The first public communications network in the United States was the US Postal Service. Prior to the American revolution, European postal service was a communications network enjoyed by the elite. In America, the value of the postal service rose with the importance of newspapers as a means of disseminating revolutionary news to the population. Postmasters were generally also publishers of newspapers. They received mail coming off the ships from Europe and gleaned information from European newspapers.
The postal service as a communications network was at the heart of the American revolution. Before the Colonialists wrote the Declaration of Independence and before they went to war, they first established their own separate postal service, the Constitutional Postal Service. A first step towards independence was to break free of the Crown Post and postal surveillance by the British army. The Constitutional postal service was used disseminated revolutionary fervor. The Stamp Act, imposing a tax on everything printed, is cited as a catalyst for the revolution. When the Colonialists wrote the Constitution, they included a provision for the Postal Service and Postal roads (as well as the First Amendment).
The Congress shall have power... To establish post offices and post roads;... U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8
It is the only infrastructure provision in the Constitution. The Postal Service delivering newspapers ubiquitously was a means of binding the nation together, engaging in a democratic discourse. [Binding the Nation, SI ("George Washington envisioned a nation bound together by a system of post roads and post offices. Starting the System documents America's increasing need for a mail system to ensure the free flow of information between citizens and their government.")]
The Post Office as a communications network was heralded with a utopian ferver that would be echoed with the telegraph, telephone, and Internet networks. George Washington declared:The importance of the post office and post roads on a plan sufficiently liberal and comprehensive, as they respect the expedition, safety, and facility of communication, is increased by their instrumentality in diffusing a knowledge of the laws and proceedings of the Government, which, while it contributes to the security of the people, serves also to guard them against the effects of misrepresentation and misconception.
[Washington 1791] The sentiment was repeated in 1906 by Congressman A. F. Lever of South Carolina with the introduction of free rural delivery:"[Rural delivery] has become a great university in which 36,000,000 of our people receive their daily lessons from the newspapers and magazines of the country. It is the schoolhouse of the American farmer, and is without a doubt one of the most potent educational factors of the time."
[USPS Monopoly 2008 8] See Post Roads Act 1866 (extending Post Roads authority to telegraph, granting telegraph the right to build and operate on Post Roads)
Postal Service Discrimination
As Postmasters were also publishers, they stood as gatekeepers to the communications network, controlling which newspapers would be delivered and which would not. Benjamin Franklin and his partner William Goddard's Pennsylvania Chronicle suffered this discrimination by the former Philadelphia postmaster, who was also the owner of a rival newspaper and sympathetic to the Crown. The postmaster refused to deliver newspapers to Franklin and Goddard, depriving them of a source of information, and then refused to deliver the Pennsylvania Chronicle, driving it out of business. Goddard responded by establishing the Constitutional postal service "founded upon the constitutional principles of open communication, freedom from governmental interference, and the guaranteed free exchange of ideas." [William Goddard and the Constitutional Post, Binding the Nation, SI]
Mr. Goddard's Proposal for Establishing an American Post Office 1774
The present American Post Office was first set up by a private gentleman in one of the Southern Colonies, and the Ministry of Great Britain finding that a revenue might arise from it, procured an Act of Parliament in the ninth year of the reign of Queen Anne, to enable them to take into their own hands, and succeeding Administrations have ever since, taken upon them to regulate it — have committed the management of it to whom they pleased, and avail themselves of its income, now said to be at least £3,000 sterling per annum clear.
By this means a set of officers, Ministerial indeed, in their creation, direction, and dependence, are maintained in the Colonies, into whose hands all the social, commercial, and political intelligence of the Continent is necessarily committed; which at this time, every one must consider as dangerous in the extreme. It is not only our letters that are liable to be stopped and opened by a Ministerial mandate, and their contents construed into treasonable conspiracies, but our newspapers, those necessary and important alarms in time of publick danger, may be rendered of little consequence for want of circulation. Whenever it shall be thought proper to restrain the liberty of the press, or injure an individual, how easily may it be effected? A Postmaster General may dismiss a rider and substitute his hostler in his place, who may tax the newspapers to a prohibition; and when the master is remonstrated to upon the head, he may deny he has any concern in the matter, and tell the Printer he must make his terms with the Post.
