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William J. Donovan. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109385).

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Donovan, William Joseph (01 January 1883–08 February 1959), lawyer, soldier, and intelligence official, was born in Buffalo, New York, the son of Timothy Patrick Donovan, a railroad yardmaster, and Anna Letitia Lennon. After starting college at Niagara University, Donovan transferred to Columbia University from which he received an A.B. in 1905 and an LL.B. in 1907. He joined the law firm of Love and Keating in Buffalo. In 1912 he and Bradley Goodyear formed a partnership that merged with Buffalo’s leading firm, O’Brian and Hamlin, to become O’Brian Hamlin Donovan and Goodyear. Hamlin’s withdrawal led to the firm’s dissolution in 1920. Meanwhile, in 1914, Donovan married socially prominent Ruth Rumsey. They had two children....

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Engen, Donald Davenport (28 May 1924–13 July 1999), naval officer, test pilot, public servant, was born in Pomona, California, the son of Sydney M. Engen, a stockbroker and later an Internal Revenue Service employee, and Dorothy Davenport Engen. Engen spent his childhood years in southern California, principally in Pasadena. When he was in fourth grade, he decided that he wanted to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and become a naval officer....

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Donald D. Engen. Photograph by Carolyn Russo. Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution (#99-15320).

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Fox, Gustavus Vasa (13 June 1821–29 October 1883), naval officer, assistant secretary of the navy, and business executive, was born in Saugus, Massachusetts, the son of Jesse Fox, a physician, inventor, and manufacturer, and Olivia Flint. Growing up in Lowell, Fox developed an “unconquerable desire” (Jesse Fox to ...

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Grant, Frederick Dent (30 May 1850–12 April 1912), soldier and government official, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Ulysses S. Grant, a soldier and, later, U.S. president, and Julia Dent (Julia Dent Grant). Fred, as he was known, led a normal childhood until his father’s rise during the Civil War afforded opportunities for extraordinary experiences. Ulysses S. Grant allowed Fred to accompany the armies during the Vicksburg campaign (Mar.-July 1863) and to escort him to Washington, D.C., when he went to be commissioned lieutenant general (Mar. 1864). Fred never served as a soldier, but he came under hostile fire while with his father, displaying coolness that General Grant acknowledged by an honorary staff appointment....

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Hershey, Lewis Blaine (12 September 1893–20 May 1977), military officer and director of the Selective Service System, was born in Steuben County, Indiana, the son of Rosetta Richardson and Latta Freleigh Hershey, a farmer. Hershey was raised in northeast Indiana by his father after the death of his mother in 1898. Showing little interest in the family farm, he entered Tri-State College in Angola, Indiana. Working part time as a deputy sheriff, he also played varsity basketball and belonged to several college dramatics clubs. He received a bachelor of science degree in 1912, and he graduated with honors in 1914 with bachelors degrees in arts and pedagogy. His first professional job was as principal of Flint High School in rural Indiana....

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Howard, Oliver Otis (08 November 1830–26 October 1909), soldier, government official, and educator, was born in Leeds, Maine, the son of Rowland Bailey Howard and Eliza Otis, farmers. As a boy Howard worked in the company of a young black farmhand, an experience to which he later attributed his broadmindedness in racial matters. Howard graduated from Bowdoin College in 1850 and entered the U.S. Military Academy. He graduated from West Point in 1854, ranked fourth in his class. In 1855 Howard married Elizabeth Ann Waite; the couple had seven children. He first served at the federal arsenals in New York and Maine and then as an ordnance officer in Florida. In 1857 Howard returned to West Point to teach mathematics. The same year he experienced the religious conversion that would earn him such sobriquets as “the Christian Soldier.” His distaste for alcohol and profanity hardly endeared him to many of his fellows. ...

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Oliver O. Howard. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-3719).

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Johnson, Hugh Samuel (05 August 1882–15 April 1942), army officer and government administrator, was born in Fort Scott, Kansas, the son of Samuel L. Johnson (originally Johnston), a lawyer and rancher, and Elizabeth Mead. Seeking better economic opportunities, his family moved successively to Greenburg, Emporia, Greenwich, and Wichita, Kansas, before finally settling in 1893 in Alva, Oklahoma, in the newly opened Cherokee Strip. There Johnson grew up on the “frontier,” attended Northwestern Normal School (1897–1899), and in 1899 won admission to West Point....