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Bishop, Abraham (05 February 1763–28 April 1844), politician and writer, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of Samuel Bishop, a political notable of New Haven, and Mehetabel Bassett. Bishop graduated from Yale College in 1778, when he was fifteen, and was admitted to the bar on 6 April 1785. He did not practice law but followed eventually in the political footsteps of his father, who was a long-term officeholder, having served as town clerk, mayor, deputy in the state assembly, and judge of the county and probate courts. The younger Bishop visited Europe in 1787 and 1788, spending a lengthy period in France, an experience that one commentator suggested led to “the unsettlement of his religious views and the development of his passion for democracy” (Dexter, p. 17)....

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Bollan, William (1710?–1782), colonial agent and lawyer, was born in England and emigrated from there to America while a teenager. He pursued a legal career by studying as an apprentice under the tutelage of Massachusetts attorney Robert Auchmuty. Little is known of Bollan’s early life and career. However, by 1733 he had begun to gain prominence as an attorney, as evidenced by his acquisition of Harvard College and Boston’s Anglican parish, King’s Chapel, as clients. Bollan was an Anglican, which placed him in a religious minority in Congregational-dominated Boston. By the mid-1730s he had begun to venture into land speculation in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island....

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Callender, James Thomson (1758–17 July 1803), political writer and newspaper editor, was born in Scotland, the son of a tobacconist. Of his childhood and youth little is known, except that he was raised as a Presbyterian and received a classical education. He first came to prominence in 1782 when he published a work critical of Dr. Samuel Johnson. A supplementary volume published in 1783 was less successful, and for the next seven years he worked as a clerk. During this period he married (wife's name unknown), eventually having four children. Displaying early a strong sense of self-righteousness and a Calvinist contempt for human depravity, Callender destroyed his career as a clerk by agitating for the dismissal of a superior, whom he accused of corruption. Thereafter, from about 1790, he moved toward radicalism, writing a number of anonymous pamphlets critical of British politics and extolling Scottish nationalism. In 1792 he became a member of the Scottish Friends of the People, attending the Edinburgh Convention in December 1792 as a militant radical. Later that month, Lord Gardenstone, his patron, admitted to the authorities Callender's authorship of ...

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Carter, Landon (18 August 1710–22 December 1778), patriot and diarist, was born in Lancaster County, Virginia, the son of Robert “King” Carter, a planter-merchant member of the King’s Council, and Elizabeth Landon. The young Landon was sent to England for schooling when aged nine. Showing special promise as a scholar, he continued there for seven years before returning to Virginia in 1726, where he enrolled at the College of William and Mary in 1727 before settling to learn the tobacco planter and consignment business as assistant and companion to his aged father. In 1732 Carter’s father died, and Carter received a large inheritance. That year he married Elizabeth Wormeley. After Elizabeth’s death in 1740, he married Maria Byrd in 1742, and they had one child. Following Maria’s death in 1744, he married Elizabeth Beale in 1746; they had three children before she died around 1755. In all he had eight children. Carter was a widower for a long period at the end of his life, the years of his diary keeping. The three marriages brought substantial increases in property holding....

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John Dickinson. Engraving by B. L. Prevost, 1781. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-26777).

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Dickinson, John (08 November 1732–14 February 1808), statesman and political pamphleteer, was born in Talbot County, Maryland, the son of Samuel Dickinson, a plantation owner and merchant, and his second wife, Mary Cadwalader. Owners of extensive properties in Delaware as well as Maryland, the family moved in John’s youth to Kent, near Dover, Delaware. He was tutored at home until the age of eighteen when he began the study of law in the office of John Moland. Three years later he left for London for further legal training at the Middle Temple, the Inns of Court, and Westminster. After completing his studies in 1757, he returned to Philadelphia to open a law office. His extensive knowledge of legal history and precedent as well as his skills in writing and presentation soon earned him an outstanding reputation....

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Flower, Richard (1761–02 September 1829), reformer and Illinois pioneer, was born in England, probably in Hertfordshire, the son of George Flower, a prosperous tradesman. His mother’s name is unknown. Establishing himself in Hertford as a brewer, Flower did well in business for over twenty years. He married a daughter (name unknown) of Edward Fordham of Kelshall; they had five children. He joined in the activities of his brother Benjamin Flower, who had become involved in dissenting politics and pamphleteering, and wrote ...

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Hay, George (15 December 1765–21 September 1830), lawyer and political writer, was born in Williamsburg, Virginia, the son of Anthony Hay, a cabinetmaker, and Elizabeth Davenport. The early death of his father deprived Hay of a college education. As a teenager, he moved to Albemarle County, where he read law under the direction of ...

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Ingersoll, Charles Jared (03 October 1782–14 May 1862), attorney, author, and congressman, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Jared Ingersoll, Jr., an attorney, judge, and colonial official, and Elizabeth Pettit. Ingersoll spent his childhood in Philadelphia, then entered Princeton University in 1796. He left Princeton in his third year and returned to Philadelphia, where he took up writing. Ingersoll published poetry and wrote a play, ...

