Supreme Court and other courts then meeting in that city, which was at the time the nation's capital and leading commercial center. In , as a reward for the elder Dallas' assistance in his presidential election campaign, Thomas Jefferson appointed him U. He remained in that post until , when President James Madison selected him as his treasury secretary. In , Alexander Dallas also served concurrently for a brief period as acting secretary of war. He then resigned the treasury position in to return to his law practice with the intention of expanding the family's financial resources.
However, early the following year, a chronic illness led to his death at the age of fifty-nine, leaving his family without the wealth necessary to support its accustomed style of living. He then studied law and in , at age twenty, was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar. With little taste for legal practice, he sought military service in the War of but abandoned those plans on the objection of his ever-influential father.
He then readily accepted an appointment to serve as private secretary to former treasury secretary and Pennsylvania political figure Albert Gallatin, who was about to embark on a wartime mission to secure the aid of Russia in U. Dallas enjoyed the opportunities that travel to this distant land offered, but after six months orders took him from St. Petersburg to London to probe for diplomatic openings that might bring the war to an end. In August , as British troops were setting fire to the U. Capitol, young Dallas carried a preliminary draft of Britain's peace terms home to Washington and accepted President Madison's appointment as remitter of the treasury, a convenient arrangement at a time when his father was serving as that department's secretary.
The light duties of his new post left Dallas plenty of time to pursue his major vocational interest—politics. In , lonely and lovesick, Dallas left Washington for Philadelphia, where he married Sophia Chew Nicklin, daughter of an old-line Federalist family. They would eventually have eight children. His marriage extended his social and political reach but, as his modern biographer reports, "Prestige came without money, a circumstance that was doubly unfortunate because he had developed extravagant tastes as a youth. For this reason he continually lived beyond his means and was constantly in debt, a situation that caused him on more than one occasion to reject otherwise acceptable political posts.
The death of Alexander Dallas abruptly ended George's plans for a family law practice. He left the Bank of the United States to become deputy attorney general of Philadelphia, a post he held until George Mifflin Dallas cultivated a bearing appropriate to his aristocratic origins. Tall, with soft hazel eyes, an aquiline nose, and sandy hair, he dressed impeccably in the finest clothes his fashionable city could offer, wrote poetry, and, when the occasion warranted, spoke perfectly nuanced French. He developed an oratorical style that capitalized on his sonorous voice and protected him from the barbs of quicker-witted legal adversaries.
His biographer explains that, whether "by chance or design, his habit of talking slowly and emphasizing each word created the feeling that he was reasoning his way to a conclusion on the spot. Since he also prepared cases carefully in advance, his apparent groping for the right word—and finding it—reinforced the initial impression that a great mind was at work.
Dallas, however, lacked both the intense drive necessary to achieve his high ambitions and a natural politican's gift for warm social interaction with those outside his immediate circle. Only once in his public life, when he ran for the vice-presidency, did he submit himself to the decision of the voting public. The Pennsylvania state legislature awarded him his Senate term, and the rest of his offices were given by appointment.
At crucial moments, Dallas pulled back from the wrenching political compromises and exhausting coalition building necessary to achieve his lifelong quest for the presidency. Pennsylvania's chaotic political climate in the forty years that followed the War of promoted, shaped, and ultimately sidetracked Dallas' public career.
Two factions within the state's Democratic party contended for power during that time. Led by Dallas, the Philadelphia-based "Family party" shared his belief in the supremacy of the Constitution and in an active national government that would impose protective tariffs, operate a strong central banking system, and promote so-called internal improvements to facilitate national commerce. In factional opposition to Dallas stood the equally patrician James Buchanan of Harrisburg, head of the rival "Amalgamators," whose strength lay among the farmers of western Pennsylvania.
When the Family party gained control of the Philadelphia city councils, its members in elected Dallas as mayor. Boredom with that post quickly led Dallas—in his father's path—to the position of district attorney for the eastern district of Pennsylvania, where he stayed from to In December he won a five-man, eleven-ballot contest in the state legislature for election to the U. Senate to complete an unexpired term. In the Senate for only fourteen months, he chaired the Naval Affairs Committee and supported President Andrew Jackson's views on protective tariffs and the use of force to implement federal tariff laws in South Carolina.
A longtime supporter and financial beneficiary of the Second Bank of the United States, whose original charter his father had drafted, Dallas reluctantly parted company with the president on the volcanic issue of the bank's rechartering. As one Dallas biographer has written: "There was no question about how the people of Pennsylvania viewed the Second Bank of the United States.
