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Hiram Bingham Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-99525).

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Bingham, Hiram (19 November 1875–06 June 1956), explorer, was born Hiram Bingham III in Honolulu, Hawaii, the son of Hiram Bingham (1831–1908) and Clarissa Minerva Brewster, missionaries. Bingham’s family assumed he would constitute the third generation of missionary service to the natives of the south Pacific and constantly pressured him to live the godly life. His few efforts as a missionary literally made him sick, and he seems to have had little interest in the salvation of the natives. Bingham (he appears to have dropped the III about the time his father died) instead sublimated the family’s missionary zeal into a broad variety of interests....

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Boggs, Lilburn W. (14 December 1796–11 March 1860), governor of Missouri and California pioneer, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, the son of John M. Boggs and Martha Oliver. After graduating from the local public schools at age fifteen, he became a bookkeeper at the Insurance Bank of Kentucky in Lexington. Following the outbreak of the War of 1812, Boggs enlisted with a force of Kentucky volunteers who, under the command of Governor ...

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William Clark. Reproduction of a watercolor based on a painting by Charles Willson Peale. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-10609).

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Clark, William (01 August 1770–01 September 1838), explorer, Indian agent, and governor of Missouri Territory, was born in Caroline County, Virginia, the son of John Clark III, a planter, and Ann Rogers. Although he was informally educated, Clark acquired the refinement and intellectual development usually reserved for those who had been exposed to formal study. His family noted of him that at a young age he demonstrated leadership skills as well as an intellectual curiosity about the natural phenomena of his native Virginia....

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David Crockett. Engraving after a portrait by John Gadsby Chapman. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-93521).

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Crockett, Davy (17 August 1786–06 March 1836), frontiersman, Tennessee and U.S. congressman, and folk hero, was born David Crockett in Greene County, East Tennessee, the son of John Crockett, a magistrate, unsuccessful land speculator, and tavern owner, and Rebecca Hawkins. John Crockett hired his son out to Jacob Siler in 1798 to help on a cattle drive to Rockbridge County, Virginia, and Siler tried forcibly to detain young Crockett after the completion of the job. The boy ran away at night, however, and arrived home in late 1798 or early 1799. Preferring to play hooky rather than attend school, he ran away from home to escape his father’s wrath. His “strategic withdrawal,” as he called it, lasted about thirty months while he worked at odd jobs and as a laborer and a wagon driver. When he returned home in 1802, he had grown so much that his family at first did not recognize him. He soon found that all was forgiven and reciprocated their generosity by working for a year to settle the debts that his father had incurred....

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Dole, Sanford Ballard (23 April 1844–09 June 1926), president of the Republic of Hawaii and governor of the territory of Hawaii, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, the son of Daniel Dole and Emily Hoyt Ballard, Congregational missionaries to the islands who superintended Punahou School. His father also served as pastor at the Seamen’s Bethel in Honolulu. His mother died when Dole was four days old, and he was cared for by other missionary families, first the Chamberlains and then the Bishops, until 1846, when his father married Charlotte Knapp, who raised him as her own son. Dole attended Punahou School, then spent his senior year (1866–1867) at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Upon graduation he studied law for a year in Boston. On 10 September 1868 he passed the bar examination and was admitted to practice law in Suffolk County. “I look upon law,” Dole wrote to his parents, “as a possible stepping stone to influence and power in Government, where they need good men, and where a good man could, I think, do more for the nation, for morality and justice, than preaching to the natives.” He returned to Hawaii to open his law practice. In 1873 he married Anna Prentice Cate. They built a home on Emma Street in Honolulu and attended the Fort Street Church. Along with law, Dole continued numerous hobbies, from bird watching to yacht racing....

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Kuhio. Gelatin silver print, c. 1902, by James J. Williams. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum.

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Kuhio (26 March 1871–07 January 1922), prince of Hawaii and the islands' second territorial delegate to the U.S. Congress, prince of Hawaii and the islands’ second territorial delegate to the U.S. Congress, was born Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole Piikoi at Kola, Kauai, to Princess Kekaulike Kinoike II and high chief David Kahalepouli Piikoi. His mother was related to the ancient kings of Maui and Hawaii, and her grandfather was King Kaumualii of Kauai....

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LeFlore, Greenwood (03 June 1800–31 August 1865), chief of the Choctaws, planter, and member of the Mississippi legislature, was born near the present site of the old state capitol in Jackson, Mississippi, the son of Louis LeFlore, a French Canadian who lived among the Choctaws as an agent and trader, and Rebecca Cravat, a young girl from an important Choctaw family. When Greenwood was twelve years old, Major John Donley, who handled mail along the Natchez Trace, took the boy to his home near Nashville, Tennessee, where he stayed for five years attending school. At seventeen Greenwood asked permission to marry Donley’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Rosa, but Donley did not consent to the marriage because they were too young. Greenwood and Rosa slipped away to a friend’s home to get married, and Greenwood thereafter took his bride home to Mississippi, where two children were born....

