Birth of Albert Gallatin

US #1279 from the Prominent Americans Series.

Politician and diplomat Abraham Alfonse Albert Gallatin was born on January 29, 1761, in Geneva, Switzerland.  Gallatin’s aristocratic family included physicians, statesmen, and soldiers – one of his relatives commanded a battalion at the Battle of Yorktown. 

US #R623 – Documentary Revenue stamp picturing Gallatin.

After graduating at the top of his class from the Academy of Geneva, Gallatin and a friend secretly set sail for the US in May 1779.  Throughout his time in America, Gallatin took part in several business ventures, including the production and sale of glassworks and muskets.  He also taught French at Harvard University.

Gallatin began his political career in 1789 as a member of the Pennsylvania state constitutional convention.  The following year he was elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly.  In 1793, he was elected to the US Senate.  He was removed shortly after due to protests that he’d not been a US citizen for at least nine years, as is required by law to hold that position.

US #RG61 – Silver Tax stamp picturing Gallatin.

Despite the publicized controversy, Gallatin was elected to the House of Representatives in 1795, later becoming the majority leader.  As a leader of the New Democratic-Republican Party, he was the primary spokesman on financial matters and was a founding member of the House Committee on Finance (which later became the Ways and Means Committee). 


With Thomas Jefferson’s election to president in 1801, Gallatin began a 13-year service as US secretary of the Treasury – the longest service of any person in this position.  In this role, he successfully balanced the federal budget and was largely responsible for avoiding a tax increase following the Louisiana Purchase.  He also helped map out the Lewis and Clark Exposition.  Gallatin was key in resolving the constitutional issues that made this unprecedented purchase quite complicated.  And he managed to cut the national debt from $80 million to $45 million.

US #1279 – Fleetwood First Day Cover.

After resigning from secretary of Treasury, Gallatin led the negotiations at the Treaty of Ghent (ending the War of 1812).  He then served as Minister to France and then Great Britain before settling in New York City where he helped found New York University in 1831.  He died in New York on August 12, 1849.

Item #81925 – Gallatin Commemorative Cover.

Several counties, towns, rivers, and streets are named in Gallatin’s honor as well as the US Department of the Treasury’s highest career service award.

US #1279 – Classic First Day Cover.


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  1. I’d like to think I’m pretty knowledgeable about American History. I guess i’m not as i’ve never heard of this man. Great job Mystic.

  2. The Albert Gallatin Award is given by the Treasury Department to employees serving in the Department for 20 or more years. A very nice recognition of service.

  3. It’s pathetic that stamps are issued memorializing or commemorating people and events, but no history is released. Thanks, Mystic, for teaching me about this great American, and as a former NYer, I really appreciated this!

    1. Well, of course, we have always had encyclopedias and now the internet. If you see a name or an event that you are unfamiliar with, look it up.

  4. Thank you Mystic for enlightening me on a gentleman who served our nation well in many capacities. What a great history lesson!

  5. I am embarassed to say as a long time former resident of Montana that has a whole region of teh state named after him I had no idea of his accomplishments. Thank you Mystic-

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