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Kennedy, Archibald (1685–14 June 1763), New York colonial official and pamphleteer, was born in Craigoch, Ayrshire, Scotland, the son of Alexander Kennedy, a justice of the peace. His mother’s name is unknown. He was a descendant of a younger branch of the earldom of Cassilis (the first earl was David Kennedy, 1509). Nothing is known of Kennedy’s early life. He probably arrived in America in the entourage of a fellow Scotsman from Ayrshire, Governor ...

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Knox, William (1732–25 August 1810), Anglo-American government official and pamphleteer, was born at Monaghan, Ireland, the son of Thomas Knox, a physician, and Nicola King. Although William’s paternal family was descended from Scots Presbyterian settlers in northern Ireland, his father converted to the Anglican Church of Ireland. Consequently, William spent his childhood and early manhood within the privileged ranks of the Anglo-Irish establishment. His mature personality—as well as his ideas about secular and religious affairs—were heavily influenced by the Anglicized form of Calvinism that Thomas Knox, by example as well as instruction, systematically impressed upon his son. After receiving his early education in the local Anglican schools of Monaghan, William attended Trinity College, Dublin. Here in the Irish capital he also served his political apprenticeship under the tutelage of Sir Richard Cox, a prominent leader of the Irish parliamentary opposition during the Anglo-Irish political crisis of 1753–1756....

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Lamont, Corliss (28 March 1902–26 April 1995), writer and philosopher, was born in Englewood, New Jersey, the son of Thomas Lamont, chairman of the Morgan Bank on Wall Street, and Florence Corliss Lamont. Young Lamont enjoyed a privileged upbringing. After attending local schools, he enrolled in Phillips Exeter Academy in Massachusetts and then Harvard, where he earned a BA in 1924, graduating with high honors and membership in Phi Beta Kappa. After a year of study at Oxford University, he enrolled at Columbia as a doctoral student in philosophy. As a graduate student he taught classes in philosophy at Columbia beginning in 1928. That year he married Margaret H. Irish, a writer. They had four children before they divorced in the early 1960s....

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Lee, Arthur (20 December 1740–12 December 1792), polemicist and diplomat, was born at “Stratford Hall” in Westmoreland County, Virginia, the son of Thomas Lee and Hannah Harrison Ludwell, leading Virginia planters. Arthur was one of eleven children. His two eldest brothers, Philip Ludwell Lee and Thomas Ludwell Lee inherited the substantial family wealth (30,000 acres) and prestige when both parents died in 1750. The “Stratford Lees” developed a distinctive family perspective on life; this, combined with the ideals instilled in them by their formal education, propelled them to the highest levels of the provincial elite....

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Thomas Paine. Reproduction of an engraving by W. Sharpe, 1793, after a painting by George Romney. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZC4-2542).

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Paine, Thomas (29 January 1737–08 June 1809), author of political pamphlets of the Age of Revolution, was born Thomas Pain in Thetford, England, the son of Joseph Pain, a Quaker corset maker, and Frances Cocke, an Anglican. Enrolled by his parents in 1743 at the Thetford Grammar School, Paine left school seven years later to begin an apprenticeship in his father’s shop. In 1756 he ran away to enlist on the privateer ...

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Orson Pratt. Engraving by Charles Bryan Hall, late nineteenth century, from an 1852 daguerreotype. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-90031).

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Pratt, Orson (19 September 1811–03 October 1881), Mormon religious leader, was born in Hartford, Washington County, New York, the son of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson, farmers. At age nineteen Pratt joined the recently organized (1830) Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), being baptized by his brother ...

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Van Ness, William Peter (1778–06 September 1826), politician, pamphleteer, and jurist, was born in Claverack (later Ghent), New York, the son of Peter Van Ness, a revolutionary soldier and county judge, and Elbertie Hogeboom. After attending the Kinderhook Academy, Van Ness graduated from Columbia College in 1797. Following several years of legal studies in ...

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Walker, David (1796?–06 August 1830), used-clothing dealer and political writer, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, the son probably of a free black woman and possibly of a slave father. Almost nothing is known about either parent; only a little more is known about Walker’s years in the South. Walker was born in a town where by 1800 African Americans predominated demographically over whites by more than two to one. Their influence on the town and the region was profound. Most labor—skilled or unskilled—was performed by black slaves who were the foundation of the region’s key industries: naval stores production, lumbering, rice cultivation, building construction, and shipping. The Methodist church in Wilmington was largely the creation of the local black faithful. The skill and resourcefulness of the African Americans amid their enslavement deeply impressed Walker....

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Ward, Nathaniel (1578–1652), jurist, author, and clergyman, was born in Haverhill, Suffolk, England, the son of John Ward, a preacher, and Susan (maiden name unknown). He took his B.A. at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, in 1600 and his M.A. in 1603. Although his father and two brothers were clergymen, Nathaniel chose a career in law and became an utter barrister in London. He also spent many years traveling in the Protestant areas of Europe, consorting with important political and ecclesiastical figures. While in Heidelberg, Ward had many discussions with David Pareus, a professor at the university there, and, according to ...