The relationship between President and Postmaster General has changed throughout the years as the Post’s role in American Society changed. As communications technology evolved over the centuries, so did the Post until we get to now: the USPS’ growing role is as Ecommerce facilitator, with print matter distribution slowly declining.
But at the start of the U.S. Constitution, the Post was the only form of continental communication to bind the new nation together. And President Washington worked closely with his Postmaster General Samuel Osgood to build what would become, and still is, the largest and most technologically advanced postal system in the world.
Washington lived in his PMG’s house during his time in New York and when the government relocated to Philadelphia, the first PMG under the Constitution resigned.
With the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, the PMG was removed from the President’s cabinet and direct control, as the head of the new U.S. Postal Service. And since that time, the relationship has faded. In the early 1992 President George H.W. Bush was surprised to learn he couldn’t fire PMG Marvin Runyon after a postal issue dispute.
President George W. Bush signed into law the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act in 2006 with Postmaster General Jack Potter witnessing the event at the White House. That is the last publicized event where the President and PMG met — until now. News that PMG Megan J. Brennan met with President Trump several times over the last few months harkens back to a distance time of collaboration.
Here’s an account of the first President and Postmaster General:
Samuel Osgood (February 3, 1747 – August 12, 1813) was an American merchant and statesman born in North Andover, Massachusetts, parent town of the Andovers.
When a new U.S. government was installed in 1789, President Washington appointed Osgood the first Postmaster General under the new U.S. Constitution, replacing Ebenezer Hazard who was commissioned postmaster of the city of New York by the Continental Congress. Osgood served as Postmaster from 1789 to 1791. One of the first things Osgood would do is make the Post Office in Baltimore the new regional headquarters, whose postmaster was Katherine Goddard. Osgood ordered Goddard to resign from her post and was replaced by John White.
The seat of the Federal Government at that time was in New York City and the official residence of the President was located at the Samuel Osgood House at 3 Cherry Street, which was the home of Samuel Osgood and his family. Osgood offered the mansion to Washington so that the President and his wife would have what was then considered the finest house in the city as their home. The residence thus became America’s first executive mansion.
When the Federal Government moved to Philadelphia for a ten-year period before finally settling in Washington, D.C., Osgood chose to remain in New York and resigned his post in 1791. Osgood was a presidential elector in 1792, and cast his votes for George Washington and George Clinton.
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