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Baker, Edward Dickinson (24 February 1811–21 October 1861), statesman and soldier, was born in London, England, the son of Edward Baker, an educator, and Lucy Dickinson. The family emigrated to the United States in 1815 and lived in Philadelphia for about ten years. The elder Baker ran a school that young Edward attended until he secured employment as a hand loom weaver. Attracted by ...

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Blair, Francis Preston, Jr. (19 February 1821–09 July 1875), statesman and Union army officer, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, the son of Francis Preston Blair, the influential editor of the Congressional Globe, and Eliza Violet Gist Blair. He was a brother of Montgomery Blair...

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Chamberlain, Joshua Lawrence (08 September 1828–24 February 1914), soldier, politician, and educator, was born in Brewer, Maine, the son of Joshua Chamberlain, a farmer and shipbuilder, and Sarah Dupee Brastow. After attending a military academy in Ellsworth, Chamberlain entered Bowdoin College in 1848, graduating in 1852. Three years later, after graduating from the Bangor Theological Seminary, he joined Bowdoin’s faculty and taught a broad range of subjects, including logic, natural theology, rhetoric, oratory, and modern languages. In 1855 he married Frances Caroline Adams; of the couple’s five children, three survived to adulthood....

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Colquitt, Alfred Holt (20 April 1824–26 March 1894), Confederate military officer and politician, was born in Walton County, Georgia, the son of Walter T. Colquitt, an attorney and later a judge, congressman, and U.S. senator, and Nancy Lane. Graduating from Princeton University in 1844, Colquitt studied law and was admitted to the bar in Georgia in 1846....

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Dix, John Adams (24 July 1798–21 April 1879), politician and general, was born in Boscawen, New Hampshire, the son of Timothy Dix, a merchant, and Abigail Wilkins. He received a varied liberal education, including a year at Phillips Exeter Academy and fifteen months at the College of Montreal. At age fourteen, while being tutored in Boston, Dix pleaded to join the army to defend the nation in the War of 1812. His father, a major, helped him to obtain a commission, and he served in battles at Chrysler’s Field (1813) and Lundy’s Lane (1814). His father’s death during the war caused Dix to stay in the army to help support his stepmother and siblings. Serving as an aide to Major General ...

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Gordon, John Brown (06 February 1832–09 January 1904), soldier and politician, was born in Upson County, Georgia, the son of Zachariah Herndon Gordon, a minister, and Malinda Cox. After studies at a private school established by his father, John attended Pleasant Green Academy for a year before entering the University of Georgia in 1850. He did well at Georgia but did not graduate. In 1854 he moved to Atlanta to pursue a legal career. His practice, however, was not as successful as he had hoped, and he decided to explore other fields of employment. After a brief stint as a journalist covering the Georgia General Assembly, he joined his father in a coal-mining venture that quickly prospered. In 1854 he married Fanny Rebecca Haralson, with whom he had six children....

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Grayson, William (1736–12 March 1790), lawyer, soldier, and statesman, was born in Prince William County, Virginia, the son of Susanna Monroe and Benjamin Grayson, a merchant and factor. He attended the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania), graduating in 1760. Some controversy exists concerning whether he next proceeded to Oxford or to Edinburgh, but the absence of his name from the rolls at Oxford, coupled with his great devotion to the teachings of Adam Smith, seems to militate in favor of the Scottish university. According to tradition, he then received legal training at the Inns of Court. He married Eleanor Smallwood....

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Hamilton, Alexander (11 January 1757?–12 July 1804), statesman and first secretary of the treasury, was born in Nevis, British West Indies, the second of two illegitimate sons of James Hamilton and Rachel Faucett Lavien. (The year of birth is often given as 1755, but the evidence more strongly supports 1757.) The father deserted the family when Hamilton was eight; the mother died three years later. Hamilton was apprenticed to a firm of international merchants and proved to be so gifted in commerce that he was soon left in full charge of the business. At fifteen he was “discovered” by a Presbyterian minister, who arranged financial support to send him to the College of New Jersey at Princeton. After a year at a preparatory school he passed the stiff entrance exams at Princeton, but when the president refused to allow him to advance at his own pace rather than with the regular classes, he went to King’s College (now Columbia) in New York instead....

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Hancock, Winfield Scott (14 February 1824–09 February 1886), soldier and presidential candidate, was born at Montgomery Square, Pennsylvania, the son of Benjamin Franklin Hancock, a schoolteacher and later a lawyer, and Elizabeth Hoxworth, who named him in honor of Winfield Scott, a military hero of the War of 1812. Raised at Norristown, Pennsylvania, he attended the local academy, where he organized a military company before his appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. After graduating in 1844, eighteenth in a class of twenty-five (with fifty-five nongraduates), Hancock was assigned to the Sixth Infantry. He barely arrived in time for the last month of fighting in the Mexican War, winning brevet promotion to first lieutenant. While stationed at St. Louis, in 1850 he married Almira Russell; they had two children....

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Hartranft, John Frederick (16 December 1830–17 October 1889), Civil War officer and politician, was born near Pottstown, Pennsylvania, the child of Samuel E. Hartranft, a local landowner, and Lydia Bucher, both of German ancestry. He graduated from Union College in 1853 with a degree in civil engineering. About the same time as his marriage to Sallie Sebring (with whom he had one son and two daughters) in 1854, Hartranft changed his life’s vocation to law and politics....