Petition of Thomas L. Matthews and Others to U.S. Congress, [7 February 1848]1
To the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives, in Congress assembled:
The undersigned, citizens of the United States, residing in the county of Tazewell in the state of Illinois , respectfully represent the great inequality now prevailing in the rates of postage on newspapers, the smallest being chargeable with the highest rates.
Whereas, the principle of size and weight is now adopted in the laws of the United States as the basis of post-office charges; and, whereas, newspapers not exceeding 1900 square inches are chargeable at the rate of 1 cent for 100 miles, and 1½ cents for all greater distances, if without the state in which they are published; your petitioners would urge the importance of reducing said charges at least one half on all papers not containing more than 500 square inches.2
Your petitioners represent that, within a few years past, numerous juvenile papers have sprung up in different sections of the United States, for the instruction of the young in science, morals, and religion, which papers are now extensively patronized by children, who, notwithstanding these papers are usually not one quarter the size or weight allowed by law, have to pay on them the same postage that is charged on the largest sheets that pass through the mails. Besides the manifest injustice of this regulation, your petitioners represent that many thousands of children and youth are deterred from subscribing to these useful papers solely by the comparatively excessive postage chargeable on the small sheets they desire to obtain.
A reduction, therefore, of postage, in favor of juvenile newspapers of small dimensions, would not only tend greatly to diffuse knowledge and piety, the bulwarks of our national prosperity, but would increase the revenues of the post-office department.
For an immediate and proportionate reduction of postage, therefore, on all newspapers not containing more than 500 square inches, your petitioners respectfully and urgently pray.
Thomas L. Matthews
J G Clark C. H. Ray
N. G. Nichols Lewis S. Hampton
Seth Parmele Cassius Parmele
Elisha Barton C L Parmele
George Miller J. H. Hittle
J L Davis R. H. Clayton
John Ross Elias Duvall
Louis [Chbiyrski?] Peter Lance
James Pendergast
C O Neville M D Taney
James Matthews R A Dunham
Absalom Enoch Jacob Puterbaugh
Clark Barton James Lindsey
Reuben Sargent George. W. Allensworth
Wm Cauthron Geo. Burton
Thos B Warring J. G. Reynolds
Daniel Newcomb William Crossit
Calvin C Burns E D Burnes
Josiah M Duvall Calvin Parmele
Chas Baber
Samuel N [Mapes?] Thos Sunderland
John C Powell John Sunderland
Wilkinson Richmond Jas H. Floyd
T F Railsback Jacob Hiner
Daniel Puterbaugh James Harvey
William H McQuin William E Harding
John Irwin James Mitchell
Matthew Hingman
C. O. Harlan S. S. Bardwell3
E Roberson A N Goodenough4
George Kingsbury Henry [?]
William A Harvey Frederick Heartman
Edwin Alvord5 William Hittle
James B Wakefield6 John O. Clark
Vic Van Brunt [Pumphandle?]
L. B. Huff
A E Burns James Bailey

<Page 2>
DEC 31
Mr Thos MatthewsMackinaw TownTazewellIll.
[ docketing ]
Abraham Lincoln
The Petition of sundry citizens of ^Tazewell County^ the State of Illinois, praying a reduction of postage on small news-papers–7
[ docketing ]
February 7, 1848.
[ docketing ]
Abraham Lincoln
Refer^red^ to Committee on ^the^ Post-offices & Post roads–8
[ docketing ]
Abraham Lincoln
A. Lincoln–9
1Abraham Lincoln authored two instances of docketing on the back page, and signed his name on the back page as well. Lincoln presented the petition, along with another which it enclosed, in the House of Representatives on February 7, 1848. It was referred to the Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads, of which Lincoln was a member. From December 1847 through February 1849, over 200 petitions using nearly identical language, many of which were printed and mailed from Cincinnati, Ohio, were presented by various members of the House of Representatives. Those petitions can be found in the Congressional Digital Archive.
U.S. House Journal. 1848. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 60, 371.
2In 1825, Congress set newspaper postage at one cent for under 100 miles and one point five cents for over 100 miles. In 1845, Congress made postage free for newspapers measuring under 1900 square inches and travelling less than thirty miles. Under the 1845 law, smaller newspapers travelling over thirty miles were still to be charged at the 1825 rate of one cent under 100 miles and one point five cents over 100 miles. In March 1847, Congress repealed the 1845 law and made all newspapers subject to postage again.
“An Act to Reduce into One the Several Acts Establishing and Regulating the Post-office Department,” 3 March 1825, Statutes at Large of the United States 4 (1846):110-11; “An Act to Reduce the Rates of Postage, to Limit the Use and Correct the Abuse of the Franking Privilege, and for the Prevention of Frauds on the Revenues of the Post Office Department,” 3 March 1845, Statutes at Large of the United States 5 (1856):733; “An Act to Establish Certain Post Routes and for Other Purposes,” 3 March 1847, Statutes at Large of the United States 9 (1862):202.
3This signature, originally signed in pencil, was traced over with ink.
4This signature, originally signed in pencil, was traced over with ink.
5This signature, originally signed in pencil, was traced over with ink.
6This signature, originally signed in pencil, was traced over with ink.
7Lincoln wrote this sentence, and another person added the interlineation.
8Lincoln wrote this sentence, and another person added the interlineations.
9Lincoln signed his name.

Partially Printed Document Signed, 2 page(s), RG 233, Entry 367: Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, Thirtieth Congress, 1847-1849, Records of Legislative Proceedings, Petitions and Memorials, Resolutions of State Legislatures, and Related Documents Which Were Referred to Committees, 1847-1849, NAB.