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Joseph Habersham (1801) - Postmaster General

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Joseph Habersham was born in Savannah, Georgia, on July 28, 1751, and attended the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), but did not graduate. A member of the initial committee created by the Friends of Liberty (1774), Habersham went on to help establish the Georgia Committee of Safety in 1775, and gained a seat on the Georgia Provincial Council. From 1776 to 1783 he served in the revolution, entering the conflict as a major in the Georgia militia and leaving as a colonel of the Continental Army.

Returning to politics in 1785 as a delegate in the Continental Congress, Habersham was a member of the Georgia constitutional convention in 1788, and served two terms as mayor of Savannah, Georgia (1792-1793). In 1795, he became U.S. postmaster general by appointment of President George Washington, a post he held until the end of President John Adams' administration in 1801.

Habersham subsequently returned home to Savannah, earning a name in the mercantile profession he had primarily practiced as a young man. In 1802, he rose to the presidency of the Georgia branch of the Bank of the United States, serving in that capacity until his death in Savannah on November 17, 1815.

Citation Information

Consulting Editor

Peter Onuf

Professor Onuf is the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor of History at the University of Virginia. His writings include:

Jefferson’s Empire: The Language of American Nationhood (University Press of Virginia, 2001)

Statehood and Union: A History of the Northwest Ordinance (Indiana University Press, 1987)

Origins of the Federal Republic: Jurisdictional Controversies in the United States, 1775–1787 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983)