Gallatin, Albert

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Gallatin, Albert

(găl`ətĭn), 1761–1849, American financier and public official, b. Geneva, Switzerland. Left an orphan at nine, Gallatin was reared by his patrician relatives and had an excellent education. He emigrated to the United States in 1780 and later settled (1784) in W Pennsylvania. A member of the Pennsylvania constitutional convention in 1789–90, he also served in the state legislature from 1790 to 1792. Although elected U.S. Senator in 1793, he was deprived (1794) of his office by the Federalist-controlled Senate, which claimed he had not been a citizen long enough to hold a seat. Returning to Pennsylvania, his statesmanlike efforts helped restrain the Western farmers in the Whiskey RebellionWhiskey Rebellion,
1794, uprising in the Pennsylvania counties W of the Alleghenies, caused by Alexander Hamilton's excise tax of 1791. The settlers, mainly Scotch-Irish, for whom whiskey was an important economic commodity, resented the tax as discriminatory and detrimental to
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 (1794), although Gallatin himself opposed the tax on whiskey. As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1795–1801), Gallatin became a recognized leader of the Republican (Jeffersonian) minority and was active in advocating financial reform and in opposing war with France. His demand that the Treasury Dept. be accountable to Congress led to the creation of a standing committee on finance in the House (later the Ways and Means Committee). Subsequently secretary of the treasury under President Jefferson, Gallatin undertook to change aspects of the country's financial policy from Federalist to Jeffersonian principles, and he reduced the country's debt despite the war against the Barbary States and the Louisiana Purchase. Continuing in office under President Madison, he helped to curtail appropriations for the armed forces and opposed the war hawks prior to the War of 1812 because he believed that federal money should go toward realizing the democratic vision of a broadly expanding internal economy. His fiscal accomplishments were virtually destroyed by the Embargo Act of 1807 and the War of 1812. Gallatin left the Treasury Dept. to undertake a diplomatic mission in 1813. He was a key figure in negotiating the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the war with Great Britain. He later served as minister to France (1816–23) and to Great Britain (1826–27). Greatly interested in the Native Americans, Gallatin wrote papers on them and was responsible for founding the American Ethnological Society in 1842. Gallatin's eclectic financial policies—although a Jeffersonian he was a supporter of the Bank of the United States—have been widely praised by conservatives and liberals alike; he was one of the most brilliant and successful of Jeffersonian statesmen.


See biographies by R. Walters, Jr. (1957, repr. 1969), F. E. Ewing (1959), and N. Dungan (2010).

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Gallatin, (Abraham Alfonse) Albert

(1761–1849) financier, diplomat, political leader, ethnographer; born in Geneva, Switzerland. Of noble birth and inspired by Rousseauian idealism, he arrived in America at the age of 19. After teaching French at Harvard and working as a trader and land speculator, he settled on the Pennsylvania frontier and entered public life. He was elected to the U.S. Senate (1793–94) and served in the House of Representatives (Dem.-Rep., Penn.; 1795–1801). A leader among Jeffersonian Republicans and with rare mastery of public finance, he served Presidents Jefferson and Madison as secretary of the treasury (1801–14) and worked hard to retire the public debt. In 1814 his Treaty of Ghent laid the basis for permanent peace with England. He then served as minister to France (1816–23) and minister to England. He was an expert on American Indian and Indian languages, was author of important ethnographic works, was president of the National Bank of New York, and was a cofounder of New York University.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
A BOLD SPECULATOR Jefferson's Treasure: How Albert Gallatin Saved the New Nation from Debt, by Gregory May.
American negotiator Albert Gallatin wrote President James Madison, informing him that the British "mean to inflict on America a chastisement that will teach her that war is not to be declared against Great Britain with impunity." He added that it was his understanding that a huge British invasion force was on its way across the Atlantic.
Du Ponceau shared this interest through correspondence with Albert Gallatin (1761-1849), an ethnographer, linguist, and President Thomas Jefferson's Secretary of the Treasury.
Covering such pioneers in the field as Albert Gallatin, Peter Stephen Du Ponceau, Alexander von Humboldt, and John Heckewelder, Gunn demonstrates that "the emergence of comparative philology represents a key moment of disciplinary consolidation for the research practices of ethnology in North America in the 1810s and 1820s" (42).
Williams's critics, including Albert Gallatin Ellis, his outspoken former protege, described him as a liar and crook only interested in lining his own pockets.
More than a decade earlier, for example, he vehemently fought the original Bank charter, recommending that George Washington veto the bill, as "[t]he negative of the President is the shield provided by the constitution." (8) Moreover, two years into his own administration, Jefferson suggested to Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin that they should attempt to prevent the Bank from obtaining an "exclusive monopoly" of the government's deposits.
(I)t establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of." Albert Gallatin to Alexander Addison, October 7, 1789, manuscript in New York Historical Society, Albert Gallatin Papers, 2.
For example, budgets should use clear accounting, an idea going back to Jefferson's Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin. Also, wars should be partly funded by current taxes, not just by debt.
Among those interred at the downtown site, occupied by Trinity Church since 1698, are Alexander Hamilton, William Bradford, Robert Fulton, Captain James Lawrence and Albert Gallatin.
Part 1 is devoted to Alexander Hamilton, who was born in the Danish West Indies, while part 2 profiles Albert Gallatin, a native of Geneva who was secretary of the treasury under presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.
Croix in the Caribbean; Albert Gallatin, born in Geneva, Switzerland; George W.