The Diary of James Gallatin: The Diary of James Gallatin, Secretary to Albert Gallatin, 1813-1827

By James Gallatin | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

JUST one hundred years ago three envoys from the United States met, at Ghent, three from Great Britain, in order to negotiate for a peace which should close the aimless and indecisive war which those countries had been waging for two years. After many weeks of wrangling, during which they often despaired of success, they succeeded, and on December 24, Christmas Eve, the treaty of the two nations was signed, which has given one hundred years of a peace several times endangered, but never broken, and now far more likely to continue unbroken than it ever was before.

This result was mainly due to the tact, patience, self- control, and wisdom of Albert Gallatin, one of the American Commissioners, the others being John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, Bayard and Russell. Born at Geneva in 1761 of an ancient family, originally from Savoy, he had gone to the United States in 1780, had entered Congress in 1795, and had at once risen to distinction there by his remarkable gifts -- clearness of thought, power of logical argument, and steadfastness of purpose. As Secretary of the Treasury in the administrations of Jefferson and Madison from 1800 to 1813, he had resumed the wise financial policy of Alexander Hamilton, another naturalized American citizen, and brought the finances of the country into a sounder condition than had ever been seen before. His eldest son, James Gallatin, then a boy of seventeen, acted as his father's secretary in the peace negotiations of 1814, and had already begun, when he accompanied his father to Europe in 1813, a private Diary which he continued during the period ( 1815-23)

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