Difference between revisions of "Albert Gallatin"

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'''Abraham Alfonse Albert Gallatin''' (January 29, 1761 – August 12, 1849) was a Swiss-American [[politician]], [[diplomat]], [[ethnologist]] and [[linguistics|linguist]]. He served as a [[United States Representative|Congressman]], [[United States Senate|Senator]], [[United States Ambassador]] and was the longest-serving [[United States Secretary of the Treasury]]. In 1831, he helped found the University of the City of New York, now [[New York University]].
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'''Abraham Alfonse Albert Gallatin''' (January 29, 1761 – August 12, 1849)  
 
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Born in [[Geneva]] in present-day [[Switzerland]], Gallatin immigrated to America in the 1780s and was naturalized in [[Morgantown, Virginia]]. He ultimately settled in [[Pennsylvania]]. He was politically active against the [[Federalist Party]] program, and was elected to the [[United States Senate]] in 1793. However, he was removed from office by a 14–12 party-line vote after a protest raised by his opponents suggested he did not meet the required nine years of citizenship.
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Two years later, he was elected to the [[United States House of Representatives|House of Representatives]] and served in the fourth through sixth Congresses. He was an important member of the new [[Democratic-Republican Party]], its chief spokesman on financial matters, and led opposition to many of the policy proposals of Treasury Secretary [[Alexander Hamilton]]. He also helped found the House Committee on Finance (later the [[U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means|Ways and Means Committee]]) and often engineered withholding of finances by the House as a method of overriding executive actions to which he objected.
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Gallatin's mastery of public finance, an ability rare among members of the Jeffersonian party, led to his choice as Secretary of the Treasury by Thomas Jefferson despite Federalist attacks that he was a "foreigner" with a French accent. He was secretary from 1801 until February 1814 under presidents [[Thomas Jefferson]] and [[James Madison]], the longest tenure of this office in American history.
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Declining another term at the Treasury, from 1816 to 1823 Gallatin served as [[United States Minister]] to France, struggling with scant success to improve relations with the government during the [[Bourbon Restoration]].
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Gallatin returned to America and in the [[United States presidential election, 1824|election of 1824]] was nominated for Vice President by the Democratic-Republican [[Congressional nominating caucus|Congressional caucus]] that had chosen [[William H. Crawford]] as its Presidential candidate. Gallatin never wanted the role and was humiliated when he was forced to withdraw from the race because he lacked popular support.
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In 1826 and 1827, he served as [[United States Minister]] to Great Britain and negotiated several useful agreements, such as a ten-year extension of the joint occupation of Oregon.
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Gallatin then settled in New York City, where he helped found [[New York University]] in 1831, in order to offer university education to the working and merchant classes as well as the wealthy. He became president of the [[Gallatin Bank Building|National Bank]] in New York City from 1831 until 1839.
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His last great endeavor was founding the [[American Ethnological Society]] in 1842 and serving as its president until 1848. With his studies of the languages of Native Americans, he has been called "the father of American ethnology."
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At his death in 1849, Gallatin was the last surviving member of the Jefferson Cabinet and the last surviving Senator from the 18th century.
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==Early life==
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Gallatin was born in [[Geneva]], [[Switzerland]], to wealthy Jean Gallatin and his wife, Sophie Albertine Rollaz.<ref>{{cite book | last=Stevens | first=John Austin | title=Albert Gallatin | publisher= [[Houghton, Mifflin and Company|Houghton Mifflin]] | location= Boston| year = 1888|isbn= |edition= 6| pages=1 }}</ref> Gallatin's family had great influence in Switzerland, and many family members held distinguished positions in the magistracy, military, and in Swiss delegations in foreign armies. Gallatin's father, a prosperous merchant, died in 1765, followed by his mother in April 1770. Now orphaned, Gallatin was taken into the care of Mademoiselle Pictet, a family friend and distant relative of Gallatin's father. In January 1773, Gallatin was sent to boarding school.<ref>Stevens (1888), p2.</ref>
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As a student at the elite [[University of Geneva|Academy of Geneva]], Gallatin read deeply in philosophy of [[Jean-Jacques Rousseau]] and Voltaire, along with the French [[Physiocrats]]; he became dissatisfied with the traditionalism of Geneva. A student of the [[Age of Enlightenment|Enlightenment]], he believed in human nature and that when free from social restrictions, it would display noble qualities and greater results, in both the physical and the moral world. The democratic spirit of the United States attracted him and he decided to emigrate.<ref>Henry Adams, ''Life of Albert Gallatin'' (1879) p. 16</ref>
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In April 1780, he secretly left Geneva with his classmate Henri Serre.  Carrying letters of recommendation from eminent Colonials (including [[Benjamin Franklin]]) that the Gallatin family procured, the young men left France in May, sailing on an American ship, "the Kattie".  They reached [[Cape Ann]] on July 14 and arrived in [[Boston]] the next day, traveling the intervening thirty miles by horseback.<ref>Stevens (1888), pp. 11–12.</ref>
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===American travels===
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Bored with monotonous Bostonian life, the men set sail with a Swiss female companion, to the settlement of [[Machias, Maine|Machias]], located on the northeastern tip of the [[Maine]] frontier. At Machias, Gallatin operated a bartering venture, in which he dealt with a variety of goods and supplies. He enjoyed the simple life and the natural environment surrounding him.<ref name=Stevens-16>Stevens (1888), p16.</ref> During the winter of 1780–81 Gallatin served in the defense of his new country and even commanded a garrison in Maine for a time.<ref name=Stevens-16/> Gallatin and Serre returned to Boston in October 1781, after abandoning their bartering venture in Machias. Gallatin supported himself by giving French language lessons. Soon afterward, he sent a letter to Mademoiselle Pictet, offering a frank account of the troubles he was having in America. Pictet sensed this would be the case, and she had already contacted [[Samuel Cooper (clergyman)|Dr. Samuel Cooper]], a distinguished Bostonian patriot, whose grandson was a student in Geneva. With Cooper's influence, Gallatin was able to secure a faculty position in July 1782 at [[Harvard University|Harvard College]], where he taught French.
