Saturday, July 30, 2011
Return Jonathan Meigs Jr. (1764-1825)
A prominent figure in Ohio politics on both the state and national levels, Return J. Meigs also served as an army officer, attorney and jurist (in three different territories!)
Meigs was originally born in Middletown, Connecticut on November 17, 1764. His father, Return Meigs Sr. served with distinction during the Revolutionary War and was also a pioneer in the founding of what is now that state of Ohio.
Return Meigs Jr. graduated from Yale University in 1785 and in 1788 moved to what is now Marietta, Ohio. Within a few years of settling there, Meigs was named to a judgeship in that territory and in 1799 was elected to the territorial legislature.
While in the legislature, Meigs was a fervent advocate for Ohio gaining statehood, and in 1803 it became the 17th state. That same year he was appointed as Chief Justice of the Ohio State Supreme Court and served in this office until 1804, when he resigned. After his resignation, Meigs journeyed to the newly acquired Louisiana Territory to accept a judgeship.
Within a year of that appointment, Meigs removed again, this time to the Michigan Territory to serve on its District Court. He returned to Ohio in 1807 and the next year was appointed to the U.S. Senate. He resigned his senate seat in 1810 to run for Governor of Ohio and was elected. He was re-elected in 1812 and served until 1814, when President James Madison named him as his Postmaster General.
Meigs during his cabinet service, ca. 1814-1823.
Meigs was one of the longest tenured postmasters general in cabinet history, serving nine years in that office (only Francis Granger, who served 13 years in the post, served longer.) During his tenure Meigs nearly doubled the number of post offices in the United States. He continued his service into the administration of President James Monroe and retired because of health concerns in 1823.
Meigs returned to his native city of Marietta, Ohio after leaving Washington and died there on March 29, 1825 at age 60.