George Dallas was born in Pennsylvania on July 19th, 1792. His father Alexander was a lawyer and even served as the Secretary of the Treasury in the Madison administration. George was educated in a Quaker prep school before he attended the College of New Jersey (Princeton) and studied law according to his father’s wishes.
Dallas had attempted to leave college in order to join the military during the War of 1812 but his father forbade him from doing so. Instead he became Secretary to Albert Gallatin and was sent to Russia on a diplomatic mission. They then travelled to Great Britain for negotiations of a peace settlement to end the War of 1812. When Dallas returned to the United States with the British offer Madison appointed him to the position of Remitter of the Treasury, although most people saw this as a favor to his father. Dallas maintained the position, even negotiating in favor of the Second Bank of the US, however when his father died he resigned and returned to Pennsylvania where he became the deputy District Attorney, a position he held until 1820.
Following the War of 1812 and the collapse of the Federalist Party Pennsylvania politics became wide open. Dallas joined the Democratic Party and formed the Family Party. He believed in a strong central government with a centralized monetary system and tariffs to fund improvements in the nation’s internal structure. He found himself clashing with the future President James Buchanan who headed a group called the Amalgamators, they were followers of the States Rights philosophy and opposed restrictive tariffs. This would become a lifelong clash between the two politicians.
Dallas was elected the mayor of Philadelphia but found the office to be rather dull. He resigned when he was appointed the Attorney General for eastern Pennsylvania, he served until 1831. When the Pennsylvania Senator resigned Dallas won a special election and assumed the office but he only served for 15 months, he chose to not seek a second term after he came out on the losing end of the fight over the Second Bank of the United States, plus his wife didn’t like Washington DC.
Dallas retuned to his law practice in Philadelphia until 1837 when he was appointed as Envoy to Russia. He served in the position for two years but left the post to return home. He once again began practicing law. In 1836 he began working for Martin Van Buren’s campaign, mostly to keep Pennsylvania from voting for his old rival Buchanan.
In 1844 the Democratic Party nominated James K. Polk as their Presidential candidate and Silas Wright as the Vice President, but Wright turned down the position. The committee then selected Dallas, who hadn’t attended the convention and was surprised when a messenger showed up at his door with the news. After the conflict over Tyler’s administration the Democrats won the election.
As Vice President Dallas became directly involved in the policies of the Senate. He claimed to have voted in over 30 tie breakers, although only 19 are recorded. When Polk offered the position of Secretary of State to Buchannan Dallas tried to block the nomination but was unsuccessful. He did manage to get the President to appoint Robert J. Walker as Secretary of the Treasury. Following the Mexican American war Dallas called for the annexation of all of Mexico and the Oregon territory although the US only took what is the present Western states and California. He also fought hard on the issue of Tariffs to fund government programs.
In 1852 Dallas considered running for the Presidency but found that his support of Tariffs had made him unpopular so he decided to give up politics. After the election of 1856 President Pierce named him to the post of Minister to Great Britain. He held the position until Lincoln was elected and replaced him with Charles Adams. Dallas returned to private life and his only involvement with national politics was to make public statements condemning the secessionist states.
George Dallas died in 1864 and was buried in the St. Peter’s Churchyard in Philadelphia. There is a dispute if the city of Dallas was named after him, in honor of his support of Texas’ statehood and the Mexican/American war. George Dallas was a central figure in the politics of the pre Civil War era and took a more active roll in the Senate than most of his predecessors but he is rarely remembered.
Meanwhile, remember to write in Ocular Nervosa as an independent candidate for the Vice Presidency in 2016 and perhaps one day your children will live in Nervosaville.