As, therefore, the maintenance of this dangerous and unconstitutional precedent of taxation without our consent — as the parting with very considerable sums of our money to support officers of whom it seems to be expected that they should be inimical to our rights — as the great danger of the increase of such interest and its connections, added to the considerations above mentioned, must be alarming to a people thoroughly convinced of the fatal tendency of this Parliamentary establishment, it is therefore proposed [the Constitutional Postal Service]:
[Shawn Powers, Where did the principle of secrecy in correspondence go?, The Guardian Aug 12, 2015] Franklin responded, when he became postmaster, by declaring that the postal service would deliver all newspapers at an affordable rate. [Benjamin Franklin: Postmaster General, USPS ("Remembering his own experiences as a printer and postmaster, Franklin abolished the practice of letting postmasters decide which newspapers could travel through the mail and mandated delivery of all newspapers for a small fee. ")] This policy would later be codified by the Post Office Act of 1792. [1792 Postal Act, Binding the Nation, SI ("Under the act, newspapers would be allowed in the mails at low rates to promote the spread of information across the states.")]
The postal service may not examine or read the content it carries. It cannot charge different rates based on the information carried (it can charge different rates for the form of the post - different rates for letters, magazines, or newspapers - but not different rates for the Cleveland Plain Dealer as opposed to the New York Times). It must deliver to the destination requested by the sender. It must serve all parties.
But this was not always so. Paul Starr in his book, The Creation of the Media, recounts the origins of the Postal Service in the United States.
39 U.S.C. § 3001
1873 Comstock Act - An Act for the Suppression of Trade in, and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and Articles of Immoral Use. March 3, 1873, ch. 258, § 2, 17 Stat. 599
- US Postal Laws and Regulations 1887: Sec. 380 Obscene Matter - Every obscene, lewd, or lascivious book, pamphlet, picture, paper, writing, print, or other publication of an indecent character, and every article or thing designed or intended for the prevention of conception or procuring of abortion, and every article or thing intended or adapted for any indecent or immoral use, and every written or printed card, circular, book, pamphlet, advertisement, or notice of any kind giving information, directly or indirectly, where or how, or of whom, or by what means, any of the hereinbefore-mentioned matters, articles or things may be obtained or made, and every letter upon the envelop of which, or postal card upon which, indecent, lewd, obscene, or lascivious delineations, epithets, terms, or langauge may be written or priinted, are hereby declared to be non-mailable matter, and shall not be conveyed in the mails nor delivered from any post-office nor by any letter carrier; and any person who shall knowingly deposit, or cause to be deposited, for mailing or delivery, anything declared by this section to be non-mailable matter, and any person who shall knowingly take the same, or cause the same to be taken, from the mails, for the purpose of circulating or disposing of, or of aiding in the circulation or disposition of the same, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall for each and every offense be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five thousand dollards, or imprisoned at hard labor not less than one year nor more than ten years, or both, at the discretion of the court.
- used to prosecute Margaret Sanger 1916, founder of Planned Parenthood) Margaret Sanger was then jailed for 30 days for breaking the Comstock Law, which forbade the discussion and dissemination of birth control. [Planned Parenthood History] [Anthony Comstock "Chastity" Laws, American Experience] [Brandon R. Burnette, Comstock Act of 1873, The First Amendment Encyclopedia ] [Comstock Law of (1873), jrank ("Comstock was appointed special agent of the U.S. Post Office and given the express power to enforce the statute. Comstock held this position for the next 42 years.")]
- Bolger v. Youngs Drug Products Corp., 463 U.S. 60, 103 S. Ct. 2875, 77 L. Ed. 2d 469 (1983)
(b) Advertising for contraceptives not only implicates "substantial individual and societal interests" in the free flow of commercial information, but also relates to activity that is protected from unwarranted governmental interference. Thus, appellee's proposed commercial speech is clearly protected by the First Amendment. P. 69.
