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The New York Times, October 29, 1876


A letter addressed to Mr. S. L. Clemens (Mark Twain,) Hartford, Conn., notifying him that he had been elected a member of the New York Press Club, and inviting him to be present at their Fall reception on Thursday last, was inadvertently dropped into the letter box without the required stamp. Postmaster James kindly paid the postage and forwarded the letter, which, in the ordinary course, would have gone to the Dead-letter Office. After thanking Mr. James for his courtesy, Mr. Clemens inclosed a copy of the Postmaster's letter to the President of the Press Club, and expressed regret that he could not be present at the reception. He closed with a compliment to Mr. James as follows:

"By the inclosed printed letter of Postmaster James you will perceive that the term "civil" service is not a sarcasm when applied to the New York Post Office. Had your unpaid letter passed through the average Post Office of the land I should have received my invitation about three months from now through the Dead-letter Department, after much correspondence and ruinous outlay of postage. I would that there were more Postmaster Jameses in the land."

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