Albert Gallatin (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: Drawing upon the social philosophy of the French Enlightenment, Gallatin contributed, as secretary of the treasury to the administrations of Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, to the fiscal stability of the new nation and, as the first president of the American Ethnological Society, to the development of American anthropology.
Abraham Alfonse Albert Gallatin was born January 29, 1761, in Geneva, Switzerland. Both his mother, née Sophie Albertine Rolaz, and his father, Jean Gallatin, died when Albert was an infant, so his care was entrusted to a distant relative of his mother, Mlle Catherine Pictet. The Gallatin family, part of the Geneva aristocracy and supplier of lords and councillors to the city-state, saw to it that young Gallatin was provided an excellent education. Despite access to the rich cultural heritage of his family, who counted Voltaire as a close friend, and a fine education at the academy, from which he was graduated in 1779, Gallatin resisted the aristocratic trappings of his family and identified with a growing number of students who supported Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Romantic call of “back to nature.”
When his grandmother successfully gained for Gallatin an appointment as lieutenant colonel in the army of her friend Frederich, the Langrave of Hesse, then preparing to fight as mercenaries for England against the American Colonies, Gallatin...
(The entire section is 1692 words.)
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