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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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Barnwell, Robert Woodward (10 August 1801–25 November 1882), educator, congressman, and U.S. and Confederate senator, was born at Beaufort, South Carolina, the son of Robert Gibbes Barnwell, a prosperous planter and Federalist member of Congress, and Elizabeth Wigg Hayne. In 1817 he entered Harvard College, where he became friendly with ...

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Burdick, Usher Lloyd (21 February 1879–19 August 1960), author, educator, and legislator, was born in Owatonna, Minnesota, the son of Ozias Burdick and Lucy Farnum, farmers. In 1882 the family settled in Graham’s Island in the Dakota Territory, where Burdick attended local public schools and learned the Sioux Indian language and customs. Following his graduation from the State Normal School at Mayville, North Dakota, in 1900, he worked for two years as deputy superintendent of schools in Benson County, North Dakota. In 1901 he married Emma Rassmussen, and they had two sons and a daughter. Frustrated by local politics, Burdick changed career objectives and moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he taught in a business college while attending the University of Minnesota’s law program, from which he graduated in 1904. He also played football at the university, which won the Big Ten championships in 1903 and 1904. After graduating he returned to Munich, North Dakota, where he was admitted to the bar and began practicing law....

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Shirley Chisholm. Announcing her candidacy for presidential nomination, 25 January, 1972. Photograph by Thomas J. O'Halloran. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-DIG-ppmsc-01264).

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Chisholm, Shirley (30 November 1924–01 January 2005), first African-American congresswoman and educator, was born Shirley Anita St. Hill in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Charles Christopher St. Hill, a factory worker, and Ruby Seale, a seamstress and domestic worker. She was sent to Barbados for economic reasons at the age of three, where she lived on her maternal grandmother's farm and attended elementary school. Upon returning to New York seven years later she attended local public schools and graduated from Girls' High School in 1942. Despite scholarship offers her family lacked the funds to help her attend a more distant college, so she entered nearby (and tuition-free) Brooklyn College with the intent of becoming a teacher. She became interested in politics while earning her B.A....

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Crary, Isaac Edwin (02 October 1804–08 May 1854), congressman and educator, was born in Preston, Connecticut, the son of Elisha Crary and Nabby Avery, farmers. He graduated from Trinity College in 1827 and spent two years practicing law in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1832 Crary moved to Marshall, Michigan, where he established that town’s first law firm. While law remained Crary’s profession, the advancement of education was his avocation, and he was instrumental in making Michigan a leader in the field of public education during the nineteenth century....

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English, William Hayden (27 August 1822–07 February 1896), congressman, vice presidential candidate, and historian, was born in Lexington, Indiana, the son of Elisha G. English and Mahala Eastin. Elisha, a landowner and railroad vice president, was a Democrat who served in the Indiana legislature for nearly twenty years and was friends with many important politicians. William benefited from his father’s contacts and status and was influenced by his views....

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Garnett, James Mercer (08 June 1770–23 April 1843), congressman, agricultural reformer, and educator, was born at “Mount Pleasant” plantation, near present-day Loretto in Essex County, Virginia, the son of planters Muscoe Garnett and Grace Fenton Mercer. He was privately educated, and in 1793 married his first cousin, Mary Eleanor Dick Mercer. The couple had four daughters and four sons....

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Edith Green. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-112920 ).

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Green, Edith (17 January 1910–21 April 1987), teacher and congresswoman, was born in Trent, South Dakota, the daughter of James Vaughn and Julia Hunt Starrett, schoolteachers. When she was six her family moved to Oregon. She attended public schools and Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. After marrying businessman Arthur N. Green in 1933, she continued to teach and to further her own education. She graduated from the University of Oregon in 1939 and took graduate courses at Stanford. Edith and Arthur Green had two sons and were later divorced....

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Hammond, Jabez Delano (02 August 1778–18 August 1855), politician and historian, was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the son of Jabez Hammond and Priscilla Delano. He grew up in Woodstock, Vermont, where he was educated in the common schools. At age fifteen he began teaching school, and, after becoming eligible through a brief apprenticeship, began a medical practice in Reading, Vermont. Dissatisfied with the medical profession for unknown reasons, Hammond sought to improve his fortune in New York, moving to Newburgh and reading law in Jonathan Fiske’s office while supporting himself as a schoolmaster. Admitted to the bar in 1805, the young lawyer pursued further opportunity in the Susquehanna Valley in the town of Cherry Valley, building “within a short time a reputable and profitable legal practice” and entering politics....