The Philadelphia-based institution was Pennsylvanian by interest, location, and legislative initiative. When Jackson vetoed the recharter act in July and Congress failed to override the veto, Dallas—always the pragmatist—dropped his support for the bank. Observing that "we ought to have it, but we can do without it," he mollified the president and angered his state's influential commercial interests. Dallas realized that his chances for reelection to the Senate by the state legislature were uncertain.
His wife Sophia, who refused to leave Philadelphia's comforts for muddy and cholera-ridden Washington, was growing increasingly bitter over the legislative and social demands of his life in the capital. Consequently, Dallas chose not to run for a full term and left the Senate in March Although off the national stage, Dallas remained active in state Democratic politics. The tension with Buchanan intensified when the latter returned from his diplomatic post in Russia and secured Pennsylvania's other seat in the U. Dallas turned down opportunities to return to the Senate and to become the nation's attorney general.
Instead, he accepted an appointment as state attorney general, holding that post until , when control of the state's party machinery shifted from the declining Family party to Buchanan's Amalgamators. Although Dallas enjoyed the social responsibilities of that post, he soon grew frustrated at its lack of substantive duties and returned to the United States in He found that during his absence in St.
Petersburg Buchanan had achieved a commanding position in the home state political contest that had long engaged the two men.
In December , Van Buren offered the U. Dallas again declined the offer and spent the following years building his Philadelphia law practice. His relations with Buchanan remained troubled throughout this period. Favoring Van Buren for the Democratic presidential nomination, Dallas worked successfully to blunt Buchanan's drive for that prize. Van Buren sought unsuccessfully to have the Democratic convention held in November rather than late May He had hoped to capture the nomination before his opposition to the annexation of Texas became public when Congress convened in early December.
By April , with Democratic support for annexation intensifying, Van Buren watched helplessly as his chances for regaining the White House slipped away. Under the influence of Van Buren's opponents, the Democratic party's Baltimore convention in May adopted the Jackson-era rule that required a two-thirds vote to select its nominee. After eight deadlocked ballots at the superheated and violence-prone convention, supporters of Van Buren and his chief rival, Michigan's Lewis Cass, united on the unheralded former House Speaker James K.
Polk of Tennessee—who thus became the first successful "darkhorse" candidate in American presidential history. Although Wright was absent from the convention, those delegates who had not already left town willingly added him to the ticket. Four days earlier, Professor Samuel F.
Morse had successfully demonstrated that his newly invented "Magnetic Electric Telegraph" could transmit messages over the forty-mile distance between the U. Capitol and Baltimore. Silas Wright was in the Capitol Rotunda reading other telegraphic reports from the Baltimore convention when news of his nomination arrived. Bitter at the convention's rejection of Van Buren, Wright dictated a response to Morse, who typed out the following message to the convention's waiting delegates: "Washington. Wright is here, and says, say to the New York delegation, that he cannot accept the nomination.
Morse replied: "Again: Mr. Wright is here, and will support Mr. Polk cheerfully, but can not accept the nomination for vice-president. With Wright out of the picture, and with no New York ally of Van Buren willing to accept the nomination, the convention turned to James Buchanan, but he immediately instructed his allies to withdraw his name. The searchlight then swept across several candidates from New England and came to rest on Maine's Senator John Fairfield, who received an impressive, but inconclusive, votes on the first ballot. At the suggestion of party leader and Mississippi Senator Robert J.
Walker who was married to Dallas' niece , Pennsylvania delegates then sparked a move for Dallas, who was at home in Philadelphia. Dallas' views were generally compatible with Polk's, especially on the key issue of annexing Texas. His stand in favor of protective tariffs would appeal to northeastern commercial interests and offset Polk's ambiguous position on this sensitive issue.
Party strategists realized that Pennsylvania, with its prize of nearly 10 percent of the total electoral votes, which were by no means safely in the Democratic camp, could prove decisive in the election. On the second ballot, the convention gave Dallas the nomination with votes to just 30 for Fairfield. On May 30, sixty high-spirited delegates left Baltimore for Philadelphia, arriving at the Dallas residence at 3 a.
As a bewildered Dallas stood by his open door, the nocturnal visitors marched by double column silently into his parlor. Forming a semicircle, the men burst into applause as Senator Fairfield conveyed the surprising news and Dallas, uneasy at the prospect of returning to public life, accepted with less than abundant enthusiasm.
