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Barnwell, John (1671– June 1724), frontier settler and Indian fighter, was the son of Alderman Matthew Barnwell of Dublin, Ireland, and Margaret Carberry. The elder Barnwell was killed in the siege of Derry in 1690 as a captain in James II’s Irish army, which attempted to restore the last Stuart king after the revolution of 1688. The family seat, Archerstown in County Meath, was forfeited as a result of this support of James II against William and Mary....

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McMinn, Joseph (22 June 1758–17 November 1824), soldier, planter, and governor of Tennessee, was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the son of Robert McMinn and Sarah Harlan, farmers. He grew up in Pennsylvania, but as a young man he moved with his wife, Hannah Cooper, whom he had married in 1785, and their only child to Hawkins County, North Carolina (later Tennessee), where at least one other member of his family had settled. He established himself as a planter and soon was commissioned a militia captain in the Southwest Territory, which was created in 1790 to prepare Tennessee for statehood. He was a member of the territorial legislature in 1794 and of the constitutional convention that assembled in Knoxville in 1796 to draft a constitution and a petition to Congress for Tennessee’s admission to the Union. McMinn was entrusted by the assembly to deliver the document and petition to national leaders in Philadelphia. Having presented the documents to the secretary of state, he remained in Philadelphia long enough to sit for a portrait by ...

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Standish, Myles (1584?–03 October 1656), Pilgrim military and political leader, was born in England, either on the Isle of Man or Lancashire, and may have been connected to the noted Catholic family Standish of Standish. Virtually nothing, however, is known of his early life or education until as a soldier in the Low Countries he became acquainted with the English Leiden separatist congregation from which many of the Mayflower passengers came. As the Pilgrims prepared to emigrate to America, Captain ...

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Williams, Israel (30 November 1709–10 January 1788), provincial militia officer and public official, was born in Hatfield, Massachusetts, the son of William Williams, a minister, and Christian Stoddard. His maternal grandfather, the Reverend Solomon Stoddard, was known as the “pope” of the Connecticut Valley for his religious authority and influence. Like him, Williams would achieve military, political, and economic dominance that would earn him a double-edged label: “monarch” of the Connecticut River valley in western Massachusetts. The male members of the Williams family and their political and business associates in western Massachusetts were known as the “River Gods”—a hard-working, aggressive, tightly knit, local elite with political ties to the dominant Hutchinson-Oliver faction in provincial politics. By the 1750s Israel had become the preeminent River God....

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Josiah Winslow. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-96221).

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Winslow, Josiah (1629–18 December 1680), governor of Plymouth Colony and commander in King Philip's War, governor of Plymouth Colony and commander in King Philip’s War, was born in the town of Plymouth, the son of Edward Winslow and Susanna Fuller White. His was a politically and economically prominent Pilgrim family. Winslow’s father was a member of the colony’s Court of Assistants and occasionally governor during Josiah’s earliest years. In the early 1630s the family moved to Marshfield; Edward Winslow was the town’s main founder. Marshfield remained Josiah Winslow’s home throughout his life. In the mid-1640s Winslow was among the first three American-born students to enroll at Harvard. Winslow did not take a degree, that being, according to custom, largely restricted to those pursuing ministerial careers....

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Winthrop, John (14 March 1638–27 November 1707), soldier and governor of Connecticut, known as Fitz or Fitz-John, was born in Ipswich, Massachusetts, the son of John Winthrop, Jr. (1606–1676), governor of Connecticut, and Elizabeth Reade. In 1646 Winthrop and his family moved to New London, Connecticut, where he lived for most of his life. After two years of formal education he turned to farming and then went to England to serve in the English army (1658–1660), reaching the rank of captain. He participated in General George Monck’s march from Scotland to London in 1660, which resulted in the restoration of King Charles II....