Who is Albert Gallatin?
When walking through Washington, DC, one comes across many statues of famous people in American history. Some of them we know. Others we are not familiar with and Albert Gallatin was one of them. I decided to do a bit of research so others might understand why this man has a statue outside the Treasury Building just down from the White House.
Albert Gallatin was born in 1761, right around the time American was going through its turmoil and becoming a country of its own. He was not born in American at all, but in Switzerland to a wealthy family. He emigrated to the fledgling country in 1780 – our freedom won, but the new country on shaky legs as it began to formulate its rules and rights. He was strongly opposed to a strong government and was actually a founder of the Anti-Federalist party, later known as the Republican Party.
He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1795 and served there until 1801. He was constantly battling with Alexander Hamilton, who at the time was the current Secretary of the Treasury. He sponsored a law declaring the Treasury should provide an overview of its reports to Congress. He felt the treasury should be accountable to not only the government but the people as well.
Thomas Jefferson made him Secretary of Treasury in 1801 and he served in that capacity until 1813. He helped reduce the federal debt He used internal taxes to pay for the War of 1812 but it was not enough. He fought to restart the First Bank of the United States but Congress refused to agree. He finally resigned in 1814, certain financial disaster was imminent.
He was part of the peace conference between England and Russia. He was there when the Treaty of Ghent was signed in 1814.
Other facts about Albert Gallatin:
1. Graduated from University of Geneva in 1779
2. Settled in Boston in 1780
3. Served in Revolutionary War
4. Taught French at Harvard University
5. Member of Constitutional Convention in 1789
6. US Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to France 1815-1823
7. Minister Plenipotentiary to Great Britain 1826-1827
8. President of National Bank of NY
So next time you are in Washington, DC and you are walking past the first Federal Reserve Bank and see the statue, you will now know who Albert Gallatin was.