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===Pennsylvania===
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[[File:Alby Gallatin.JPG|thumb|[[Friendship Hill National Historic Site|Albert Gallatin House; Friendship Hill National Historic Site]]]]
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Gallatin used his early salary to purchase {{convert|370|acre|km2}} of land in [[Fayette County, Pennsylvania]], near [[Point Marion, Pennsylvania|Point Marion]] south of [[Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania|Pittsburgh]] which he thought well suited for farming and as a staging area for selling land and goods. Gallatin honored his friends by naming the new property [[Friendship Hill]].<ref>[http://www.nps.gov/frhi/ Friendship Hill National Historic Site], National Park Service (nps.gov)</ref> He moved there in 1784.<ref>At the time of the purchase, his land was originally a part of [[Virginia]], but it became part of Pennsylvania soon afterward.</ref> In the spring of 1789, Gallatin eloped with Sophia Allegre, the attractive daughter of his landlady, who disapproved of him. She unfortunately died of unknown causes 5 months after their marriage. Possible causes of death could be complications of childbirth, or the common cold. Medical technology during the late 18th century was almost non existent. He was in mourning for a number of years and seriously considered returning to Geneva. However, on November 1, 1793, he married Hannah Nicholson, daughter of the well-connected Commodore [[James Nicholson (naval officer)|James Nicholson]]. They had two sons and four daughters: Catherine, Sophia, Hannah Marie, Frances, James, and Albert Rolaz Gallatin. Catherine, Sophia and Hannah Marie all died as infants.
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In 1794, Gallatin was hearing rumors of mass exodus of Europeans fleeing the [[French Revolution]]. An idea struck his fancy: perhaps he should develop a settlement for these emigrants. Throughout the spring and summer of 1795 Gallatin pondered, planned and finally selected Wilson's Port, a small river town located one mile (1.6&nbsp;km) north of his Friendship Hill. Collecting four other investors, three of them also Swiss, Gallatin had the partnership incorporated as Albert Gallatin & Company. Together they purchased Wilson's Port, Georgetown and vacant lots across the river in [[Greensboro, Pennsylvania|Greensboro]]. The partners named their new settlement [[New Geneva Bridge|New Geneva]]. With a company store, glassworks, gun factory, [[sawmill]], [[gristmill]], winery, distillery, and a boat yard along Georges Creek, the partners awaited the rush of settlers. The only successful industry of Gallatin's was the [[New Geneva Glass Works|glassworks]].
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An improved European situation and mild economic recession in 1796–1797 did not bring the expected wealth to the Gallatin partnership. As Gallatin struggled with the Federalists in the Congress, his partners happened upon six German glassblowers traveling to [[Kentucky]]. Convinced that glass would revive their sagging investment, the partners asked the Germans to set up shop in New Geneva. Gallatin was appalled with the idea, and considered it to be a gamble. Nonetheless, production of glass began on January 18, 1798. [[Flat glass|Window glass]], whiskey bottles, and other hollow ware were produced. This was the first glass blown west of the [[Alleghenies]].
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The glass business was not without its problems. Poor initial profits, material shortages and a labor "insurrection" combined to make Gallatin believe that the glass industry should be abandoned. By 1800, though, the business had made a turnaround. With the availability of coal across the river, the glass works were moved to Greensboro in 1807. Later in 1816 Gallatin would call the glassworks his most "productive property".
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Another industry to make its appearance at the New Geneva complex was the manufacture of [[muskets]]. In 1797 a crisis with [[France]] had flared into an [[Quasi-War|undeclared war]]. The [[Commonwealth of Pennsylvania]] called out to its militia, only to find a shortage of muskets, [[bayonets]] and cartridge boxes. Contracts were awarded to private manufacturers to produce 12,000 stands of arms.
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Seeing an opportunity to relieve festering debts from the land and glass businesses, the western partners sought Gallatin's advice and political pull in the state government to acquire an arms contract. Initially against the idea, the mounting debts forced Gallatin to reconsider. He signed a contract in January 1799 to produce 2000 muskets with bayonets. The Gallatin partners subcontracted Melchior Baker of [[Haydentown]] to make the muskets. Lack of skilled labor and quality steel supported by poor management plagued the business. By April 1801, only 600 muskets had been delivered, fifteen months behind schedule. Seeing only complete financial ruin if he remained in the agreement, Gallatin transferred all contractual obligations to Melchior Baker and Abraham Stewart.
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During his fifth year as Minister to France, Albert Gallatin longed for retirement to Friendship Hill. Hoping to live off the profits of the glass business, Gallatin made substantial improvements to the house and grounds. It was not a happy homecoming. The economic "Panic of 1819" caught up with the glass business and forced its closure in 1821. While "contented to live and die amongst the Monongahela hills" Gallatin sold his beloved Friendship Hill and other western holdings at great financial loss.
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==Political career==
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[[File:Albert Gallatin.jpg|left|thumb|[[Daguerreotype]] of Albert Gallatin, original probably by Anthony, Edwards & Co.]]
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Almost immediately, Gallatin became active in Pennsylvania politics; he was a member of the [[Pennsylvania Constitution|state constitutional convention]] in 1789, and was elected to the [[Pennsylvania General Assembly]] in 1790.
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Latest revision as of 09:54, 12 November 2015


Abraham Alfonse Albert Gallatin (January 29, 1761 – August 12, 1849)