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
A CLEARLY STRUCK "SOUTHN. LETTER UNPAID" HANDSTAMP ON A COVER FROM NEW ORLEANS TO CINCINNATI, FRANKED WITH THE UNITED STATES 3-CENT 1857 ISSUE.
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.
United States postage stamps and stamped envelopes used from the South were regarded as contraband and were refused as prepayment. There are 29 "Southn. Letter Unpaid" covers recorded in the Special Routes book (No. 25 has been deleted as a fake since publication), of which only 13 have the 3c U.S. adhesive stamp used to attempt to pay the domestic rate. Two of the 13 are used with New Orleans provisionals. While this cover is missing its original New Orleans provisional stamps, it is still desirable with the boldly struck handstamp and the 3c 1857 issue.
Special Routes Census No. SLU-30. With 2007 C.S.A. certificate which pictures the cover before restoration