About John Milton Niles
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.
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", where he worked as an editor as well as a contributor for over thirty years. He 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 left in 1826 when elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives. Unsuccessful for reelection, he continued practing law. In 1829 he was appointed Postmaster of Hartford, serving this position until 1836.
After the demise of Whig senator Nathan Smith, Niles was elected a Democratic-Republican class one senator to fill his seat, serving from 1835 to 1839. Their, 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.
He was appointed United States Postmaster General by President Martin Van Buren in 1840, serving until the end of the administration in 1841. 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. He served until 1849 and declined for reelection. Associating with the Free Soil Party campaign of his friend Van Buren in 1848, he became their candidate for governor in 1849.
Niles spent some time in Europe from 1851 to 1852 and in his latter years pursued in horticulture. He 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. Appointed as Connecticut's member on the original Republican National Committee in February 1856, he died in Hartford on May 30, 1856 and was interned in town at Old North Cemetery.
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)