Alexander J. Dallas
Alexander James Dallas was
born on the Island of Jamaica on June 21,
1759 to Robert Charles Dallas,
a Scottish physician who had
emigrated to Jamaica in 1750. He was
educated at Edinburgh and Westminster
under the tutelage of James Elphinston. During his
studies Alexander made the acquaintance of Dr. Johnson and of
Benjamin Franklin. He studied law in London and
returned to the Jamaica in 1780. In
1783 his mother remarried and he was
removed from his father's will. He moved to Philadelphia
in April 1783 and took the oath of
allegiance to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in
Alexander became a member of the bar in 1785
and began the practice of law a few years later. He was very
successful lawyer and in 1791 he was appointed
Secretary of State for Pennsylvania.
During this time he was also a prolific writer for periodicals
and was also the editor of "Columbian Magazine."
He also compiled and wrote a four volume
collection of law entitled, "Reports of Cases
ruled and adjudged by the Courts of the United States and of
Pennsylvania, before and since the Revolution."
1801,in return for his support, President
Thomas Jefferson appointed Dallas as the Attorney
General for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania,
which office he held until 1814. President
James Madison appointed Alexander J. Dallas as
Secretary of the Treasury in 1814. When he
began his term the finances of the country were in shambles and
Dallas recommended in a brilliantly written
report that the required funds could not be raised by
taxation alone and should be raised by the process
government loans. In this respect, he also
proposed the establishment of a National Bank.
On April 3, 1815 the Act to establish a National
Bank was passed by congress and signed into law by
Beginning in March 1815, Secretary Dallas also
assumed the duties of Secretary of War and
supervised the reduction of the army after the restoration of
peace between the United States and Great Britain. He
returned to the practice of law in
November 1816, but died only a few weeks later in
Trenton, New Jersey on January 14, 1817.
Alexander's son Alexander James Dallas, Jr. was
born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1791.
He died on board his ship in Callao Bay, Peru in
1844. He married Arabella Smith in
1808 (died in
childbirth) and then
married Henrietta Meade and lastly Mary Byrd
Willis in 1836.
of Alexander's other son's George Mifflin Dallas
served as Vice-President of the United States
under James K. Polk.
Commodore John Rogers
John Rogers was born in Harford, Maryland
on July 11, 1771. He was the eighth of ten
children born to Colonel John T. and
Elizabeth Reynolds Rogers. He married
in 1806 and they had eleven children. He
died at the Naval Asylum in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 1, 1838.
Commodore Rogers entered the Navy as a midshipman
in 1798 and served as First Lieutenant
on the maiden voyage of the USS Constellation.
During the War of 1812 he was a proponent
of using two large squadrons, one in American
Waters and the other in British waters.
Secretary of the Navy, Paul Hamilton acting on Rogers
advice placed Commodore Rogers in command
of the squadron, which was to operate in
British waters. The squadron consisting of the frigates,
United States, Congress,
President, sloop Hornet and brig
Argus set sail on June 20, 1812; its
primary mission to intercept a large convoy
of British ships departing Jamaica for England.
Shortly after setting sail Commodore Rogers sighted
the British frigate Belvidera and gave chase. The
USS President, (Rogers'
flagship) closed the
British frigate on June 23, 1812 and fired the
first shot of the War of 1812. Subsequently, a gun
exploded aboard President and the British vessel escaped
into Halifax. Rogers then turned south to intercept the Jamaica
fleet, but never caught up with them.
Rogers' squadron then cruised between the
south coast of France and the Canary Islands
hoping to take some prizes in those waters, however he
encountered mostly empty seas and returned home
with nothing to show for his cruise. As a result of this
unsuccessful cruise, the United States Navy made
the decision to use their resources in
single ship engagements and in commerce raiding.
the end of the war The USS President under the
command of Stephen Decatur, engaged HMS
Endymion with HMS Pomone and HMS
Tenedos arriving near the end of the battle. Outgunned
and with over 50 of his crew dead or wounded Decatur
surrendered and the President was taken to
Bermuda as a prize of war.
frigate, USS President was authorized
by Congress in 1794. Her keel was
laid in 1795. Construction was halted after peace
was established with the Barbary Pirates and begun again
1798. She was launched and commissioned in
1800. She put the sea for her first cruise
under Commander Thomas Truxton and later in
1801 as the flagship of Commodore
Richard Dale's Squadron to the Mediterranean.
She returned to the Mediterranean again in
1804 and was placed in ordinary on her
return to the United States in 1805. She was
reactivated in 1809.
NOTE: "Placed in Ordinary" meant that a ship was laid
up along-side a dock and that the ship's masts, rigging, sails
and guns had been removed and stored ashore.
The Complete Text of
the Letter Follows Below:
The family have so
often expressed a wish to see
my son Alexander, that without telling him of my intentions, I
beg the favor of you, to give him a furlough to visit us,
providing you can
conveniently do it. I wait with I hope respect to you, the
with an infinite confidence; and whatever answer you may give in
I am prepared to think right.
It has been said,
that you were promptly to come
this way. I hope you will in the course of your journey let me
opportunity of assuring you personally, that I remain
D Sir, Very
Yr Obed Serv
13 Jany 1812