Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Samuel Osgood (1789–1791): Postmaster General

Samuel Osgood was born in Andover, Massachusetts, February 3, 1748. He graduated from Harvard University and first experienced politics on a small scale, serving from 1774 to 1776 on the Massachusetts Provincial Congress and as a delegate to the Essex County Convention (Massachusetts).

He earned more notoriety after a successful stretch with the Revolutionary Army, ascending in rank from volunteer militia captain to army colonel in four years (1776-1800).

Resuming his political career soon thereafter, Osgood served two terms with the Massachusetts State Senate (1780 and 1784), and spent several years as a member of the Continental Congress (1781-1784). Involved in national financial affairs as well, Osgood became director of the Bank of North America while a congressman and later became one of three board members to oversee the U.S. treasury under the Articles of Confederation (1785-1789).

In recognition of Osgood's national service, President George Washington named him the nation's first postmaster general in 1789, a post which Osgood held until resigning in 1791.

After giving up politics for a decade, Osgood reappeared to become a member of the New York State Assembly and Supervisor of Internal Revenue for the District of New York by appointment of President Thomas Jefferson (1800-1803). In 1803, Jefferson promoted Osgood to naval officer at the port of New York, a position Osgood held until his death on August 12, 1813.