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A USURPATION OF AUTHORITY
CONGRESS is the law-making branch of the United States Government: the President and his Secretaries are the executive branch—whose duty it is to enforce the laws as Congress makes them. Congress passed the present postal laws nearly thirty years ago, and all Postmasters General since, until now, have enforced them faithfully, even though several of them have appealed to Congress to change the laws, so as to prevent so general a circulation of cheap periodicals. Congress in every case has refused to change the laws which have done so much to make the American public “wide awake.”
Now, however, we have a Postmaster General who attempts to usurp the law-making functions of Congress and to ride rough-shod over the will of the people as repeatedly expressed through their representatives in Congress. The duty of the people is to resent such unlawful disregard of their rights; and the protests should properly go to the President of these United States, who undoubtedly is quite unaware of this piece of injustice and lawlessness being practiced under his administration.
Postmaster General C. E. Smith, and his third Assistant, E. C. Madden, who have engineered this nefarious violation of the law, and who are glorying in their shame, show clearly that they are not men to be trusted, when they plan for ruling the people and decide what liberties the people ought to be allowed and what disallowed.
What is the remedy? It is to make such conduct odious to all lovers of liberty—to all who love justice. And the best way to do this is to promptly inform President Roosevelt (addressing him at Washington, D.C.), telling him that the credit of his administration is involved by the conduct of these his representatives, and calling for their dismissal and for the appointment of men who are not of their lawless (anarchous) cast of mind. Send postal cards or letters, or if convenient get up general petitions and obtain as many signatures (of old and young) as you can. All are interested, and all have a right to protest against the infraction of the laws favorable to “the poor of this world,” who are the chief users of the paper-bound pamphlets whose circulation is being interfered with. The rich buy cloth-bound books, which are not affected by these acts of these pseudo-law-makers.
We do not claim that the Postmaster General is destitute of good impulses in this matter: his claim is that he wishes to save the people’s money. But our reply is that the people do not wish him to economise at the expense of violation of the people’s laws. They do not need a paternal government. They are able to change the laws, through their representatives when and how they please.
If the laws of the land were being enforced we should not have one word of remonstrance to make, however much their enforcement might injure us. But when, under divine providence, the laws are on our side it would be wrong for us to submit without protest and thus to encourage still further violations of law in disregard of the rights and wishes of the law-makers—the people. Office holders should be held to account as the public’s servants;—otherwise they will be justified in concluding that the people are serfs and desire to be ruled by Czars.
Many need no suggestions from us, but are quite competent to express themselves forcefully and cogently. Others, however, may be helped by the following general suggestions as to brief forms, which each may change and modify to suit his own tastes.
Hon. Theo. Roosevelt, Washington, D.C.: Respected Sir:—
Doubtless you are unaware of the gross injustice being done the poor by your subordinates—the Postmaster General and his Third Assistant. They have undertaken to make “rulings” respecting pamphlets (2nd class mail), which are gross violations of the laws of Congress of nearly 30 years standing. We call upon you to cleanse your Cabinet of such law-breakers. Give us examples of obeyers of the laws in their stead, and we will esteem you, for your justice, accordingly.
To the President of the United States, Washington, D.C.
Your Excellency is respectfully petitioned to overrule recent Postoffice legislation against second-class mail matter.
To the President of the United States: Washington, D.C. Your Excellency:
We call upon you to redress the grievance of the poor, and at the same time uphold the Postal Laws of Congress, by causing the unlawful act of the Third Assistant Postmaster General to be set aside and its perpetrators ousted. We refer to the recent illegal “rulings” respecting pamphlets, refusing them second class mail privileges such as Congress designed and expressed; and such as they have enjoyed for the past 30 years. The acts of your subordinates must be regarded as the acts of your administration. We hope to have this wrong speedily righted.
To the President of the United States. Washington, D.C. Hon. Sir:—
We, the common people, hold you responsible for the violation of our Postal Laws at the hands of your Postmaster General and his Third Assistant. Congress enacted the law for second class mail in the interest of education and intelligence amongst the poor and the middle classes. It is robbery and fraud for these men now to frustrate that law which the people, by their representatives in Congress, have now three times refused to alter. We urge you to dismiss these law-breakers and to put in their stead men who will obey the laws as the people, through their representatives, enact them. Thus you will win the esteem of lovers of law and equity.
— November 15, 1901 —