Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

James A. Farley (1933–1940): Postmaster General

James Aloysius Farley was born May 30, 1888, in Grassy Point, New York. He never received any secondary education. Farley began his political career as town clerk of Stony Point, New York (1911-1918). In 1919, he was named as port warden for the City of New York by Governor Alfred E. Smith.

He served as supervisor of Stony Point (1920-1922) and sat in the lower house of the New York state legislature (1922-1924). In 1924, he was named as a member of the New York State Athletic Commission and became chairman of the commission a year later (1925-1933).

Farley served in the cabinet of President Franklin D. Roosevelt as postmaster general from 1933 to 1940. He was also chairman of the Democratic National Committee for those same years, making him the first person to hold both offices simultaneously. Farley resigned from the cabinet in August 1940, due to a row with the President over Roosevelt's decision to seek a third term in the White House.

Farley would continue to serve as chairman of the New York State Democratic Party (1930-1944) before leaving that post to work exclusively as head of Coca-Cola Export Corporation. James Farley died on June 9, 1976, in New York City.