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Anza, Juan Bautista de (07 July 1736–19 December 1788), military commander, explorer, and governor, was born in the presidio of Fronteras, Sonora, Mexico, the son of Juan Bautista de Anza, commandant of the post since 1719, and María Rafaela Becerra Nieto; his grandfather was commandant of Janos presidio, Chihuahua. Anza’s father was killed in combat in 1739, but Anza continued in the family tradition, and on 1 December 1752 entered the militia at Fronteras. On 1 July 1755 he was promoted to lieutenant at Fronteras, and, after participating in Indian campaigns in Sonora, he rose in 1760 to the rank of captain and commander of the presidio at Tubac (in present-day Arizona). On 24 June 1761 he married Ana María Pérez Serrano of Arizpe, Sonora, but no children were born of the union....

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Bouligny, Dominique (23 August 1773–05 March 1833), soldier, planter, and U.S. senator, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Francisco Bouligny, the lieutenant governor of Louisiana, a colonel in the Fixed Louisiana Regiment, and the acting governor of Louisiana, and Marie Louise le Sénéchal d’Auberville. He spent his childhood in the comfort that his father’s influence and wealth provided. Surrounded by a large extended family and a full complement of house servants, Bouligny developed a strong attachment to his family, an even stronger admiration for the military that commanded his father’s devotion, and pride in being a citizen of Spain. Louisiana offered few opportunities for the sons of army officers outside of military service. Sons of officers entered the army at an early age, and as a senior officer in the Fixed Louisiana Regiment, Bouligny’s father arranged an appointment for his twelve-year-old son as a cadet in the regimental school in March 1786. His father’s influence assured Bouligny’s rapid promotion to the first officer rank of sublieutenant at the age of fourteen....

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Buade, Louis de (22 May 1622–28 November 1698), French soldier and courtier, was born at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the son of Henri de Buade and Anne Phélypeaux de Pontchartrain, aristocrats. On his father’s side he was descended from the old nobility of the sword and on his mother’s from the ascending nobility of the robe. His father, comte de Frontenac, baron (later comte) de Palluau, and colonel of the Régiment de Navarre, was highly regarded by Louis XIII, who stood as godfather to the infant Louis at his baptism....

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Gayoso de Lemos, Manuel (30 May 1747–18 July 1799), Spanish army officer, governor of the Natchez district, and governor general of Louisiana, was born in Oporto, Portugal, the son of Manuel Luis Gayoso de Lemos y Sarmiento, a Spanish consul general, and Theresa Angelica Amorín y Magallanes. Educated in England, he developed a capacity for languages and diplomacy. He entered the army’s Lisbon Infantry Regiment as a cadet in 1771 and began a slow rise in rank....

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The Marquis de Lafayette. Reproduction of a painting by E. Percy Moran, c. 1909. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZC4-4526).

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Lafayette, Marquis de (06 September 1757–20 May 1834), major general in the Continental army and French soldier and statesman, was born Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch Gilbert du Motier Lafayette in Chavaniac, France, the son of Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, and Julie de la Rivière. After his father, a colonel in the grenadiers, was killed at the battle of Minden in 1759, his mother moved to Paris. The boy was raised at Château Chavaniac in the mountains of Auvergne until he was twelve. He then spent four years at the Collège du Plessis in Paris in a curriculum emphasizing the civic virtues of republican Rome....

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Bienville. Engraving by John Chester Buttre. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-100821).

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Le Moyne, Jean-Baptiste (baptized 23 Feb. 1680–07 March 1767), French soldier, explorer, and governor of colonial Louisiana, was born in Montréal, New France, the son of Charles Le Moyne, sieur de Longueuil et de Châteauguay, a provincial nobleman, and Catherine Thierry Primot. Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne inherited the title ...

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Le Moyne, Pierre (baptized 20 July 1661–09 July 1706), French soldier, explorer, and governor of colonial Louisiana, was born at Ville-Marie de Montréal, New France, the son of Charles Le Moyne, sieur de Longueuil et de Châteauguay, a provincial nobleman, and Catherine Thierry Primot. The early life of Pierre Le Moyne, known as the sieur d’Iberville, is veiled in obscurity. It is known that he was groomed for naval duty by his influential father through service aboard his father’s ship. In 1683 he was entrusted with Governor Le Febvre de La Barre’s dispatches for the French Crown. It was also in that year that Jeanne-Geneviève Picoté de Belestre’s guardians brought a paternity suit against Iberville, claiming that the young Canadian officer was responsible for her pregnancy. The Conseil Souverain, Canada’s court of last resort, concurred with the plaintiffs and ordered Iberville to support the child until its fifteenth birthday....

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Mézières, Athanaze de (26 March 1719–02 November 1779), soldier and colonial administrator, was born Athanaze Christofe Fortunat Mauguet de Mézières in Paris, France, the son of Christophe Claude Mauguet, sieur de Mézières, an eccentric mathematician and reputable lawyer, and Marie Antoinette Clugny. After Athanaze’s father died in 1734, Madame de Mézières married the marquis de la Haye de Riou, a man of great means who had amassed his fortune partially from his business activities as a slave trader from Saint-Malo and partially from his social contacts at the court of Louis XV, king of France. Conscious of his privileged position in French society, Athanaze de Mézières grew up in the comfort of wealth. At the Collège de Beauvais, where he pursued his advanced education, he was exposed to the whole fabric of the French legal system and excelled in Latin poetry and rhetoric. Trained as a lawyer, Mézières emerged from his upbringing as a brilliant and discerning intellectual whose development was to be irremediably shaped by the Spirit of the American frontier....

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Miró, Esteban Rodríguez (1744–04 June 1795), Spanish army officer and governor of Louisiana and West Florida, was born in Reus, Catalonia, Spain, to Francisco Miró and Mariana de Miró y Sabater, a middle-class family with ties to the lower nobility. He entered the Zamora Regiment in 1760 as a cadet during the Seven Years’ War and served in the Spanish invasion of Portugal in 1762. About 1765 he went to Mexico in the Corona Regiment, serving as an adjutant and rising in rank to lieutenant. He returned to Spain by the early 1770s. He participated in General ...

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Neve, Felipe de (1727–21 August 1784), military officer and colonial administrator, was born in Bailén, Spain, the son of Felipe de Neve and María (maiden name unknown). His father, a Sevillian by birth, reached the rank of captain in the king’s army. His mother was also born in Seville. The family formed part of the old aristocracy of Andalusia. Neve married María Nicolasa of Seville. There were no children....

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Zéspedes y Velasco, Vicente Manuel de (1720–21 July 1794), military officer and governor and captain-general of Spanish East Florida, was born in southern Castile, Spain, where his father (name unknown), a member of the lesser nobility, held the rank of hidalgo. (His mother’s identity is unknown.) Zéspedes entered military training in 1734. Beginning active duty in 1737, he spent thirty months at Oran, a north African port, then transferred to garrisons in Spanish America: Cartagena de Indias, in present-day Colombia (1740); Santiago de Cuba (1741), where he became a lieutenant in the ...