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The selection also came as news to presidential nominee Polk, whose advisers quickly assured him that Dallas would be an excellent complement to the ticket. Within Pennsylvania, opinion was sharply divided, as resentful Buchanan allies feared that the less-than-dynamic Dallas would cost their party the presidency in a contest against the aggressive and better-known Whig candidates, Kentucky's Henry Clay and New Jersey's Theodore Frelinghuysen. One Pennsylvania Whig dismissively described Dallas as "a gentleman by birth and education, amiable in private life, very bland and courteous in manner.
As was customary prior to , the various states scheduled the presidential election on different days during November's first two weeks. When the votes were finally tallied, the Polk-Dallas ticket won fifteen out of the twenty-six states by a comfortable margin of to electoral votes. They were far less convincing, however, in the popular vote, with a margin of only 6, out of the 2. Polk narrowly lost his native Tennessee, while Dallas barely carried Pennsylvania. While analysts agreed that victories in New York and Pennsylvania made the difference for the Democratic ticket, no such consensus existed about Dallas's impact on this result.
Like many of his contemporaries on the national political stage in , George Dallas wanted to be president. In accepting the Democratic nomination, Polk committed himself to serving only one term, hoping this promise would encourage his party's warring factions to suspend their combat at least until the campaign. Instead, his pledge instantly prompted maneuvering from many quarters for the nomination.
Four of the nation's ten previous vice presidents had moved up to the presidency and Dallas saw no reason why he should not become the fifth. For his first two years in the second office, Dallas framed his behavior with that goal in mind. Dallas met Polk for the first time on February 13, , joining the president-elect for the final leg of his railroad journey to Washington. Dallas used the opportunity to follow up on his earlier suggestions for cabinet nominees he believed would strengthen the party—and his own presidential chances.
He particularly sought to sabotage archrival James Buchanan's hopes of becoming secretary of state, the other traditional launching pad to the White House. Buchanan had arrogantly instructed Pennsylvania's presidential electors to recommend him for that post at the time they cast their ballots for the Democratic ticket. This infuriated Dallas, who promised a friend that, while he had become vice president "willy-nilly" and expected to endure "heavy and painful and protracted sacrifices,.
U.S. Senate: George Mifflin Dallas, 11th Vice President ()
I am resolved that no one shall be taken from Pennsylvania in a cabinet office who is notoriously hostile to the Vice President. If such a choice be made, my relations with the administration are at once at an end. Several weeks later, learning that Polk had indeed chosen Buchanan, Dallas failed to follow up on his dark oath. Instead, he began quietly to lobby for the appointment of Senator Robert J. Walker—his earlier choice against Buchanan for the state department—for the influential post of treasury secretary. Polk, realizing that he had offended Dallas and Walker's southern Democratic allies, awarded the treasury post to Walker.
Dallas continued to be sensitive about the administration's distribution of major appointments, as he sought to strengthen his Pennsylvania political base in order to weaken the Buchanan faction and enhance his own presidential prospects. In his subsequent appointments, however, Polk continued to antagonize Dallas, as well as others in the Democratic party. Again, the president tried to appease the vice president. From to , the Senate followed the practice of selecting its committees by ballot, with the exception of several years in the s and s when the power was specifically given to the presiding officer or, more pointedly, to the president pro tempore , an officer selected by and responsible to the Senate.
The Danger of President Pence
When the Senate convened in March for its brief special session to receive the new president's executive nominations, Democratic party leaders engineered a resolution that revived the practice of having the vice president appoint the members of standing committees. Acknowledging that the vice president was not directly responsible to the Senate, administration allies asserted that his was a greater responsibility, as guaranteed in the Constitution, "to the Senate's masters, the people of these United States. Vice President Dallas made the desired appointments.
In December , at the opening of the Senate's regular legislative session, party leaders again sought to give the appointment power to Dallas. On this occasion, however, four rebellious Democrats joined minority party Whigs to defeat the resolution by a one-vote margin. This action presented the Polk administration with the unappealing likelihood that, in balloting by the full Senate, Democrats hostile to its specific objectives would take control of key Senate committees.
Dallas reported that the return to the usual procedure required him to work "unusually hard. But I assure you," he continued, "contrary to my expectations, it is not done without a great deal of preparatory labor. Now that [the anti-administration] hostility has shewn itself, I am bound to be ready at all points and against surprizes. To end this time-consuming process, Senate party leaders took a step of major importance for the future development of legislative political parties. The Democrats and Whigs each organized a party caucus to prepare lists of committee assignments, an arrangement that marked the beginning of the Senate seniority system.
