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Atwater, Lee (27 February 1951–29 March 1991), political strategist, was born Harvey LeRoy Atwater in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Harvey Dillard Atwater, an insurance claims adjuster, and Sarah Alma “Toddy” Page Atwater. Atwater displayed several trademark characteristics from the time he was a child growing up in South Carolina. The first was a set of fidgety mannerisms, which may have stemmed from hyperactivity. The second was a flamboyant disregard for authority, which prompted his parents to send him briefly to a military school. The third was a love for blues and rock music: he learned to play the guitar and would later befriend famous musicians....

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Baroody, William Joseph (29 January 1916–28 July 1980), policy analyst, research institute executive, and political adviser, was born in Manchester, New Hampshire, the son of Lebanese immigrants Joseph Assad Baroody, a stonecutter, and Helen Hasney. In 1935 he married Nabeeha Marion Ashooh. They had seven children. After graduating from St. Anselm’s College in Manchester in 1936, he took graduate courses at the University of New Hampshire (1937–1938) and at American University (1938)....

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Brown, Ron (01 August 1941–03 April 1996), secretary of commerce and Democratic party leader, was born Ronald Harmon Brown in Washington, D.C., the son of William Brown, who worked for the New Deal–era Federal Housing and Home Finance Agency, and Gloria Elexine Brown. In 1947 the family moved to Harlem in New York City, where William Brown had been hired as the manager of the famed Hotel Theresa, the lodging of choice for celebrated black musicians, civic leaders, athletes, and writers. Ron spent much of his youth there, soaking up the rich cultural life of the hotel and meeting many of its famous residents. On graduating in 1958 from Rhodes, a private preparatory school in Manhattan, he entered Middlebury College in Vermont, becoming one of only three black students in the school and the first black to be initiated into his fraternity....

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Bryan, Charles Wayland (10 February 1867–04 March 1945), political adviser, governor of Nebraska, and vice presidential nominee, was born in Salem, Illinois, the son of Silas Lillard Bryan, a lawyer and farmer, and Mariah Elizabeth Jennings. He was the brother of William Jennings Bryan...

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Chotiner, Murray (04 October 1909–30 January 1974), attorney and Republican political consultant, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Albert H. Chotiner, a small business entrepreneur, and Sarah Chass. In 1921 his family moved to California, where his father began development of a chain of theaters. Four years later Chotiner graduated from Los Angeles High School, where he starred in debate. He attended the University of California, Southern Branch (now University of California, Los Angeles), for one year, again participating on the debate team and in student government, then left in 1926 to attend Southwestern Law School. He received his LL.B. in 1929, the youngest graduate in the school’s history to that date. Before taking and passing the California bar in 1931, Chotiner worked at Security First National Bank. In 1932 he married Phyllis Sylvia Levenson. They had one child before divorcing in 1955....

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Collins, Cardiss Hortense (24 Sept. 1931–3 Feb. 2013), US Congressional Representative, from Chicago, was born Cardiss Robertson in St. Louis, to parents Finlay, a day laborer, and Rosia May Robertson, a nurse. The family moved to Detroit when Cardiss was ten. She graduated from Detroit High School of Commerce, and worked tying mattress springs and later as a stenographer for a carnival supply company. She then attended night classes at Northwestern University; she received a degree from the business school in ...

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Finletter, Thomas Knight (11 November 1893–24 April 1980), corporate lawyer, secretary of the air force, and Democratic party adviser, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas Dickson Finletter, a prominent Philadelphia judge, and Helen Grill. Finletter grew up in Philadelphia and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1915. After serving as a field artillery captain in France during World War I, he attended the University of Pennsylvania Law School and received his law degree in 1920. That year he married Gretchen Blaine Damrosch; they had two daughters. Also in 1920 he moved to New York City and joined the law firm of Cravath and Henderson, where he remained until 1926, when he joined the prestigious firm of Coudert Brothers. There he specialized in bankruptcy law, about which he wrote several books and articles. Except for service in a number of appointive government posts, Finletter remained with the firm until his retirement....

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Marcus Alonzo Hanna. Photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103995 ).

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Hanna, Marcus Alonzo (24 September 1837–15 February 1904), businessman, presidential campaign manager, and U.S. senator, known as Mark Hanna, was born above his family’s grocery store in New Lisbon, Ohio, the son of Samantha Converse, a schoolteacher, and Leonard Hanna, who practiced medicine before joining his father and brothers in the grocery business. A proposed canal to link New Lisbon to the Ohio River failed, wiping out Hanna’s grandfather’s investment and pushing the town into commercial decline. Hanna’s father established a new wholesale grocery and shipping business in Cleveland, where he moved his family in 1852. Mark Hanna attended public schools and Western Reserve College, leaving college after getting caught in a student prank. As a traveling salesman for the family business, the gregarious Hanna proved a resourceful competitor. Elected second lieutenant in a Cleveland-based infantry in 1861, he instead became managing partner of the business following his father’s illness and December 1862 death. Called to defend Washington, D.C., during the summer of 1864, he served briefly in uniform but saw no combat....

