Alexander James Dallas, U.S. Sec'y Treasury

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Alexander James Dallas

Birthplace: Kingston, Saint Andrew Parish, Jamaica
Death: January 16, 1817 (57)
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
Place of Burial: Saint Peter's Episcopal Churchyard Philadelphia Philadelphia County Pennsylvania
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert Dallas, of Jamaica and Sarah Elizabeth Dallas
Husband of Arabella Maria Dallas
Father of Sophia Burrell Bache; George Mifflin Dallas, 11th Vice President USA; Trevanion Barlow Dallas; Maria Charlotte Campbell; Commodore Alexander James Dallas and 1 other
Brother of Robert Charles Dallas; Charlotte Henrietta Byron; Stuart George Dallas and Charles Stuart Dallas, RM

Occupation: U.S. Secretary of the Treasury under President James Madison, Lawyer, Politician/Statesman; U.S. Treasury Secretary under President James Madison., U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Alexander James Dallas, U.S. Sec'y Treasury

A Patriot of the American Revolution for PENNSYLVANIA. DAR Ancestor # A204689

Alexander James Dallas (June 21, 1759 – January 16, 1817) was an American statesman who served as the U.S. Treasury Secretary under President James Madison.

Dallas was born in Kingston, Jamaica, to Dr. Robert Charles Dallas (1710 – 1769) and Sarah Elizabeth (Cormack) Hewitt. When he was five his family moved to Edinburgh (his father was a Scotsman) and then to London. There he studied under James Elphinston. He planned to study law, but was unable to afford it. He married Arabella Maria Smith of Pennsylvania, the daughter of Maj. George Smith of the British Army and Arabella Barlow (in turn the daughter of the Rev. William Barlow and Arabella Trevanion, the daughter of Sir Nicholas Trevanion), in 1780 and the next year they moved to Jamaica. There he was admitted to the bar through his father's connections. Maria's health suffered in Jamaica and they moved to Philadelphia in 1783. Dallas was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1785. His law practice was slow and on the side he edited the Pennsylvania Herald from 1787 to 1788 and the Columbian Magazine from 1787 to 1789.


   * 1 US Supreme Court Reporter
   * 2 Secretary of the Commonwealth
   * 3 US Attorney and Secretary of Treasury
   * 4 Acting Secretary of War and Acting Secretary of State
   * 5 Honors
   * 6 See also
   * 7 External links

US Supreme Court Reporter

When the United States Supreme Court came to Philadelphia in 1791, he would become their first reporter of decisions starting with West v. Barnes (1791). Because the post of reporter was an unofficial one, Dallas did his work from his own funds. 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. When he abandoned reporting of decisions when the Court moved to the new capital, Washington, D.C., he declared "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." He was a founder of the Democratic-Republican Societies in 1793.

Secretary of the Commonwealth

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.

US Attorney and Secretary of Treasury

In 1801, he was named United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and served until 1814. When his friend Albert Gallatin was treasury secretary when the War of 1812 began, he helped Gallatin obtain funds to fight Britain. The war nearly bankrupted the country 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. Acting Secretary of War and Acting Secretary of State

From March 14, 1815 to December 1815 he was acting Secretary of War and for a time that year was acting Secretary of State as well. He returned to Philadelphia, but lived only a year.

He was a member of the American Philosophical Society from 1791 and a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania.


Dallas County, Alabama and Dallas Township, Pennsylvania are named for him, and 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 other son George Mifflin Dallas was Vice President under James K. Polk and one possible namesake for Dallas, Texas; his father and brother are other possible namesakes of the Texas city.

His daughter, Sophia Burrell Dallas, married on April 4, 1805 Richard Bache, Jr., the son of Richard Bache, Sr. a marine insurance underwriter and importer in Philadelphia and served as United States Postmaster General from 1776 to 1782. His mother was Sarah Franklin Bache (September 11, 1743 – October 5, 1808) was the daughter of Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America and Deborah Read.