(c) Neither of the interests asserted by appellants -- that § 3001(e)(2) shields recipients of mail from materials that they are likely to find offensive and aids parents' efforts to control the manner in which their children become informed about birth control -- is sufficient to justify the sweeping prohibition on the mailing of unsolicited contraceptive advertisements. The fact that protected speech may be offensive to some persons does not justify its suppression, and, in any event, recipients of objectionable mailings can avoid further offensiveness simply by averting their eyes or disposing of the mailings in a trash can. While the second asserted interest is substantial, § 3001(e)(2), as a means of effectuating this interest, fails to withstand scrutiny. The statute's marginal degree of protection afforded those parents who desire to keep their children from confronting such mailings is improperly achieved by purging all mailboxes of unsolicited material that is entirely suitable for adults. Section 3001(e)(2) is also defective because it denies parents truthful information bearing on their ability to discuss birth control and to make informed decisions in this area.
Protection of Network or ServiceUS Postal Laws and Regulations 1887
- Sec. 1438 Forgery or Counterfeiting Postage Stamps (crime)
- Sec. 1440 Penalty for Injuring Street Mailing Boxes
- Sec. 1441 Injuring Mail Matter in Street Mailing Box
InterceptionUS Postal Laws and Regulations 1887
- Sec. 1442 Embesslement of Letters Containing Enclosures
- Sec. 1447 Penalty for Detaining, Opening, or Destroying Letters
- Sec. 1448 Penalty for Intercepting or Secreting Letters
- Sec. 1449 Stealing or Fraudulently Obtaining Mail; Opening Valuable Letters
- Sec. 1451 Stealing, Detaining, or Destroying Newspapers
- Sec. 1452 Robbery of the Mail
Nationalization of Telecommunications
The US Constitution states that "Congress shall have the power... to establish Post Offices and Post Roads." Constitution, Sec. 8.7. The U.S. Congress implemented this authority by establishing the US Post Office as a monopoly service for the delivery of mail. Note that the Constitution does not mandate a government operated monopoly postal service, only that Congress has the authority to establish a postal service - there are different ways this could have been achieved. In the 1970s, postal delivery was opened up to competitive carriers for express mail. [Universal Service and the Postal Monopoly: A Brief History, USPS]
The US Constitutional authority has been construed as authority over the transmission of intelligence. The Post Office and other stakeholders have repeatedly argued that the Post Office should have control over the transmission of intelligence in its various forms. The Post Office has argued that it should control and operate telegraph service (See Telegraph: Era of Western Union), telephone service, and in the 1970s email. In the 1800s, Europe established the model, with government owned, post office operated telegraph. The first electric telegraph network in the United States was government owned and Post Office operated. During the Civil War both the North and the South seized control of telegraph; telegraph in the North was controlled by the US Military Telegraph Service while telegraph in the South was controlled by the Post Office. In 1918, the USG nationalized telegraph, telephone, cable, radio and railroad service pursuant to war powers authority.
Telephone service saw the evolution of this model from the entangled telegraph-USG relationship to "government sanctioned monopoly." After a brief era of "excessive competition," AT&T employed a successful strategy of knocking its competitors out of the market - too successful as it captures the attention of anti trust authorities in Washington who had just successfully broken up Standard Oil. The solution for AT&T was to become a 'government sanctioned monopoly,' a position initiated by the Kingsbury Accord and cemented by the Communications Act. AT&T would protect this position by advancing the Military-Industrial Complex, becoming a virtual research arm of the USG during World War II and the Cold War. A 1950s anti-trust investigation by the Department of Justice was defused on the grounds of the importance of AT&T to US military strategy.
- World War II 1940: Bell Labs becomes a research lab of the US Military, working on radar, encryption, communications.
- Cold War 1950s: AT&T is 'volunteered' to develop and operate the NIKE missile system. Bell Labs continues USG military research. [Matthews ("Government contracts were not only a source of revenue for the firm, but “they gave the company strong allies within the government that the company would need as the twentieth century reached its midpoint.” These relationships helped fend off various efforts to check AT&T’s dominance of the telephony industry, like a 1949 antitrust suit brought by the Justice Department and settled in 1956, with the AT&T telephone monopoly still intact.")]
- 1969: DOD ARPA initiates ARPANET. 1975: DCA takes over administration of ARPANET, marking move from experimental to operational network. 1980: ARPANET migrates to the Internet Protocol and becomes The Internet.
- 1985: National Science Foundation initiates NSFNET, opening the Internet to civilian government use. 1995: NSF completes privitization of the Internet. Numerous individual networks on the Internet continue to be government or government-funded networks.
- 1996: Telecommunications Act enacted, authorizing universal service funding for Internet service.
