Sunday, September 18, 2011

When Gallatin came to Jefferson

Gallatin stand-in

By contributor Donna Shor
Photos by Neshan H. Naltchayan

A seldom-celebrated American statesman (who was both ally and occasionally antagonist of Thomas Jefferson) finally got his due Thursday night when the Swiss Embassy and the Jefferson Hotel brought their doubles together.

It was also the 250th year of Gallatin’s birth and his actor stand-in at the celebration had the fun of unveiling Gallatin’s portrait in dedicating the Jefferson Hotel’s Gallatin Room.

author Nicholas Dungan
Born in Geneva, Switzerland, Albert Gallatin’s arrival in the United States and his subsequent career proved a boon to our newborn country.  With a keen intellect and mastery of fiscal issues, Gallatin spent his years here as a diplomat and politician, a member of the U.S. Congress, and the longest-serving Secretary of the Treasury in American history. 

Nicholas Dungan, the author of “Gallatin: America’s Swiss Founding Father” was on hand and Dungan—as much actor as author—carried on a lively interplay of historic fact with the lightning-fast responses of the two actors in character as Gallatin and Thomas Jefferson.

Jehan-Christoph (J.C.)
de La Haye Saint Hilaire

Opening remarks were by Dr. Manuel Sager, Ambassador of Switzerland to the United States; Mr. Mark Muller, President of the Geneva State Council and popular Countess de La Haye Saint Hilaire, the  blonde proprietress of The Jefferson, whose friends call her “Connie.”

To the strains of sweet music from a trio provided by the Swiss Global Artistic Foundation, champagne glasses were lifted in many a toast -- and especially to the spirit of Albert Gallatin.