Arago: Documents


Letter of appointment for Benjamin Lipsner


This letter, dated July 2, 1918, is from Second Assistant Postmaster General Otto Praeger to U.S. Army Capt. Benjamin B. Lipsner (1887-1971). It appointed Lipsner to the newly-created post of superintendent of the airmail service.

In his letter Praeger says, "Referring to our conversation yesterday, I beg to advise that the Post Office Department will appoint you Superintendent of the Aerial Mail Service in charge of its operation of mails, at the rate of pay of $4,200 per year, effective August 1, 1918.

"This tender is made subject to the willingness of the War Department to relinquish your services.

"Kindly indicate at as early a date as possible whether you can accept."

At the time of this appointment, Lipsner had spent three months assisting Major Reuben Fleet with the airmail service while the U.S. Army operated it for the Post Office Department.

Lipsner and Praeger did not get along, and on December 5, 1918, Lipsner resigned his position with a public attack on Praeger and Postmaster General Albert Burleson, giving an unusually critical letter of resignation and charges to the press. In his letter Lipsner accused Praeger and Burleson of trying to direct public funds to aviation companies for personal gain. Praeger and Burleson pointedly denied all accusations. Lipsner offered no proof, and the subject died-down in the press.

The memo includes a typographical error, with Lipsner’s initials in the address listed as A.B. instead of B.B. At the memo's top, Lipsner added the words “Exhibit No. 3.” Years after leaving the service, Lipsner, who had saved several documents and articles from his time as superintendent, created exhibits (with the help of aviation historians) that he exhibited publicly.

July 2, 1918
EXHIBIT No. 3 (handwritten) / Post Office Department / Second Assistant Postmaster General / Washington / . . .
paper; ink
26 x 20 cm (10 1/4 x 7 7/8 in.)
Museum ID:
District of Columbia

Additional Records
  • Certificate of appointment for postmaster
  • Certificate of appointment for postmaster
  • Letter of appointment for Benjamin Lipsner
  • Max Miller's letter of support for Benjamin Lipsner
  • Franklin and Foxcroft rate chart
  • Flight report by pilot James Edgerton
  • List of the first airmail mechanics and pilots
  • Note from pilot Max Miller to Benjamin Lipsner
  • Note from pilot Max Miller to Benjamin Lipsner
  • Memo from B. Lipsner to Army Adjutant General
  • US Army Quartermaster's Department letter
  • Letter of retirement for John T. Jackson

1 2 3 4