- 2001: AT&T cooperates with NSA providing extensive warrantless wiretaps of US domestic communications [Matthews]
In 2011, amidst the national budget crisis, drastically decreased use of mail, and significant shortfalls in the USPS budget, the USPS launched a series of scare ads, aimed at convincing the public that email was not safe to use for communications. [See Telegraph Company hiring magician to show that radio telegraph is unsafe.]
- Angela Greiling Keane, Postal Service Tells E-Mailing Businesses Paper Cant Be Hacked, Businessweek, Nov. 5, 2011
Compare Fourth Amendment :: Electronic Communications Privacy Act which applies to telephone and Internet services. See also Federal Privacy.
- 39 USC s 404(c): "The Postal Service shall maintain one or more classes of mail for the transmission of letters sealed against inspection. The rate for each such class shall be uniform throughout the United States, its territories, and possessions. One such class shall provide for the most expeditious handling and transportation afforded mail matter by the Postal Service. No letter of such a class of domestic origin shall be opened except under authority of a search warrant authorized by law, or by an officer or employee of the Postal Service for the sole purpose of determining an address at which the letter can be delivered, or pursuant to the authorization of the addressee"
- 39 U.S.C. § 412 Nondisclosure of lists of names and addresses
- 39 U.S.C. § 233.11 Mail reasonably suspected of being dangerous to persons or property
- Privacy Act
- 39 CFR 266 and 268
- USPS Guide to Privacy, FOIA, and Records Management 2016
- (2-2) Information from the contents or cover of any customer’s mail may not be recorded or otherwise collected or disclosed within or outside the Postal Service, except for Postal Service operations and law enforcement purposes as specified in Title 39 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 233.3 and chapter 2 of the Administrative Support Manual.
- Post Office Act of 1792 ("Under the act, newspapers would be allowed in the mails at low rates to promote the spread of information across the states. To ensure the sanctity and privacy of the mails, postal officials were forbidden to open any letters in their charge unless they were undeliverable." [Binding the Nation: Starting the System: 1792 Postal Act, SI)]
- Sec. 16. And be it further enacted, That if any person, employed in any of the departments of the general post-office, shall unlawfully detain, delay, or open, any letter, packet, bag or mail of letters, with which he shall be entrusted, or which shall have come to his possession, and which are intended to be conveyed by post: Or if any such person shall secrete, embezzle or destroy any letter or packet, entrusted to him, as aforesaid, and which shall not contain any security for, or assurance relating to money, as herein after described, every such offender, being thereof duly convicted, shall, for every such offence, be fined not exceeding three hundred dollars, or imprisoned not exceeding six months, or both, according to the circumstances and aggravations of the offence. And if any person employed as aforesaid, shall secrete, embezzle or destroy, any letter, packet, bag, or mail. of letters, with which he shall be entrusted, or which shall have come to his possession, and are intended to be conveyed by post, containing any bank note, or bank post bill, bill of exchange, warrant of the treasury of the United States, note of assignment of stock in the funds, letters of attorney for receiving annuities or dividends, or for selling stock in the funds, or for receiving the interest thereof, or any letter of credit, or note for, or relating to the payment of money, or other bond or warrant, draft, bill, or promissory note whatsoever, for the payment of money; or if any such person, employed as aforesaid, shall steal or take any of the same out of any letter, packet, bag or mail of letters, that shall come to his possession, he shall, on conviction for any such offence, suffer death. And if any person, who shall have taken charge of the mail of the United States, shall quit or desert the same, before his arrival at the next post-office, every such person, so offending, shall forfeit and pay a sum, not exceeding five hundred dollars, for every such offence. And if any person, concerned in carrying the mail of the United States, shall collect, receive or carry any letter or packet, or shall cause or procure the same to be done, contrary to this act, every such offender shall forfeit and pay, for every such offence, a sum not exceeding fifty dollars.
- Ex parte Jackson, 96 U.S. 727 (1877) (“the right of the people to be secure in their papers against unreasonable searches and seizures [4th Amendment] extends to their papers, thus closed against inspection, wherever they may be. Whilst in the mail, they can only be opened and examined under like warrant, issued upon similar oath or affirmation, particularly describing the thing to be seized, as is required when papers are subjected to search in one's own household”)
Derived From: Letter from Richard A. Hertling, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, to The Honorable John Conyers Jr. (May 7, 2007) (obtained by Government Attic per FOIA)
"Generally speaking, there are three exceptions that permit the warrantless opening of such mail, in addition, of course, to the consent of the sender or addressee. Cf United States v. Licata, 761F.2d537, 544-45 (9th Cir. 1985) (involving consent search of package).
