Dallas, George Mifflin


The Pennsylvania lawyer and future Vice President seeks a land patent for a client from the state’s surveyor general



Type: Letter

Description: (1792-1864) US politician and diplomat, Mayor of Philadelphia 1828-29, 11th US Vice President 1845-49. Son of Secretary of the Treasury Alexander J. Dallas, he was private secretary to Albert Gallatin and went to Russia with Gallatin to try to secure its aid in peace negotiations with Britain. After 6 months he was ordered to London to determine whether the War of 1812 could be resolved diplomatically. In August 1814, he arrived in Washington with a preliminary draft of Britain’s peace terms. He then worked for the Treasury Department and was counsel to the Second Bank of the United States.

He became a leader of the “Family Party” faction of the Penna. Democratic Party and developed a rivalry with James Buchanan, leader of the “Amalgamator” faction. His faction believed the Constitution was supreme, an energetic national government should implement protective tariffs, a powerful central bank was needed, and internal improvements to the country were needed to facilitate commerce.

He was a US Senator for less than 15 months, 1831-33, and chairman of the Committee on Naval Affairs. He declined to seek re-election. Dallas helped Van Buren win the Democratic nomination over Buchanan. President Van Buren appointed him Minister to Russia 1837-39. Dallas supported Van Buren’s bid for another term in 1844, but James K. Polk won the nomination, Dallas nominated as his running mate, defeating the Whig ticket in the general election. Dallas was influential as Senate presiding officer where he worked to support Polk’s agenda and cast several tie-breaking votes. In his last hope of building national support to gain the White House, he turned to the aggressive, expansionist foreign policy program embodied in “Manifest Destiny”, actively supporting efforts to gain Texas, the Southwest, Cuba, disputed portions of the Oregon territory, and called for annexation of all Mexico during the Mexican-American War.

He sought the 1848 presidential nomination but his vote to lower the tariff destroyed his Pennsylvania support and his advocacy of popular sovereignty on the question of slavery strengthened opposition against him. Dallas determined that he would use his vice-presidential position to advance 2 of the Administration’s major objectives: tariff reduction and territorial expansion. As a Pennsylvanian, Dallas had traditionally supported the protectionist tariff policy that his state’s coal and iron interests demanded, but as VP, elected on a platform dedicated to tariff reduction, he agreed to do anything necessary to realize that goal. He was Minister to the United Kingdom 1856-61 before retiring from public office.

It is debatable whether the City of Dallas, Texas is named after him but counties in Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri and Texas are named for him, as are cities in Georgia, No. Carolina, Oregon, and Pennsylvania.

10 x 7 ¾ ALS while Penna. lawyer, no place (Philadelphia?), May 26 1820, to General (Jacob) Spangler, York County Surveyor General. Dallas asks Spangler to procure for him from the land office a patent for a plot of land in Putnam township, sold by the sheriff in 1817 as the property of Isaac Osterhout who never took out a patent. Dallas needs the patent to complete a title for one Edward Thomson, and Dallas will send whatever amount of money necessary. He apologizes for the liberty he takes as Spangler is the only one in the surveyor general office with whom he has any acquaintance. Pencil docket in an unknown hand at the bottom indicates a May 28 1812 patent to David Osterhout.

Jacob Spangler (1767-1843) Born in York, Penna, he was engaged in surveying. He was York County commissioner in 1800, York postmaster 1795-1812, York County deputy surveyor 1796-1815, and again county commissioner in 1814. Spangler was elected to Congress in 1816 as a Republican and served until his resignation on April 20, 1818. He was surveyor general of Pennsylvania 1818-1821. He became commander of the State militia with title of general and was General Lafayette’s chief escort from York to Harrisburg on his 1825 US visit. He was York County Court clerk to 1830, and again surveyor general of Pennsylvania

Condition: Very good






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