James Madison Papers
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Post Offices and Post Roads, [2 February] 1797

Post Offices and Post Roads

[2 February 1797]

The House went into a Committee of the Whole on a bill for discontinuing and establishing various post roads within the United States. The last clause of the bill, authorizing the postmaster general to discontinue carrying mail on any road not producing more than one-fifth of the costs within three years, caused considerable debate (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 4th Cong., 2d sess., 2061–62).

Mr. Madison then proposed the following section in its stead, which was agreed to:

“That it shall be the duty of the Postmaster-General to make a report annually to Congress, of every post-road which shall not have produced one-fifth part of the expence of carrying the mail on the same.”1

Claypoole’s Am. Daily Advertiser, 3 Feb. 1797 (reprinted in Philadelphia Gazette, 3 Feb. 1797, Aurora General Advertiser, 4 Feb. 1797, Gales’s Independent Gazetteer, 7 Feb. 1797, and American Senator, 2:349). The Committee of the Whole accepted JM’s motion (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 4th Cong., 2d sess., 2063).

1JM’s proposal became the basis of the eighth section of “An Act in Addition to the Act intituled ‘An Act to establish the Post Office and Post Roads within the United States,’” approved on 3 Mar. 1797 (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America … (17 vols.; Boston, 1848–73). description ends , 1:509–12).

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