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Bella Abzug. Campaign poster. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109588).

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Abzug, Bella (24 July 1920–31 March 1998), lawyer, feminist leader, and U.S. representative, was born Bella Savitsky in the Bronx, New York, the daughter of Emmanuel Savitsky, butcher, and Ester Tanklefsky Savitsky. She attended local schools before entering Hunter College in Manhattan, where she took part in student government and was active in the Zionist movement. She entered Columbia University Law School following her graduation in 1942 but soon left school and took a wartime job in a shipyard. She married Martin Abzug, a writer who later became a stockbroker, in 1944; the couple had two daughters. Abzug returned to Columbia and served as editor of the ...

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Adams, Henry Cullen (28 November 1850–09 July 1906), legislator and public servant, was born in Verona, Oneida County, New York, the son of Benjamin Franklin Adams, a professor of classical languages at Hamilton College, and Caroline Shepard. His parents moved to southern Wisconsin before the Civil War, and young Henry grew up on a farm, acquiring an attachment to agriculture that would permeate the remainder of his life. He was educated in country schools, at Albion College, and then spent three years during the 1870s at the University of Wisconsin, but fragile health forced him to quit before earning a degree. Adams returned to his father’s farm near Madison and in 1878 married Anne Burkley Norton, with whom he had four children....

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John Quincy Adams. From a painting by George Peter Alexander Healy. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-117119 DLC).

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Adams, John Quincy (11 July 1767–23 February 1848), secretary of state, sixth president of the United States, and U.S. congressman, was born in Braintree, Massachusetts, the son of John Adams (1735–1826), second president of the United States, and Abigail Smith Adams (Abigail Adams...

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Aiken, D. Wyatt (17 March 1828–06 April 1887), agricultural editor and congressman, was born David Wyatt Aiken in Winnsboro, South Carolina, the son of David Aiken, a merchant and planter, and Nancy Kerr. Descended from an Irish family that had prospered in the United States, Aiken received an excellent education at Mount Zion Institute in his hometown and, as was common for the sons of planters, attended South Carolina College. He graduated in 1849 and taught mathematics for two years at Mount Zion. After traveling to Europe in 1851, he returned home to marry Mattie Gaillard in 1852. Before her death in 1855, they had two children. Aiken married Virginia Carolina Smith in 1857; they had eleven children. The following year he purchased a plantation from the estate of Virginia’s father in Cokesbury, Abbeville District. As the proprietor of “Coronaca” plantation, he became involved in the agricultural reform movement and in states’ rights politics. He fervently believed that “agriculture climbs high in the scale of science: it develops thought, matures judgment, and requires for the execution, untiring energy, perseverance, and industry.” He was instrumental in the formation of the Abbeville Agricultural Society and was a member of its executive committee. In 1858 he attended the Southern Commercial Convention in Montgomery, Alabama, a meeting that quickly became a forum for disunionist politics....

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Aiken, William (28 January 1806–06 September 1887), planter and congressman, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of William Aiken, Sr., an Irish immigrant, and Henrietta Wyatt. At the time of his death, the elder Aiken was president of the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company and a wealthy merchant. Aiken attended the South Carolina College, from which he graduated in 1825. He then traveled to Europe. Upon returning to Charleston, he married Harriet Lowndes in 1831. They had one child....

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Albert, Carl (10 May 1908–04 February 2000), politician, was born Carl Bert Albert in McAlester, Oklahoma, the son of Ernest Homer Albert, a coal miner and farmer, and Leona Ann Scott Albert. He attended a two-room school and worked in cotton fields, where he sometimes carried a sack under one arm and a book under the other. At McAlester High School he excelled as a debater, became president of the student body, and graduated in 1927. That year, Albert entered the University of Oklahoma, where he majored in political science and excelled as a public speaker, winning the National Oratorical Championship in 1928. Albert, who had arrived in Norman with just $20, waited tables and did odd jobs to finance his undergraduate education. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1931, he studied on a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University, earning a B.A. in jurisprudence in 1933 and a B.C.L. a year later. He was admitted to the bar in Oklahoma in 1935 and practiced law in Oklahoma City....

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Nelson W. Aldrich. Drawing by Arthur Dove, published in Success, 1909. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-54138).

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Aldrich, Nelson Wilmarth (06 November 1841–16 April 1915), U.S. senator, congressman, and businessman, was born in Foster, Rhode Island, the son of Anan Aldrich and Abby Burgess, farmers. Having received a modest education in East Killingly, Connecticut, and at the East Greenwich Academy in Rhode Island, Aldrich was by age seventeen working in Providence. Eventually a large wholesale grocery firm, Waldron, Wightman & Co., hired him as a clerk and bookkeeper. His career there was briefly interrupted in 1862 by service with the Tenth Rhode Island Volunteers garrisoning Washington, D.C. After contracting typhoid that same year he returned to Providence and, by 1866, had been elevated to junior partner at Waldron, Wightman. He married Abby Chapman that year; the couple would have eleven children. His wife was of independent means, but Aldrich insisted on accumulating a fortune on his own account and gradually did so. He worked his way up to full partner at Waldron, Wightman, was a director of the Roger Williams Bank by 1872, and by 1877 was president of Providence’s First National Bank. He also headed the city’s Board of Trade in these years....

