John Milton Niles (August 20, 1787 – May 31, 1856) was a lawyer, editor, author and politician from Connecticut, serving in the United States Senate and as United States Postmaster General 1840 to 1841.

John M. Niles
United States Senator
from Connecticut
In office
March 4, 1843 – March 3, 1849
Preceded byPerry Smith
Succeeded byTruman Smith
In office
December 21, 1835 – March 3, 1839
Preceded byNathan Smith
Succeeded byThaddeus Betts
9th United States Postmaster General
In office
May 19, 1840 – March 4, 1841
PresidentMartin Van Buren
Preceded byAmos Kendall
Succeeded byFrancis Granger
Personal details
John Milton Niles

(1787-08-20)August 20, 1787
Windsor, Connecticut, U.S.
DiedMay 31, 1856(1856-05-31) (aged 68)
Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic-Republican (Before 1825)
Democratic (1828– 1848)
Free Soil (1848–1854)
Republican (1854–1856)
Spouse(s)Sarah Robinson
Jane Pratt

Biography edit

Born in Windsor, Connecticut, Niles received a common school education and studied law. He was admitted to the bar in 1817 and practiced in Hartford, Connecticut. There, he also established a newspaper, the "Hartford Weekly Times", in 1817, where he worked as an editor as well as a contributor for over thirty years. He published two other papers, the Gazatteer of Connecticut and Rhode Island, and The Independent Whig.[1] He married Sarah Robinson on June 17, 1824. After her death on November 23, 1824, he married Jane Pratt on November 26, 1845.

Career edit

Niles became active in Democratic Party politics and a supporter of states-rights doctrines. In 1820 he was appointed an associate judge in the Hartford County Court, but didn't start until 1821. He served until 1826 when he was elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives. Unsuccessful for reelection, he continued practicing law. In 1829 he was appointed Postmaster of Hartford, serving this position until 1836. He failed to be elected to an at-large Connecticut Representative seat.

After the demise of Whig senator Nathan Smith, Niles was elected as a class one senator to fill his seat, serving from 1835 to 1839.[2] There, he served as chairman of the Committee on Manufactures in the 24th and 25th congresses. He was not a candidate for reelection. In 1839 and in 1840 he was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Governor of Connecticut, losing to William W. Ellsworth.

Appointed United States Postmaster General by President Martin Van Buren in 1840, Niles served until the end of the administration in 1841. As Postmaster General he ended delivery of mail on Sunday. He returned to the Senate as a class three senator in 1844. He was actually elected in 1842 and was to start in 1843, but ill health and a credentials challenge kept him out until the next year. When he was a US Senator, in 1845, he cast the deciding vote admitting Texas to the Union as a slave state, though he was against slavery.[3] He served from March 4, 1843, to March 3, 1849, and declined for reelection.[4] Associating with the Free Soil Party campaign of his friend Van Buren in 1848, he became their candidate for governor in 1849. He spent some time in Europe from 1851 to 1852.

Death edit

In his later years, Niles pursued horticulture. He had no children and bequeathed his library to the Connecticut Historical Society and left $70,000 in trust to the city of Hartford as a charity fund, the income of which he directed to be annually distributed to the poor. He was Connecticut's member on the original Republican National Committee in February 1856.

Niles died in Hartford on May 30, 1856, at the age of 68 and is interred in the city's Old North Cemetery [5]

Published works edit

Niles' Map of Mexico and the Republic of Texas, 1838
  • The Life of Oliver Hazard Perry (1820)
  • The Connecticut Civil Officer (1823)
  • A View of South America and Mexico, Comprising Their History, the Political Condition, Geography, Agriculture, Commerce, & c. of the Republics of Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Peru, the United Provinces of South America and Chile, with a Complete History of the Revolution, in Each of These Independent States (two volumes, 1826)
  • History of South America and Mexico: Comprising Their Discovery, Geography, Politics, Commerce and Revolutions (two volumes, 1838)

References edit

  1. ^ "John Milton Niles". Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved January 12, 2013.
  2. ^ "John Milton Niles". Govtrack US Congress. Retrieved January 12, 2013.
  3. ^ "John Milton Niles". Retrieved January 12, 2013.
  4. ^ "John Milton Niles". Govtrack US Congress. Retrieved January 12, 2013.
  5. ^ "John Milton Niles". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved January 12, 2013.

External links edit

U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Connecticut
Served alongside: Gideon Tomlinson, Perry Smith
Succeeded by
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Connecticut
Served alongside: Jabez W. Huntington, Roger Baldwin
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Senate Post Office Committee
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of Connecticut
1839, 1840
Succeeded by
Francis H. Nicoll
First Free Soil nominee for Governor of Connecticut
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by United States Postmaster General
Succeeded by