He acted as one of the campaign managers for presidential candidate James K. Polk at both the Democratic party convention and for the general election. After his victory Polk appointed him United States Postmaster General, a post in which he served from 1845–1849. He was born in Robertson County, Tennessee, and died in Clarksville, Tennessee.
During his tenure at United States Postmaster General he shifted the postal service from a collect on delivery postage delivery system to a prepaid postal delivery system by introducing the postage stamp in 1847. He is also credited with introducing street corner mail boxes in urban areas. He later served as president of the Bank of Tennessee from 1854 to 1860.