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Allerton, Samuel Waters (26 May 1828–22 February 1914), meat packer, was born in Amenia, New York, the son of Samuel Waters Allerton, Sr., a tailor and woolen mill operator, and Hannah Hurd. The youngest of nine children, he attended school for several years but received little formal education beyond that. The family experienced financial difficulties as a result of the 1837 panic and was forced to move several times, once as far west as Dubuque, Iowa, before settling on a farm in upstate New York in 1842. Eight years later Samuel and his older brother Henry rented a farm in Yates County and began raising and trading cattle and hogs. Shortly thereafter they bought a farm in Wayne County....

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Burpee, David (05 April 1893–24 June 1980), businessman and horticulturist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of W. Atlee Burpee, the founder of the W. Atlee Burpee Seed Company, and Blanche Simons. His father founded the company in Philadelphia in 1878 as a catalog and mail-order retailer of poultry and livestock. The company met with success when it shifted its emphasis from animals and fowl to seeds. Burpee’s father actively encouraged his sons to follow him in the seed business. When his father became ill with a liver ailment, Burpee ended his studies in agriculture at Cornell University and served as his assistant until the elder Burpee’s death in 1915....

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Callaway, Cason Jewell (06 November 1894–12 April 1961), business executive, agriculturist, and developer, was born in LaGrange, Georgia, the son of Fuller Earle Callaway and Ida Jane Cason. His father was the founder of Callaway Mills, Inc., a highly successful cotton processing firm. He attended Bingham Military School in Asheville, North Carolina, followed by one year at the University of Virginia. He enjoyed a successful year at Charlottesville, but his father decided that he needed skills training. Therefore, he enrolled at Eastman School of Business in Poughkeepsie, New York. Young Callaway was given responsibility for Valley Waste Mills, a division of his father’s Callaway Mills. At age twenty he organized Valley Waste Mills into a great commercial success as a pioneering recycling operation. His achievements gained his father’s attention as well as that of other top managers in the firm, since the waste division netted more than $1 million in profits during the three-year period just before U.S. entry into World War I....

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Charles Carroll of Carrollton. Lithograph on paper, 1832, by Albert Newsam. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

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Carroll of Carrollton, Charles (19 September 1737–14 November 1832), planter, businessman, investor, and the only Roman Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, as well as the last of the signers to die, was born in Annapolis, Maryland, the son of Charles Carroll of Annapolis, a planter, and his common-law wife, Elizabeth Brooke. An only child, Carroll was sent at the age of ten to the Jesuit college of St. Omers, in French Flanders, where Maryland’s Catholic gentry sent their sons because the colony’s laws, which denied “papists” the right to vote, hold office, practice law, and worship publicly, also forbade them to maintain religious schools. Young Carroll studied abroad for sixteen years, ending with a thesis in philosophy at the college of Louis le Grand in Paris in 1757. After reading civil law in Bourges and Paris, he moved to London in September 1759 to pursue the common law at the Inns of Court. However, his antipathy for the discipline, which he regarded as “founded upon and still subsisting by villainy,” became so intense that he ultimately defied his father’s intention that he formally enter the Inner Temple, one of the four Inns of Court. Finding the paternal insistence on his acquiring the social graces more to his liking, he became adept at dancing, drawing, and fencing and mastered Italian, bookkeeping, and surveying, practical skills the elder Carroll deemed essential for success as a landowner and man of business....

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Carroll, Daniel (22 July 1730–07 May 1796), planter and merchant, was born in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, the son of Daniel Carroll I, a large plantation owner and merchant, and Eleanor Darnall. Carroll lived at a time when Maryland law denied Catholics the right to vote, hold office, worship, erect churches, or provide a formal education for their children. Aristocratic families sent their sons to the Jesuit-owned Bohenia Manor Academy in Cecil County, Maryland, for elementary schooling and then to St. Omer’s College in French Flanders for a solid scholastic education. Daniel Carroll, his brother ...

