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responsibilities of Postmaster-General of Virginia and other parts of America. The Assembly indorsed this proposition by passing act establishing the office, but owing to the inchoate condition of public affairs it was never carried into effect. In 1710, by an act of the British Parliament, a General Post Office for all Her Majesty's* dominions was established, and the Postmaster-General was permitted to have 66 one chief letter-office in New York, and other chief letter offices at some convenient place or places in each of Her Majesty's provinces or colonies in America.” When the colonies resolved to demand their rights, they were careful at an early day to preserve the opportunities for epistolary communications between the citizens of the colonies. An act was early passed by the deputies from the colonies to secure this end. The Continental Congress provided with jealous care for the accomplishment of the same object, and with the confederation of the States, the Constitution adopted 17th September, 1787, reserved to Congress the right “to establish post offices and post roads." In 1789, Congress enacted a law providing for the appointment of a Postmaster-General and defining his duties. Other laws have been enacted since, from time to time, but the magnitude of the interests confided to this department is such that the Postmaster-General has become a Cabinet officer, and is not only required to regulate the vast concerns of his department, but in addition to assist in the deliberations which decide the home and foreign policy of the Government.
The Post Office building occupies the block situated on Seventh and Eighth streets west, and E and F streets
* Queen Anne, of England.
north. In the centre of the edifice there is a court yard occupying the space of 95 feet by 194. The architecture is a modified Corinthian, and is the best representation of the Italian palatial ever erected upon this continent, re
flecting the highest credit upon its designers, of whom we are compelled to say that T. U. Walter is, in our simple judgment, entitled to the highest meed of praise. By the recent enlargement, this building has been so extended as to develop the elegant proportions of its architectural lines, and were it in any other position but under the great shadow of the magnificent Patent Office, it would be deemed a marvel of architectural beauty. On the Seventhstreet side there is a vestibule, the ceiling of which is composed of richly ornamented marbles, supported by four marble columns; the walls, niches, and floors, are also of marble, finely polished, the floor being richly tesselated. This is the grand entrance for the General Post Office department. The entrance for the mail wagons on Eighth street consists of a grand archway, the spandrils of which are ornamented with sculpture representing Steam and
Electricity, while a mask representing Fidelity forms the key-stone. The F street front is arranged for the accommodation of the city Post Office; it has a deeply-recessed
ortico in the centre, consisting of eight columns grouped in pairs, and flanked by coupled pilasters, supporting an entablature which girds the entire work. The portico is supported by an arcade, which furnishes the most ample convenience for the delivery of letters to the public. The columns of this portico are each of them formed of a single block of marble, and are very beautiful both in design and execution.
The Postmaster-General has assigned to him the direction and management of all postal affairs. That the business may be the more conveniently arranged and prepared for his final action, it is distributed among several bureaus, as follows: the Appointment Office, in charge of the First Assistant Postmaster-General; the Contract Office, in charge of the Second Assistant Postmaster-General; the Finance Office, in charge of the Third Assistant Postmaster-General; and the Inspection Office, in charge of the Chief Clerk
Appointment Office.-First Assistant Postmaster-General, and nineteen clerks. To this office is assigned all questions which relate to the establishment and discontinuance of post-offices, changes of sites and names, appointment and removal of postmasters, route and local agents; as, also, the giving of instructions to postmasters; postmasters are furnished with marking and rating stamps, and letter-balances by this bureau, which is charged also with providing blanks and stationery for the use of the department, and with the superintendence of
the several agencies established for supplying postmasters with blanks. To this bureau is likewise assigned the supervision of the ocean mail steamship lines, and of the foreign and international postal arrangement.
Contract Office.-Second Assistant Postmaster-General, and twenty-six clerks. To this office is assigned the business of arranging the mail service of the United States, and placing the same under contract, embracing all correspondence and proceedings respecting the frequency of trips, mode of conveyance, and times of departures and arrivals on all the routes; the course of the mails between the different sections of the country, the points of mail distribution, and the regulations of the government of the domestic mail service of the United States. It prepares the advertisements for mail proposals, receives the bids, and takes charge of the annual and occasional mail-letting, and the adjustment and execution of the contracts. All applications for the establishment or alteration of mail-messengers, should be sent to this office. All claims for transportation service not under contract should be submitted to it, as the recognition of said service is first to be obtained through the Contract Office as a necessary authority for the proper credits at the Auditor's Office. From this office all postmasters at the ends of routes receive the statement of the mail arrangements prescribed for their respective routes. It reports weekly to the Auditor all contracts executed, and all orders affecting accounts for mail transportation; prepares the statistical exhibits of the mail service, and the reports of the mail-lettings, giving statement of each bid; also, the contracts made, the new service originated,
the curtailments ordered, and the additional allowances granted within the year.
Finance Office.-Third Assistant Postmaster-General, and twenty-one clerks. This office has the supervision and management of the financial business of the department, not devolved by law upon the Auditor, embracing accounts with the draft-offices and other depositories of the department, the issuing of warrants and drafts in payment of balances reported by the Auditor to be due to mail contractors and other
persons, pervision of the accounts of offices under orders to deposit their quarterly balances at designated points, and the superintendence of the rendition by postmasters of their quarterly returns of postages. It has charge of the deadletter office, of the issuing of postage-stamps and stamped envelopes for the prepayment of postage, and of the accounts connected therewith.
To the Third Assistant Postmaster-General all postmasters should direct their quarterly returns of postage; those at draft-offices, their letters reporting quarterly the net proceeds of their offices; and those at depositing offices their certificates of deposit; to him should also be directed the weekly and monthly returns of the depositories of the department, as well as all applications and receipts for postage-stamps and stamped envelopes, and for dead letters.
Inspection Office.—Chief clerk, and seventeen clerks. To this office is assigned the duty of receiving and examining the registers of the arrival and departures of the mails, certificates of the service of route agents, and reports of mail failures; noting the delinquencies of con