Minnie M. Cox was the First Black Postmistress in 1890s Mississippi

Liz Jin
History of Women
Published in
5 min readJun 18, 2024

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When angry white folks threatened her position, President Theodore Roosevelt suspended the local post office rather than accept her resignation.

Minnie M. Cox was an educator and wealthy landowner before she was appointed postmistress of the U.S. Postal Service; image source.

From the insufferably long lines to the less-than-stellar customer service, the U.S. Postal Service isn’t exactly known as the happiest place on earth (ever heard of the term “going postal”?).

Still, I have nothing but reverence for the Postal Service. Call me old-fashioned, but I find it incredible that, for a mere sixty-eight cents, you can mail a letter to anyone in the entire country.

In the late 1890s, American citizens shared my deference for the Postal Service. At the time, the postmaster could only be appointed by the President. Even today, the Postal Service is one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by the United States Constitution.

In other words, the postal service is kind of a big deal.

When President Benjamin Harrison appointed Minnie M. (Geddings) Cox, a highly qualified black woman, as postmistress in 1891, he had no idea that racism and petty jealousy would cause her to become embroiled in a scandal known as the “Indianola Affair.”

Minnie and her husband were the epitome of success and excellence.

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Liz Jin
History of Women

“I wake up in the morning with a desire to both save the world and savor the world. That makes it hard to plan my day.”