Postage Stamps and Postal History of The Confederate States - Confederate Post Office

Confederate Post Office

One of the first undertakings in establishing the Confederate Post Office was the appointment of John H. Reagan (1818–1905) to Postmaster General, by Jefferson Davis in 1861, making him the first Postmaster General of the newly formed Confederate post office. Reagan was a Democratic congressman from Texas (many years after the Civil War, Texas would elect him to a Senate seat). Upon appointment Reagan became a close friend of Davis and was Postmaster General for the duration of the war, making him the only PMG of the short-lived Confederacy. In preparation for wartime mail delivery Reagan proved to be very resourceful. He sent an agent to Washington with letters asking the various heads of the U.S. Post Office Department to come work for the new Confederate Post Office. Amazingly nearly all of them did, bringing copies of records, and account books along with them. "Reagan in effect had stolen the U.S. Post Office," notable historian William C. Davis wrote. Reagan was obviously an able administrator, presiding over the only CSA cabinet department that functioned well during the war. It established new rates rather higher than those in the Union: 5¢ (equal to $1.29 today) per half-ounce under 500 miles (800 km), 10¢ per half-ounce over 500 miles (800 km), 2¢ for drop letters and circulars. Later the under-500 miles (800 km) rate was raised to 10¢ also. There was a 50¢ rate for express mail, and after 1863 a 40¢ rate for Trans-Mississippi mail to cover the costs of smuggling the mail through a Federal blockade that operated along the entire length of the lower Mississippi River. At the beginning of the war, Union blockades prevented supplies from reaching their destinations in the South, which from time to time resulted in the shortage of postage stamps, paper and other basic supplies that were much needed throughout the Confederate states.

Although the Confederate government had contracted for the printing of its own stamps, they were not yet available on June 1, forcing postmasters all over the South to improvise. Most of the time they simply went back to the old practice of accepting payment in cash and applying a "PAID" hand-stamp to the envelope. However, a number of postmasters, particularly those in the larger cities, could not afford to be handling long lines of cash customers, and developed a variety of Postmaster's provisionals. These took a variety of forms, from envelopes prestamped with a postmark modified to say "paid" or an amount, to regular stamps produced by local printers. Some are today among the great rarities of philately.

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Other articles related to "confederate, confederate post office":

Postage Stamps And Postal History Of The Confederate States - Confederate Postage - Postage Stamps
... As the Confederate States of America existed for only four years, it was able to issue only a modest number of postage stamps, nine basic types in all ... During this brief span, the Confederate Post Office contracted with five different printing companies to produce postage stamps Archer Daly of Richmond, Virginia Hoyer Ludwig of Richmond ... The first Confederate Postage stamps were issued and placed in circulation on October 16, 1861, five months after postal service between the North and South had been suspended ...

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