The Civil War started 150 years ago in April, but the sesquicentennial actually stretches over the next four years. So we’re starting a series of blog posts to highlight various events in the war. Today’s installment:
On May 26, 1861, US Postmaster-General Blair issued an order suspending postal service in the states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas as of May 31.
Mail for the shuttered offices was to be forwarded to the dead letter office, except in Western Virginia, where mail was to be sent to Wheeling.
To cope with increased mail during the Civil War, says author Michael O. Varhola in Life in Civil War America, the US Postal Service began dividing mail into first-class, second-class and third-class.
Congress also authorized the use of postage stamps as change after the US stopped issuing coinage. Due to hoarding, coins nearly disappeared from circulation. When the gummed stamps proved hard to use and unpopular, Congress approved glueless stamps called “postal currency.”
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