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George Mifflin Dallas


In office
March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1849
President James Knox Polk
Preceded by John Tyler
Succeeded by Millard Fillmore

In office
December 13, 1831 – March 3, 1833
Preceded by Isaac D. Barnard
Succeeded by Samuel McKean

In office
1833 – 1835
Governor George Wolf
Preceded by Ellis Lewis
Succeeded by James Todd

In office
1828 – 1829
Preceded by Joseph Wilson
Succeeded by Benjamin W. Richards

In office
March 7, 1837 – July 29, 1839
President Martin Van Buren
Preceded by John Randolph Clay
Succeeded by Churchill C. Cambreleng

In office
1856 – 1861
President Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
Abraham Lincoln
Preceded by James Buchanan
Succeeded by Charles F. Adams

In office
1829 – 1831
Nominated by Andrew Jackson
Preceded by Charles Jared Ingersoll
Succeeded by Henry D. Gilpin

Born July 10, 1792 (1792-07-10)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died December 31, 1864 (1865-01-01) (aged 72)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Sophia Nicklin Dallas
Alma mater College of New Jersey
Religion Episcopalian
Signature

George Mifflin Dallas (July 10, 1792 – December 31, 1864) was a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania and the 11th Vice President of the United States, serving under James K. Polk.

Contents

Family and early life

George Mifflin Dallas was born on July 10, 1792, to Alexander James Dallas and Arabella Smith Dallas in Philadelphia.[1] Dallas was the second of six children from his parents,[1] one of whom, Alexander, would become the commander of Pensacola Navy Yard. The senior Alexander was the Secretary of the Treasury under United States President James Madison, and was also briefly the Secretary of War.[1] Dallas graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) with highest honors in 1810, studying law thereafter, and was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1813.[1]

Dallas was of Scottish ancestry, with his father Alexander Dallas born in Kingston, Jamaica and educated in Edinburgh. His paternal grandfather, Dr. Robert Charles Dallas was born in Scotland, immigrated to Jamaica, with him later returning to Scotland to educate his six children.[2]

Early legal, diplomatic and financial service

Dallas did not have much enthusiasm at the time for legal practice, and wanted to fight in the War of 1812, a plan which he dropped due to his father's objection.[1] Just after this, Dallas accepted an offer to be the private secretary of Albert Gallatin, and he went to Russia with Gallatin who was sent there to try and secure its aid in peace negotiations between Great Britain and the United States.[1] Dallas enjoyed the opportunities offered to him by being in Russia, but after six months there he was ordered to go to London to determine whether the War of 1812 could be resolved diplomatically.[1] In August 1814, he arrived in Washington D.C. and delivered a preliminary draft of Britain's peace terms.[1] There, he was appointed by James Madison to become the remitter of the treasury, which is considered a "convenient arrangement" because Dallas's father was serving at the time as that department's secretary.[1] Since the job did not entail a large workload, Dallas found time to develop his grasp of politics, his major vocational interest.[1] He later became the counsel to the Second Bank of the United States.[1] In 1817, Dallas's father died, ending Dallas's plan for a family law practice, and he stopped working for the Second Bank of the United States and became the deputy attorney general of Philadelphia, a position he held until 1820.[1]

Political career

After the War of 1812 ended, Pennsylvania's political climate was chaotic, with two factions in that state's Democratic party vying for control.[1] One, the Philadelphia-based "Family party", was led by Dallas, and it espoused the beliefs that the Constitution of the United States was supreme, that an energetic national government should exist that would implement protective tariffs, a powerful central banking system, and undertake internal improvements to the country in order to facilitate national commerce.[1] The other faction was called the "Amalgamators", headed by the future President James Buchanan.[1]

The Family party elected Dallas in 1828 to the position of mayor of Philadelphia, after they had gained control of the city councils.[1] However, he quickly grew bored of that post, and became the district attorney for the eastern district of Pennsylvania in 1829, a position his father had held from 1801 to 1814, and continued in that role until 1831.[1] In December of that year, he won a five-man, eleven-ballot contest in the state legislature, that enabled him to become the Senator from Pennsylvania in order to complete the unexpired term[1] of the previous senator who had resigned.[3]

Dallas served less than 15 months — from December 13, 1831, to March 4, 1833 — and declined to be a candidate for reelection. He was chairman of the Committee on Naval Affairs.

Polk/Dallas campaign poster.

Dallas resumed the practice of law, was attorney general of Pennsylvania from 1833 to 1835, and served as the Grand Master of Freemasons in Pennsylvania in 1835. [4] He was appointed by President Martin Van Buren as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Russia from 1837 to 1839, when he was recalled at his own request. Dallas was 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 4, 1849.

President Franklin Pierce appointed Dallas in 1856 as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Britain, where he served until 1861, when he returned to Philadelphia. He died there in 1864 at the age of 72 and was interred in St. Peter's Churchyard. Dallas County, Iowa, Dallas County, Missouri, and Dallas County, Texas, and several U.S. cities and towns elsewhere were named in his honor such as Dallas, Georgia, Dallastown, Pennsylvania and Dallas, Oregon the county seat of Polk County, Oregon. (It is debated that the city of Dallas, Texas is named after the Vice President—see History of Dallas, Texas (1839-1855) for more information.)

Dallas is the great-great-granduncle of former U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island, and was the uncle of George M. Bache and Alexander Dallas Bache. He was of Scottish heritage.

References

Footnotes

External links

Political offices
Vacant
Title last held by
John Tyler
Vice President of the United States
March 4, 1845–March 4, 1849
Succeeded by
Millard Fillmore
Preceded by
Joseph Watson
Mayor of Philadelphia
1828–1829
Succeeded by
Benjamin Wood Richards
United States Senate
Preceded by
Isaac D. Barnard
United States Senator (Class 1) from Pennsylvania
December 13, 1831 – March 3, 1833
Served alongside: William Wilkins
Succeeded by
Samuel McKean
Party political offices
Preceded by
Richard Mentor Johnson,
Littleton W. Tazewell,
James K. Polk
Democratic Party vice presidential candidate
1844(1)
Succeeded by
William Orlando Butler
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
James Buchanan
U.S. Minister to Britain
1856–1861
Succeeded by
Charles Francis Adams, Sr.
Preceded by
John R. Clay
U.S. Minister to Russia
1837–1839
Succeeded by
Churchill C. Cambreleng
Legal offices
Preceded by
Ellis Lewis
Attorney General of Pennsylvania
1833–1835
Succeeded by
James Todd
Preceded by
Charles Jared Ingersoll
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
1829–1831
Succeeded by
Henry D. Gilpin
Notes and references
1. The Democratic Party vice-presidential nominee was split this year among three candidates.
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