Dallas, George Mifflin


Senator Dallas, chairman of the Senate Naval Affairs Committee, and future Vice President, seeks a midshipman appointment for a constituent


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 who was sent 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 and Dallas was nominated as his running mate and they defeated the Whig ticket in the general election. Dallas was influential as presiding officer of the Senate, where he worked to support Polk’s agenda and cast several tie-breaking votes. In his last hope of building the necessary national support to gain the White House, he turned to the aggressive, expansionist foreign policy program embodied in “Manifest Destiny.” He actively supported 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 two 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.

9 3/4 x 8 ALS while US Senator and Chairman of the Committee on Naval Affairs,  Washington, June 21 1831, to Navy Secretary Levi Woodbury. Dallas recommends John F. Bimaben for appointment as a midshipman, sand while he does not know him, his knowledge of his parents and information from other sources warrants his opinion that he is worthy of the service he is anxious to enter.

Levi Woodbury (1789-1851) New Hampshire attorney, jurist, and Democratic politician. During a four-decade career in public office, Woodbury was Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, US Senator, 9th Governor of New Hampshire, and in the cabinets of Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. He was promoted as a candidate for the 1848 Democratic nomination for President.

Condition: Very good






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