Welcome to “The list,” a new feature that will look at all things postal. In honor of Presidents Day, our inaugural edition focuses on White House figures with postal connections.
1. Abraham Lincoln. In 1833, when he was 24, Lincoln was appointed Postmaster of New Salem, IL. About $18 was left in the Post Office’s coffers when it closed in 1836, so Lincoln held onto the money. When a government agent later visited Lincoln to collect the funds, the future president, who was financially strained at the time, retrieved the money from a trunk and presented it to the agent. Despite hard times, Honest Abe never spent it.
2. Harry S. Truman. Before he occupied the White House, the 33rd president was appointed Postmaster of Grandview, MO, in 1914. However, he let Ella Hall, a widow who was raising her younger brothers and sisters, run the office and take the pay, which was about $50 a month.
3. Franklin D. Roosevelt. After dealing with one crisis after another during his record four terms, the 32nd president often relaxed with his stamp collection. An avid philatelist, FDR joined stamp clubs and promoted stamp shows.
4. Adlai Stevenson. Before Stevenson served as vice president under President Grover Cleveland, he was First Assistant Postmaster General. Stevenson’s grandson, Adlai Stevenson II, unsuccessfully ran for president twice.
5. William McKinley. Various biographies state McKinley, the 25th president, was a clerk at the Poland, OH, Post Office at the outbreak of the Civil War. If so, his postal career was brief — 17-year-old McKinley was listed in the 1860 census with no occupation, and he enlisted in the Union Army less than a year later.
The Postal History page has more information about Lincoln and Truman’s postal careers, while the National Postal Museum’s site has details about Roosevelt’s stamp collection. Got ideas for future editions of “The list”? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.