Colonel William A. Phillips

For other people with the same name, see Henry Payne.

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 . 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 . 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 in 1885, and successively served as director for the and president of the , The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company and the . 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 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. ^ a b "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. ...
  2. ^ Conard 1895, p. 297.
  3. ^ Conard 1895, p. 303.
  4. ^ Wisconsin Historical Society-Henry Clay Payne

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Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Smith
United States Postmaster General
Succeeded by
Robert Wynne
Party political offices
Preceded by
Mark Hanna
Chair of the Republican National Committee

Succeeded by
George B. Cortelyou