Death, Taxes, and a Government Sponsored Postal Monopoly


From the October/November issue of CEI UpDate


Think the government-granted monopoly the United States Postal Service holds is an outrage? Like many American institutions, its roots are in England. This passage from Volume I of Thomas Babington Macaulay’s History of England shows that the state wasn’t much different in the 17th century from how it would be in the 21st:


“To facilitate correspondence between one part of London and another was not originally one of the objects of the Post Office. But, in the reign of Charles the Second, an enterprising citizen of London, William Dockwray, set up, at great expense, a penny post, which delivered letters and parcels six or eight times a day in the busy and overcrowded streets near the Exchange, and four times a day in the outskirts of the capital. This improvement was, as usual, strenuously resisted. The porters complained that their interests were attacked, and tore down the placards in which the scheme was announced to the public….The utility of the enterprise was, however, so great and obvious that all opposition proved fruitless. As soon as it became clear that the speculation would be lucrative, the Duke of York complained of it as an infraction of his monopoly; and the courts of law decided in his favour.”