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Alexander J. Dallas (statesman)

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Title: Alexander J. Dallas (statesman)  
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Subject: West v. Barnes, United States Secretary of the Treasury, Reporter of Decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, James Madison, Tariff of 1816
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Alexander J. Dallas (statesman)

Alexander James Dallas
6th United States Secretary of the Treasury
In office
October 6, 1814 – October 21, 1816
President James Madison
Preceded by George W. Campbell
Succeeded by William H. Crawford
1st United States Supreme Court Reporter of Decisions
In office
Preceded by (none)
Succeeded by William Cranch
Personal details
Born (1759-06-21)June 21, 1759
Kingston, Jamaica
Died January 16, 1817(1817-01-16) (aged 57)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political party Democratic-Republican
Spouse(s) Arabella Maria Dallas
Profession Lawyer, Politician

Alexander James Dallas (June 21, 1759 – January 16, 1817) was an American statesman who served as the U.S. Treasury Secretary under President James Madison.

Early life

Dallas was born in Jamaica. There he was admitted to the bar through his father's connections. Maria's health suffered in Jamaica and they moved to Philadelphia in 1783. He was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1785. His law practice was slow and on the side he edited the Pennsylvania Herald from 1787 to 1788 and the Columbian Magazine from 1787 to 1789.

US Supreme Court Reporter

When the Eleventh Amendment, was not reported by Dallas until five years later, well after the Amendment had been ratified. When he abandoned reporting of decisions when the Court moved to the new capital, Washington, D.C., he declared "I have found such miserable encouragement for my reports that I have determined to call them all in, and devote them to the rats in the State-House." He was a founder of the Democratic-Republican Societies in 1793.

Secretary of the Commonwealth

Governor Thomas Mifflin named Dallas Secretary of the Commonwealth, a post he held from 1791 to 1801. Because Mifflin was an alcoholic, Dallas functioned as de facto governor for much of the late 1790s. Dallas helped found the Democratic-Republican party in Pennsylvania and advocated a strict construction of the new Constitution.

US Attorney and Secretary of Treasury

Bureau of Engraving and Printing portrait of Dallas as Secretary of the Treasury.
Bureau of Engraving and Printing portrait of Dallas as Secretary of the Treasury.

In 1801, he was named Second Bank of the United States, and put the nation back on the specie system.

Acting Secretary of War and Acting Secretary of State

From March 2, 1815 to August 1, 1815 he was acting Secretary of War and for a time that year was acting Secretary of State as well. He returned to Philadelphia, but lived only a year.

He was a member of the American Philosophical Society from 1791 and a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania.

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