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Bankhead, John Hollis (08 July 1872–12 June 1946), lawyer, businessman and U.S. senator, was born in Moscow in Lamar County, Alabama, the son of John Hollis Bankhead (1842–1920), a farmer and later U.S. senator, and Tallulah Brockman. After spending his childhood in Wetumpka and Fayette, Alabama, he received an A.B. from the University of Alabama (1891) and an LL.B. from Georgetown University (1893). In 1894 Bankhead married Musa Harkins of Fayette, with whom he had three children. Settling in Jasper, he became a lawyer for the Alabama Power Company and for leading railroads. From 1911 to 1925 he was president of the Bankhead Coal Company, a firm founded by his father, which owned one of Alabama’s largest mines....

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Carlson, Chester Floyd (08 February 1906–19 September 1968), inventor and patent lawyer, was born in Seattle, Washington, the son of Olof Adolph Carlson, a barber, and Ellen Josephine (maiden name unknown). His father had emigrated from Sweden and suffered from severe arthritis, and both parents developed tuberculosis. The family moved briefly to Mexico for the warmer weather but returned to the United States in 1912 to settle on a rented farm near San Bernardino, California. For a time Carlson was the only student in a country school, and he rode into town on a bicycle to work at odd jobs. His mother died when he was seventeen, and he supported his father....

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Chester, Colby Mitchell, Jr. (23 July 1877–26 September 1965), lawyer and business executive, was born in Annapolis, Maryland, the son of Colby Mitchell Chester, a lieutenant commander (later a rear admiral) in the U.S. Navy, and Melancia Antoinette Tremaine. He attended Yale University, where he was awarded a Ph.B. from the Sheffield Scientific School in 1897 and a B.A. in 1898. Chester then enrolled at New York Law School, where he received an LL.B. in 1900. That same year he was admitted to the New York bar but delayed the practice of law to join his father, then commander of the battleship USS ...

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Clark, Edward (19 December 1811–14 October 1882), lawyer and business leader, was born in Athens, Greene County, New York, the son of Nathan Clark, a successful pottery manufacturer, and Julia Nichols. Clark began schooling with a tutor and then attended an academy at Hudson, New York. At age twelve he went to Lenox Academy, run by John Hotchkin, reputedly reading every book in the school’s 500-volume library; at age sixteen he went to Williams College, graduating in 1831....

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Cromwell, John Wesley (05 September 1846–14 April 1927), lawyer and historian, was born a slave in Portsmouth, Virginia, the son of Willis Hodges Cromwell, a ferry operator, and Elizabeth Carney. In 1851 Cromwell’s father purchased the family’s freedom and moved to West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Cromwell entered the public schools. In 1856 he was admitted to the Preparatory Department of the Institute of Colored Youth. Graduating in 1864, he embarked on a teaching career. He taught in Columbia, Pennsylvania, and in 1865 opened a private school in Portsmouth, Virginia. Cromwell left teaching temporarily after an assault in which he was shot at and his school burned down. He returned to Philadelphia and was employed by the Baltimore Association for the Moral and Intellectual Improvement of Colored People. Then he served as an agent for the American Missionary Association and went back to Virginia. He became active in local politics, serving as a delegate to the first Republican convention in Richmond in 1867....

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Dodd, Bella Visono ( October 1904–29 April 1969), teachers' union lobbyist and lawyer, teachers’ union lobbyist and lawyer, was born Maria Assunta Isabella Visono in Picerno, Italy, southeast of Naples, the daughter of Rocco Visono, a grocer, and Teresa Marsica. She was raised in the nearby village of Avialano by foster parents until she was old enough to join her family in New York City at the age of five. Her family moved several times and finally out of the tenements into a large house in Westchester left to her mother by two elderly women for whom she had worked. Determined to become “an American,” Bella excelled in school, rejected Catholicism, and, after World War I, avidly began reading newspapers....

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Findlay, James (12 October 1770–28 December 1835), congressman, lawyer, and merchant, was born in Mercersburg, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, the son of Samuel Findlay and Jane Smith. Little is known about Findlay’s early life, including his father’s occupation. Apparently, he grew up in comfortable circumstances and had some formal education. But when his father suffered a major financial setback, probably as the result of a fire, James and his two older brothers had to fend for themselves. Like many other young Americans in postrevolutionary America, Findlay decided to seek fame and fortune elsewhere. In 1793 he and his wife, Jane Irwin, moved to Virginia and then to Kentucky, before finally settling in Cincinnati....

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Elbert H. Gary [left to right] Elbert H. Gary, Calvin Coolidge, and John D. Rockefeller, 1925. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-106305 ).

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Gary, Elbert Henry (08 October 1846–15 August 1927), lawyer and steel industrialist, was born near Wheaton, Illinois, the son of Erastus Gary and Susan Valette, farmers. Raised in a strict Methodist home that stressed the value of education, Gary attended the local public schools and for a time Illinois Institute, later renamed Wheaton College. After a two-month army stint during the Civil War and a term teaching school, Gary turned to the study of law with his maternal uncle, Colonel Henry Valette, and his uncle’s partner, Judge Hiram H. Cody, in Naperville, Illinois. He subsequently attended Union College of Law in Chicago, graduating first in the 1868 class. While clerking for the Illinois Superior Court, he married Julia E. Graves in 1869; they had two children. The couple lived in Wheaton from whence he commuted to Chicago during the subsequent thirty years of his legal career. (After his first wife’s death in 1902, Gary married Emma Townsend in 1905. They had no children)....