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Carter, Robert (1663–04 August 1732), merchant-planter and public official, was born in Lancaster County, Virginia, the son of John Carter, a wealthy merchant-planter and attorney, and Sarah Ludlow. John Carter died in 1669 leaving Robert 1,000 acres and one-third of his personal estate. He also provided that an indentured servant be “bought for him … to teach him his books either in English or Latine according to his capacity.” Later, probably around 1672, he was sent to London by his elder brother John where he spent six years receiving a grammar school education. In London Robert lived with Arthur Bailey, a prosperous merchant, from whom he must have learned about the intricacies of the tobacco trade. Little else is known about his early years, but in 1688 he married Judith Armistead, with whom he had five children. In 1701 he married Elizabeth Landon Willis; this union produced an additional ten children. Five sons and five daughters lived to maturity, and all the sons received an English education. The death of his brother John in 1690, followed shortly by the death of his daughter and half brother, resulted in Carter inheriting the bulk of a large estate that included more than 9,000 acres of land and 115 slaves. Carter, already a man of substance, quickly added to his wealth through planting and mercantile activity, including a significant involvement in the slave trade. He also began to acquire large amounts of land, a process that was aided by the two terms he served as agent (1702–1712, 1719–1732) for the Fairfax family, the proprietors of the Northern Neck. The Northern Neck was that vast area of land between the Rappahannock and the Potomac rivers, stretching to the headwaters of the latter. At Carter’s death it was reported that he left 300,000 acres of land, 1,000 slaves, and £10,000 in cash, and it appears that this estimate was not far off the mark....

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Delafield, John (22 January 1786–22 October 1853), merchant, banker, and farmer, was born in New York City, the son of John Delafield, a merchant, and Ann Hallett. The younger Delafield grew up in the city and on his father’s summer residence, “Sunwick,” on the East River, opposite Blackwell’s Island. Because of his father’s success in the merchant trade, Delafield enjoyed every privilege in his youth and attended Columbia College. Upon his graduation in 1802, he set out at once in his father’s footsteps by becoming a confidential agent and supercargo aboard a merchant vessel....

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Ellison, William (1790–05 December 1861), cotton-gin maker and planter, was born a slave in Fairfield District, South Carolina. His father was probably the planter Robert Ellison or his son William, and his mother was a slave woman whose name is unknown. Originally named April, the mulatto child received exceptional treatment. His master apprenticed him to William McCreight, a white cotton-gin maker in Winnsboro. From 1802 to 1816 Ellison worked in McCreight’s gin shop, learning the skills of gin making from a master craftsman. During his training, he learned reading, writing, arithmetic, and basic bookkeeping skills. He also became well versed in interracial social skills as he met scores of planters who came to negotiate with McCreight for gins. These encounters provided him with a valuable network of strategic acquaintances and contacts. Ellison’s owner, William Ellison, allowed him to work extra hours and eventually to purchase his freedom on 8 June 1816....

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Forstall, Edmond Jean (07 November 1794–16 November 1873), merchant, banker, and sugar planter, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Edouard Pierre Forstall and Celeste de la Villebeauve. The father’s occupation is uncertain, but in Edmond’s youth several members of the Forstall family, Edouard perhaps one of them, were active in Louisiana commerce. Record of Edmond’s education is lacking, but at the age of twelve he went to work for a merchant. In his adulthood he was fluent in English as well as French and read and wrote widely in both languages. As early as 1818 he was named a director of the Louisiana State Bank. By 1819 he was associated with the New Orleans firm of Gordon, Grant & Company, and in 1823 when the firm reorganized as Gordon & Forstall, Forstall became managing partner. In July 1823 he married Clara Durel; the couple had eleven children, one of whom died in infancy....

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Glidden, Joseph Farwell (18 January 1813–09 October 1906), farmer, inventor, and capitalist, was born in Charlestown, Sullivan County, New Hampshire, the son of David Glidden and Polly Hurd, farmers. His family moved west to Orleans County, New York, when he was an infant. After attending local district schools, he studied at Middlebury Academy in Genesee County and at the seminary in Lima, New York. He taught school in the area for several years, but farming was always his first love. In 1837 he married Clarissa Foster in Clarendon, New York. Lacking funds to buy land in New York, he headed west in about 1840 with two crude threshing machines, doing custom threshing and general farm work. In 1842 he settled in De Kalb County, Illinois, where he purchased 600 acres of prairie land on the edge of De Kalb village. The death of the Gliddens’ three young children, followed by the death of his wife in 1843, left Glidden alone until 1851, when he married Lucinda Warne of De Kalb. They had one daughter....

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Greene, William Cornell (26 August 1853–05 August 1911), rancher, mineowner, and investor, was born at Duck Creek, Wisconsin, the son of Townsend Greene and Eleanor Cornell, farmers. His father died when William was very young, leaving his mother apparently little choice but to split up the family of two sons and two daughters. As a result, Greene was brought up by his great aunt in Chappaqua, New York. He apparently obtained a decent education, given the standards of that day, then moved to New York at age seventeen to begin his business career as a clerk in a tea store. In 1872 Greene moved west, apparently working in the Dakotas, then in Texas, and finally drifting to Arizona, where he became a prospector in the Bradshaw Mining District in 1877. He was then twenty-four years old, brave to a fault, given to gambling, short in temper, and modest of means....