Compare ECPA Exigent Circumstances. Compare Open Internet Reasonable Network Management and ECPA Protection of Network
"First, it has long been recognized that the Fourth Amendment permits the warrantless opening of mail under "exigent circumstances." The Supreme Court has stated that "[t]he need to protect or preserve life or avoid serious injury is justification" for a warrantless search. Mincey v. Arizona, 437 U.S. 385, 392 (1978) (internal quotation omitted). In addition, during the Clinton Administration, the United States Postal Service promulgated a regulation providing for warrantless searches of mail under "exigent circumstances." See 39 C.F.R. § 233. l l(b); 61 Fed. Reg. 28,059 (June 4, 1996). Under that regulation, exigent circumstances exist when "[m]ail, sealed or unsealed, [is] reasonably suspected of posing an immediate danger to life or limb or an immediate and substantial danger to property." 39 C.F.R. § 233. J l(b). That standard continues to represent the Executive Branch's understanding of the meaning of "exigent circumstances" justifying the warrantless opening of mail."
"The United States Postal Service, rather than the Department of Justice, is the principal agency that opens suspicious mail and parcels pursuant to that regulation. The Postal Service informs us that "exigent circumstance" searches typically are initiated when a postal inspector observes a suspicious package. Packages may be suspicious, for example, because they are vibrating, making noises, or leaking suspicious substances. The Postal Service indicates that, when it is possible, the postal inspector ordinarily first makes efforts to contact either the sender or the addressee in order to obtain consent to open the package without a warrant. The Postal Service indicates that it makes efforts to keep its warrantless mail searches to a minimum and limits such searches to only the most urgent circumstances. For example, the Postal Service has advised that, since October 2003, the U.S. Postal Service has handled approximately 700 billion pieces of mail. During that time, postal inspectors have opened mail without a warrant due to exigent circumstances approximately 15 0 times. Therefore, only a miniscule portion of the number of packages and mail transported through the postal system is subject to a warrantless search on the basis of exigent circumstances. "
Second, the Fourth Amendment permits the warrantless searching of mail entering or leaving the United States. See, e.g., United States v. Ramsey, 431U.S.606, 616 (1977). Congress specifically has authorized the warrantless search of mail at the border, although some of those provisions place restrictions on the reading of correspondence. See, e.g., 19 U.S.C. § 1583(a)(l) (permitting warrantless search of"mail of domestic origin transmitted for export ... and foreign mail transiting the United States"), ( c )( 1 )-(2) (permitting search of first~class mail weighing more than 16 ounces if there is reasonable cause to believe that the mail contains specified contraband, merchandise, national defense or related information, or a weapon of mass destruction, but requiring a judicial warrant or consent to read any correspondence such mail contains); see also 19 U.S.C. § 482 (authorizing "[a]ny of the officers or persons authorized to board or search vessels" to "search any ... envelope, wherever found, in which he may have a reasonable cause to suspect there is merchandise which was imported contrary to law"); 31 U.S.C. § 53 l 7(b) (authorizing search at border of, among other items, "envelopes" for evidence of currency violations). Regulations promulgated during the Carter Administration, see 43 Fed. Reg. 14,451(Apr.6, 1978), also authorize the warrantless opening of mail under certain circumstances, but prohibit the reading of correspondence it contains absent a search warrant or consent. 19 C.F.R § 145.3(a) (authorizing opening of mail that appears to contain matter besides correspondence "provided that [Customs officers or employees] have reasonable cause to suspect the presence of merchandise or contraband"), ( c) ("No Customs officer or employee shall read, or authorize or allow another person to read, any correspondence contained in letter class mail" absent a search warrant or consent); 19 C.F.R. pt. 145 app. (authorizing Customs Service to examine, with certain exceptions for diplomatic and government mail, "all mail arriving from outside the Customs territory of the United States which is to be delivered within the (Customs territory of the United States]"). United States Customs and Border Protection is the entity principally responsible for implementing those statutes and regulations.
