Advances in Regulatory Economics series
Edited by Michael A. Crew, Paul R. Kleindofer and James I. Campbell Jr
Chapter 15: A Brief History of the United States Postal Monopoly Law
James I. Campbell Jr.† 1. INTRODUCTION The history of the postal monopoly law of the United States is a vast and remarkable story. The postal monopoly law is among the most ancient of legislative texts to be found in US statute books. Current law replicates the words of a proclamation by King Charles I of England in 1635, yet Congress was tinkering with the postal monopoly as recently as 2006. Despite the enormous economic and cultural signiﬁcance of the national post oﬃce and long-running disputes about the scope of its monopoly, there exists no complete published account of the history and derivation of the monopoly.1 This absence should soon be corrected by a comprehensive history which the Postal Regulatory Commission is preparing for submission to Congress and the President in December 2008.2 While no short essay can give a full account of the postal monopoly, this chapter oﬀers an introduction by summarizing the succession of legal instruments setting out the terms of the monopoly. Today, the postal monopoly in the United States is created by sections 1693 to 1699 of the federal criminal law, Title 18, of the United States Code.3 In brief, these laws make it a crime for anyone other than the United States Postal Service (USPS) to set up a collection and delivery service for the regular transmission of ‘letters’, although there are several exceptions to this rule. Criminal prohibitions are supplemented by sections 601 to 606 of the postal law, Title 39 of...
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