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Green, Benjamin Edwards (05 February 1822–12 May 1907), lawyer, diplomat, and business promoter, was born in Elkton, Kentucky, the son of Duff Green and Lucretia Maria Edwards. He grew up in Washington, D.C., where his father, a determined supporter of Andrew Jackson, moved in 1825 to edit the ...

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Grimké, Archibald Henry (17 August 1849–25 February 1930), lawyer, diplomat, and protest leader, was born a slave on “Caneacres” plantation near Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Henry Grimké, a lawyer and planter, and Nancy Weston, the family’s slave nurse. His parents probably never married, but his mother assumed the Grimké name. Grimké had an extremely difficult early life. After years of virtual freedom—he had attended Charleston schools for free African Americans though technically a slave—he and his brother ...

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Grover, La Fayette (29 November 1823–10 May 1911), lawyer, politician, and manufacturer, was born in Bethel, Maine, the son of John Grover, a surgeon, and Fanny Lary. He grew up among the Bethel elite; his father served in the Maine constitutional convention of 1819 and later in the state legislature. La Fayette received his early education in Bethel’s common schools and the private Gould’s Academy. After two years of study at Bowdoin College (1844–1846), he moved to Philadelphia, where he studied law in the office of Asa I. Fish and attended lectures at the Philadelphia Law Academy. He was admitted to the bar in 1850....

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Herrman, Augustine (1605?–1686?), merchant, attorney, ambassador, and mapmaker, was born in Prague, Bohemia, thought to be the son of Ephraim Augustin Herrman, a shopkeeper and city councilman, and Beatrix Redel, but possibly the son of Abraham Herrman, a Hussite minister in Mseno who was exiled to Zittau in Saxony because he was not Roman Catholic, and eventually settled in Amsterdam (wife’s name unknown)....

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Johnson, Edward Austin (23 November 1860–24 July 1944), educator, lawyer, and politician, was born near Raleigh, North Carolina, the son of Columbus Johnson and Eliza A. Smith, slaves. He was taught to read and write by Nancy Walton, a free African American, and later attended the Washington School, an establishment founded by philanthropic northerners in Raleigh. There he was introduced to the Congregational church and became a lifelong member. Johnson completed his education at Atlanta University in Georgia, graduating in 1883. To pay his way through college, he worked as a barber and taught in the summers. After graduation he worked as a teacher and principal, first in Atlanta at the Mitchell Street Public School (1883–1885) and then in Raleigh at the Washington School (1885–1891). While teaching in Raleigh he studied at Shaw University, obtaining a law degree in 1891. He joined the faculty shortly after graduation and became dean of the law school at Shaw two years later. He acquired a reputation as a highly capable lawyer, successfully arguing many cases before the North Carolina Supreme Court....

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Lee, Samuel J. (22 November 1844–01 April 1895), politician and lawyer, was born in bondage on a plantation in Abbeville District, South Carolina. A mulatto, he was probably the son of his owner, Samuel McGowan, and a slave woman. When McGowan entered Confederate service, Lee attended him in the camps and on the battlefield. Lee was wounded twice, at Second Manassas in 1862 and later near Hanover Junction, Virginia. After emancipation, he farmed in Abbeville District and then in Edgefield County, South Carolina, having settled in Hamburg. By 1870 Lee had accumulated at least $500 in real estate and $400 in personal property. Sometime before February 1872 he married a woman identified in legal documents as R. A. Lee; her maiden name is unknown....

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Levitt, Abraham (01 July 1880–20 August 1962), lawyer and housing contractor, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Rabbi Louis Levitt and Nellie (maiden name unknown), immigrants from Russia. Little is known about his parents. Levitt grew up in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Because his family was very poor, he was forced to drop out of school at the age of ten to become a newsboy on Park Row. Later he worked as a dishwasher and held other menial positions, such as dock worker and waiter. Nevertheless, he educated himself by avidly reading books, newspapers, and magazines. He later said that by the time he was sixteen years old, he read some part of some book every day; his favorite subjects were history, economics, and philosophy. He also frequently attended lectures at Cooper Union and joined and regularly attended the meetings of various literary and scientific societies. When he was twenty years old, he took and passed a New York’s regents examination to gain entrance to the New York University Law School. Specializing in real estate law, he wrote an outstanding student manual on his specialty when he was a sophomore, the profits from which helped him finish his LL.B. Admitted to the New York bar in 1903, he established a private practice that soon flourished. Three years later he married Pauline A. Biederman; the couple had two sons, ...

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London, Meyer (29 December 1871–06 June 1926), socialist leader and labor lawyer, was born in Kalvarie, province of Suvalki, Poland, the son of Ephraim London, a printer, and Rebecca Berson. His father received a traditional Orthodox Jewish education but turned to radicalism under the influence of the enlightenment movement. His mother was born into a rabbinical family and retained her Orthodox views. London’s father arrived in the United States in 1888 and set up a printing shop on the Lower East Side of New York City that published a Yiddish anarchist journal. In 1891 he sent for the rest of his family. Meyer entered New York University’s law school in 1896 and was admitted to the bar two years later. In 1899 he married Anna Rosenson, a dentist; they had one child....

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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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Frank W. Mondell [left to right] Gilbert M. Hitchcock, Henry Cabot Lodge, Joseph W. Fordney , Frank W. Mondell, and George B. Christian, c. 1921. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-97866).