See also P vip.svg Biography portal

   * Alexander J. Dallas (U.S. Navy officer)

External links

   * Biography and portrait at the University of Pennsylvania
   * Alexander J. Dallas at Find A Grave
   * Alexander J. Dallas (1815 - 1815): Secretary of War


Dallas, Alexander James (b. Kingston, Jamaica, 21 June 1759; d. Philadelphia, Pa., 16 Jan. 1817), first Supreme Court reporter, 1791–1800. Dallas's reportership was purely an entrepreneurial venture. Even before the Court's 1791 arrival in Philadelphia, he had published reports of state cases in periodicals and in a single bound volume. Hence 1 Dallas, now 1 United States Reports, contains no Supreme Court matter. Three more volumes followed, chronicling the Court's first decisions, from August term 1791 through its final activities in Philadelphia in August term 1800.

We owe much to Dallas for recognizing the need for Supreme Court reports, thereby in theory making the decisions of the new nation's highest court available to judges, lawyers, and citizens. Apart from his Reports, the Court's rulings could be known only through correspondence, word of mouth, and occasional newspaper accounts.

The execution of Dallas's self‐appointed task was marked, however, by delay, expense, omission, and questionable accuracy. In fairness, he faced formidable obstacles. Lack of government funding forced selective reporting, reflecting purchasers' unwillingness to finance fuller reports. Likewise, because the Court had no requirement of written decisions and Dallas's practice precluded constant attendance at its proceedings, he often relied on others' notes.

The results were uneven. Five years elapsed between Chisholm v. Georgia (1793), the last Supreme Court decision recorded in 2 Dallas, and publication of that volume; between Dallas's retirement as reporter and publication of 4 Dallas, seven years passed. Buyers complained of the volumes' price. Barely half of the Court's dispositions during its first decade were reported, and accounts of many cases, including Ware v. Hylton (1796), contain matter clearly not the justices' own.

Dallas left things better than he found them, but both he and the Court were disappointed in comparing aspiration with accomplishment. “I have found such miserable encouragement for my Reports,” he wrote upon relinquishing the reportership, “that I have determined to call them all in, and devote them to the rats in the State‐House.

See also Reporters, Supreme Court.


Morris L. Cohen and and Sharon Hamby O'Connor , A Guide to the Early Reports of the Supreme Court of the United States (1995), pp. 11–22. Craig Joyce , The Rise of the Supreme Court Reporter: An Institutional Perspective on Marshall Court Ascendancy, Michigan Law Review 83 (1985): 1291–1391. Sandra Day O'Connor , The Supreme Court Reports, in The Majesty of the Law, edited by Craig Joyce (2003), pp. 24–30.

Craig Joyce"

Source: KERMIT L. HALL. "Dallas, Alexander James." The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States. 2005. Retrieved January 01, 2011 from

Michael R. Delahunt, Jan. 1, 2011.


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[Following was downloaded Jan. 2010 from It had been posted March 16, 2008, by: Paul Robinson.

