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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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Bates, Daisy (11 November 1914–04 November 1999), civil rights activist, newspaper founder and publisher, was born Daisy Lee Gatson in Huttig, Arkansas. Her biological father and mother, reputedly John Gatson and Millie Riley, remain shrouded in mystery, and scholars have been unable to find evidence confirming her parentage. (Thus, her reported birth date varies: the one given here is widely acknowledged.) Bates grew up hearing that several white men had raped and murdered her mother and thrown the body in a pond. Leaving his infant daughter in the care of friends Orlee and Susie Smith, who became her foster parents, her father abandoned her, never to return. This was Bates's baptism into the poverty, insecurity, and racial violence that segregation fostered....

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Baum, L. Frank (15 May 1856–06 May 1919), children's author, journalist, and playwright, children’s author, journalist, and playwright, was born Lyman Frank Baum in Chittenango, New York, the son of Benjamin Ward Baum, a cooper and sawyer who had made a fortune in Pennsylvania oil, and Cynthia Stanton. He grew up on the family estate, “Roselawn,” outside Syracuse, New York. Suffering from a congenitally weak heart, he was educated at home. A stay at Peekskill Military Academy beginning in 1868—which gave Baum a lifelong antipathy to academics and the military—ended less than two years later in his having a heart attack. Back home, he published a family newspaper and periodicals on stamp collecting and the breeding of fancy chickens. In 1881 he studied theater in New York City and joined a repertory company, then managed an opera house in Richburg, New York, from 1881 to 1882, and, with his father’s financing, toured successfully with ...

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Bennett, James Gordon (01 September 1795–01 June 1872), newspaper editor, was born in Keith, Banffshire, Scotland, the son of a Roman Catholic farmer. After attending public school, Bennett at age fifteen entered the Catholic seminary at Aberdeen to train for the priesthood. He left the seminary after four years and spent the next five years reading and traveling, supported by an indulgent family, until 1819, when he impulsively decided to emigrate to the United States....

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Blair, Eliza Violet Gist (1794–05 July 1877), newspaperwoman and political hostess, was born in either Virginia or in Bourbon County, Kentucky, the daughter of Nathaniel Gist, an Indian agent and planter, and Judith Cary Bell. Eliza’s father died in 1797, and a decade later her mother married ...

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Blair, Francis Preston (12 April 1791–18 October 1876), newspaper editor and presidential adviser, was born in Abingdon, Virginia, the son of James Blair, a lawyer and, later, attorney general of Kentucky, and Elizabeth Smith; he was usually called Preston. Reared in Frankfort, Kentucky, Blair graduated with honors from Transylvania University in 1811. In 1812 he married Eliza Violet Gist ( ...

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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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Bowles, Samuel (09 February 1826–16 January 1878), newspaper editor, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Bowles, the founder of the Springfield Republican in 1824, and Huldah Deming. The boy’s formal education was modest. He attended the local schools in Springfield, making satisfactory progress in his studies. He was a diligent student, a trifle slow in absorbing material, but he usually retained most of what he learned. He enjoyed school and had a strong desire for a college education. His headmaster offered encouragement, but Bowles’s hopes were dashed by his father, who thought college was unnecessary. College would also have been a financial hardship on the family. Throughout his adult life, in the pages of his newspaper, Bowles rationalized his lack of higher education by denigrating its value in the making of a newspaper editor....

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Bradlee, Benjamin Crowninshield (Ben) (26 Aug. 1921–21 Oct. 2014), newspaper editor and journalist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to Frederick Bradlee, Jr., an investment banker, and Josephine de Gersdorff Bradlee, both of whom came from wealthy and established backgrounds. Ben, as he was always known, grew up with two siblings in a comfortable home in the upper-class Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston. He was educated privately, first at the Dexter School and then at St. Mark’s boarding school, where he played baseball. His upbringing included French and music lessons and frequent exposure to Boston’s cultural offerings. The family’s financial status changed dramatically, however, when they lost most of their investments following the collapse of the stock market in ...

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Brisbane, Arthur (12 December 1864–25 December 1936), journalist and newspaper editor, was born in Buffalo, New York, the son of Albert Brisbane, a propagator of Fourier socialism, which advocated the establishment of model utopian communities, and his second wife, Sarah White. Extensive family real estate holdings had enabled Albert Brisbane to pursue a polymathic career, and when his wife died in 1866, Albert decided to use their two sons as test cases of his ideas on education. Arthur and his brother Fowell were brought up primarily on the family estate, “Fanwood Farm,” in New Jersey, where, as Albert put it, they were encouraged to run free “like wild colts.” Reared on a diet of salad, yogurt, and diluted red wine, the boys were forbidden to play with other children, to learn to read, or to cut their blond tresses. These methods failed to improve the health of Fowell, who was mildly retarded from birth. But Arthur, who learned to read in defiance of his father’s orders, appeared to thrive....

