Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

James A. Gary (1897–1898): Postmaster General

Resembling a businessman more than a politician, James Albert Gary struck an imposing figure. Born in Connecticut, Gary was a lifelong Republican. He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1870, but he stayed in the political arena by serving, for twenty-four years, as a delegate to the Republican National Convention. Gary also ran unsuccessfully in 1880 for the governorship of Maryland, a heavily Democratic state at the time.

Following William McKinley's election as President in 1896, Gary accepted an offer to become postmaster general. Nominated and confirmed on the same day -- March 5, 1897 -- Gary would serve for just over a year. He resigned his post on April 18, 1898, due to both health reasons and opposition to impending hostilities with Spain. Gary's tenure as postmaster general was unremarkable, remembered best for a 1897 proposal to create a postal savings system. Gary died on October 31, 1920.