Albert Gallatin is considered one of the most influential men of the early American Republic, and one of the most prominent Swiss-Americans in U.S. history. He served his adopted country for 60 years as a congressional leader, Secretary of the Treasury, financier, ambassador and has been referred to as America’s Swiss Founding Father.
Abraham Alfonse Albert Gallatin was born into a noble and aristocratic Swiss family in Geneva, Switzerland on January 29, 1761. Orphaned at the age of 9, he was raised by his grandparents and by a Mlle. Catherine Pictet, a close friend of his mother and a relative of our founder Laurent Roux. In 1780, he settled in Boston and taught French at Harvard College. He entered public service in 1788 as a delegate to the Harrisburg Convention (a convention proposing amendments to the new U.S. Constitution), and again in 1789 as a delegate to the Pennsylvania State Constitutional Convention. Gallatin was elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 1790, and in 1795, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Among his achievements, the Standing Committee on Finance (later the Ways and Means Committee) to assure the US Treasury’s accountability to Congress, Secretary of the Treasury under President Jefferson in 1801 and continued under President James Madison until 1814; he remains to this day the longest serving Secretary of the Treasury in American history. Gallatin's single priority was to aggressively reduce the national debt and lower taxes. He paid down the national debt, concurrently repealed all internal taxes, and borrowed nearly $15 million to purchase the Louisiana Territory, doubling the size of the country. Gallatin also played a key role in planning and financing the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Upon finding the source of the Missouri River at present-day Three Forks, Montana, Captains Lewis and Clark named the eastern of the three tributaries after Gallatin.
In 1813, Gallatin left the Treasury and headed the U.S. delegation to France for peace talks with the British negotiating and securing the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812. This was important for it gave the United States true and complete independence from Great Britain. Gallatin’s leadership and masterful negotiating established his reputation as a skilled diplomat and, as a reward for his service, was appointed United States Minister to France and later Minister to Great Britain before leaving public service and moving to New York in 1817. There he became the President of the National Bank of the City of New York (later named Gallatin Bank), served as President of the New York Historical Society, and founded New York University, which to this day has a school that bears his name.
In front of the United States Treasury building in Washington, DC stands a statue of Albert Gallatin with the inscription: Genius of Finance.
When Laurent Roux retired in 2005 from Pictet & Cie, his family's wealth management business headquartered in Geneva, his vision and passion was to serve individuals and families by sharing his extensive knowledge and expertise from his twenty-five years of experience in Europe and Asia. The new independent company was named in honor of Gallatin. The latter's international background, link with the US West, and expertise in financial matters seemed a fitting tribute.