George M. Dallas was an American politician who served as the 11th Vice President of the Unites States, from 1845 to 1849, in the Democratic administration of President James K. Polk. Born in Philadelphia in a political family, Dallas, after graduating from the College of New Jersey, studied law and was admitted to the bar. Afterwards, he accompanied as private secretary to Albert Gallatin on his diplomatic tour of Russia and returned a year later, commencing his legal practice in New York City. Later, he gravitated to politics and was appointed the mayor of Philadelphia and then became the United States district attorney for the eastern district of Pennsylvania. In 1831, Dallas was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate, where he served until 1833. Subsequently, he was appointed the Attorney General of Pennsylvania and later served as the Minister of Russia until 1839, when he was recalled at his own request. In 1844, Dallas was elected the Vice President of the United States on the Democratic ticket under the presidency of James K. Polk, and served from March 1845 to 1849. After ending his single term as vice president, he served as minister to Great Britain between 1856 and 1861.At the close of his diplomatic career, Dallas returned to private life in his birth town, and died there of heart attack after sometime. As a tribute to Dallas, the cities of Dallas in Texas and Oregon are named after him
Childhood & Early Life
George Mifflin Dallas was born on July 10, 1792, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, to Alexander James Dallas, and his wife, Arabella Smith Dallas. He was the second of the six children of his parents. His father served as the Secretary of the Treasury under United States President James Madison.
He received his early education privately at Quaker-run preparatory schools and later was enrolled at the College of New Jersey. In 1810, he completed his graduation with highest honors and then opted to study law. In 1813, Dallas was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar.
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In 1813, the same year he was admitted to the bar, Dallas accompanied Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury, as his private secretary, on a diplomatic mission to Russia. The duo went to negotiate an end to the War of 1812, and returned in 1814 to the United States.
Upon his return, Dallas commenced legal practice in New York and later became the counsel to the Second Bank of the United States. In 1817, he was appointed the deputy attorney general of Philadelphia, a position he held until 1820.
In October 1828, Dallas was elected mayor of Philadelphia, a capacity in which he served until April 1829. Subsequently, President Andrew Jackson appointed him United States attorney for the eastern district of Pennsylvania, where he remained until 1831.
From 1831 to 1833, he was a Democratic member of the United States Senate for the state of Pennsylvania. Dallas served as the chairman of the Committee on Naval Affairs for less than 15 months and declined his nomination for reelection.
Thereafter, Dallas resumed the practice of law and, in 1833, he was appointed the attorney general of Pennsylvania, and served in this capacity till 1835. He also served as the Grand Master of Freemasons in Pennsylvania in 1835.
In 1837, President Van Buren appointed Dallas as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Russia. He remained at this post till 1839 when he was recalled at his own request. During the following years, his relations with James Buchanan remained troubled throughout as both were engaged in a long struggle with for party leadership in Pennsylvania.
Dallas and Buchanan were rival leaders of the Democratic Party in Pennsylvania for many years. In 1839, Dallas was offered the U.S. attorney-generalship after Buchanan had rejected the post but Dallas declined it and spent the following years practicing law in Philadelphia.
In May 1844, after James Polk was nominated for president and Silas Wright declined to become a vice presidential candidate, the Democratic Party offered the vice presidency to Dallas. Subsequently, he was nominated for Vice President of the United States on Democratic ticket, with Polk for President.
Dallas was duly elected the Vice President of the United States and took oath of office in March 1845. From 1845 to 1849, he authoritatively served on the post of Vice President but after the appointment of Buchanan as the secretary of state, Dallas lost all hope of party support or influence in the Polk administration.
In 1856, President Franklin Pierce appointed him as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Britain, where he served till 1861.
As the Vice President of the United States, he worked hard towards realizing the goal of tariff reduction and territorial expansion. Dallas created the first local trading post in the state of Texas which was the first known settlement in present day Dallas, Texas, metro area. As the Minister of Britain, he represented his country with discretion and made every effort to strengthen the Union cause in Great Britain.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1816, George Dallas married Sophia Chew Nicklin, daughter of an old-line Federalist family. The couple had eight children together.
After retiring from politics, Dallas returned to live a private life in Philadelphia and later died from a heart attack on December 31, 1864, at the age of 72. He was buried in the St. Peter's Episcopal Churchyard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.