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Henry Justin Allen. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-96805).

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Allen, Henry Justin (11 September 1869–17 January 1950), politician and newspaper editor, was born in Pittsfield, Pennsylvania, the son of John Allen, a farmer, and Rebecca Goodwin. In 1870 the Allens settled on a farm in Clay County, Kansas, which they lost in 1879. The family relocated in Osage County, Kansas, where Allen graduated from Burlingame High School. Working as a barber to attend Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas, he excelled at forensics, which led to his first newspaper job and forecast his later stature as one of America’s most popular public speakers. While at Baker, he met Elsie Jane Nuzman, and they were married in 1892. Only one of their four children survived to adulthood....

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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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Brough, John (17 September 1811–29 August 1865), journalist and governor of Ohio, was born in Marietta, Ohio, the son of John Brough, a tavern keeper, and Jane Garnet. Born in the building that housed both the county courthouse and his father’s tavern, Brough was orphaned at age eleven. Provided a home by a local editor, he soon became a printer’s apprentice. In 1830 he briefly attended Ohio University and the next year organized a Democratic newspaper in Marietta, the ...

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Brownlow, William Gannaway (29 August 1805–29 April 1877), minister, newspaper editor, and governor of Tennessee, was born in Wytheville, Virginia, the son of Joseph A. Brownlow and Catherine Gannaway, farmers. Born into a moderately comfortable, slaveholding family, Brownlow was taken in by a maternal uncle after both parents died in 1816. From ages eleven through eighteen he worked on his uncle’s farm and attended the local common schools when possible, although most of his education came through his own private reading. In 1823 he moved to Abingdon, Virginia, to learn the carpentry trade from another uncle. His work as a carpenter ended abruptly when he experienced a religious conversion at a Methodist camp meeting in nearby Sulphur Springs in 1825. Following this meeting, he completed his current carpentry jobs and moved back to Wytheville to study for the ministry with William Horne. After a year of training, he was licensed for the ministry by the church’s Holston Conference and began a career as an itinerant preacher....

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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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Conrad, Robert Taylor (10 June 1810–27 June 1858), dramatist and mayor of Philadelphia, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Conrad, a publisher, and Eliza (maiden name unknown). Urged by his father, in 1831 Conrad became an attorney. But he found himself attracted more to journalism and literature than to the legal profession, and from 1831 to 1834 he worked for the ...

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James M. Cox [left to right] Franklin D. Roosevelt and James M. Cox, c. 1920. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-96173).

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Cox, James Middleton (31 March 1870–15 July 1957), newspaper publisher and politician, was born in Jacksonburg, Ohio, the son of Eliza Andrews and Gilbert Cox, farmers. He attended a one-room school until he was sixteen. His parents divorced, and in 1886 Cox moved to nearby Middletown to live with his mother. Cox’s brother-in-law John Q. Baker, who published the ...

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Cross, Wilbur Lucius (10 April 1862–05 October 1948), scholar and governor of Connecticut, was born in Gurleyville, Connecticut, the son of Samuel Cross, a farmer, miller, and manufacturer, and Harriet Maria Gurley. With considerable accuracy, Cross dubbed himself a “Connecticut Yankee.” His family had lived in the state for more than two hundred years. From early on, he embraced the political faith of his father and by age eight had proudly proclaimed to a local politician in Gurleyville, “I am a Democrat” (Cross, p. 35)....

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Orval Faubus [left to right, foreground] President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Orval Faubus, after a meeting, 1957. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-107805).

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Faubus, Orval (07 January 1910–14 December 1994), publisher and governor of Arkansas, was born Orval Eugene Faubus in Combs, Arkansas, the son of John Samuel Faubus and Addie Joslen, poor farmers. The elder Faubus was a follower of the Socialist party presidential nominee ...

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A. Oakey Hall. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109931).

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Hall, Abraham Oakey (26 July 1826–07 October 1898), politician and journalist, was born in Albany, New York, the son of Morgan James Hall, a wholesale merchant whose business was in New Orleans, and Elsie Lansing Oakey. In 1830 his father died of yellow fever and his mother moved to New York City, where she ran a boardinghouse. Relatives helped his mother finance his education, and Oakey (as he preferred to be called) graduated from New York University in 1844. He attended Harvard Law School for one term but decided that study in a law office would allow him to practice law sooner. Living with an uncle in New Orleans, he studied under noted states’ rights Democrats ...

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Hill, Isaac (06 April 1788–22 March 1851), editor and politician, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Isaac Hill and Hannah Russell, farmers. Hill had a difficult childhood because his family was poor, his father became insane, and he himself was left permanently lame by an early accident. In 1798 his mother moved the family to Ashburnham on the New Hampshire border, where Hill received a few months of formal schooling before being apprenticed in 1802 to the publisher of the ...

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Hobby, William Pettus (26 March 1878–07 June 1964), newspaper publisher and governor, was born in Moscow, Texas, the son of Edwin E. Hobby, a state senator and district judge, and Eudora Adeline Pettus. The family lived in Livingston, Texas, until 1893 when they moved to Houston. Hobby quit school in 1895 to work as a circulation clerk for the ...

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Holden, William Woods (24 November 1818–02 March 1892), editor and political leader, was born near Hillsboro, North Carolina, the illegitimate son of Thomas Holden, a relatively prosperous mill owner, and Priscilla Woods. When he was two or three years old, he went to live with his father. He briefly attended a local “field school,” and at age nine or ten he became a printer’s apprentice in the office of the ...

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Johnson, John Albert (28 July 1861–21 September 1909), newspaper editor and governor of Minnesota, was born in a log cabin near St. Peter on Minnesota’s agricultural frontier, the son of Swedish immigrant parents Gustav Johnson, a farmer and blacksmith, and Caroline Christine Hedén. Because of his father’s alcoholism and shiftlessness after the family had moved into the town of St. Peter, his mother supported the family by taking in washing. Johnson and his older brother Edward assisted her by delivering laundry to customers. Years later, after he had entered politics, his humble beginnings and youthful poverty worked to his advantage; his boosters freely likened his past to that of ...

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Lee, Henry (28 May 1787–30 January 1837), politician and writer, was born at “Stratford Hall,” Westmoreland County, Virginia, the son of Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee, a politician and army general, and Matilda Lee. Lee attended Washington Academy (Lexington, Va.) and the College of William and Mary (1807–1808). From 1810 to 1813 he represented Westmoreland County in the Virginia House of Delegates, and he served on the Canadian frontier as a major in the Thirty-sixth U.S. Infantry during the War of 1812. After the war, President ...

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Livingston, William ( November 1723–25 July 1790), colonial politician, governor of New Jersey, and political satirist, was born in Albany, New York, the son of Philip Livingston, the second lord of Livingston Manor, and Catherine Van Brugh. As the scion of an elite New York clan, he headed the family faction that successfully challenged the rival De Lancey family for dominance in the colony. Rarely holding public office himself, Livingston nevertheless masterminded his faction’s protracted battles with the De Lanceys. His success rested in part on his abilities with the pen. He wrote on the model provided by the English Whig pamphleteers, and his essays in the ...