FINE AND RARE EXAMPLE OF THE "SOUTHERN LETTER UNPAID" MARKING ON A COVER ADDRESSED TO KENTUCKY. ONE OF THREE RECORDED WITH THE INCORRECTLY-DATED LOUISVILLE DATESTAMP.
By Postmaster General Blair's order of May 27, mail service to disloyal Southern states was discontinued. On or about June 8, mail exchange between Louisville and Nashville was also banned. Starting June 13, the Louisville postmaster, Dr. John J. Speed, decided to hold the northbound mail received from Nashville, rather than divert it to the U.S. Dead Letter Office. Speed sent a request to Washington D.C. for instructions on how to handle the mail that was rapidly accumulating. Speed received instructions from the U.S. Post Office Department, which were wired on June 24, advising him to "forward letters from the South for the loyal states as unpaid after removing postage stamps..." Since it was impractical to remove stamps from all of the letters (although apparently that was attempted at first), Postmaster Speed created the "Southn. Letter Unpaid" marking to explain to the addressees that the U.S. stamps applied by the senders were invalid for postage.
This cover was mailed from Salem Va. on July 2 and arrived at Louisville on approximately July 5. However, the postal clerk applied the June 29 marking in error, neglecting to change the date slug in his handstamp. There are two other covers listed in the Special Routes census that also arrived after June 29 but received the June 29 datestamp.
A total of 29 "Southn. Letter Unpaid" covers are recorded in the Special Routes book (No. 25 has been deleted as a fake since publication).
Special Routes Census No. SLU-20. Ex Grant, Meroni and Felton. With 1994 C.S.A. certificate