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Burnet, Jacob (22 February 1770–10 May 1853), Ohio lawmaker and U.S. senator, was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of William Burnet, a doctor and farmer, and Mary Camp. His father was the son of Scottish Presbyterian immigrants and served in the Continental Congress and as surgeon general in the Continental army. Jacob Burnet graduated from Nassau Hall in September 1791, studied law, and gained admittance to the New Jersey bar in spring 1796. He promptly moved to Cincinnati in the Northwest Territory, where he married Rebecca Wallace, daughter of a former pastor of the Presbyterian church, in 1800. They had seven children....

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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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Connor, Henry Groves (03 July 1852–23 November 1924), legislator and judge, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, the son of David Connor, a carpenter, and Mary Catherine Groves. In 1855 the family moved to Wilson, North Carolina, where Connor’s father was employed in building the county courthouse. His father’s death in 1867 ended Connor’s schooling; following a brief stint as a shopkeeper’s assistant, he began the study of law in the office of George Howard and George W. Whitfield. After further study with William T. Dortch of Goldsboro, North Carolina, Connor was licensed to practice law in 1871, while still eighteen years old. It was later said of him that the only law he ever broke was the one requiring lawyers to be at least twenty-one. In November 1871 Connor married Katherine Whitfield, the daughter of his former mentor, with whom he had twelve children, nine of whom survived infancy. Leaving the Roman Catholic religion of his parents, Connor joined the Episcopal church, his wife’s denomination....

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Duer, William Alexander (08 September 1780–30 May 1858), politician, lawyer, and college president, was born in Rhinebeck, New York, the son of Catharine Alexander and William Duer, a patriot entrepreneur whose ventures collapsed in 1792. Duer’s maternal grandfather, Major General William Alexander of New Jersey, claimed the Scottish earldom of Stirling, and through his maternal great-grandfather, ...

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Few, William (08 June 1748–16 July 1828), lawyer, politician, and banker, was born near Baltimore, Maryland, the son of William Few, a failed tobacco planter turned frontier farmer, and Mary Wheeler. Few’s family moved in 1758 to North Carolina, where young William received little formal schooling but enough skills and enough love for reading that the future Founding Father was able to educate himself. In the early 1770s, the Few family joined the Regulator movement, rural westerners’ sometimes violent opposition to unrepresentative coastal political control. The family lost one of William’s brothers, the family farm, and the family fortune in the struggle for more local autonomy. The Fews then moved to Georgia, leaving William behind to settle the family’s affairs, to farm, and to teach himself law....

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Fournet, John Baptiste (27 July 1895–03 June 1984), jurist and state legislator, was born in St. Martinville, Louisiana, the son of Louis Michel Fournet, a wealthy sugar planter, and Marcélite Gauthier. The first of ten children, Fournet attended public schools in St. Martin Parish and after graduating from high school in 1913 became a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in a rural part of southwestern Louisiana. In 1915 he graduated with honors from the Louisiana State Normal College in Natchitoches and returned to his teaching career. After teaching in Vernon, Jefferson Davis, and Pointe Coupée parishes, he became the principal of Morganza High School at the age of twenty-one....

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Gary, Martin Witherspoon (25 March 1831–09 April 1881), lawyer, politician, and Confederate general, was born in Cokesbury, South Carolina, the son of Thomas Reeder Gary, a physician, and Mary Anne Porter. Thomas Gary was a wealthy, upcountry slave owner. In addition to practicing medicine, he farmed and represented Abbeville District for two terms in the state legislature. Martin Gary was a pupil at the Cokesbury Methodist Conference school. He attended South Carolina College but was expelled along with others in his junior class for rebelling against an unpopular teacher. He graduated from Harvard with honors in June 1854. In November of that year he went to Edgefield, South Carolina, to study law with Chancellor James P. Carroll and was admitted to the bar in May 1855. Until his death, Gary maintained a highly successful criminal law practice in Edgefield. Reared a Methodist, he joined the Trinity Episcopal Church in Edgefield and became a vestryman....

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Hardin, Benjamin, Jr. (29 February 1784–24 September 1852), attorney, U.S. congressman, and Kentucky politician, was born in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, the son of Benjamin Hardin, Sr., and his first cousin Sarah Hardin. Hardin’s father moved his family to Washington County, Kentucky, in 1788 and settled near Springfield. Hardin received his early educational training from family and tutors. He then read law under his cousin ...

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Howard, Timothy Edward (27 January 1837–09 July 1916), professor, legislator, and judge, was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the son of Martin Howard and Julia Beahan, farmers. Howard enrolled in the University of Michigan after attending “common schools” and a seminary in Ypsilanti but left during his sophomore year because of an illness in his family. He taught in rural Michigan schools for two years before entering Notre Dame in 1859. In February 1862, before he had graduated, he enlisted in the Twelfth Michigan Infantry. His friends would later recall that he had enlisted without telling anyone at Notre Dame. He served only two months before he was seriously wounded in the battle of Shiloh. Although he recovered, the wound was so severe that he was discharged as unfit for further service....

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Johnson, Edward Austin (23 November 1860–24 July 1944), educator, lawyer, and politician, was born near Raleigh, North Carolina, the son of Columbus Johnson and Eliza A. Smith, slaves. He was taught to read and write by Nancy Walton, a free African American, and later attended the Washington School, an establishment founded by philanthropic northerners in Raleigh. There he was introduced to the Congregational church and became a lifelong member. Johnson completed his education at Atlanta University in Georgia, graduating in 1883. To pay his way through college, he worked as a barber and taught in the summers. After graduation he worked as a teacher and principal, first in Atlanta at the Mitchell Street Public School (1883–1885) and then in Raleigh at the Washington School (1885–1891). While teaching in Raleigh he studied at Shaw University, obtaining a law degree in 1891. He joined the faculty shortly after graduation and became dean of the law school at Shaw two years later. He acquired a reputation as a highly capable lawyer, successfully arguing many cases before the North Carolina Supreme Court....