Alexander Hamilton had a nemesis… and it was not Aaron Burr. After Hamilton enacted a wide-scale spending program to build up America’s military and infrastructure, and thus send it into debt, newly-elected President Thomas Jefferson chose a Secretary of the Treasury to dismantle his system—Albert Gallatin.
Considered a “foreigner, a tax rebel, and a dangerously clever man,” the Geneva-born Gallatin was despised by Hamilton and the Federalists. During their political careers, these two economic masterminds were locked in a battle to surmount the other’s financial system for the new nation.
During his twelve years as Secretary of the Treasury, Gallatin overcame his predecessor by
Repaying half of the national debt
Containing the federal government by restraining its fiscal power
Abolishing internal taxes in peacetime
Today I’m talking with Gregory May, author of the new book Jefferson’s Treasure: How Albert Gallatin Saved the New Nation from Debt.
We discuss Gallatin’s rise to power, his tumultuous years at the Treasury, and his enduring influence on American fiscal policy.