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Alexander, De Alva Stanwood (17 July 1845–30 January 1925), congressman and historian, was born in Richmond, Maine, the son of Stanwood Alexander and Priscilla Brown. When his father died in 1852, Alexander and his mother moved to Ohio, where he lived until his enlistment, at the age of sixteen, in the Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. After the war he completed his education at the Edward Little Institute in Auburn, Maine, and graduated from Bowdoin College in 1870. He later served for several years on Bowdoin’s board of overseers. In 1871 he married Alice Colby; their childless union ended with her death in 1890....

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Allen, Elisha Hunt (28 January 1804–01 January 1883), congressman and diplomat, was born in New Salem, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Clesson Allen, a lawyer and later a congressman, and Mary Hunt. He graduated with honors from Williams College in 1823, studied law in his father’s office, was admitted to the bar in 1825, and worked as an attorney for two years in Brattleboro, Vermont. In 1828 he married Sarah E. Fessenden; they had four children. That same year he moved to Bangor, Maine, where he formed a law partnership with ...

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William Allen. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109897).

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Allen, William (18 December 1803–11 July 1879), U.S. senator and congressman and governor of Ohio, was born in Edenton, North Carolina, the son of Nathaniel Allen, a wealthy merchant and landowner, and Sarah Colburn. Allen’s father had surrendered his Quaker principles to fight in the American Revolution and was a delegate to the North Carolina convention convened to consider the federal Constitution in 1788. Both parents died shortly after William’s birth, and he was raised by his half sister, the wife of a Methodist Episcopal minister, the Reverend Pleasant Thurman. Although born into the gentry, the tangled genealogy of his family, owing to his father’s three marriages and various legal technicalities, denied Allen any inheritance of his father’s considerable assets....

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Fisher Ames. Oil on wood, c. 1807, by Gilbert Stuart. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of George Cabot Lodge.

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Ames, Fisher (09 April 1758–04 July 1808), Federalist party leader, member of Congress, essayist, and renowned orator, was born in Dedham, Massachusetts, the son of Nathaniel Ames, Sr., a physician, tavern keeper, and almanac writer, and Deborah Fisher. Intellectually honed, Ames was admitted to Harvard at twelve. Steeped in the classics, he excelled in elocution and participated in a debating club, the Institute of 1770. Graduating in 1774, he served with the Dedham militia at the time of the battle of Bunker Hill but did not see combat. At home he pursued his scholarly interests, reading widely in classical literature and history. He also occasionally taught school. Under the tutelage of the prominent ...

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Oakes Ames. Photograph from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the National Archives (NWDNS-111-B-1245).

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Ames, Oakes (10 January 1804–08 May 1873), businessman and politician, was born in North Easton, Massachusetts, the son of Oliver Ames, a manufacturer, and Susanna Angier. He was educated in local schools and, for a few months, at Dighton Academy. At the age of sixteen, he entered his father’s shovel factory as an apprentice, rising quickly to become the works superintendent and then his father’s assistant. In 1827 he married Evelina Orvile Gilmore, and for the next three decades lived with her and their four children in one wing of his father’s house opposite the factory....

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Anderson, Richard Clough, Jr. (04 August 1788–24 July 1826), congressman and diplomat, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of Richard Clough Anderson, Sr., a revolutionary war soldier, and Elizabeth Clark, sister of frontiersman George Rogers Clark. His father had come to Kentucky in 1783 to become surveyor of the Virginia Land District in Louisville. In 1789 the family moved to “Soldiers’ Retreat,” a farm ten miles east of the city, where young Anderson grew up. Tutors instructed him until 1800, when he went to a private school in Virginia. In November 1802 he enrolled at the College of William and Mary. After graduating, Anderson left Williamsburg in July 1806 and arrived at his father’s home in September. In February of the following year he moved to Frankfort, Kentucky, to study law under John Allen. He stayed in Frankfort about a year, then lived briefly at his father’s house before returning to William and Mary in September 1808 to complete his legal training. Returning to Kentucky by way of Washington, D.C., where he witnessed the inauguration of President ...

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Arends, Leslie Cornelius (27 September 1895–16 July 1985), businessman and politician, was born in Melvin, Illinois, the son of George Teis Arends, a businessman and farmer, and Talea Weiss. After graduating from Melvin High School in 1912, he attended Oberlin College for two years and then briefly attended Illinois Wesleyan University. He enlisted in the navy during World War I. Following his discharge in 1919 he returned to Melvin to work in the grain business and in the small Commercial State Bank founded by his father. A tall, easygoing, and likable young veteran, Arends enjoyed success in business and was elected district commander of the American Legion. In 1935 he became a member of the Ford County (Ill.) Farm Bureau and in 1938 joined the Board of Trustees of Illinois Wesleyan University....