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Mathews, George (30 August 1739–30 August 1812), soldier, frontiersman, and governor of Georgia, was born in Augusta County, Virginia, the son of John Mathews, an Irish immigrant. His mother’s name is not available. Little is known of his early life, but in 1757 he commanded a company of volunteers fighting against the Indians on the Virginia frontier. In 1762 he married Anne Paul, with whom he is thought to have had eight children. That same year he established himself as a merchant in Staunton, Virginia, and during the next decade he served as a vestryman, justice of the peace, tax collector, and sheriff in Augusta County. In 1776 he was elected to the House of Burgesses. Later that year he joined the army under ...

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Maxwell, William (1766 or 1767?–10 September 1809), pioneer printer, newspaper editor, and office holder, was long thought, based on statements made by his descendants, to have been born about 1755 in New York or New Jersey, the son of William Maxwell, an immigrant from Scotland. Current scholarship infers a probable birth date of 1766 or 1767 from a contemporary newspaper obituary and suggests several additional mid-Atlantic states (Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland) as possible places of origin. Little is known of Maxwell’s early life, including his mother’s identity. Although he is reputed to have served as a revolutionary war soldier, his participation has not been confirmed by extant military records....

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Mitchell, David Brydie (22 October 1766–22 April 1837), governor of Georgia and U.S. Indian agent, was born near Muthill, Perthshire, Scotland, the son of John Mitchell; his mother’s name is unknown. He originally came to the United States in 1783 to claim a Georgia estate left to him under the terms of an uncle’s will. On 19 January 1792 he married Jane Mills, with whom he had four known children. Mitchell read law in the Savannah office of William Stephens, at which time he also served as a clerk for the committee to revise the state criminal code. This experience led to his election as state attorney general in 1795 as a Democratic-Republican. In 1796 Mitchell was elected to the first of two consecutive terms as a representative in the Georgia General Assembly, where he became known for his opposition to the fraudulent Yazoo land sales. From 1798 to 1801 he served as the eastern district judge in the state superior court, after which he was elected mayor of Savannah. His popularity and legal skills led to his appointment as U.S. attorney general for Georgia in the following year, a post he held until his selection as major general of the state militia in 1804....

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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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Rice, Henry Mower (29 November 1816–15 January 1894), Indian trader and commissioner, Minnesota territorial delegate, and U.S. senator, was born in Waitsfield, Vermont, the son of Edmund Rice and Ellen Durkee. After his father died in 1828, Rice lived with the family of Justus Burdick. He completed an academy education and studied law in Rutland, Vermont, before moving to Michigan with the Burdick family in 1835. He worked as a chainman in the surveying of the Sault Ste. Marie Canal and for Kalamazoo merchants until 1839. That year he traveled to St. Louis, Missouri, where he was hired by Kenneth MacKenzie, a prominent commission and forwarding merchant and fur trader, who sent him to Fort Snelling, in present-day Minnesota, to assist the post sutler. The next year he was appointed sutler at the newly created Fort Atkinson near the Winnebago reservation in northeastern Iowa. In 1842 he moved to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, to join Hercules L. Dousman, a longtime partner in the Western Outfit of the American Fur Company, in trade with the Winnebago and Ojibwa of the upper Mississippi region. Five years later he was sent to Mendota near Fort Snelling as an agent of Pierre Chouteau, Jr. and Company (see ...

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Warren, William Whipple (27 May 1825–01 June 1853), Ojibwa historian and legislator, was born in La Pointe, on Madeline Island, Wisconsin, in Lake Superior, the son of Lyman Marcus Warren, a fur trader, and Mary Cadotte, of French and Ojibwa descent. The oldest of eight children, William was raised in a home with an extensive library. According to the first missionary at nearby Leech Lake, Rev. William T. Boutwell, the children were given “the benefits of a Christian education.” At age seven William attended the mission school at La Pointe and, the following year, the mission school at Mackinaw. When he was eleven his grandfather took him to New York, where he studied from 1838 to 1841 at the Oneida Institute in Whitesborough, near Utica, a school run by Rev. ...

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Brigham Young. Engraving on paper, c. 1855, by Augustin Francois Lemaitre. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

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Young, Brigham (01 June 1801–29 August 1877), second president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), first governor of Utah Territory, and colonizer, second president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), first governor of Utah Territory, and colonizer, was born in Whitingham, Vermont, the son of John Young, a farmer and revolutionary war veteran, and Abigail Nabby Howe. Three years later the family moved to central New York State and in 1813 to Sherburne in South-central New York. As a typical frontier boy, Brigham fished; trapped animals; helped clear land, build sheds, and dig cellars; milked the cow; and assisted with the planting and harvest. He received only eleven days of formal schooling but learned to read and write from his mother, with whom he regularly read the Bible. He helped care for her when she became debilitated from tuberculosis. The Young family frequented revivals in that religiously active region, and most of them became active Methodists....