Albert Gallatin: Jeffersonian Financier and Diplomat

By Raymond Walters | Go to book overview

15. Three Storm Clouds
1804=1807

In 1804, President Jefferson was elected to a second term by an extraordinary margin. Four years before, he had won only 73 out of 138 electoral votes; now he had 162 out of 176. Even the supposedly rock-ribbed Federalist state of Massachusetts accorded its approval. The measure of the national confidence was shown also in the Congress elected: only 7 Federalist senators among 34, only 25 Federalist representatives among 141.1

To this triumph Gallatin made no mean contribution. The policies he had helped evolve and his scrupulous, efficient execution of them were steadily and materially reducing the public debt despite unprecedented expenses; the national domain had been more than doubled; the West was being settled in an orderly fashion, and a start was being made to tie it to other parts of the country. Gallatin was even helping--reluctantly, it is true--to bring the Barbary pirates to terms.

But even during this sunny time there were gray clouds overhead and black ones on the horizon. The frustrated ambition of Aaron Burr was to leave its trail of ill feeling in the Democratic-Republican party. The schism that Duane and Leib were creating in Pennsylvania and the friction between the Secretary of the Treasury and the pro-Navy group, represented by Robert and Samuel Smith, were breeding consequences even direr for Gallatin's career. Two clouds just appearing at the horizon were international--the maritime practices of Great Britain during the global war she was waging against Napoleon Bonaparte, and the determination of Jefferson to acquire Florida from Spain; one cloud was a personality--Gallatin's old friend John Randolph of Roanoke.

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