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Albert Gallatin
Albert Gallatin was born on the 29th of January, 1761, in Geneva, Switzerland. He immigrated to America and lived briefly in Boston and Virginia before making his home on the Pennsylvania frontier. During the days of the Whiskey Rebellion, the first great test of the powers of the Federal Government, Gallatin played a leading role, though he was much more moderate than many, and cautioned against breaking with the government.
Gallatin served briefly in the Congress as both a Senator and a Representative from Pennsylvania, showing great insight into the financial problems of the new nation. When Thomas Jefferson was elected President in 1800, he appointed Gallatin as his Secretary of the Treasury. Gallatin served for 13 years under both Jefferson and his successor James Madison.
It was as Secretary of the Treasury that Gallatin arranged for the funding to buy the Louisiana Purchase and for the exploration of this new acquisition. When Lewis and Clark found three rivers that fed into the mighty Missouri, they named these three tributaries after the three individuals whom they believed were among the most important Americans then alive - Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin.
Gallatin was appointed as one of the commissioners to negotiate the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812. He also served as Minister to England and to France. He supported and financed many internal improvements, such as roads and canals, which he saw as so necessary for the efficient transportation of goods from one section of the country to another. One of his projects is known today as Route 40.
In 1817, when he retired from public service, Gallatin moved to New York. He became President of the National Bank of the City of New York and founded New York University. He died on August 12, 1849 at the age of 88.
Gallatin's statue stands alone in front of the main Treasury Department building on Pennsylvania Avenue, right next to the White House. He is, therefore, a most appropriate symbol of the intimate ties that have united Switzerland and the United States for more than 200 years.