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Of domestic letters, 18,227 contained money amounting to $94,710 95, in sums of one dollar and upwards. Of these, 16, 187, containng $82,570 90, were delivered to the writers or persons addressed, and 2,040, containing $12,140 05, were filed for reclamation by the owners or were outstanding. The number inclosing sums less than one dollar was 14,323, containing $3,472 77, of which 11,566, containing $2,788 29, were delivered to the writers, and 2,757, containing $684 48, were filed for reclamation by the owners.
The number of letters containing bank checks, drafts, deeds, &c., was 16,925, of the nominal value of $3,011,354 71, of which 15,286, of the nominal value of $2,799,114 51, were delivered to the owners, and 1,639, of the nominal value of $212,240 20, were outstanding or were filed for reclamation.
The number of letters and packages containing jewelry, books, and other property was 9,071, of which 6,337 were delivered and 2,734 were filed for reclamation. The number containing photographs, postage stamps, and articles of small value was 114,185, of which 103,529 were delivered and 10,656 were filed for reclamation or destroyed.
The pumber of letters classed as ordinary domestic, without inclosures, remailed to the writers, was 2,398,252, of which 2,003,524 were delivered and 394,728 were returned to the office and destroyed. The number of letters not signed by the writers, illegible, or containing cir. culars, &c., and consequently destroyed, was 1,188,693.
Of the unmailable letters, 286,307 were detained for postage, not being prepaid as required by law. They were either wholly unpaid, not prepaid one full rate, or were stamped with illegal or revenue stamps; 70,429 were misdirected, the post office, State, or some necessary part of the address being omitted; 2,678 had no address whatever, and 2,570 were addressed to places where there was no mail service.
The number of applications for dead letters was 5,763, and in 1,266 cases the letters were found and forwarded to their owners.
The amounts deposited in the treasury were: For unclaimed dead letter money.
$14, 585 63 For proceeds of sales of waste paper
2, 067 05
16, 652 68
The largely increased use of stamped envelopes bearing return requests,” that is, requests that they be returned to the writers after a stated number of days, has operated to decrease in a considerable degree the number of dead letters. While the number and value of money letters received are about the same as of those of the preceding year, the percentage of decrease in letters containing other valuables ranges as follows:
Per cent. Letters containing bills of exchange, drafts, checks, deeds, and other valuable papers..
Letters containing jewelry and other property ...
photographs, &c .....
9.66 11.92 74.14
These figures demonstrate conclusively the great utility of the return request” system. If generally used, the force now employed in the dead letter office could be largely reduced, if not altogether dispensed with. The department would thus be relieved from a very heavy expense, while, at the same time, the vexation and loss to correspondents caused by the delay and uncertainty incident to the present system would be almost entirely obviated. At first it was required that there should be a formal request, printed or written on the envelope, for the return of the letter to the writer, if unclaimed. For the greater convenience of the public, it is now provided by law that any writer of a letter on which the postage is prepaid may secure a return thereof, without additional postage, after remaining uncalled for thirty days, by merely indorsing his name and address thereon. This appearing to be the simplest expedient that can be devised, compatible with safety and accuracy, the department urges its universal adoption, with a caution, however, that every writer should indorse his own address, and not trust to the business card of a hotel or firm with which he is not connected. Letters returned to one address cannot be remailed, even if the residence of the writer be known, without additional postage.
POSTAL MONEY-ORDER SYSTEM.
The whole number of money-order post offices in operation during the last fiscal year was 1,468. Two of these, Roxbury, Mass., and Fort Leavenworth, Kan., were discontinued, circumstances having ren. dered them unnecessary; and 219 new money-order offices were estab. lished July 12, 1869, making the present whole number 1,685. The number of orders issued during the year was 1,264,143, of the aggregate value of....
$24,848,058 93 The number paid was 1,248,874, amounting in value to...
$24,447,376 66 To which should be added the amount of orders repaid to purchasers.
Excess of issues over payments...
The amount received by postmasters as fees for the issue of orders was $176,190 90. During the previous fiscal year, ended June 30, 1868,
the aggregate amount of orders issued was $16,197,858 47; of orders paid and repaid, $16,118,537 03; and of fees, $124,487.
It appears, upon comparison of these sums with the corresponding transactions of the last fiscal year, as above stated, that there has been an increase over the year 1868 of $8,650,200 46, or of 533 per cent., in the amount of issues; of $8,535,586 43, or of 53 per cent., in the amount of payments; and of $51,703 90, or of 41} per cent., in the amount of fees received. The smaller percentage of increase in the fees, as compared with the issues, is to be attributed to the fact that by the act of July 27, 1868, the fees for issuing money orders were diminished. that time the fee for an order not exceeding twenty dollars was ten cents, and for an order exceeding twenty dollars twenty-five cents; but by the act last mentioned the fee for an order for one dollar or any sum not exceeding twenty dollars was fixed at ten cents; for an order exceeding twenty dollars and not exceeding thirty dollars, at fifteen cents; for an order exceeding thirty dollars and not exceeding forty dollars, at twenty cents; and for an order exceeding forty dollars, at twenty-five cents. No change was made in the maximum amount for which an order can be issued, which is limited to fifty dollars.
