Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Saturday June 29

William is much occupied in arranging his business so as to leave home.  He has been going around showing Ephraim how things are to be managed.  A fire on the hill broke out in the dry undergrass and destroyed about ten acres of meadow.  Capt. Cooke and W. R. Putnam, Esq., called.  Capt. Cooke has been appointed paymaster in the United States Army, and has just come on from Washington.  Capt. DeBeck called and left a large bundle of envelopes with the request that William would frank them for the soldiers.  William says that he has no right to frank them and that he cannot afford to cheat the government even in little things.  He sent and bought stamps and we placed them on the envelopes.  This evening quite a number of the neighbors called knowing that William would leave on Monday.

Editor's comments:
With William Cutler leaving to serve a term in Congress, most of the management of the house and farm was left to the women.  William's nephew Ephraim Dawes who was 21 years old, helped but within a few months he enlisted in the  53rd Ohio Infantry.

During the 1840's, the process of paying for mail delivery underwent many changes.  Up until that time, the recipient paid the postage.  In 1845 a uniform postal rate was established (five cents).  Stamps were issued in 1847  and the sender paid the postage.  For a time, it cost the sender three cents for a stamp or if sent unstamped, the recipient would pay five cents upon receiving the letter.

Free postage was provided to members of Congress.  In place of a stamp, the Congressman signed his name where the stamp would normally be affixed.  It is said that many members of Congress spent up to three hours a day franking mail!   William's refusal to frank letters that weren't congressional business was one of the first tests of his integrity.

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