Alexander James DallasAlexander James Dallas was born in Jamaica in 1759 but while still at a young age, returned to Scotland with his father, and also a barrister, Dr. Robert Dallas.

The younger Dallas followed in his father's footsteps and obtained his legal training at the University of Edinburgh. He married at a young age and returned to his native Jamaica in 1780 where he practiced law.

Soon , he felt that attraction of the burgeoning new democracy, the United States of America and migrated with his wife Arabella, in 1783, settling in Philadelphia, where their only child, a son, George Mifflin Dallas was born.

That state's Supreme Court admitted him to practice in 1785.

Dallas was also a writer. While his practice grew, he wrote many freelance articles for the local press. His dabbling in politics paid off as from 1791 to 1801, he held the office of secretary of state for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

He is a founder of the Pennsylvania Democratic Society in 1793.

Dall. S.C.But his lasting contribution came when he entered the publishing field, publishing first the laws of Pennsylvania for the convenience of the local bar and judiciary.

Then, from 1790 to 1807, in four volumes, he published the law reports and opinions not only of the Pennsylvania courts but also of the new United States Supreme Court.

The law reports:

Reports of Cases Rules and Adjudged in the Several Courts of the United States and Pennsylvania (Dall.S.C.)

These were, and continue to be today, the official reports of the first several years of the US Supreme Court, now more commonly known by their official law report legal citation, of U.S. As such, James Alexander Dallas is recognized as the editor of the first reports of the United States Supreme Court.

In 1801, Dallas was appointed US Attorney by President Jefferson.

Politics continued to attract his services and he soon found himself in Washington as Secretary of the Treasury and arguing for a Bank of the United States, which was eventually proposed by a law dated 1816.

When his political initiatives were successful, he left their workings to public servants and returned to Philadelphia intending to resume his legal practice.

But, alas, the shadow of death took him suddenly and he died on January 16, 1817.

An incomplete history of Pennsylvania was found amongst his papers.

His son wrote a biography of him, Life and Times, but it was not published until 1862.

REFERENCES:

  • Duhaime, Lloyd, Law's Hall of Fame
  • Duhaime, Lloyd, Legal Citation Dall.S.C.
  • National Cyclopedia of American Biography, Volume 5 (New York: James T. White & Company, 1907), page 972.
  • Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896 (New York: A. N. Marquis Company, 1963), page 133