Petition of James Nevill and Others to U.S. Congress, [18 February 1848]1To the Honorable the Senate and Hous of Representatives, in Congress assembled:
The undersind, citizen of the United States, residing in the County of Edgar, in the State of Illinois, respectfully represent the great ineqality now prevaling 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 sqair inches are chargeable at the rate of 1 cent for 100 miles, and 1½ cents for all greater distancs, if without the state in which they are publiched; your petitioners would urge the importance of reducing said charges at least one-half on all papers not containing more than 500 squaire 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 instuction 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 large^s^t sheets that pass through the mails. Besides the manifest injustice of this regulation, your petitioners represent that many thousands of children and youth are deter^r^ed from subscribing to these useful papers solely by the comparitively excessive postage chargeable on the small sheets they desire to obtain.
A reduction, therefore, of postage, in favor of juvenile newspapers of small dementions, would tend greatley to diffuse knowledge and piety, the bulwarkes of our national prosperity For an immedeate and proportionate reduction of postage, tharefore, on all newspapers not containing more than 500 squaire inches, your petitioners respectfuley and urgentley pray.
|Names of Subscrber||Names of Subscrber.|
|1||James Nevill||29||John Craig|
|2||Henry Nevill Sen||30||Solomon Minear|
|3||John W [Pyon?]||31||Abraham Wilkin|
|4||Wm G. Craig||32||D. G. Burr|
|5||Isaac. H. Curtis||33||George Moke|
|6||Hezekiah, Flinn||34||B Whelan|
|7||Wm A Baysinger||35||Abner Paine|
|8||Joseph Driskell||36||Wm Johnson|
|9||Abram Myers||37||John G. Lightfoot|
|10,||Samuel Ewing||38||Wm Stephenson|
|11||Benjamin Curtis||39||S. Barker|
|12||B. A. Murphy||40||Absalem Wells|
|13||J. [T?] Murphy||41||John. Roberts|
|14||Cornelius Elliott||42||Isaac Neely|
|15||Jos A. M’Cown||43||D. [?] Morrison|
|16||Thomas. Bodine||44||James M Slemon|
|17||James Whealin||45||Samuel Utter|
|18||William Wilson||46.||I. Harding|
|19||Reason Williams||47||J N, Blackburn|
|20||John Benson||48||N. W. Nunnally|
|21||D. H. J Trouver||49||Ro. N. Dickerson|
|22||A. Baldwin||50||Joseph Hopkins|
|24||John Bartlett||51||[Rosco?] [Sisk?]|
|25||A. T. Seeds||52||J L Gillespy|
|26||Hermon Haight||53||John Sheriff|
|27||Lyman Edgington||54||Thomas McCord|
|28||S [P?] [Seeds?]||55||W. F. Young|
|29||Augustus Keefer||56||John N Barnett|
|57||Z W. Eddy|
[ docketing ]
[ docketing ]
The Petition of sundry citizens of ^Edgar County^ Illinois praying a distinction to be made in the postage on large & small news-papers3
[ docketing ]
February 18, 1848 Referred to the Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads.
1On the back side of this handwritten petition, Abraham Lincoln authored two instances of docketing and also wrote his name. Lincoln presented this petition in the House of Representatives on February 18, 1848, and the House referred it 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 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, 434.
2In 1825, Congress set newspaper postage at one cent for under 100 miles and one and a half 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 and a half 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.
Handwritten 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.