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Founding-Era Socialism: The Original Meaning of the Constitution’s Postal Clause

Abstract

The Constitution’s Postal Clause granted Congress power to “establish Post Offices and post Roads.” This Article examines founding-era legal and historical materials to determine the original meaning and scope of the Postal Clause. It concludes that the Clause authorized Congress to pass all legislation necessary to create, operate, and regulate a unified transportation, freight, and courier system, although it also limited congressional authority in some respects. The founding-era reasons for the postal system were revenue, promotion of commerce, and political control. The Article also corrects some inaccurate claims about the Clause previously advanced by commentators.

Open access