US Congressman, Presidential Cabinet Secretary. He accomplished many things in his lifetime but may be most known for serving the longest term, fourteen years, as United States Secretary Treasury. Albert Gallatin was born into an aristocratic Swiss family, but gave up fortune and social position and emigrated to America in 1780, where he might "drink in a love for independence in the freest country of the universe". Following fifteen years of being involved in various business ventures and teaching French at Harvard, Gallatin was elected to Congress from Pennsylvania in 1795. As a member of Congress, he made the Treasury Department and its control the object of constant scrutiny and criticism. He helped to create the House Committee on Ways and Means to assure Treasury's accountability to Congress by reviewing the Department's annual report concerning revenues, debts, loans and expenditures. He was appointed Secretary of the Treasury in 1801 by President Thomas Jefferson and continued in that position under President James Madison until 1814. His service of nearly 14 years is the longest term of any Secretary of the Treasury in the country's history. As Secretary he was responsible for significantly reducing the federal debt and his management of the Treasury resulted in the adoption of accounting practices still in use today. Following his service as Secretary of the Treasury, Gallatin was appointed one of the Commissioners to negotiate the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812. He served as Minister to France and as Envoy to Great Britain before leaving public service and moving to New York in 1817. He became the first president of the National Bank of New York, was a founding trustee of New York University and served as president of the New York Historical Society. Gallatin was a founding member of the American Ethnological Society, served as its first president, and wrote extensively on the languages of American Indian tribes.
Bio by: Craig Johnson