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Hunt, Carleton (01 January 1836–14 August 1921), lawyer, educator, and congressman, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Thomas Hunt, a physician, and Aglae Carleton, the daughter of an associate justice of the Supreme Court of Louisiana. Hunt spent his early life in the stimulating surroundings of an upper-class family of professionals and academicians. He took his A.B. degree from Harvard in 1856 and then read law in the office of ...

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Barbara Jordan. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-88189).

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Jordan, Barbara (21 February 1936–17 January 1996), lawyer, politician, and university professor, was born Barbara Charline Jordan in Houston, Texas, the daughter of Benjamin M. Jordan and Arlyne Patten Jordan. Her father, a graduate of the Tuskegee Institute, was a warehouse employee until 1949 when he became a minister at Houston's Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church, in which his father's family had long been active. Arlyne Jordan also became a frequent speaker at the church. The Jordans were always poor, and for many years Barbara and her two older sisters shared a bed, but their lives improved somewhat after their father became a minister. Barbara attended local segregated public schools and received good grades with little effort. She gave scant thought to her future, beyond forming a vague desire to become a pharmacist, until her senior year at Phillis Wheatley High School, when a black female lawyer spoke at the school's career day assembly. Already a proficient orator who had won several competitions, she decided to put that skill to use as an attorney....

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Lusk, Georgia Lee Witt (12 May 1893–05 January 1971), congresswoman and educator, was born in Carlsbad, Eddy County, New Mexico, the daughter of George Witt, a surveyor and rancher, and Mary Isabel Gilbreath. She graduated from New Mexico State Teachers College (now Western New Mexico University) in 1914 and also attended New Mexico Highlands University and Colorado State Teacher’s College (now the University of Northern Colorado). She taught in southeastern New Mexico for one year before her marriage in 1915 to Dolph Lusk, a rancher and banker. The Lusks lived on a ranch in southeastern New Mexico near the community of Lovington. The couple had two sons, and Georgia was pregnant with their third son when Dolph died in 1919. Newly widowed with three small children, Lusk returned to teaching and at the same time managed the ranch she had inherited from her husband....

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John Roy Lynch. Albumen silver print, c. 1883, by Charles Milton Bell. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

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Lynch, John Roy (10 September 1847–02 November 1939), U.S. congressman, historian, and attorney, was born on “Tacony” plantation near Vidalia, Louisiana, the son of Patrick Lynch, the manager of the plantation, and Catherine White, a slave. Patrick Lynch, an Irish immigrant, purchased his wife and two children, but in order to free them, existing state law required they leave Louisiana. Before Patrick Lynch died, he transferred the titles to his wife and children to a friend, William Deal, who promised to treat them as free persons. However, when Patrick Lynch died, Deal sold the family to a planter, Alfred W. Davis, in Natchez, Mississippi. When Davis learned of the conditions of the transfer to Deal, he agreed to allow Catherine Lynch to hire her own time while he honeymooned with his new wife in Europe. Under this arrangement, Catherine Lynch lived in Natchez, worked for various employers, and paid $3.50 a week to an agent of Davis, keeping whatever else she earned....

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Miller, Thomas Ezekiel (17 June 1849–08 April 1938), political leader and educator, was born in Ferrebeeville, South Carolina, the son of Richard Miller and Mary Ferrebee, occupations unknown. Miller’s race was a source of periodic concern and speculation. Although he always considered himself to be black, Miller’s very fair complexion led to allegations during his political career that he was white, the abandoned child of an unmarried white couple....

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Morris, Edward Joy (16 July 1815–31 December 1881), legislator, author, and diplomat, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, of unknown ancestry. He attended the University of Pennsylvania and graduated from Harvard College in 1836. He studied law and was admitted to the Philadelphia bar in 1842, while serving in the Pennsylvania assembly, 1841–1843. Morris served one term as a Whig in Congress, 1843–1845. When his bid for reelection failed, he resumed his law practice. In 1847 he married Elizabeth Gatliff Ella of Philadelphia, with whom he had two daughters....

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Murphy, Henry Cruse (05 July 1810–01 December 1882), lawyer, U.S. congressman, and historical scholar, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of John G. Murphy, a skilled mechanic, and Clarissa Runyon. Murphy attended Columbia University, graduating in 1830, and studied law. In 1833 he married Amelia Greenwood; they had two children....