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Gresham, Newt (20 February 1858–10 April 1906), labor organizer and editor, was born Isaac Newton Gresham in Lauderdale County, near Florence, Alabama, the son of Henry Gresham and Marcipia Narcissa Wilcoxon, tenant farmers. The family moved to Kaufman County, Texas, in 1859 (though some sources claim they moved after the Civil War). After his parents’ deaths in 1868, Gresham lived with his older brother Ben....

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Habersham, James ( June 1715?–28 August 1775), planter-merchant in colonial Georgia, royal councilor, and acting governor, was born in Beverly, Yorkshire, England, the son of James Habersham, a dyer and innkeeper, and Elizabeth Sission. His mother died when he was seven; subsequently his father apprenticed him to his uncle, Joseph Habersham, a London merchant. From him he mastered the import trade in hides, indigo, and sugar. By the age of twenty-one he had assumed charge of two sugar-refining houses connected with his uncle’s interests. In 1736 Habersham came under the religious influence of ...

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Hazen, Moses (01 June 1733–05 February 1803), army officer, landowner, and merchant, was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, the son of Moses Hazen, a merchant, and Abigail White. Hazen was apprenticed to a tanner and later operated independently. The outbreak of the French and Indian War lured him away, and he remained in the military during two great wars. In 1755 he enlisted in a British colonial unit and served under Colonel ...

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Heathcote, Caleb (06 March 1666–01 March 1721), merchant, manor lord, and Anglican activist, was born in Derbyshire, England, the son of Gilbert Heathcote, a trader in hides and iron who served as mayor of Chesterfield, England, and Anne Dickens. While living in England Heathcote became a merchant specializing in trade with New York, where he settled in 1692 after the woman to whom he was betrothed fell in love with his brother Samuel and married him instead....

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Jenifer, Daniel of St. Thomas (1723–16 November 1790), planter, merchant, and political leader of the American revolutionary era, was born in Charles County, Maryland, the son of Daniel Jenifer, a chirurgeon, and Elizabeth Mason. A fourth-generation native known to his contemporaries as “the Major,” Jenifer inherited 504 acres of land in Charles County on his father’s death circa 1729, and by 1766 he had purchased at least 2,000 acres more. He resided at “Retreat,” his Charles County home near Port Tobacco, for many years, but by 1766 he was living in Maryland’s capital, Annapolis. During the next two decades he purchased more than 3,000 acres in Anne Arundel County, including “Stepney,” an 800-acre plantation near South River, just outside Annapolis, where he lived from about 1784 until his death. In addition to his activities as a planter, Jenifer was a partner in the mercantile firm of Jenifer and Hooe and owner of the ship ...

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King, Roswell (03 May 1765–15 February 1844), builder, overseer, and manufacturer, was born in Windsor, Connecticut, the son of Timothy King and Sarah Anne Fitch, weavers. King’s parents were poor at his birth but prospered thereafter. The extent of his education is unknown, but some is presumed on account of his birth in New England, where schools were generally available, and to his writing ability. Like many New Englanders in the postrevolutionary period, he moved to the South. He settled in Darien, Georgia, in 1789 and married Catherine Barrington in 1792. The couple had nine children. In Darien, King became county surveyor, justice of the peace, justice of the county inferior court, and a member of the Georgia House of Representatives (1794–1795). Two brothers, Reuben and Thomas, also came to Darien after King. King and his brother Reuben entered into a partnership to tan leather and make shoes, with his brother doing the work and King apparently supplying the capital. Early in his stay at Darien, King was the builder of Thomas Spalding’s South End House on Sapelo Island, built of tabby....

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Lasater, Edward Cunningham (05 November 1860–20 March 1930), rancher, dairyman, and land developer, was born at “Valley Farm,” near Goliad, Texas, the son of Albert H. Lasater, a rancher, and Sarah Jane Cunningham. The Texas frontier offered Edward only a meager education, but he had dreams of becoming a lawyer. Those dreams were shattered when, his father’s health failing, he had to leave school to help with the family’s sheep business in Atascosa County. His father purchased a ranch near Oakville in Live Oak County, and after his father’s death in 1883, Lasater began buying and selling cattle and establishing his credit. In 1892 he married Martha Patti Noble Bennett. They had two children before Martha died in childbirth in 1900. In 1902 Lasater married Mary Gardner Miller; they had five children....

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Henry Laurens. Reproduction of a painting by John Singleton Copley, 1781. Courtesy of the National Archives (NWDNS-148-CP-213).