John Creswell, Career as Postmaster General (American National Biography)

Brooks D. Simpson, "Creswell, John Angel James," American National Biography Online, February 2000,
In 1869 Ulysses S. Grant named Creswell postmaster general--the only Republican from a southern state in Grant's first cabinet. Creswell managed to be effective and to avoid the taint of scandal that touched some of his colleagues. He worked to make the postal service faster and less expensive, especially international mail. He reduced the cost of carrying mail by steam and rail, increased the number of mail routes and postal employees, introduced the penny postal card, and worked with Secretary of State Hamilton Fish to revise postal treaties. His willingness to attack the franking system and his advocacy of a postal telegraph sparked opposition from both congressmen and Western Union. However, he did not play a significant role in the politics of Grant's first term, maintaining a low profile in the intraparty feuds that resulted in the Liberal Republican bolt of 1872. Rather, Creswell administered his charge with an eye to promoting both efficiency and the Republican party's fortunes through the appointment of loyal party supporters as postmasters. With unwavering loyalty to the president, he supported Grant's plan to annex the Dominican Republic and advocated American intervention in Cuba. He reaffirmed his Radical credentials in supporting additional Reconstruction measures. In 1874 he was one of only two cabinet members who advised Grant to veto the so-called Inflation Bill. Leaving Grant's cabinet later that year under circumstances left unclear, Creswell served as the American counsel for the Alabama claims and supervised the closing of the Freedmen's Bank. Returning to private legal practice after December 1876, he served as president of the Citizens National Bank in Maryland. His last notable political activity was on behalf of the effort to nominate Grant for a third term in 1880. He died in Elkton, Maryland.
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