American Letter Mail Company

American Letter Mail Company

company_name = American Letter Mail Company
slogan =
successor =
foundation = 1844
defunct = 1851
fate = Outlawed by
Private Express Statutes
location = flag|USA flag|New York
industry = Courier
key_people = Lysander Spooner
products =
num_employees =
parent =
subsid =

The American Letter Mail Company was started by Lysander Spooner in 1844, competing with the legal monopoly of the United States Post Office (USPO) (now the USPS) in violation of the Private Express Statutes. It succeeded in delivering mail for lower prices, but the U.S. Government challenged Spooner with legal measures, eventually forcing him to cease operations in 1851. [Goodyear, Lucille. "Spooner vs. U.S. Postal System". American Legion Magazine, January 1981]


According to McMaster [McMaster, John Bach. 1910. A History of the People of the United States. D. Appleton and Company. p. 116] , the company had offices in various cities, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. Stamps could be purchased and then attached to letters which could be sent to any of its offices. From here agents were dispatched who travelled on railroads and steamboats, and carried the letters in hand bags. Letters were transferred to messengers in the cities along the routes who then delivered the letters to the addressees.

Competition with the U.S. Post Office Department

Spooner's intentions were founded on both an ethical perspective, as he considered government monopoly to be an immoral restriction, as well as an economic analysis, as he believed that 5 cents was sufficient to send mail throughout the country. The American Letter Mail Company was able to reduce the price of its stamps significantly and even offered free local delivery, significantly undercutting the 12 cent stamp being sold by the USPO. Although the business was forced to close shop after only a few years, it succeeded in driving down the cost of government delivered mail.


External links

* [ J.R. Greene, "Stamp-ing Around"]
* [ Sherman Lee Pompey, "Father of 3-cent Stamp" Spooner fought Post Office"]
* [ "Who Caused the Reduction of Postage? Ought He to be Paid?" by Lysander Spooner]
* [ "The Post Office and Private Mail Service"] 19th century individualist anarchist Benjamin Tucker opposes USPS monopoly

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