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Bliss, Tasker Howard (31 December 1853–09 November 1930), soldier, scholar, and diplomat, was born in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, the son of George Ripley Bliss, a Baptist clergyman and professor at Lewisburg Academy (now Bucknell University), and Mary Ann Raymond. After attending Lewisburg Academy for two years, Tasker Bliss was admitted to West Point, where he excelled in foreign languages and finished eighth in his class in 1875. After graduating, he was assigned to the First Artillery in Savannah, Georgia. The next year he returned to West Point for a four-year tour as an instructor in modern languages. His grasp of other tongues included not only his beloved Greek, which he studied relentlessly, but also Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, and Russian. The Custer massacre in 1876 prompted him to request active duty at a frontier post, but Major General ...

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Clark, Mark Wayne (01 May 1896–17 April 1984), general and college president, was born in Watertown, New York, the son of Charles C. Clark, a U.S. Army colonel, and Rebecca Ezekiels, the daughter of a Jewish immigrant. Clark’s father led the typical peripatetic life of an army officer, serving in Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and China prior to World War I. An army officer’s pay was adequate to raise a family, so the Clarks lived well, if modestly. As was often the case with army officers, Charles Clark pushed his son to follow in his footsteps, and Mark entered West Point in June 1913. At West Point Clark met and struck a lifelong friendship with ...

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Earle, Ralph (03 May 1874–13 February 1939), naval officer and college president, was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, the son of Stephen Carpenter Earle, an architect, and Mary Eaton Brown. After attending the Worcester Polytechnic Institute for less than a year, he was admitted to the U.S. Naval Academy, from which he graduated in 1896. In keeping with the normal career pattern, he would alternate between ship and shore duty. His first active duty was in the battleship ...

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Eddy, William A. (09 March 1896–03 May 1962), diplomat, intelligence agent, and military officer, was born in Sidon, a city in present-day Lebanon, to William King Eddy and Elizabeth (Nelson) Eddy, both of whom were Presbyterian missionaries. Eddy was reared in Beirut, where his father taught at the American University. He had a near-native facility with the Arabic language and could recite long passages from the Koran in several Arabic dialects. After completing his undergraduate degree at Princeton University in 1917, Eddy served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War I. For his valor as a captain in the Battle of Belleau Wood he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, and two Purple Hearts. As a result of his wartime injuries, Eddy walked with a limp for the rest of his life and often used a cane. In 1917 he married Mary Garvin, also the daughter of Protestant missionaries; the couple had four children....

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Hill, Daniel Harvey (12 July 1821–24 September 1889), soldier, educator, and editor, was born at Hill’s Iron Works, York District, South Carolina, the son of Solomon Hill, a farmer, and Nancy Cabeen. Signally influenced by the military and religious traditions of his forebears, Hill was descended from Scotch-Irish and Scottish Presbyterians who had settled in the Carolina upcountry before the American Revolution. Both grandfathers had fought with distinction under General ...

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Mildred McAfee Horton. Charcoal and chalk on paper, 1942, by Samuel Johnson Woolf. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

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Horton, Mildred McAfee (12 May 1902–02 September 1994), college president and director of the WAVES, was born Mildred Helen McAfee in Parkville, Missouri, the youngest of three daughters of the Reverend Dr. Cleland Boyd McAfee and Harriet Brown McAfee. Her father, a leading theologian and activist in the Presbyterian church, taught at the town’s Park College, which had been founded by her grandfather. When Cleland McAfee moved to Chicago as minister of the Fourth Presbyterian Church, Mildred attended the prestigious Francis W. Parker School. She then enrolled at Vassar College, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1920....

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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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Johnston, William Preston (05 January 1831–16 July 1899), soldier and educator, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of Albert Sidney Johnston, an army officer, and Henrietta Preston. Johnston’s mother died when he was four and his father was stationed in Texas shortly afterward, so the boy was left in the care of his mother’s relatives. He was educated first in public schools in Louisville and later at the S. V. Womack Academy in Shelbyville, Kentucky. He attended Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, for a brief time in 1846 and then matriculated with the first class of the Western Military Institute in Georgetown, Kentucky. An excellent student, Johnston was chosen by his classmates at WMI to give the address at the school celebration of Washington’s birthday. Admitted to Yale as a junior in May 1851, he graduated the following year, earning the Townsend Prize for English composition and the Clark Prize for an essay titled “Political Abstractionists.” He then entered law school at the University of Louisville, graduating in 1853....