Albert Gallatin

(1761-1849)

Early Career

Albert Gallatin , was born in Geneva, Switzerland, on January 29, 1761, to an ancient family. His father died when he was two years old, and his mother followed seven years later. Albert was placed in the care of a relative, from whom he received his early education. In 1773, he was sent to boarding school, entering the University of Geneva a year later. Albert graduated from the university in 1779, with first rank in mathematics, natural philosophy and Latin translation.

In 1786 Albert bought a 400-acre farm in western Pennsylvania and devoted himself to farming and land development. But his training and talents were unusual on the frontier, and he quickly became a political leader...In 1789 he attended the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention. He was elected to the Pennsylvania Legislature in 1790 and reelected the next 2 years. Quickly establishing a reputation for hard work and integrity, Albert became a skillful and logical guy. Gallatin was named to head the Treasury Department. He held this position longer than had any other secretary of the Treasury, serving from 1801 to 1814.

Late Career

Settling in New York, Gallatin served as president of the National Bank from 1831 until his retirement in 1839. He unsuccessfully supported renewal of the charter of the Second Bank of the United States, but he was obtaining the resumption of payments after their suspension following the economic panic of 1837. Although he criticized high tariffs and advocated free trade, he affirmed Congress's right to levy protective tariffs.

In his last years Gallatin was prominent in cultural affairs. He became president of New York University's council in 1830. In 1836 he was elected to the American Antiquarian Society, and in 1843 he headed the New York Historical Society. However, he devoted most of his attention to the ethnology of the American Indian and founded the American Ethnological Society in 1842.

In 1789 Gallatin had married Sophia Allegre, who died 5 months later. He married Hannah Nicholson in 1793, and they had two sons and three daughters. Gallatin died on Aug. 13, 1849.