The average amount of the money-orders issued during the last year was $19 65; during the year 1868 it was $19 47; and during the year 1867 it was $19 45—showing that there has been but a slight variation in this amount for the last three years.
The tendency of capital towards the centers of trade and commerce is well illustrated by the operations of the money-order system. The smaller offices almost invariably issue more orders than they pay, while at the larger ones the payments largely exceed the issues. Upon a comparison of the money-order business in the new States with that of the older States, a like condition of things will be found to exist. For example: In California, which has 51 money-order offices, the number of money-orders issued was 30,355, amounting to $1,034,789 54; the number paid was 8,688, amounting to $345,574 67. In Massachusetts, which has 54 offices, the number of orders issued was 45,927, of the aggregate amount of $963,539 25; the number paid was 142,545, amount ing to $2,270,967 45. In the city of New York, the payments during the year were $3,062,805 32, while the issues were but $513,290 89.
The whole number of duplicate orders for the fiscal year 1869 was 5,530. Of these, 5,461 were issued to replace originals lost in the mails or otherwise; 56 were in lieu of orders rendered invalid because not presented for payment until more than one year after date, and 13 were in lieu of orders made invalid by more than one indorsement.
During the previous year, 3,873 duplicates were issued. There has been, therefore, an increase during the last year of 1,657, or nearly 43 per cent., in the number of duplicates, which is, however, ten per cent. less than the ratio of increase in the orders issued.
The receipts and expenditures during the last fiscal year, as adjusted and reported by the Auditor, were as follows, viz: Fees received for money-orders issued
$176,190 90 Amount received for premium on drafts.
Commissions to postmasters and allowances for clerk hire....
$101,062 19 Allowances for remittances lost in transmission by mail.....
5,797 00 Incidental expenses for stationery and fixtures 3,834 81
Excess of receipts over expenditures, being the
amount of profit to the department from money-order business...
The sum of $16,392,818 13, being surplus funds which had accumulated at the smaller offices in excess of what was required to meet payments, was transmitted, by means of either national bank drafts or registered packages, to first class offices used as depositories. The loss by registered packages during the year amounted 10 $3,186 84, of which the sum of $532 was allowed, before the end of the year, to postmas. ters who had remitted the same; the sum of $823 84 was allowed after the close of the year, and is not, therefore, included in the present annual statement of expenditures, but will be entered in the next report; and the remaining sum of $1,831 is covered by claims still pending. The total of allowances made during the year for lost remittances was $5,797; but of this the sum of $5,265 was on account of five lost remittances sent by the postmaster at Austin, Texas, to the postmaster at New Orleans, Louisiana, in the first quarter of 1868, which were stolen in the office of the latter, but credit for which was not allowed to the remitting postmaster until after the commencement of the last fiscal year. Hence this allowance constitutes a part of the expenditures of the year 1869, and is included in the above statement thereof.
In the transmission of these surplus funds in registered packages by mail, the department, in consideration of the fees received from the sale of orders, assumes the risk of loss. Such losises, however, rarely occur in any but sparsely settled localities, that have not yet entirely recovered from the effects of violence and disorder during the rebellion.
During the year, payment of six money-orders was obtained fraudulently by forgery of the payee's signature, or by means of false pretenses. In four of these cases, the amount of the order was refunded to the remitter by the issuing postmaster, in compliance with instructions from the department. In one, the postmaster who had erroneously paid the
order was directed to pay a like sum to the true payee. In the remaining case, the person who improperly obtained payment of the order was compelled to pay over the amount thereof to the rightful owner.
The transfers made by postmasters from the postage to the money. order account, for the purpose of meeting orders presented for payment, amounted to $1,326,077 41, and the transfers from the money order to the postage account to $1,461,078 77, leaving at the close of the year a balance in favor of the latter account of $135,001 36.
I cannot better illustrate the great success and rapid extension of the domestic money-order system than by a presentation of its operations from its establishment on the 1st November, 1864, to the present time, a summary of which is contained in the following table:
The great and constant increase, from year to year, in the transactions of the money-order system, clearly indicates its utility as a safe, convenient, and expeditious mode of making small remittances, and shows that it is steadily increasing in favor with the public, as practical experience demonstrates its advantages. I regard it as thoroughly established, and recommend its universal use by the people wherever practicable.
With a view to its further efficiency, I respectfully recommend additional legislation to authorize its extension to the stations, or sub-post offices, in the large cities. This cannot be done at present, because the postmaster, who has the control and supervision of subordinate stations, is not empowered by law to issue money orders payable by himself or by his assistants. In the opinion of the department, the establishment of the money-order business at stations would be a substantial advan. tage, as well as a great convenience, to residents in their vicinity. They would thus be enabled to purchase orders and receive payments without being compelled to resort to the main office. They would furthermore be furnished with a convenient and secure mode of transmitting small sums of money from one part of the city to another. This arrangement would not only tend to exclude money from local letters, but would facilitate the transaction of business at the main office, by relieving it, to some extent, of a constantly increasing crowd of applicants for the purchase or payment of orders. It has been for years in successful operation in the large cities of other countries, and there appears to be no valid reason against its introduction here.