A Swiss immigrant who settled in southwestern Pennsylvania, where he acquired large land holdings, Albert Gallatin was a financier of the early U.S. national period. In 1790 he entered the state legislature, where he worked to secure reform of the penal code, the abolition of slavery, and the creation of a public educational system. Gallatin did not trust centralized government, which caused him to help organize the Republican party in Pennsylvania. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. President Thomas Jefferson named Gallatin secretary of the treasury in 1801, a position he held through 1814. He was able to reduce the national debt by one -half before the War of 1812.