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Abbott, Joseph Carter (15 July 1825–08 October 1881), senator and journalist, was born in Concord, New Hampshire, the son of Aaron Carter Abbott, a farmer and laborer, and Nancy Badger. After graduating in 1846 from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, Abbott studied law. He began his practice in Concord in 1852, the year he became editor and proprietor of the ...

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Aiken, D. Wyatt (17 March 1828–06 April 1887), agricultural editor and congressman, was born David Wyatt Aiken in Winnsboro, South Carolina, the son of David Aiken, a merchant and planter, and Nancy Kerr. Descended from an Irish family that had prospered in the United States, Aiken received an excellent education at Mount Zion Institute in his hometown and, as was common for the sons of planters, attended South Carolina College. He graduated in 1849 and taught mathematics for two years at Mount Zion. After traveling to Europe in 1851, he returned home to marry Mattie Gaillard in 1852. Before her death in 1855, they had two children. Aiken married Virginia Carolina Smith in 1857; they had eleven children. The following year he purchased a plantation from the estate of Virginia’s father in Cokesbury, Abbeville District. As the proprietor of “Coronaca” plantation, he became involved in the agricultural reform movement and in states’ rights politics. He fervently believed that “agriculture climbs high in the scale of science: it develops thought, matures judgment, and requires for the execution, untiring energy, perseverance, and industry.” He was instrumental in the formation of the Abbeville Agricultural Society and was a member of its executive committee. In 1858 he attended the Southern Commercial Convention in Montgomery, Alabama, a meeting that quickly became a forum for disunionist politics....

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Fisher Ames. Oil on wood, c. 1807, by Gilbert Stuart. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of George Cabot Lodge.

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Ames, Fisher (09 April 1758–04 July 1808), Federalist party leader, member of Congress, essayist, and renowned orator, was born in Dedham, Massachusetts, the son of Nathaniel Ames, Sr., a physician, tavern keeper, and almanac writer, and Deborah Fisher. Intellectually honed, Ames was admitted to Harvard at twelve. Steeped in the classics, he excelled in elocution and participated in a debating club, the Institute of 1770. Graduating in 1774, he served with the Dedham militia at the time of the battle of Bunker Hill but did not see combat. At home he pursued his scholarly interests, reading widely in classical literature and history. He also occasionally taught school. Under the tutelage of the prominent ...

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Anthony, Henry Bowen (01 April 1815–02 September 1884), newspaper editor and U.S. senator, was born in Coventry, Rhode Island, the son of William Anthony, a cotton manufacturer, and Mary Kinnicutt Greene. Preparatory school in Providence preceded Anthony’s entrance into Brown University. He graduated in 1833, fifth in a class of twenty. His lifelong regard for literature and Brown University culminated in the bequest of an exceptional collection of poetry volumes....

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Arnold, Isaac Newton (30 November 1815–24 April 1884), congressman and biographer, was born in Hartwick, Otsego County, New York, the son of George Washington Arnold, a doctor, and Sophia Mason. His parents, natives of Rhode Island, had moved to Otsego County around 1800. Isaac attended local schools, including Hartwick Seminary. Between 1832 and 1835 he taught school and studied law, and in 1835 he was admitted to the bar. After practicing in Cooperstown for about a year, he moved in the fall of 1836 to Chicago, where he entered a partnership. In 1837 he was elected city clerk, a post he resigned in order to attend to his expanding practice....

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Barksdale, Ethelbert (04 January 1824–17 February 1893), editor and U.S. and Confederate congressman, was born in Smyrna, Rutherford County, Tennessee, the son of William Barksdale and Nancy Lester. Ethelbert Barksdale was the younger brother of William Barksdale (1821–1863), commanding general of the Mississippi brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia, who was killed at the battle of Gettysburg. Ethelbert Barksdale moved to Mississippi while still in his teens and soon followed his brother William into journalism and Democratic politics. He married Alice Harris in 1843. Whether they had any children is unknown....

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Bartholdt, Richard (02 November 1855–19 March 1932), congressman and newspaper editor, was born in Schleiz, Thuringia, Germany, the son of Gottlob Bartholdt, a liberal forty-eighter (i.e., a supporter of the liberal revolutions in the German states in 1848), and Carolina Louise Wagner. Following early education in the Schleiz Gymnasium, he immigrated in 1872 to Brooklyn, New York, and gained U.S. citizenship. He returned to Germany to study law in 1877–1878. He worked as a typesetter and printer (Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and St. Louis), reporter for the ...

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Solon Borland. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109949).

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Borland, Solon (08 August 1811–15 December 1864), editor, U.S. senator, and diplomat, was born in Suffolk, Virginia, the son of Thomas Wood Borland, a physician, and Harriet Godwin. His father was politically active, serving as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Nansemond County between 1815 and 1820. In 1831 Borland married Huldah Wright, with whom he had two children. Following in the medical footsteps of his father, he attended the University of Pennsylvania Medical School during the academic year of 1833–1834. He then practiced medicine in Suffolk, but upon the death of his wife in 1836 Borland moved to Memphis, Tennessee. There he entered into a medical career with his brother, who was also a physician. In 1839 Borland married Eliza Hart, who died just a few months later. They had no children. By this time he had forsaken pills for politics, becoming the founding editor of the ...