"Third, provisions in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 ("FISA"), as amended, 50 U.S.C. § 1801 et seq., specifically authorize the Attorney General to conduct physical searches of mail without prior judicial authorization in certain circumstances. Section 304(e) of FISA, 50 U.S.C. § 1824(e), provides that the Attorney General, under certain circumstances, may approve the execution of an emergency physical search of property, including property that "is in transit to or from an agent of a foreign power or a foreign power," id. § 1824(a)(3)(B), so long as the Attorney General subsequently obtains an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorizing the search. Section 302 of FISA, 50 U.S.C. § 1822, permits the Attorney General to "authorize physical searches without a court order ... to acquire foreign intelligence information" if directed against information, material, or property "used exclusively by, or under the open and exclusive control of, a foreign power or powers." Information regarding the use of these statutory authorities is exceptionally sensitive and highly classified, and it would not be appropriate in this setting to discuss whether any searches of mail have been conducted pursuant to these provisions. The National Security Division of the Department of Justice would be involved in implementing any searches conducted pursuant to those provisions. While the President has the constitutional authority to order warrantless searches for foreign intelligence purposes, see, e.g., In re Sealed Case, 310 F.3d 717, 742 (Foreign Intel. Surv. Ct. of Rev. 2002) (noting that "all the other courts to have decided the issue [have] held that the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information"), as the Attorney General confirmed in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 18, 2007, we are not aware that warrantless searches of mail have been conducted pursuant to that authority during this Administration. See also Answer to Question 158, Senate Judiciary Committee Questions for the Record for the Attorney General (Jan. 18, 2007)."
Post offices during colonial times could be taverns, inns, and coffee houses where third parties had opportunities to read third party mail.
Benjamin Franklin and William Hunter instructions to Post Offices 1753. “Post Office Instructions and Directions, 1753,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified March 30, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-05-02-0048.
6. Item, You are not to open or suffer to be opened any Mail or Bag of Letters, except such Bags as shall be sent unto you with Letters to be delivered at your Stage, unless there be an urgent Necessity; and in that Case you must always seal up the Bag again, with the Seal of your Office, and send a Note therein, specifying the Reason why the said Bag was broke open.
- Anuj C. Desai, Wiretapping Before the Wires: The Post Office and the Birth of Communications Privacy, 60 STAN. L. REV. 553, 577-78 (2007).
- Kevin Kosar, Yes, the Government can open your mail without a warrant, R Street Nov. 19, 2014
National Infrastructure Protection Plan Postal and Shipping Sector ("The Postal and Shipping Sector is an integral component of the U.S. economy, employing more than 1.5 million people and earning revenues of more than $148 billion per year. The Postal and Shipping Sector moves hundreds of millions of messages, products, and financial transactions each day. ")
"In 1890, nearly 41 million people — 65 percent of the American population — lived in rural areas. Although many city dwellers had enjoyed free home delivery since 1863, rural citizens had to pick up their mail at the Post Office, leading one farmer to ask: “Why should the cities have fancy mail service and the old colonial system still prevail in the country districts?”
"Postmaster General John Wanamaker, who served from 1889 to 1893, ... thought it made more sense to have one person deliver mail than to have 50 people ride into town to collect their mail. He cited business logic and social philosophy as reasons to give rural dwellers free delivery. Businesses could expand their markets. Rural customers paid the same postage rates as city people. Rural people needed the important information provided by newspapers yet did not always have time to walk or ride to the Post Office. Young people might stay on the farm if correspondence and magazines eased their isolation." [Rural Free Service, USPS]
"Congressional authority for rural free delivery (RFD) was granted in March 1893, the month Wanamaker left office. Experimental rural free delivery service began in 1896 out of three Post Offices in West Virginia; within a year 44 routes were underway in 29 states. The service proved enormously popular and was declared permanent in 1902." [USPS Monopoly 2008 7]
Article IX: "The United States in Congress assembled shall also have the sole and exclusive right and power of . . . establishing or regulating post offices from one State to another, throughout all the United States, and exacting such postage on the papers passing through the same as may be requisite to defray the expenses of the said office ."
Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, Volume XXIII, 1782 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1914), 672-673. “An Ordinance for Regulating the Post Office of the United States of America.“