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Dallas Family

1. James Dallas m. Barbara Cockburn, dau of Sir James Cockburn of Langton and had, 2. George Dallas 2. William Dallas of Edinburgh (1724-1785) m 1 Miss Howe; m. 2 1756 Davidona Haliburton, dau of Rt Hon George Haliburton of Muirhouselaw, Lord Provost of Edinburgh and had, 3. Mrs Sievewright, dau from first marriage. 3. Lt. Col. Peter Dallas 3. Capt. John Dallas m. Anne Warren of Galtrim, Co. Meath and had, 4. William Dallas 4. Frances Dallas 4. Elizabeth Dallas m. William Donovan of Ballymore 3. William Dallas m. Elizabeth Carr, dau of Robert Carr and had, 4. William Dallas 4. Elizabeth Dallas m. Maj. Gen. Sir Robert Nickle (see McGrigor, Bt.) 4. Davidona 3. Brig. Gen. Charles Dallas, Gov. of St. Helena, 1839. Married 1801 Janet Haldane, dau of Robert Haldane of Gleneagles. 4. Thomas Dallas 4. Charles Dallas 4. Edward Dallas 4. Bethea Dallas m. William Stuart Alexander (See Caledon, Earl). [The Alexanders of Antrim and Derry are connected to the Macaulays of Cushendall] 4. Davidona Dallas m. Admiral Francis Harding, RN 4. Caroline Dallas m. William Kane, M.D. 3. Henrietta Dallas 3. Margaret Dallas m. 1791 Sir James Foulis of Colinton 3. Lt. Gen. Thomas Dallas (1757-1839) m. 1793 Mary Elliot, dau of Cornelius Elliot, Esq. of Roxburghshireand had, 4. David Haliburton Dallas, b. 1800 m. 1825 Mary Anne Yorke, dau of James Whiting Yorke, Esq. of Walmsgate and had, 5. Thomas Yorke Dallas, J.P., D.L. of Co. Lincoln, b. 1826; m. 1862 Frances Perry Graham, dau of William Graham, Esq. of Burntshiels. 5. Georgiana Mary Dallas m. 1861 Sir Charles Burton of Pollacton 4. Eleanor Dallas m. Major Maunsell Bowers 4. Harriet Dallas m. Maj. Gen. William Dickson of Beenham House, Berks. 4. Charlottte Lavinia Dallas m. 1823 John McNeile (McNeill), Esq. of Parkmount, Co. Antrim. 2. Robert Dallas, M.D. of Dallas Castle, Jamaica m. Miss Cormack, dau of Col. Cormack and had, 3. Robert Dallas m. Sarah Harding, dau of Thomas Harding of Nelms and had, 4. Rev. A. R. C. Dallas m.1 Mary Anne Ferguson, dau of Robert Ferguson w/issue; m. 2 Anne Biscoe Tyndale, dau of Rev. T. G. Tyndale. 4. George Dallas 4. Charles Dallas 4. Laura Dallas 4. Charlotte Dallas 4. Julia Dallas m. 1821 Rev. C. R. K. Dallas, her cousin. 3. Hon. Alexander James Dallas, Secretary of the United States Treasury, m. and had, 4. Hon. George Miffin Dallas, Vice-Pres. of the U.S., and Ambassador to Russian and England; m. ? and had, 5. Philip Dallas 5. Julia Dallas 5. Elizabeth Dallas 5. Sophia Dallas 5. Catherine Dallas m.1849 Fitz Eugene Dixon 5. Susan Dallas 5. Charlotte Dallas 4. Commodore Alexander Dallas, U.S.N. 4. Hon. Trevanion Dallas, judge. 4. Dau. m. Mr. Bache 5. Prof. Alexander Dallas Bache 4. Dau. m. Mr Walker 4. Dau. m. Mr. Campbell 3. Hon. Smart George Dallas, Speaker of the House of Assembly of Jamaica; m. Elizabeth Jackson, dau of Samuel Jackson and had, 4. Hon. Samuel Jackson Dallas (1789-1861), also Speaker of the House; m. Margaret Morrison and had, 5. Morrison Dallas, M.D. 5. Margaret Dallas m. J. Duffe 4. Stewart Dallas 4. Milborough Dallas 4. Alexander Dallas 4. Robert Dallas 4. Sarah Dallas m. Nathaniel Marston 4. Charlotte Dallas m. Charles Dewdney 3. Charles Stuart Dallas m. Susan Seil King 4. Stuart Dallas m. Anne King 5. Duncan Campbell Dallas 5. Charles Stuart Dallas 4. Rev. Charles Robert King Dallas m. Julia Maria ? his cousin 5. Georgina m. Rev. Archdall Buttemer 3. Charlotte Dallas m. Capt. George Anson Byron 3. Elizabeth Dallas m. Mr Stewart of Stewart Castle, Jamaica [Related somehow to the Stewarts of Ballintoy. Stewarts of Ballintoy related to Cushendall Macaulays and McNeills] 2. Stuart Dallas m. Miss Stewart, dau. of John Stewart of Binny 3. William Dallas 4. William Dallas 5. Edward Dallas 5. Charlotte Dallas 2. Isobel Dallas m. her cousin, William Dallas of Cantray 3. Capt James Dallas, died at Culloden

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Presidential Cabinet Secretary. He served as United States Secretary of the Treasury from 1814 to 1816 during the second administration of President James Madison. He was the father of United States Vice President George Mifflin Dallas.

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Alexander James Dallas, U.S. Sec'y Treasury's Timeline

June 21, 1759
Kingston, Saint Andrew Parish, Jamaica
May 15, 1791
Philadelphia, PA, United States
July 10, 1792
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
November 23, 1798
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
February 23, 1801
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
January 16, 1817
Age 57
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
Saint Peter's Episcopal Churchyard Philadelphia Philadelphia County Pennsylvania