Arago: Moving & Sorting Equipment

Moving & Sorting Equipment

Mailbag associated with PMG Return J. Meigs, Jr.


Personal leather mailbag of sixth U.S. Postmaster General Return J. Meigs, Jr. Is tubular in shape with large central flap and five remaining D-ring closures.

This portmanteau is part of a transfer of a large number of objects from the Post Office Department to the Smithsonian Institution. There are few details in the transfer file to document the original use. The bag is marked "Return Jonathan Meigs, Jr. (1764-1824)."

This style mailbag is known as a 'portmanteau'. Portmanteaux were used to carry letters and newspapers on stagecoaches during the nineteenth century. The letters and newspapers would be divided in separate linen or canvas bags inside the portmanteau. It is unlikely that this portmanteau was actually used by Meigs, who served as postmaster general from 1814 until 1823.

Meigs was governor of Ohio when James Madison appointed him to the cabinet position of postmaster general. Meigs resigned his governorship and initiated a period of tremendous growth for the Post Office Department. During his tenure with the service, he almost doubled the number of post offices in the United States, but this growth also created some financial difficulties for the Department. On two separate occasions Congress investigated Meigs, but he was exonerated on both occasions.

Reference: Accessed March 27, 2006.

leather; cotton; metal
2.5 x 13.5 x 29 in (6.35 x 34.29 x 73.66 cm)
Museum ID:

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