octavo. ‘Begun and held at the City of New-York, on Monday the fourth of January, one thousand seven hundred and ninety.’ Signed in type by Frederick augustus Muhlenberg, Speaker of the House of Representatives; john adams, Vice-President of the United States, and President of the Senate, and “Approved, July the first, 1790. [by] george washignton, President of the United States.’ The act reads:
“An ACT for the Relief of Nathaniel Twining. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the penalty, amounting to five hundred and sixty-seven dollars and forty-one cents, incurred by Nathaniel Twining, for a failure in neglecting to transport the mail between Charleston and Savannah, from the month of September one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven, until the first of January one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, pursuant to a contract with the late Postmaster-General, shall be, and the same is hereby remitted.”
These ‘Acts’ are wonderful documentary evidence of the workings of our early Congress and the matters put before it. Jefferson’s signature is outstandingly boldly penned, and the whole visual ‘package’ is just spot on!
The Second Continental Congress founded the United States Post Office in July 1775, it was not yet organized into a department within the Executive branch of the federal government. On September 22, 1789, the first federal Congress provided for the temporary establishment of a general post office and the appointment of a Postmaster General subject to the direction of the President. Samuel Osgood was the first Postmaster General under the Constitution from September 1789 until the government moved to Philadelphia in August 1791. He was followed by Timothy Pickering [August 1791 to February 1795]. .Congress passed the Post Office Act in February 1792 which establish the new federal postal system. Among the most important provisions of the new system were admitting newspapers to the mail at extremely low rates (necessary for an informed and educated citizen population). Also padded was a prohibition against opening letters as a surveillance tool, and the establishment of new post offices and postal routes by Congressional action, rather than the Executive.