Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Frank Hatton (1884–1885): Postmaster General

The son of a printer, Frank Hatton was born in Cambridge, Ohio. He served as his father's apprentice and ran away to join the Union Army as a drummer boy when the Civil War broke out.

After rising to the rank of lieutenant during the war, Hatton mustered out of the service in 1866 and became a newspaperman in Iowa. As the Republican editor of the Burlington Daily Hawk-Eye, Hatton became an important party man in the Mississippi Valley, noted especially for his attacks against civil service reform.

President James Garfield rewarded his service by naming him assistant postmaster general in 1881. Hatton briefly served as postmaster general in October 1884 after Walter Gresham moved to the Treasury Department. At thirty-eight years old, Hatton was the youngest cabinet secretary since Alexander Hamilton.

After leaving office, Hatton served as the editor of the Chicago Mail, the New York Press, and the Washington Post. As the owner of the Post, Hatton continued to criticize civil service reform. He suffered a stroke at his desk and died at the age of forty-eight.