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Greenfield Postmasters

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Until 1959, postmasters in the United States got the job as presidential political appointees. Associated salaries were a way for politicians to reward loyal followers. Thomas Dickman was Greenfield, Massachusetts', first postmaster.Dickman was also the first editor of the Greenfield Gazette (then known as The Impartial Intelligencer), founded 1791. A Federalist, Dickman was a strongly supported of the Washington administration. As a reward, in 1792 he was appointed postmaster. When Thomas Jefferson, a Democratic-Republican, was elected in 1802, his administration chose the blacksmith Ambrose Ames, a supporter, to replace Dickman as postmaster. Federalists were outraged, but powerless to stop it. The Federalists never won the presidency again. Ames served until the Whig William Henry Harrison won the presidency in 1840. In 1842, Richardson Hall (here, "Richard") was appointed, serving until the Democrat John Tyler became president in 1846. Each succeeding postmaster served until his supporting party lost the presidency or until they retired: Lewis Merriam, Republican, 1862-1882; H.F. Hamilton, also a Republican, 1882-86; Charles Keith, Democrat, 1886-1890; Anson Wilbey, also a Democrat, 1890-1894; Frederick E. Pierce, Republican, 1894-1914. The pattern continued until 1959, when postmasters became subject to Civil Service exams and rules.


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