FINE AND RARE EXAMPLE OF "SOUTHERN LETTER UNPAID" MARKING ON A COVER ADDRESSED TO KENTUCKY.
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. In early and mid-June, however, a large quantity of mail from the South reached Louisville for delivery to correspondents in the North. However, Federal government postage stamps affixed in the South were regarded as contraband and were refused as prepayment.
On June 24 Dr. J. 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 "Southern Letter Unpaid" handstamp.
Immediately after receiving instructions from Washington to forward mail, the Louisville post office began marking letters. Some of these have circular datestamps (Jun. 27, 28 and 29 being the most common dates), while others have no Louisville datestamp, such as the example offered here. Given the June 8 origin date, this mail probably arrived at Louisville soon after termination of regular mail from Nashville. It was probably among the first to be forwarded after June 24.