Henry Clay Payne

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For other people with the same name, see Henry Payne.
Henry Clay Payne
40th United States Postmaster General
In office
January 9, 1902 – October 4, 1904
Preceded by Charles E. Smith
Succeeded by Robert J. Wynne
Personal details
Born (1843-11-23)November 23, 1843
Ashfield, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died Script error: The function "death_date_and_age" does not exist.
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political party Republican
Profession Politician

Henry Clay Payne (November 23, 1843 – October 4, 1904) was U.S. Postmaster General from 1902 to 1904 under Pres. Theodore Roosevelt. He died in office and was buried at Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was also a chairman of the Republican National Committee.[1]


Payne was born in Ashfield, Franklin County, Massachusetts, on November 23, 1843, though his birth is sometimes listed incorrectly as September 23. He spent his youth in Massachusetts, and attempted to enlist for the Union Army, but he was rejected from service due to poor health. In 1859, he was graduated from the Academy of Shelburne Falls. In 1863, he moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he found work as a dry goods merchant.

H.C. Payne button

In 1872 he began his political career with the Young Men's Republican Club of Milwaukee County. He worked his way up to become secretary and then chairman for the organization. In 1876, Payne was appointed Postmaster of Milwaukee, a position he held for the next ten years.[2] He transferred his organizational skills to his next position as president of Wisconsin Telephone Company in 1885, and successively served as director for the First National Bank of Milwaukee and president of the Milwaukee and Northern Railroad, The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company and the Milwaukee and Cream City Traction Company. In his duties as president of Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light, Payne instituted free park concerts at many of Milwaukee's parks, including Lake Park.[3] In 1893 he was elected president of the American Street Railway Association in recognition for his service to the street railways of Milwaukee, and later in August 1893, he was appointed receiver for the bankrupt Northern Pacific Railway.[4]

He died on October 4, 1904.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Henry C. Payne Dies In His Washington Home. Postmaster General Unconscious for Hours Before the End". New York Times. October 5, 1904. Retrieved 2015-01-25. Henry C. Payne, Postmaster General of the United States, died at his apartments in the annex of the Arlington Hotel at 6:10 o'clock to-night. The cause of death was officially stated to be disease of the mitral valve and dilation of the heart. Mr. Payne had been in poor health for some years, but his last illness lasted only seven days. ...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Conard 1895, p. 297.
  3. Conard 1895, p. 303.
  4. Wisconsin Historical Society-Henry Clay Payne

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Charles E. Smith
United States Postmaster General
Served under: Theodore Roosevelt

January 9, 1902 – October 4, 1904
Succeeded by
Robert J. Wynne
Party political offices
Preceded by
Mark Hanna
Chairman of the Republican National Committee
Succeeded by
George B. Cortelyou