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The secret federal careers of four famous people

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Federal employees have taken a lot of heat over the last few years. They are called overpaid and underworked. The fight over their pay and benefits has been well documented. But some famous people have had not so famous careers within the federal government. Here are a few.

4. Abraham Lincoln

Yes, yes, I know he was a member of Congress and one of our most famous presidents. But did you also know he was the Postmaster in New Salem, Ill, for almost three years? He became postmaster on May 7, 1833 and lost the position when the post office was relocated May 30, 1836. How did Lincoln get the gig? Well the Park Service says that its uncertain, but might have had something to do with the conduct of the former postmaster.

The women of New Salem were irritated when Samuel Hill, the former postmaster, spent more time serving the men whisky instead of taking care of postal duties. As postmaster, Lincoln was always willing to please customers and would go out of his way to do so.

Abraham Lincoln: Come for the salvation of the country and pick up your mail on the way out.

3. Walt Whitman

All right. Walt Whitman was a famous poet, and many of us read at least some of his work in high school. In fact, there are at least a few schools named after him. But once again, it seems like Whitman had to make ends meet by working for the federal government.

According to the National Archives:

Whitman lived in Washington, DC, for a decade from 1863-1873… To support himself and to help fund his work aiding soldiers, Whitman secured low-level government work–functioning mainly as a clerk, spending much of his time as a scribe or copyist. He worked in the Army Paymaster’s office, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Attorney General’s office.

2. Walt Disney

Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck and others. Walt Disney created a gigantic media empire that spans the gambit of amusement parks, new stations and even ESPN. He won dozens of Oscars (animated shorts category) and his empire was so powerful, it literally spun off other famous people. Just the Mickey Mouse Club alone helped give rise to Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.

But before all that, Walt Disney was a substitute mail carrier in Chicago, Ill.

I would use a picture here, but for copyright purposes I will let you imagine a Disney picture of some sort.

1. Dr. Seuss

Ok. So we are down to No. 1, and who can possibly top everyone else on the list? Well, Theodor Seuss Geisel at least comes close. He brought us the Cat in the Hat and The Lorax, and dozens more. His work is so well known that you can call someone a Grinch and they will know exactly what you mean. His works have been translated into more than 15 languages and has sold more than 200 million copies.

They are still making movies based off of his work.

But Dr. Seuss was employed by the Treasury Department in 1942 to make illustrations for the war effort. He joined the Army in 1943.

Note: I did not add Julia Child to the list because her federal career as a spy is very well known.  Or at least not a big secret anymore.

But if anyone else knows of more secret federal careers of more famous people, just add them into the comments.

Comments

  1. Jeanne Kennedy Says:
    January 9th, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    You forgot the singer John Prine; he was a mail carrier for a while. He wasn’t as famous as the others but he had some big hits like “You Can See Me Tonight With An Illegal Smile.”

  2. Jessica N Says:
    January 10th, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa -Cooking show) work for the White House for OMB.