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George M. Dallas

(1792 - 1864)

Vice President under James K. Polk
March 4, 1845 until March 3, 1849

DALLAS, George Mifflin, (great-great-granduncle of Claiborne Pell), a Senator from Pennsylvania and a vice president of the United States; born in Philadelphia, Pa., July 10, 1792; was graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1810; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1813; private secretary to Albert Gallatin, Minister to Russia; returned in 1814 and commenced the practice of law in New York City; solicitor of the United States Bank 1815-1817; returned to Philadelphia and was appointed deputy attorney general in 1817; mayor of Philadelphia October 21, 1828-April 15, 1829; United States district attorney for the eastern district of Pennsylvania 1829-1831; elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Isaac D. Barnard and served from December 13, 1831, to March 3, 1833; declined to be a candidate for reelection in 1832; chairman, Committee on Naval Affairs (Twenty-second Congress); resumed the practice of law; attorney general of Pennsylvania 1833-1835; appointed by President Martin Van Buren as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Russia 1837-1839; when he was recalled at his own request; elected Vice President of the United States on the Democratic ticket in 1844 with James K. Polk and served from March 4, 1845, to March 3, 1849; appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Great Britain by President Franklin Pierce 1856-1861; returned to Philadelphia, and died there December 31, 1864; interment in St. Peter’s Churchyard. - - Biographical Data courtesy of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.


George Mifflin Dallas, statesman, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 10 July, 1792; died there. 31 December 1864, was graduated with first-class honors at Princeton in 1810, and then studied law in his father's office, being admitted to tile bar in 1813. The same year he received the appointment of private secretary to Albert Gallatin, and accompanied that gentleman on his mission to Russia, to negotiate a treaty of peace with England. On his return to this country, in the following year, he assisted his father for some months in his duties as secretary of the treasury, and then began the practice of law in New York City, and was solicitor of the U. S. bank. In 1817 he was appointed deputy attorney general for Philadelphia County. Taking an active part in politics, and supporting the candidacy of General Jackson for the presidency in 1824 and 1828, Mr. Dallas was in 1829 elected mayor, and, on the elevation of Gem Jackson to the presidency, in 1829 was appointed U. S. attorney for that district. He retained this office till 1831, when he was elected to the U. S. senate in the place of Isaac D. Barnard, who had resigned. He took a prominent part in the debates of that body until the expiration of his term, in 1833, when he declined a re-election, returned to the practice of the law, and filled the office of attorney general of Pennsylvania from 1833 till 1835.  

In 1837 President Van Buren appointed him minister to Russia, which post he retained till October, 1839, when he was recalled, at his own request, and again resumed legal practice. George M. Dallas and James Buchanan were for many years rival leaders of the Democratic Party in Pennsylvania, and aspirants for the presidency of the United States. In May, 1844, the democratic convention at Baltimore nominated him for vice-president of the United States on the ticket with James K. Polk for president. The democratic candidates were elected by an electoral vote of 170 out of 275. The questions of the time were the tariff and the annexation of Texas. Mr. Polk's election caused the admission of Texas to the Union just before the close of Mr. Tyler's term of office, but the subject of the tariff was left for the new administration. The appointment of his rival, Buchanan, as secretary of state, left Mr. Dallas without influence on the policy of the administration; but the tie in the senate on the free-trade tariff of 1846, and its adoption by his casting vote, gave him prominence. The House of Representatives passed abandoning the protective policy, a bill that levied duties on imports for the purpose of revenue only, in 1846, but when it reached the senate that body was evenly divided, so that the decision rested with the vice-president. In giving his vote Mr. Dallas said that, though the bill was defective, he believed that proof had been furnished that a majority of the people desired a change, to a great extent, in principle, if not fundamentally; but in giving the casting vote for a low tariff he violated pledges made to the protectionists of Pennsylvania that had secured the vote of the state for his party in the presidential election. His term expired in 1849.  

In 1856 Mr. Dallas succeeded Mr. Buchanan as minister to Great Britain, and continued in that post from 4 February, 1856, until the appointment by President Lincoln of Charles F. Adams, who relieved him on 16 May, 1861. At the very beginning of his diplomatic service in England he was called to act upon the Central American question, and the request made by the United States to the British government that Sir John Crampton, the British minister to the United States, should be recalled. Mr. Dallas managed these delicate questions in a conciliatory spirit, but without any sacrifice of national dignity, and both were settled amicably. At the close of his diplomatic career Mr. Dallas returned to private life and took no further part in public affairs except to express condemnation of secession. Many of his speeches were published, among them "An Essay on the Expediency of erecting any Monument to Washington except that involved in the Preservation of the Union" (1811); "A Vindication of President Monroe for authorizing General Jackson to pursue the Hostile Indians into Florida" (1819); "Speech in the Senate on Nullification and the Tariff " (1831); "Eulogy on Andrew Jackson " (1845); "Speech on giving his Casting Vote on the Tariff of 1846 " (1846); "Vindication of the Vice-President's Casting Vote in a Series of Letters" (1846); " Speech to the Citizens of Pittsburgh on the War, Slavery, and the Tariff" (1847); "Speech to the Citizens of Philadelphia on the Necessity of maintaining the Union, the Constitution, and the Compromise" (1850). A "Series of Letters from London," written while he was minister there, in 1856-'60, was edited and published by his daughter Julia (Philadelphia, 1869). -- Edited Appleton's Cyclopedia American Biography Copyright© 2001 by VirtualologyTM


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