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America’s Swiss Founding Father

Nicholas Dungan, 0, 0

Publication Year: 2010

“With this first full-scale Gallatin biography written in nearly half a century, author Nicholas Dungan traces Gallatin’s pedigree back to 1258 AD and maps, in straightforward detail, how a Genevan aristocrat became a Greenwich Village legend.”

Published by: NYU Press

Front matter

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pp. 1-6


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pp. vii

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Foreword Gallatin in Diplomacy

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pp. ix-x

The United States of America and Switzerland celebrate together the life and contributions of Albert Gallatin. Swiss-born Albert Gallatin became one of America’s most accomplished diplomats, following his eminent tenure as secretary of the Treasury of the United States. He stands in the pantheon of American international...

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Foreword Gallatin in Finance

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pp. xi-xii

Albert Gallatin, a legendary Swiss American, was the secretary of the Treasury of the United States from 1801 to 1814 under Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. He remains the longest serving Treasury secretary in U.S. history. The Geneva-born Gallatin stayed true to his roots by displaying a strong work ethic, frugality...

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pp. xiii-xiv

Daniel Haener made this book possible: both as deputy consul general of Switzerland in New York and as a friend, he propelled the project and sustained me with his determination, his enthusiasm, and his inspiration; I am forever in his debt. Andr

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Introduction Getting to Know Gallatin

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pp. 1-6

Albert Gallatin, born in Geneva and raised in the Swiss and French-speaking tradition, came to America in his youth and, in a lifetime of public service to his adopted country, contributed to the welfare and independence of the United States as fully as any other statesman of his age. After a patrician upbringing in a distinguished family...

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1. A Son of Geneva, 1761–1780

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pp. 7-26

Albert Gallatin came from an old and noble family. As far back as 1258 AD, fully five hundred years before Albert Gallatin was born, the family’s aristocratic status was recorded in a document preserved until this day. In it, the abbess of the convent of Bella...

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2. American Beginnings, 1780–1793

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pp. 27-48

Gallatin had many reasons to regret his departure from Geneva. He upset his family. He and Serre were seriously short of money, even if more had been promised. The first mate of the Katty demanded an exorbitant sum as a freight charge to carry their tea...

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3. The Senate and the House, 1793–1801

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pp. 49-66

Despite Gallatin’s desire to return to Geneva to settle his personal affairs and see Miss Pictet, he did not in fact go back to Geneva that spring. This was not the result of the revolutionary events in his birthplace but because, quite unwittingly and to some degree unwillingly, Gallatin was elected a senator of the United States. The system for choosing members of Congress under the original...

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4. Jefferson’s Secretary of the Treasury, 1801–1809

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pp. 67-82

Once in office, President Jefferson offered Gallatin the role for which he was clearly the most qualified Republican: secretary of the Treasury. As much as he wished to accept the position, Gallatin hesitated: already ejected from the Senate by the Federalists, he was wary that the current Federalist Senate would refuse his nomination. Jefferson therefore submitted no nomination for secretary of the Treasury...

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5. Madison’s Secretary of the Treasury, 1809–1813

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pp. 83-98

Immediately after James Madison’s election to the presidency was confirmed, Jefferson effectively ceased to behave as president of the United States, on the pretext that he wished to make no decisions that would bind his successor. Yet until Madison’s inauguration...

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6. The Debut of a Diplomatist, 1813–1815

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pp. 99-116

Gallatin was American enough to represent his country in Europe—and European enough to excel in doing so. On Sunday, June 20, 1813, the Neptune reached the quarantine ground outside Gothenburg, in Sweden. Three young men accompanied Gallatin and Bayard....

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7. American Minister to France, 1816–1823

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pp. 117-134

Following the War of 1812, America truly became an independent country, increasingly free from European commercial, military, and political considerations. Gallatin was instrumental in creating the conditions for the United States to reach that status, but in the years that followed...

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8. Searching for Stability, 1823–1829

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pp. 135-152

The Gallatins arrived in New York on June 23, 1823, in the midst of a heat wave at least as exhausting as the one Gallatin had known on his very first visit to the city in the summer of 1783, some forty years before. They went to stay with Hannah’s mother, Mrs. Nicholson—Hannah’s father had died while they were in Paris—at her house on the...

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9. The Capstones of a Career, 1830–1849

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pp. 153-166

Gallatin’s years in New York from 1830 to 1849 were to be the last and among the happiest of his life: he was settled and surrounded by his family, and he earned a decent living. He was able to influence opinions and events without having to bear the burden of executing the policies he recommended, particularly through intellectual interests...

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Conclusion Gauging Gallatin’s Greatness

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pp. 167-168

Was Gallatin a great man? Greatness is most frequently measured by accomplishments, and on that basis it is hard to challenge Gallatin’s entitlement to the description. Suppose Gallatin had not been Jefferson’s secretary of the Treasury or had not been present at Ghent. Gallatin brought to the Treasury a level of professionalism...


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pp. 169-174

A Note on Sources

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pp. 175-176


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pp. 177-182


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pp. 183-192

About the Author

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pp. 193

E-ISBN-13: 9780814721124
E-ISBN-10: 0814721125
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814721117
Print-ISBN-10: 0814721117

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Swiss Americans -- Biography.
  • Gallatin, Albert, 1761-1849.
  • Statesmen -- United States -- Biography.
  • Geneva (Switzerland) -- Biography.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1783-1865.
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