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Alexander, William (25 December 1726–15 January 1783), soldier and claimant to the title of Lord Stirling, was born in New York City, the son of James Alexander, a prominent lawyer, and Mary Spratt Provoost Alexander, a merchant. He grew up in privileged circumstances, receiving an education from his father and private tutors. Although overshadowed by his rich and assertive parents, he loved them and fell into an easy working relationship with his mother in her mercantile business. In 1748 he married Sarah Livingston, daughter of ...

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Allan, John (14 January 1746–07 February 1805), revolutionary war soldier, was born in Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of Major William Allan, a British army officer, and Isabella Maxwell. In 1749, when Allan was only three years old, his father brought him and his mother to Nova Scotia to take part in founding the military colony of Halifax. After the dispersion of the Acadians in 1756, Allan’s father retired from the army and took up a tract of former Acadian land in Nova Scotia. Soon the elder Allan was a prominent and wealthy citizen of the province. In 1762 he sent John, his eldest son, to Massachusetts to round out the latter’s education. Much to his father’s chagrin, John Allan imbibed the political attitudes of the New England people and thus became an advocate of the old Whig cause against Britain. Upon his return to Nova Scotia, Allan settled down as a farmer and Indian trader; his business interests flourished, and soon he was wealthy. In 1767 he married Mary Patton, with whom over the next few years he had five children. He also served in positions of honor in his home county of Cumberland: clerk of the sessions and justice of the peace. Advancing to higher ranks, he was appointed clerk of the provincial supreme court, and from 1770 to 1776 he held a seat in the Parliament of Nova Scotia....

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Angell, Israel (24 August 1740–04 May 1832), revolutionary soldier, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Oliver Angell, a cooper, and Naomi Smith. A descendant of Thomas Angell, one of the original settlers of Rhode Island, Angell received a good education, developing especially an interest in science. He followed his father into the position of cooper and settled in Johnston, Rhode Island. He married Martha Angell, a second cousin, in 1765; the couple had eleven children prior to her death in 1793....

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Armstrong, John (13 October 1717–09 March 1795), soldier, surveyor, and member of the Continental Congress, was born in County Fermanagh, Ulster, Ireland. The identities of his Scotch-Irish parents and circumstances of his youth are unclear, but his father may have been named James. A trained surveyor, John Armstrong evidently received some education fairly early in life. Sometime in the mid-1740s Armstrong immigrated to America, settling initially in Delaware and then in Pennsylvania, where he worked as a surveyor. It was probably at some point after his arrival in America that he married Rebeckah Armstrong. The couple had two sons (the younger, ...

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Arnold, Benedict (14 January 1741–14 June 1801), revolutionary war general and traitor, was born in Norwich, Connecticut, the son of Benedict Arnold III, a merchant, and Hannah Waterman King. Of his mother’s eleven children, only he and a younger sister survived. At age eleven he was sent away to grammar school, but he left two years later when his alcoholic father lost the family’s fortune. Apprenticed to his mother’s cousin, an apothecary in Norwich, he volunteered in three campaigns (1757–1759) of the French and Indian War, deserting finally to be with his dying mother. His father died soon after, leaving little except debts, but his generous master paid the debts and set Arnold up in business when he decided to move to New Haven in 1762....

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Benedict Arnold. Engraving from a painting by John Trumbull. Courtesy of the National Archives (NWDNS-148-GW-617).

Article

Ashe, John (1720?–24 October 1781), colonial politician and military officer, was born in the Albemarle Sound region of North Carolina, the son of John Baptista Ashe, an assemblyman, and Elizabeth Swann. In late 1727 the elder Ashe moved south from Beaufort County and purchased a 640-acre plantation near the Cape Fear River. There, John Ashe was tutored in Latin, Greek, and French. Entering Harvard as a member of the class of 1746, he proved to be a rebellious student, continually chafing against authority and chronically absenting himself from class....

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Ashe, John Baptista (1748–27 November 1802), member of the Continental Congress and U.S. Congress, soldier, and state politician, was born in Rocky Point, New Hanover County, North Carolina, the son of Samuel Ashe, a jurist, and Mary Porter. His grandfather John Baptista Ashe, for whom he was named, served on His Majesty’s Council of North Carolina; his father was assistant attorney for the Crown, the first judge for the state of North Carolina, and later governor. Ashe, who grew up on the “Neck,” his father’s tobacco plantation, learned about tobacco cultivation and received his education from a private tutor. There is no indication that he pursued a college education....

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Barber, Francis (26 November 1750–11 February 1783), revolutionary war officer and schoolmaster, was born in Princeton, New Jersey, the son of Patrick Barber, a farmer and county judge, and Jane Frasher (also spelled Fraser or Frazer). His parents had immigrated from County Longford, Ireland, in 1735. In 1764, while Barber was attending the College of New Jersey (now Princeton), the family moved to a 200-acre farm in Ulster County, New York. Upon receiving his A.B. in 1767, Barber and Stephen Van Voornees established a school at Newbridge, near Hackensack, New Jersey. Considered an able scholar in the ancient languages, especially Greek, Barber was named the master of the Elizabethtown Academy (a Latin grammar school) in 1771. ...

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Barton, William (26 May 1748–22 October 1831), revolutionary war soldier, was born in Warren, Rhode Island, the son of Benjamin Barton and Lydia (maiden name unknown). Information about his parents’ occupations is not available. After receiving a common-school education, he entered the hat-making trade. In 1770, at the age of twenty-two, he married Rhoda Carver and lived peacefully for the next few years. In 1775, upon hearing of the battle of Bunker Hill, he joined the Rhode Island militia. He quickly showed an aptitude for leading men and rose to the rank of captain. A year later, on 19 August 1776, he was promoted to major....