Star Bids

“The transportation of the mails overland before the completion of the railroad was considered impracticable by the Postmaster-general [Joseph Holt, Aaron Brown’s successor] because of their bulk. As dispatched semi-monthly they averaged ten tons. This amount he considered to be too large for overland transmission even when divided into semi-weekly allotments. The overland routes had been demonstrated as available for light mail and could be used in case of foreign war or such emergency, and now there was no further necessity for their extensive employment. He believed that the law of March 3, 1845, announced the proper principle in reference to mail contracts when it provided that contracts were to be tendered to ‘the bidder tendering sufficient guarantees for faithful performance, without other reference to the mode of such transportation than may be necessary to provide for due celerity, certainty, and security of such transportation.’ Inasmuch as this law was still in force, Holt announced that hereafter only ‘Star Bids,’ in conformity with the above law, would be invited. . . .

In the Post office Department files the lines upon which the service was performed with ‘celerity, certainty, and security,’ with no reference to the mode of conveyance, were marked with a star, hence the term ‘Star Bids.'”