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Holborn, Hajo Ludwig Rudolph (18 May 1902–20 June 1969), historian and government adviser, was born in Berlin, the son of Ludwig Rudolph Holborn, a physicist and director of an imperial research institute, and Helene Bussmann. Enjoying a rapid rise in the academic world, he earned his doctorate in 1924 under Friedrich Meinecke in Berlin, began lecturing at the University of Heidelberg in 1926, and in 1931 received the first permanent appointment to the Carnegie Chair for History and International Relations at the Deutsche Hochschule für Politik in Berlin, where he also lectured at the university....

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Martin, John Bartlow (04 August 1915–03 January 1987), author, political consultant, and speechwriter, was born in Hamilton, Ohio, the son of John Williamson Martin, a carpenter, and Laura Bartlow Martin. When Martin was three years old, his father moved the family to Indianapolis, Indiana, to a home on Brookside Avenue. It was “a mean street in a mean city,” Martin noted in his autobiography (1986). A lifelong Democrat, a party affiliation his son later shared, the elder Martin nevertheless refused to join the Ku Klux Klan, which was a significant social and political force in Indiana during the 1920s. The boy's childhood was unsettled. His brothers both died, and his father's business as a general contractor failed during the Great Depression. His parents divorced but later remarried. Encouraged by his teachers at Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis, Martin found comfort in books and devoured the works of ...

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Nutter, Gilbert Warren (10 March 1923–15 January 1979), economist and political adviser, was born in Topeka, Kansas, the son of Coleman Evan Nutter, an electrical engineer, and Helen Rose Gilberg. Nutter was educated at the University of Chicago, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in 1944. He received his B.A. in 1944, having already been inducted into the U.S. Army. Following his discharge from military service, for which he was awarded the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, he spent the 1946–1947 academic year teaching at Lawrence College. He then returned to the University of Chicago, where he obtained an M.A. in 1948 and a Ph.D. in economics in 1949. In 1946 he married Jane Calvert Couch; they had four children....

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O’Brien, Lawrence Francis, Jr. (07 July 1917–29 September 1990), political strategist, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of Lawrence Francis O’Brien, a café owner and politician, and Myra Sweeney. He learned the rudiments of political organizing from his father, who spent a lifetime establishing a Democratic foothold in Republican-dominated western Massachusetts. An Irish immigrant, O’Brien, Sr., worked in politics as a means to combat nativism in the early twentieth century. The younger O’Brien remembered that his father “saw the Democratic Party as a means through which the Irish and other immigrant groups could fight back” and came to share his father’s devotion to the party....

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Proskauer, Joseph Meyer (06 August 1877–11 September 1971), judge, political adviser, and Jewish communal leader, was born in Mobile, Alabama, the son of Alfred Proskauer, a bank cashier, and Rebecca Leinkauf. Born into a southern Jewish family of German and Hungarian descent, Proskauer was educated at Columbia College (B.A., 1896) and Columbia Law School (LL.B., 1899) and began practicing law in New York City in partnership with college friend James Rosenberg in 1900. Two years later both men entered the well-known firm of James, Schell & Elkus, which eventually became Elkus, Gleason & Proskauer. In 1903 Proskauer married Alice Naumburg. ...

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Smith, William Henry (01 December 1833–27 July 1896), journalist and political adviser, was born in Austerlitz, New York, the son of William DeForest Smith, a seller of wagons and carriages and a farmer, and Almira Gott. In 1835 Smith moved with his parents to Homer, Ohio. There he later became the secretary of a branch of the Underground Railroad for runaway slaves, which ran through the southern part of Union County. After graduating from Green Mount Seminary, a Quaker school near Richmond, Indiana, he worked for a year as a tutor....

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Weyrich, Paul Michael (07 October 1942–18 December 2008), conservative strategist and political organizer, was born in Racine, Wisconsin, the only child of Virginia M. Wickstrom Weyrich and Ignatius A. Weyrich. He grew up and was educated in a blue-collar neighborhood in Racine. His father had arrived in the United States from Germany in the 1920s and fired boilers at St. Mary’s Catholic Hospital in Racine for fifty years. His mother was a nurse at the hospital and had Norwegian parents. Young Paul was brought up as a Roman Catholic, but he switched to the Byzantine Rite of the Catholic Church as a protest against liturgical changes. He later was ordained as a protodeacon of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church....