Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Return J. Meigs Jr. (1814–1817): Postmaster General

Return Meigs was born in Middletown, Connecticut, on November 17, 1764, and graduated from Yale University. He began his public service career in 1798 as a territorial judge in what would later become the state of Ohio. Possessing a strong background in law, including the operation of his own law practice in Ohio territory since 1785, Meigs served as chief justice of the Ohio State Supreme Court from 1803 to 1804.

He took on another judicial task in 1805, serving as judge of the Supreme Court of Louisiana until 1806, and accepted the additional appointment as commander of the militia of Lousiana's St. Charles district (1804-1806). Meigs would subsequently leave Louisiana at the behest of President Thomas Jefferson in order to serve as judge of the United States District Court for the Territory of Michigan (1807-1808). He returned to Ohio in 1808 and served as a U.S. senator until 1810, his first legislative duty since participating in Ohio's territorial legislature in 1799.

Meigs became governor of Ohio in 1810 and held that office until 1814, when President James Madison named him U.S. postmaster general. He remained in that position for ten years under Presidents Madison and James Monroe, resigning from duty due to poor health in 1823. Return Meigs died in Marietta, Ohio, on March 29, 1824.