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Albert Gallatin's Message

March 12, 2012 - Joselyn King
Albert Gallatin -- a statesman whose name is most often associated with money -- was a man with a message ahead of its time.

He believed spending federal tax dollars to wage war took needed funds away from developing a young United States of America, and I'm guessing he would be pounding that point strongly today as America continues war and rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan.

Perhaps you've never heard of Gallatin, as he really does get lost in the pages of U.S. history.

The Swiss-born immigrant set down roots in nearby Point Marion, Pa. His home and grounds, Friendship Hill, are still there, and you can take a tour.

I don't think you consider him one of the nation's forefathers, but he did work for a couple of them.

Gallatin served as secretary of treasury under presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison between the years 1801 and 1813. His was the longest stint of any cabinet secretary,and he was largely responsible for securing the funds that led to the Louisiana Purchase of lands in the western United States.

Gallatin saw the need for a national transportation system, and his ideas eventually lead to the construction of U.S. 40/National Road.

Gallatin opposed the War of 1812 because it was taking away took much of the nation's money away from needed infrastructure development.

Gallatin felt so strongly about this he resigned as treasury secretary in 1813 to lead an expedition to Europe to negotiate the end of the war. They would achieve this end with the Treaty of Ghent.

U.S. Defense Department figures from last year set the cost of U.S. war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan at $9.7 billion a month -- with roughly two-thirds going to Afghanistan.

Most estimates set the overall cost of the wars over the last decade at more than $1 trillion.

The citizens of Afghanistan already had come to resent the American presence in their country, where U.S. efforts haven't seemed productive in the last decade.

And this weekends shootings of 16 Afghan civilians -- allegedly by an American soldier -- are likely to set off a wave of deadly retaliation.

Soldiers in Iraq have now come home, and perhaps its time those in Afghanistan follow their course.


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