Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Marshall Jewell (1874–1876): Postmaster General

Marshall Jewell was born in 1825 in Winchester, New Hampshire. After working as an apprentice tanner, he turned his attention to the field of telegraphy and ultimately became involved in constructing telegraph lines.

In 1850, Jewell took over his father’s tanning business in Connecticut and accrued substantial wealth during the Civil War -- a time when the price of leather increased dramatically. He became a wealthy merchant, purchased a share of the Hartford Evening Post, and served as president of the Jewell Pin Company and the Southern New England Telephone Company.

In 1867, Jewell lost his bid for a seat in the Connecticut state senate and, in 1868, failed to secure a win in his gubernatorial election. A Republican, Jewell was more successful in his gubernatorial efforts in 1869 and won reelection in 1870 and again in both 1871 and 1872.

Jewell accepted President Ulysses S. Grant’s offer to become U.S. minister to Russia, where he served from 1873 to 1874, when Grant tapped him to become postmaster general. Jewell served as postmaster from 1874 until he resigned in 1876 amidst pressure from Republicans who did not like his penchant for following the rules and for pursuing reform. Marshall Jewell served as chairman of the Republican National Convention in 1880 and died in 1883.