|United States Secretary of War|
March 2, 1815 - August 1, 1815
|William H. Crawford|
|6th United States Secretary of the Treasury|
October 6, 1814 - October 21, 1816
|George W. Campbell|
|William H. Crawford|
|1st Reporter of Decisions of the United States Supreme Court|
Alexander James Dallas
June 21, 1759
|Died||January 16, 1817 (aged 57)|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Dallas was born in Kingston, Jamaica, to Dr. Robert Charles Dallas and Sarah Elizabeth (Cormack) Hewitt. His brother was Robert Charles Dallas, who wrote a history of the Jamaican Maroons. Dr Dallas bought the Boar Castle estate on the Cane River, Jamaica in 1758, changing its name to Dallas Castle. This property included 900 acres and 91 slaves. Dr Dallas left the island in 1764, having mortgaged the estate and put it in a trust.
When Alexander was five, his family moved to Edinburgh and then to London. There he studied under James Elphinston, a Scottish educator and linguist. He planned to study law, but was unable to afford it. In 1780, Alexander married Arabella Maria Smith (1761-1837) of Pennsylvania. Arabella came from a family lineage with prominent connections to the British military as the daughter of Maj. George Smith of the British Army and Arabella Barlow, and a great-granddaughter of Sir Nicholas Trevanion, by way of Rev. William Barlow and Arabella Trevanion. In 1781, the newlyweds moved to Jamaica. There, Alexander was admitted to the bar through his father's connections. However, Maria's health suffered in Jamaica, and they subsequently moved to Philadelphia in 1783, where he was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1785. To supplement his budding law practice, he also took side jobs editing the Pennsylvania Herald from 1787 to 1788 and the Columbian Magazine from 1787 to 1789.
Dallas published the second set of state court reports (Ephraim Kirby was first with Connecticut Reports) entitled Reports of Cases Ruled and Adjudged in the Courts of Pennsylvania Before and Since the Revolution in 1790 containing cases from 1754 to 1789. He then published three succeeding volumes under the title, Reports of Cases Ruled and Adjudged in the Several Courts of the United States, and of Pennsylvania, Held at the Seat of the Federal Government (1797, 1799, 1806). As the first reporter for Pennsylvania and United States Supreme Court reporter of decisions, these volumes began the series of both state and federal reports. These early reports are considered unofficial because Dallas carried out his work publishing the official United States Reports volumes from his own funds. The first case reported was West v. Barnes, 2 U.S. (Dall.) 401 (1791). The volumes, of which he produced only four, were faulted for being incomplete, inaccurate, and extremely tardy. For example, the landmark ruling in Chisholm v. Georgia (1793) which prompted the Eleventh Amendment, was not reported by Dallas until five years later, well after the Amendment had been ratified. Later, he wrote: "I have found such miserable encouragement for my reports that I have determined to call them all in, and devote them to the rats in the State-House." But, his publications serves as an important legal milestone in American legal publishing. He was a founder of the Democratic-Republican Societies in 1793.
Governor Thomas Mifflin named Dallas Secretary of the Commonwealth, a post he held from 1791 to 1801. Because Mifflin was an alcoholic, Dallas functioned as de facto governor for much of the late 1790s. Dallas helped found the Democratic-Republican party in Pennsylvania and advocated a strict construction of the new Constitution.
In 1801, he was named United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and served in that capacity until 1814. His friend Albert Gallatin was Treasury Secretary when the War of 1812 began and Dallas helped Gallatin obtain funds to fight Britain. The war nearly bankrupted the federal government by the time Dallas replaced Gallatin as Treasury Secretary. Dallas reorganized the Treasury Department, brought the government budget back into surplus, championed the creation of the Second Bank of the United States, and put the nation back on the specie system based on gold and silver.
Dallas County, Alabama, and Dallas Township, Pennsylvania, are named for him. Six U.S. Coast Guard Cutters have been named DALLAS, the most recent was USCGC DALLAS (WHEC-716). Fort Dallas in Florida and the U.S. Navy ship USS Dallas (DD-199) were named after his son, Alexander J. Dallas, who died during his Navy service.
His daughter, Sophia Burrell Dallas, married on April 4, 1805 Richard Bache, Jr., the son of Richard Bache, Sr. and Sarah Franklin Bache. Her husband's father was a marine insurance underwriter and importer in Philadelphia who served as United States Postmaster General from 1776 to 1782. Her husband's mother, known as Sally, was the only daughter of Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, and his common-law wife, Deborah Read.