Alexander James Dallas

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Dallas, Alexander James

Dallas, Alexander James (dălˈəs), 1759–1817, U.S. secretary of the treasury (1814–16), b. Jamaica, West Indies. He went (1783) to Philadelphia, practiced law, and was secretary of state (1791–1801) and U.S. district attorney (1801–14) in Pennsylvania. Appointed secretary of the treasury by President Madison, Dallas succeeded to the office near the close of the War of 1812, when treasury affairs were in an extremely critical conditon. He pushed Congress to levy taxes heavier than any previously borne in the United States and asked for the reestablishment of the Bank of the United States. Under Dallas's administration confidence in U.S. currency was restored. After securing Madison's veto on the first bank bill, which did not suit him, Dallas largely dictated the second bill, which John C. Calhoun forced through Congress; it became law in 1816.

Bibliography

See biographies by his son George Mifflin Dallas (1871) and R. Walters, Jr. (1943, repr. 1969).

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Dallas, Alexander James

(1759–1817) lawyer, public official; born on the island of Jamaica. The son of a physician, he attended Edinburgh University, worked as a merchant clerk, returned to the West Indies, and began practicing law there. In 1783 he emigrated to the United States, settling in Philadelphia. A journalist as well as a lawyer of repute, he became U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Pennsylvania in 1801, serving 13 years. From 1814–16 he was secretary of the treasury in the Madison administration.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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