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Armstrong, John (13 October 1717–09 March 1795), soldier, surveyor, and member of the Continental Congress, was born in County Fermanagh, Ulster, Ireland. The identities of his Scotch-Irish parents and circumstances of his youth are unclear, but his father may have been named James. A trained surveyor, John Armstrong evidently received some education fairly early in life. Sometime in the mid-1740s Armstrong immigrated to America, settling initially in Delaware and then in Pennsylvania, where he worked as a surveyor. It was probably at some point after his arrival in America that he married Rebeckah Armstrong. The couple had two sons (the younger, ...

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Ashe, John Baptista (1748–27 November 1802), member of the Continental Congress and U.S. Congress, soldier, and state politician, was born in Rocky Point, New Hanover County, North Carolina, the son of Samuel Ashe, a jurist, and Mary Porter. His grandfather John Baptista Ashe, for whom he was named, served on His Majesty’s Council of North Carolina; his father was assistant attorney for the Crown, the first judge for the state of North Carolina, and later governor. Ashe, who grew up on the “Neck,” his father’s tobacco plantation, learned about tobacco cultivation and received his education from a private tutor. There is no indication that he pursued a college education....

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Bloomfield, Joseph (18 October 1753–08 October 1823), lawyer, soldier, and politician, was born in Woodbridge, New Jersey, the son of Moses Bloomfield, a physician, and Sarah Ogden. The family was one of the most prominent in colonial New Jersey. His father had received a first-rate medical education in Edinburgh, Scotland, and had a thriving practice in Middlesex County by the time Joseph was born. Joseph’s mother was a member of a wealthy and influential family of Elizabethtown, which further assured Joseph’s upper-class pedigree. His education and choice of occupation were in line with his social standing. While in his early teens, he attended the Reverend Enoch Green’s classical academy in Deerfield, Cumberland County, at the opposite end of the province from Woodbridge. Upon graduation, Bloomfield returned to East Jersey, determined to be a lawyer. He entered the profession at the top, studying in Perth Amboy with Cortlandt Skinner, attorney general of New Jersey, and was admitted to the bar in November 1774. Setting up practice in Bridgeton, Cumberland County, he soon became known and respected in all of New Jersey’s southern counties. The future seemed secure, had not the American Revolution intervened....

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Campbell, Arthur (03 November 1743–08 August 1811), frontiersman, soldier, and politician, was born in Augusta County, Virginia, the son of David Campbell and Mary Hamilton, immigrant Scotch-Irish Presbyterian farmers. He was not quite fifteen when, during the French and Indian War, he joined a company of Virginia rangers stationed in western Augusta County. At Fort Young on the Jackson River in September 1758, Campbell was captured by Wyandot Indians and spent two years in captivity in the vicinity of Detroit before escaping....

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Champion, Henry (19 January 1723–23 July 1797), political and military leader who played an important role in provisioning the Continental army, was born in East Haddam, Connecticut, the son of Lieutenant Henry Champion and Mehitable Rowley. Little is known about his early life and education....

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Cilley, Joseph (1734–25 August 1799), soldier and politician, was born at “Ledge Farm” in Nottingham, New Hampshire, the son of Joseph Cilley and Alice (or Elsie) Rawlins (or Rollins), farmers. During his youth Cilley worked alongside his father, learning how to farm. A self-taught lawyer, he also was a businessman. In 1756 he married Sarah Longfellow; they had ten children and established a farm, “The Square,” near Nottingham....

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Davie, William Richardson (20 June 1756–05 November 1820), statesman and soldier, was born in Egremont, Cumberlandshire, England, the son of Archibald Davie, a manufacturer of damask fabric, and Mary Richardson. In 1763 he was brought by his father to Waxhaw, South Carolina, to be adopted by his mother’s brother, the Reverend William Richardson, a Presbyterian clergyman. He was educated at an academy in Charlotte, North Carolina—Queen’s Museum College. He then studied at Princeton, from which he graduated in 1776 with first honors. He subsequently studied law in Salisbury, North Carolina. Although he was licensed to practice law in 1780, his service in the revolutionary war deferred his becoming a jurist until 1782....

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Dearborn, Henry (23 February 1751–06 June 1829), politician and soldier, was born in Hampton, New Hampshire, the son of Simon Dearborn and Sarah Marston, farmers. When Henry was seven years old the family moved to Epping, New Hampshire, where he attended local schools. The father died when Henry was fifteen, leaving the mother with a large family and scant resources. Unable to attend college, Henry studied medicine first under local doctors and then under ...

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Ewing, James (03 August 1736–01 March 1806), colonial Pennsylvania assemblyman, revolutionary war general, and state legislator, was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas Ewing, a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly from 1739 to 1741, and Susanna Howard. His family was Scotch-Irish, but unlike most of this group, the Ewings were not Presbyterians. James married Patience Wright, a daughter of a notable local family. In the “Great War for the Empire,” Ewing accompanied General ...

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William Grayson. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98918).