As long as committee members had been selected by secret ballot or appointed by presiding officers, a member's experience did not guarantee his selection. After , seniority became a major determinant, particularly in the selection of committee chairmen. Legislative parties, charged with preparing slates of committee assignments, tended to become more cohesive.
In this period the tradition also began of seating in the chamber by party—with the Democrats to the presiding officer's right and the Whigs later the Republicans to the left. From his canopied dais, the vice president had the best seat in the nation's best theater. On one memorable occasion, he reported to his wife that "the speech of [Senator Daniel] Webster to-day would have overwhelmed and perhaps disgusted you. He attacked [Pennsylvania's Representative] Mr. But the latest Des Moines Register poll has her bumping along at 2 percent support. If Biden continues to decline, Klobuchar seems likely to corral some of his moderate-minded voters.
Website: BetoORourke. Website: JayInslee. Inslee, 69, has also led the charge to pressure the DNC to host an official climate-specific debate — a demand the committee has so far refused. Signature Policy: Fighting climate change. Climate Alliance , a bipartisan group of 22 governors implementing the Paris climate accord. Is America Ready? Website: Tulsi She has introduced a bipartisan bill with Rep. Gabbard has also ruffled feathers within her own party. Website: Gillibrand, 52, is distinguishing herself as the first candidate to speak up when it comes to the issues most important to women.
She has called for codifying Roe and repealing the Hyde Amendment, and she has promised to appoint only pro-choice judges. According to a post-debate poll , more Democratic voters said their opinion of Gillibrand worsened, rather than improved, based on her performance. Website: Yang Expectations were high that Yang could make a stir in the first debates.
Instead his performance fell flat, as he failed to make a clear pitch, even on his signature policy of free money from the government. Signature Policy: The year-old is running on a platform of a universal basic income , to counteract the worst effects of automation in the workforce. Website: BilldeBlasio. Though de Blasio, 58, has his sights set on Washington, he has plenty of problems to address closer to home. His approval rating in New York is hovering in the lows.
And his national disapproval numbers top the field. A recent poll found that 42 percent of Democrats and independents think he should drop out. Website: Marianne Nobody knows where this is going. Signature Apology: In her Prayer of Apology to African Americans , the bestselling author apologizes for slavery, lynchings, white supremacist laws, the denial of voting rights, the denial of civil rights, unequal treatment of Black Americans in the criminal justice system, police brutality, economic injustice and more, asking God for forgiveness. Website: EricSwalwell. He punched above his weight during Democratic debates in Miami, using the words of a young, ambitious Biden against him.
Sometimes those decisions involve bleach. Website: Hickenlooper. What the fuck? Website: JohnKDelaney. Delaney preaches a relentlessly bipartisan message of national unity. An entrepreneur in high finance, he launched two companies that trade on the New York Stock Exchange.
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He got little respect or airtime at the June debates, with even the moderators shutting him down. Signature Policy: Delaney is promoting a national youth service program to bring the country together. Website: SteveBullock. He entered the race in May and did not qualify for the first Democratic debates in Miami. Still, his experience stands out. He won statewide office in a state Trump carried by 20 points — and then got a GOP-majority legislature to agree to expand Medicaid. Signature Policy: The year-old has focused on ending the influence of unlimited political contributions and dark money.
Signature Apology: A former Bullock aide, fired for sexual harassment, went on to harass again in the office of the mayor of New York City. Website : MichaelBennet. With Sen. Tim Kaine D-VA , Bennet is proposing legislation to create, and slowly roll out, a public option for the Obamacare state marketplaces, with the same doctor and hospital networks as Medicare, and similar reimbursement rates. Website: TimRyanForAmerica. Website: SethMoulton. He has made his experience in war a centerpiece of his campaign.
Website: WayneForAmerica. But the year-old was recently elected to a third term in the Miami suburb with more residents than South Bend, Indiana and the former football standout has set his sights on Washington. His cash-strapped campaign reportedly missed payroll in April and lost key staff.
He did not qualify for the first primary debate. Signature Policy: Messam has called for statehood for Puerto Rico , and was the first Democrat to call for cancelling all student debt. Website: JoeSestak. Sestak is a name political junkies will remember from his failed bids for a senate seat from Pennsylvania.
In he unseated the party-switching Democratic incumbent Arlen Specter in the primary, before losing to Republican Pat Toomey in the general. Sestak lost an expensive Democratic primary race in Website: FairFightAction. I want people to think about folks from the South, especially black women in the South, being part of this national narrative. Website: MikeGravel.