Albert Gallatin, born in Switzerland 29 January 1761, emigrated to America in 1780 and began his political career eight years later in a conference held at Harrisburg, Pa., to consider revising the U.S. Constitution. The following year, he was prominent in the convention which revised the Pennsylvania Constitution. After serving in the Pennsylvania Legislature from 1790 to 1792, Gallatin was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1793. During the "Whisky Rebellion," he helped avert civil war by persuading an angry mob to submit peacefully. After serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1795 to 1801, he became Jefferson's Secretary of the Treasury and served with distinction in that post until 1814. His supervision of the Nation's finances was noted for frugal and efficient administration.
In May 1813, President Madison, upon receiving from the Tsar an offer of mediation to end the war with England, sent Gallatin to Russia as peace commissioner. Although the mediation effort failed, Gallatin remained in Europe to help negotiate the Treaty of Ghent which Henry Adams called "the special and peculiar triumph of Mr. Gallatin."
After the war, Gallatin, as Minister to France and later as Minister to England, worked assiduously to improve American commercial relations with the nations of Europe. In 1927, he retired from public office and devoted his talents to commercial activities and to the study of American Indians. He died at Astoria, Long Island, N.Y., 12 August 1849.
Counties in Illinois, Kentucky, and Montana were named for Albert Gallatin. The first Gallatin was named for Albert Gallatin; the second Gallatin was named for the counties.
The first Gallatin was purchased by the Treasury Department at Norfolk for the Revenue Cutter Service in December 1807. In the ensuing years, she was active in suppressing smuggling and in assisting American Merchantmen. Acting under Navy orders during the War of 1812, she intercepted a British "letter of marque" sailing from Jamaica for England and took her after a fierce 8 hour battle 6 August 1812. She subsequently captured several merchantmen. She caught fire at Charleston, S.C., exploded, and sank 1 April 1813.