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Barry, William Taylor (05 February 1784–30 August 1835), politician, jurist, and postmaster general, was born in Lunenburg County, Virginia, the son of John Barry, a revolutionary war veteran and farmer, and Susannah Dozier. The family moved to Kentucky, apparently in 1796, and settled in Fayette County. Following a course of study in law at William and Mary College, Barry was admitted to the Kentucky bar and set up practice in Lexington in 1805. That same year he married Lucy Waller Overton, with whom he would have two children before her premature death....

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Blair, Montgomery (10 May 1813–27 July 1883), postmaster general and lawyer, was born in Franklin County, Kentucky, the son of Francis Preston Blair and Eliza Violet Gist Blair. His father, who served in the War of 1812 and was an assistant newspaper editor at the time of Montgomery’s birth, later became the founder and editor of ...

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Montgomery Blair. Engraving by J. C. Buttre, from a set of portraits of members of the Lincoln cabinet. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-116982).

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Campbell, James (01 September 1812–27 January 1893), jurist and U.S. postmaster general, was born in the Southwark section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Anthony Campbell, an affluent shopkeeper, and Catherine McGarvey. James, an Irish-Catholic by birth and upbringing, was educated privately, studied law in the Philadelphia law offices of Edward D. Ingraham, and was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar on 14 September 1833. He then opened a legal practice that grew rapidly and brought him increasing prominence. As a result, he was appointed to various local political positions and gradually emerged as the spokesman for Philadelphia’s Catholics....

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Creswell, John Angel James (18 November 1828–23 December 1891), lawyer and politician, was born in Port Deposit, Maryland, the son of John G. Creswell and Rebecca E. Webb. In 1848 he graduated from Dickinson with honors, and two years later he passed the bar. Not long afterward he married Hannah J. Richardson; they had no children....

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Dickinson, Donald McDonald (17 January 1846–15 October 1917), lawyer and postmaster general, was born in Port Ontario, New York, the son of Asa C. Dickinson, a voyager, and Minerva Holmes. In 1848 Donald moved with his family to Michigan’s St. Clair County and then four years later to Detroit, where he attended the Detroit public schools. He graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in March 1867 and was admitted to the Michigan bar on 2 May 1867. A successful young attorney, Dickinson in 1869 married Frances Platt. The Dickinsons had seven children, five of whom died in one year, 1878, from spinal meningitis....

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Gresham, Walter Quintin (17 March 1832–28 May 1895), jurist and cabinet officer, was born in Harrison County, Indiana, the son of William Gresham, a farmer and cabinetmaker, and Sarah Davis. His father, serving as county sheriff, was killed by an outlaw when Walter was less than two years old, and Sarah Gresham later married Noah Rumley, a farmer. Gresham taught school and attended Indiana University’s Preparatory Department, 1851–1852, before reading law with a prominent local Whig. He was admitted to the bar on 1 April 1854 and entered into practice at Corydon, Indiana....

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Holt, Joseph (06 January 1807–01 August 1894), jurist, secretary of war, and postmaster general, was born near Hardinsburg, Kentucky, the son of John Holt, an attorney, and Eleanor Stephens. Educated at St. Joseph’s College in Bardstown and Centre College in Danville, Holt subsequently read law in Lexington. In 1828 he established a practice in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, where he was briefly in partnership with Congressman ...

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Joseph Holt. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-99876).

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Key, David McKendree (27 January 1824–03 February 1900), federal judge and postmaster general of the United States, was born in Greene County, Tennessee, the son of John Key, a Methodist minister, and Margaret Armitage. In 1826 his father moved the family to Monroe County, Tennessee, where he became one of the founders and first trustees of Hiwassee College. David Key graduated in the first class of Hiwassee in 1850, serving as both a tutor for younger students and vice president of the college while completing his undergraduate degree. Having also read law in college, Key was admitted in 1850 to the bar in Monroe County; subsequently he began practicing law in Kingston, Tennessee, before moving in 1853 to Chattanooga, where he would remain, except for his years in the military and in Washington, D.C., until his death. In 1857 he married Elizabeth Lenoir, a member of an aristocratic family originally from North Carolina. They would have eight children....