This envelope signed by Thaddeus Stevens, then the powerful Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, is an example of the use of the “franking privilege,” which allowed Members of Congress free postage for official business. The Member’s signature and stamp reading “free” was the simple format for postage leaving the House beginning in the late 18th century.
History, Art & Archives, U.S. House of Representatives, “Free Frank Envelope,” https://history.house.gov/Collection/Listing/2004/2004-078-002b/ (June 30, 2022)
Office of the Historian
Office of Art and Archives
Attic, Thomas Jefferson Building
Washington, D.C. 20515