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Alexander Dallas

Lawyer, Secretary of the Treasury, U.S. Bank System Reformer

Alexander James Dallas was one of the most influential figures in government in the early difficult days of the young American nation. He served as secretary of the treasury in the Madison cabinet. ■ Dallas was born June 21, 1759, on the West Indies island of Jamaica of Scottish parents. His father was a physician. His parents returned to Scotland after a few years on the island. Alexander was educated in Scotland and England where he studied law. ■ He came to the U.S. in 1783 and settled in Philadelphia where he indulged some literary and theatrical inclinations. This included editing a literary magazine for a couple of years and devoting some time to the establishment of a theater in Philadelphia. ■ Admitted to the Pennsylvania bar, he was appointed secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Dallas became active and influential in party politics in the state. ■ He was appointed a U.S. attorney by President Thomas Jefferson and later secretary of the treasury by President James Madison. ■ As secretary of the treasury he was able to recommend changes in the American banking system and get them adopted. He also called for reform of the tariff system which became the basis for the Tariff Act of 1816. He died in Trenton, New Jersey, January 16, 1817. ■ His son, George Mifflin Dallas, also was influential in U.S. affairs. Son George was U. S. Vice President (1845-49) and also served as U.S. ambassador to both the United Kingdom and Russia. George also was a powerful figure in Pennsylvania politics. ■ The city of Dallas, Texas is named after George Mifflin Dallas.


Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546