Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

John M. Niles (1840–1841): Postmaster General

John Milton Niles was born August 20, 1787, in Poquonnock, Connecticut. Niles studied law privately and was admitted to the Hartford bar in 1817, founding the Hartford Times that same year. He published two other papers, the Gazatteer of Connecticut and Rhode Island, and The Independent Whig. Niles served as a judge in Hartford County from 1821 to 1829, during which time he also ran unsuccessfully for the state legislature.

Niles was appointed postmaster of Hartford in 1829, and U.S. Senator by Connecticut governor Samuel Foot in 1835. Niles was reelected to the Senate, serving until 1839, but ran unsuccessfully for the Connecticut governor's office in 1833 and 1840. President Martin Van Buren appointed him postmaster general in 1840, and Niles remained in that post into the following year. Thereafter, Niles returned to the Senate, serving from 1843 to 1849. John Niles traveled extensively through Europe before his death in Hartford on May 31, 1856.