United States Postmaster General

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The United States Postmaster General is the executive head of the United States Postal Service. The office, in one form or another, is older than both the United States Constitution and the United States Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Franklin was appointed by the Continental Congress as the first Postmaster General, serving slightly longer than 15 months.

Until 1971, the Postmaster General was the head of the Post Office Department (or simply "Post Office" until the 1820s).[1] From 1829 to 1971, he was a member of the President's Cabinet.

The Cabinet post of Postmaster General was often given to a new President's campaign manager or other key political supporter, and was considered something of a sinecure. The Postmaster General was in charge of the governing party's patronage, and was a powerful position which held much influence within the party. For example, James Farley used his position as Postmaster General during Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal administration to reward party loyalists within Congress who supported Roosevelt's initial "100 days" legislation with federal patronage for their states. Federal appointments, except for a small handful, were screened by Farley before the President could approve the appointments due to the patronage position of the Postmaster General.

In 1971, the Post Office Department was re-organized into the United States Postal Service, a special agency independent of the executive branch. Thus, the Postmaster General is no longer a member of the Cabinet and is no longer in line to be President. During the Civil War, the Confederate States of America also had a Confederate Post-Office Department, headed by a Postmaster General, John Henninger Reagan.

The current Postmaster General is also known as the "CEO" of the U.S. Postal Service.


Postmasters General under the Continental Congress

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