VERY FINE APPEARANCE. ONE OF TWO RECORDED "SOUTHERN LETTER UNPAID" COVERS FROM CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA, THE PLACE WHERE SECESSION STARTED AND THE FIRST SHOTS OF THE WAR WERE FIRED ON FORT SUMTER.
The U.S. May 27 suspension order prohibited post offices from forwarding southbound mail to disloyal Southern states. However, northbound mail continued to be sent via Louisville. Through June 6, northbound mails were forwarded to Louisville from Memphis or Nashville. From June 7 through 12, only the Nashville post office forwarded mail to Louisville, and Louisville continued to forward mail north.
With the resignation of W. D. McNish as Nashville's Federal postmaster on June 12 and the withdrawal of the U.S. mail agent from this route, Louisville held the mails still being sent north by the discontinued post office at Nashville. On June 24, Dr. John J. Speed, the postmaster at Louisville, was advised to forward letters from the South to the loyal states after removing postage. With approximately 5,000 such letters accumulating at Louisville by this date, Postmaster Speed employed a more practical means of invalidating postage by creating the "Southn. Letter Unpaid" handstamp.
There are 29 "Southern Letter Unpaid" covers recorded in the Special Routes book (No. 25 has been deleted as a fake since publication). The covers without the Louisville datestamp were released from Louisville on June 25. Two covers are recorded from Charleston, both dated June 11 (the other has the Louisville June 26 datestamp).
Special Routes Census No. SLU-11. Ex Weatherly