This is long but interesting to me. What else am I to do betwixt Covid and sm0000000ke, coughcough. At least skip to the end, the wording, hmmm.
Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7
Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution 3:§§ 1119–42, 1144–45
"§ 1119. The next power of congress is, “to establish post-offices and post-roads.” The nature and extent of this power, both theoretically and practically, are of great importance, and have given rise to much ardent controversy. It deserves, therefore, a deliberate examination. It was passed over by the Federalist with a single remark, as a power not likely to be disputed in its exercise, or to be deemed dangerous by its scope. The “power,” says the Federalist, “of establishing post-roads must, in every view, be a harmless power; and may, perhaps, by judicious management, become productive of great public conveniency. Nothing, which tends to facilitate the intercourse between the states, can be deemed unworthy of the public care.” One cannot but feel, at the present time, an inclination to smile at the guarded caution of these expressions, and the hesitating avowal of the importance of the power. It affords, perhaps, one of the most striking proofs, how much the growth and prosperity of the country have outstripped the most sanguine anticipations of our most enlightened patriots.
§ 1120. The post-office establishment has already become one of the most beneficent, and useful establishments under the national government. It circulates intelligence of a commercial, political, intellectual, and private nature, with incredible speed and regularity. It thus administers, in a very high degree, to the comfort, the interests, and the necessities of persons, in every rank and station of life. It brings the most distant places and persons, as it were, in contact with each other; and thus softens the anxieties, increases the enjoyments, and cheers the solitude of millions of hearts. It imparts a new influence and impulse to private intercourse; and, by a wider diffusion of knowledge, enables political rights and duties to be performed with more uniformity and sound judgment. It is not less effective, as an instrument of the government in its own operations. In peace, it enables it without ostentation or expense to send its orders, and direct its measures for the public good, and transfer its funds, and apply its powers, with a facility and promptitude, which, compared with the tardy operations, and imbecile expedients of former times, seem like the wonders of magic. In war it is, if possible, still more important and useful, communicating intelligence vital to the movements of armies and navies, and the operations and duties of warfare, with a rapidity, which, if it does not always ensure victory, at least, in many instances, guards against defeat and ruin. Thus, its influences have become, in a public, as well as private view, of incalculable value to the permanent interests of the Union. It is obvious at a moment’s glance at the subject, that the establishment in the hands of the states would have been wholly inadequate to these objects; and the impracticability of a uniformity of system would have introduced infinite delays and inconveniences; and burthened the mails with an endless variety of vexatious taxations, and regulations. No one, accustomed to the retardations of the post in passing through independent states on the continent of Europe, can fail to appreciate the benefits of a power, which pervades the Union. The national government is that alone, which can safely or effectually execute it, with equal promptitude and cheapness, certainty and uniformity. Already the post-office establishment realizes a revenue exceeding two millions of dollars, from which it defrays all its own expenses, and transmits mails in various directions over more than one hundred and twenty thousand miles. It transmits intelligence in one day to distant places, which, when the constitution was first put into operation, was scarcely transmitted through the same distance in the course of a week. The rapidity of its movements has been in a general view doubled within the last twenty years. There are now more than eight thousand five hundred post-offices in the United States; and at every session of the legislature new routes are constantly provided for, and new post-offices established. It may, therefore, well be deemed a most beneficent power, whose operations can scarcely be applied, except for good, and accomplish in an eminent degree some of the high purposes set forth in the preamble of the constitution, forming a more perfect union, providing for the common defence, and promoting the general welfare.
§ 1121. Under the confederation, (art. 9,) congress was invested with the sole and exclusive power of “establishing and regulating post-offices from one state to another throughout 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.” How little was accomplished under it will be at once apparent from the fact, that there were but seventy-five post-offices established in all the United States in the year 1789; that the whole amount of postage in 1790 was only $37,935; and the number of miles travelled by the mails only 1875. This may be in part attributable to the state of the country, and the depression of all the commercial and other interests of the country. But the power itself was so crippled by the confederation, that it could accomplish little. The national government did not possess any power, except to establish post-offices from state to state, (leaving perhaps, though not intended, the whole interior post-offices in every state to its own regulation,) and the postage, that could be taken, was not allowed to be beyond the actual expenses; thus shutting up the avenue to all improvements. In short, like every other power under the confederation,
it perished from a jealousy,
which required it to live,
and yet refused it
appropriate nourishment and sustenance."