back to top

MIKE KEELER: The Man Behind The President

Mike Keeler

This is a story of a populist President, political favors, fake news and the United States Postal Service. The year is 1835.

Most of us know a bit about Andrew Jackson: war hero, Indian fighter, tough frontiersman (who may have married his wife before she’d divorced her first husband), slave owner, wealthy landholder, founding father of the Democrats, and the 7th President of the United States. He was hated by his enemies, revered by the public, and considered a bit of a goon by everyone.

However, you may not know much about Jackson’s not-so-secret weapon, a man named Amos Kendall. He was an academic who left his native Massachusetts to become tutor to the children of Henry Clay, the Kentucky Congressman and Speaker of the House. From there he became a lawyer, befriended many of the state’s powerful politicians, and was editor and owner of the Georgetown Patriot newspaper. He later moved to the capital of Frankfort, where he ran the influential paper Argus of Western America.

Upon Jackson’s election in 1828, Kendall was appointed Auditor of the Treasury, and he helped Jackson’s supporters take over the Washington Globe. Using that newspaper as Jackson’s unofficial mouthpiece, Kendall transformed Jackson’s rough ideas into persuasive intellectual arguments, which helped polish Jackson’s image. Kendall wrote many of Jackson’s speeches and messages to Congress, including his famous veto of the renewal of the charter of the Second Bank of the United States. Kendall’s control of Jackson’s communications was so complete that John Quincy Adams – Jackson’s bitter rival – later wrote that President Jackson was “for twelve years the tool of Amos Kendall, the ruling mind of the dominion.”

Kendall was a member of Jackson’s cabinet – both before and after the purging of that cabinet as part of the famously-comically-named Petticoat Affair – and he also helped position Jackson’s hand-picked successor Martin Van Buren for the next election. In 1935 – 18 months out from election day – Kendall was appointed Postmaster General. Ostensibly appointed to root out corruption, Kendall manipulated service so that pro-Jackson western markets and newspapers received more punctual deliveries than eastern ones. He also supported southern postmasters in their efforts to seize and destroy abolitionist literature instead of delivering it. Van Buren won the election in a landslide, securing Jackson’s legacy.

Kendall later wrote most of Jackson’s official biography. But then his past started to catch up with him. He was successfully sued multiple times for his manipulation of the Post Office; one case went all the way to the Supreme Court. His finances suffered and he had to sell his family home.

But then, as a well-connected man, Kendall enjoyed one last twist in his communications career. He became the business manager for a guy named Samuel Morse, which got him in on the ground floor of a new technology called the telegraph. He became wealthy indeed, enough to found Gallaudet University for the deaf, and fund construction of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington.

And so, in the end, he got away with it. Amos Kendall – public relations and policy guru to Andrew Jackson and evil manipulator of the Postal Service – died in his mansion in Washington on November 12, 1869, aged 80. And that’s the truth.

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Related Articles