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Barney, Joshua (06 July 1759–01 December 1818), seaman and naval officer, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of William Barney and Frances Holland, farmers. Barney left school at age ten and was sent by his father to Alexandria, Virginia, to be put in the care of a local merchant. After spending nearly one year in Virginia Barney returned to Baltimore, where he signed on as a crew member aboard a local pilot boat....

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Dorie Miller. In background, ships at Pearl Harbor are depicted sinking. Poster by David Stone Martin, 1943. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZC4-2328).

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Miller, Dorie (12 October 1919–24 November 1943), African-American war hero, was born Doris Miller in Waco, Texas, the son of Conery Miller and Henrietta (maiden name unknown), sharecroppers. Miller attended Waco’s segregated Moore High School and became the school’s 200-pound star fullback. As the third of four sons in a family engaged in subsistence farming, however, he was forced to drop out of school to find work. In September 1939 he joined the navy as a mess attendant....

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Pinkney, Edward Coote (01 October 1802–11 April 1828), naval midshipman and poet, was born in London, England, the son of William Pinkney, a minister to England, and Ann Maria Rodgers. In 1804 the Pinkney family moved to Baltimore, Maryland. From 1806 until 1811 they lived in London, where William Pinkney was again assigned diplomatic duties. Edward attended excellent English schools. The family returned to Baltimore so that William Pinkney could serve as attorney general in President ...

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Ranger, Joseph (1760?–?), revolutionary war seaman, was born probably in Northumberland County, Virginia, to unknown parents. Ranger was a free African American, or perhaps a runaway slave, who probably worked as a seaman in Northumberland County and Elizabeth City County before the revolutionary war. In the early eighteenth century, Virginia’s waters were sailed extensively by free African Americans and slaves who also worked in the colony’s two shipyards. Despite long-standing concern among the elite in the South about arming even free African Americans for fear of inciting slave revolt, the maritime experiences of Virginia’s African Americans made them prime candidates for enlistment in the state navy (just as many African-American seamen served in the Continental navy)....