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Brentano, Lorenz (04 November 1813–17 September 1891), German political leader, journalist, and congressman, was born in Mannheim, in the German state of Baden, the son of Peter Paul Bartholomaeus Brentano, a wholesale merchant, and Helene Haeger. He studied law at universities in Heidelberg, Freiburg, and Giessen and afterward practiced in Rastatt and Bruchsal before returning to Mannheim. In 1837 Brentano married Caroline Lentz; the fate of this union is unclear, but Brentano married a second time in later life. Elected to Baden’s chamber of deputies in 1845, Brentano fell in with a liberal faction clustered around ...

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Bristow, Joseph Little (22 July 1861–14 July 1944), newspaper publisher and U.S. senator, was born in Wolfe County, Kentucky, the son of William Bristow, a farmer and Methodist circuit rider, and Savannah Little. After his mother’s death in 1868, Bristow lived with his grandparents, but in 1873 he was reunited with his father, who had been transferred by the denomination to Fredonia, Wilson County, Kansas. The younger Bristow returned to Kentucky at the age of fourteen to live with his grandfather and uncle. There he met Margaret Hester Hendrix. The couple married in 1879 and soon removed to Elk County, Kansas, where they purchased an eighty-acre farm and set up house in a one-room log cabin....

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Brown, Clarence J. (14 July 1895–23 August 1965), U.S. representative and publisher, was born in West Union, Ohio, the son of Owen Brown, a schoolteacher, and Ellen Barerre McCoppin. Brown was descended from early Ohio settlers, and his paternal grandfather, Jehu Brown, drove the first horse car over the streets of Cincinnati. Brown’s birth year is sometimes given incorrectly as 1893, and his middle name is occasionally given incorrectly as “James” rather than just the initial....

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Bullard, Arthur (08 December 1879–10 September 1929), writer and government official, was born in St. Joseph, Missouri, the son of Henry Bullard, a prominent Presbyterian minister, and Helen Nelson. After graduating in 1899 from Blair Academy in Blairstown, New Jersey, Bullard enrolled at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. Two years later his growing social consciousness led him to leave college to join New York City’s burgeoning reform community. In 1903 he became a probation officer for the New York Prison Association and a resident worker at the University Settlement on New York’s Lower East Side....

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Cahill, Holger (13 January 1887–08 July 1960), author and curator, was born Sveinn Kristjan Bjarnarson, in Snifellsnessyslu, Iceland, the son of Björn Bjarnarson, a laborer, and Vigdis Bjarnadóttir. Cahill, however, later claimed he was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1893. In the 1890s the Bjarnarsons emigrated to North Dakota, where they hoped to obtain land. Unable to purchase property, Björn worked as a hired hand. Vigdis, whom Cahill later described as a stern “peasant woman” with a poetic streak, and Björn, “a failure in almost everything he did,” quarreled frequently, separating when Cahill was eleven. Struggling to support her son and his younger sister after Björn departed, Vigdis sent the boy to live with an Icelandic family on a nearby farm. After the family removed him from school, put him to work in the fields, and pressured him to be confirmed in the Lutheran church, he ran away. Settled with another family, Cahill finished high school and then set off for Canada, where he worked as a farm laborer and cowherder. By 1907 he was back in the United States, holding a job as a railroad clerk in St. Paul. While there, he later recalled that he read “Tolstoi by the acre” and took a correspondence course in journalism. This was followed by short stints as a watchman on a Great Lakes steamer and as an insurance salesman in Cleveland....

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Calhoun, William Barron (29 December 1796–08 November 1865), lawyer, writer, and politician, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Andrew Calhoun, a merchant, and Martha Chamberlain. His father was one of the founders of Boston’s Park Street Church. Calhoun was prepared for college by Harvard graduate William Wells, then he attended Yale, graduating in 1814. While a senior at Yale, Calhoun was one of the editors of a student publication, the ...

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Case, Francis Higbee (09 December 1896–22 June 1962), journalist and politician, was born in Everly, Iowa, the son of Rev. Herbert L. Case, a Methodist minister, and Mary Ellen Grannis. In 1909 his family moved to Sturgis, in South Dakota’s Black Hills. Entering Dakota Wesleyan University in 1914, he displayed skills as an orator and writer. Upon graduation in 1918, Case enlisted in the Marine Corps and served eight months but saw no service in World War I. Following the war he resumed his studies and in 1920 earned an M.A. degree in history from Northwestern University. While at Northwestern, Case served as assistant editor of the ...

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Copley, Ira Clifton (25 October 1864–02 November 1947), newspaper publisher, congressman, public utilities executive, and philanthropist, was born in Copley Township, Knox County, Illinois, the son of Ira Birdsall Copley and Ellen Madeline Whiting, farmers. When Copley was two he was struck with scarlet fever, which left him blind. When he was three, the family moved to Aurora, Illinois, where he received treatment for his eyes. Even with the care of an eye specialist, his complete blindness lasted five years. With the move to Aurora, his father and his mother’s brother assumed ownership of the Aurora Illinois Gas Light Company, the beginning of a large utility company that Ira would one day manage....

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George Creel. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92526).

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Creel, George Edward (01 December 1876–02 October 1953), journalist and government administrator, was born in Lafayette County, Missouri, the son of Henry Clay Creel and Virginia Fackler, farmers. He grew up in the Missouri towns of Independence and Odessa, where his mother supported the family by sewing, gardening, and operating a boarding house, because his father was often drunk and unemployed. As a teenager, Creel ran away from home to follow county fairs, then to roam the Southwest. In 1896 he was hired as a cub reporter by the ...