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Bryant, William Cullen (03 November 1794–12 June 1878), poet and journalist, was born in Cummington, Massachusetts, the son of Peter Bryant, a physician, and Sarah Snell, daughter of one of the first settlers. Young Cullen, as he was called, was a precocious child of poor health and nervous temperament. His mother taught him the alphabet at sixteen months. At twelve he was tutored in Latin by an uncle, Rev. Thomas Snell, and in Greek by Rev. Moses Halleck. His father, himself well versed in the classics as well as British poetry, shared his sizable personal library with his son and encouraged him to write poetry. Bryant’s mother kept a diary of observations on local events. Thus, the environment of his boyhood was not only conducive to an appreciation of culture and the disciplined development of his literary skills, but also to the nurture of spiritual and moral qualities. In particular, Bryant retained through his life vivid memories of long hours spent at the Congregational church, with its biblical orientation and rigorous Calvinism....

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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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Curtis, Cyrus H. K. (18 June 1850–07 June 1933), publisher, was born Cyrus Hermann Kotzschmar Curtis in Portland, Maine, the son of Cyrus Libby Curtis, a salesman, and Salome Ann Cummings. Forced by economic necessity to leave school after completing the ninth grade, Curtis often recalled that he began his publishing career as a newsboy for the ...

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Dana, Charles Anderson (08 August 1819–17 October 1897), newspaper editor, was born in Hinsdale, New Hampshire, the son of Anderson Dana, a farmer and small-time merchant, and Ann Dennison. Distantly related to the wealthy and prominent descendants of colonial settler Richard Dana, Charles Dana grew up keenly aware of his family’s diminished social status. Poverty and the repeated business failures of his father would have a profound effect on the development of Dana’s political ideology, leading him to attack wealth and privilege and to identify with the interests of the “producing classes.”...

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Daniels, Josephus (18 May 1862–15 January 1948), publisher, secretary of the navy, and ambassador, was born in Washington, North Carolina, during a bombardment by Union gunboats, the son of Josephus Daniels, Sr., a shipbuilder, and Mary Cleaves Seabrook. His father refused to join the Confederate forces and died in 1865. His mother raised three sons by opening a millinery shop and served as the town’s postmistress. She was later fired from the latter position because of her son’s anti-Republican editorials....

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Day, Dorothy (08 November 1897–29 November 1980), founder of the Catholic Worker movement and Catholic Worker, a monthly newspaper, founder of the Catholic Worker movement and Catholic Worker, a monthly newspaper, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of John Day, a newspaperman, and Grace Satterlee. Her father was a frustrated novelist and horseracing writer whose work took the family to Oakland and Chicago. While in Chicago, Day won a scholarship to the University of Illinois in 1914. She dropped out after two years to return to New York with her family, but she had become a socialist in college and was soon estranged from her father. She lived on the Lower East Side, where she wrote for the ...

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Douglass, Frederick ( February 1818–20 February 1895), abolitionist, civil rights activist, and reform journalist, was born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey near Easton, Maryland, the son of Harriet Bailey, a slave, and an unidentified white man. Although a slave, he spent the first six years of his life in the cabin of his maternal grandparents, with only a few stolen nighttime visits by his mother. His real introduction to bondage came in 1824, when he was brought to the nearby wheat plantation of Colonel ...

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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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Field, Marshall, III (28 September 1893–08 November 1956), investor, newspaper publisher, and philanthropist, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Marshall Field II and Albertine Huck. Being the grandson of the first Marshall Field, the Chicago multimillionaire merchant and real-estate developer, meant that Field would be heir to fabulous wealth—all the sooner when his father, unhappy and passive in his active father’s shadow, committed suicide in 1905 and then when his beloved grandfather died of pneumonia two months later. Field’s mother, who had lived in England with her husband and their children and who disliked Chicago, returned to England. The grandfather’s will provided well for Albertine and gave Field and his younger brother a $75 million trust together. Field attended Eton (1907–1912) and then Trinity College, Cambridge (1912–1914), studying mostly history and vacationing with the horsy set. He returned to the United States in 1914 and married Evelyn Marshall the following year; the couple had three children, including Marshall Field IV. He also studied high finance and played polo. In April 1917 he volunteered as a private, despite his earlier rheumatic fever, in the First Illinois Cavalry (quickly converted to artillery service). He was soon commissioned and promoted, saw action in France as a captain with the Thirty-third Division, and was decorated for gallantry at Saint-Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne....

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Flagg, Azariah Cutting (28 November 1790–24 November 1873), newspaper editor and politician, was born in Orwell, Vermont, the son of Ebenezer Flagg and Elizabeth Cutting. In 1801 his parents apprenticed him to a cousin, a Burlington, Vermont, printer who over a period of five years taught him the trade. For the next five years, he was engaged in printing and publishing, and in 1811 he moved to Plattsburgh, New York. Two years later he founded the Plattsburgh ...