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Adair, John (09 January 1757–19 May 1840), soldier, politician, and governor of Kentucky, was born in Chester County, South Carolina, the son of Baron William Adair and Mary Moore. Little is known about his childhood. As a young man, he fought in the revolutionary war and was captured by the British. During his imprisonment he suffered many cruelties, which apparently did little to deter him from becoming a career soldier. After the war Adair traveled west, eventually settling in Mercer County, Kentucky, in 1786. In 1784 he had married Katherine Palmer; they had twelve children....

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Armstrong, John (13 October 1717–09 March 1795), soldier, surveyor, and member of the Continental Congress, was born in County Fermanagh, Ulster, Ireland. The identities of his Scotch-Irish parents and circumstances of his youth are unclear, but his father may have been named James. A trained surveyor, John Armstrong evidently received some education fairly early in life. Sometime in the mid-1740s Armstrong immigrated to America, settling initially in Delaware and then in Pennsylvania, where he worked as a surveyor. It was probably at some point after his arrival in America that he married Rebeckah Armstrong. The couple had two sons (the younger, ...

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Armstrong, John, Jr. (25 November 1758–01 April 1843), soldier and politician, was born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the son of John Armstrong and Rebecca Lyon. His father, a surveyor and a prominent figure on the Pennsylvania frontier, achieved fame as the “Hero of Kittanning” during the Seven Years’ War when he destroyed a particularly troublesome Indian village; he later served as an officer in the revolutionary war. Armstrong attended the College of New Jersey (later Princeton) for two years but left in 1776 to join the Continental army. He served successively as aide-de-camp to Brigadier General Hugh Mercer and Major General ...

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Bedinger, George Michael (10 December 1756–08 December 1843), soldier, legislator, and businessman, was born in York County, Pennsylvania, the son of Henry Bedinger and Magdalene von Schlegel, innkeepers. In 1737 his grandfather had moved to Pennsylvania from the vicinity of Strasbourg in Alsace-Lorraine. At the time of George Michael’s birth, the family name was spelled Biedinger and German was the language spoken at home. Late in life Bedinger was described by a contemporary as a “full blooded Virginia Dutchman.”...

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Bloomfield, Joseph (18 October 1753–08 October 1823), lawyer, soldier, and politician, was born in Woodbridge, New Jersey, the son of Moses Bloomfield, a physician, and Sarah Ogden. The family was one of the most prominent in colonial New Jersey. His father had received a first-rate medical education in Edinburgh, Scotland, and had a thriving practice in Middlesex County by the time Joseph was born. Joseph’s mother was a member of a wealthy and influential family of Elizabethtown, which further assured Joseph’s upper-class pedigree. His education and choice of occupation were in line with his social standing. While in his early teens, he attended the Reverend Enoch Green’s classical academy in Deerfield, Cumberland County, at the opposite end of the province from Woodbridge. Upon graduation, Bloomfield returned to East Jersey, determined to be a lawyer. He entered the profession at the top, studying in Perth Amboy with Cortlandt Skinner, attorney general of New Jersey, and was admitted to the bar in November 1774. Setting up practice in Bridgeton, Cumberland County, he soon became known and respected in all of New Jersey’s southern counties. The future seemed secure, had not the American Revolution intervened....

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Campbell, Arthur (03 November 1743–08 August 1811), frontiersman, soldier, and politician, was born in Augusta County, Virginia, the son of David Campbell and Mary Hamilton, immigrant Scotch-Irish Presbyterian farmers. He was not quite fifteen when, during the French and Indian War, he joined a company of Virginia rangers stationed in western Augusta County. At Fort Young on the Jackson River in September 1758, Campbell was captured by Wyandot Indians and spent two years in captivity in the vicinity of Detroit before escaping....

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Carroll, William (03 March 1788–22 March 1844), soldier, businessman and governor of Tennessee, was born near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas Carroll, a farmer and businessman, and Mary Montgomery. Although his formal education was meager, his letters, papers, and public documents exhibit an unusual clarity of thought and facility of expression. His father formed a partnership with ...

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Chandler, John (01 February 1762–25 September 1841), soldier, U.S. congressman, and senator, was born in Epping, New Hampshire, the son of Joseph Chandler and Lydia Eastman. His father, a subsistence farmer and soldier, died in 1776, leaving a destitute widow and ten children. To help support the family, John, upon turning fifteen, enlisted in the Continental army, engaging in the 1777 Saratoga campaign that resulted in the defeat and capture of General ...

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Cocke, William (1748–22 August 1828), legislator, soldier, and Indian agent, was born in Amelia County, Virginia, the son of Abraham Cocke, a member of the tobacco gentry. As a young man, Cocke studied law and soon became prominent in public affairs. After moving in the early 1770s with his wife, Sarah Maclin (whom he married in 1773 or earlier), and the first of their nine children to a settlement in the Holston Valley near the present Virginia-Tennessee boundary, he served in the Virginia House of Delegates and was an officer in the Virginia militia. Sometime later, he married Keziah (or Kissiah) Sims; they had no children. While in the Holston Valley, he participated in the formation of Sullivan and Washington counties and held several minor positions. In 1776 he raised a company of troops, was commissioned captain, and established “Cocke’s Fort” in the nearby wilderness. He took part in several military encounters with the British and Indians and in 1780 led his troops—along with ...

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Connor, Patrick Edward (02 March 1820?–17 December 1891), soldier, entrepreneur, and politician, was born Patrick Edward O’Connor in County Kerry, Ireland. His exact birth date and the names of his parents are in question. As a teenager, he emigrated with his parents to New York City, where he probably briefly attended public school....

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Dearborn, Henry (23 February 1751–06 June 1829), politician and soldier, was born in Hampton, New Hampshire, the son of Simon Dearborn and Sarah Marston, farmers. When Henry was seven years old the family moved to Epping, New Hampshire, where he attended local schools. The father died when Henry was fifteen, leaving the mother with a large family and scant resources. Unable to attend college, Henry studied medicine first under local doctors and then under ...

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Dodge, Henry (12 October 1782–19 June 1867), soldier, governor of Wisconsin Territory, and U.S. senator, was born at Post Vincennes (now Vincennes), Indiana, the son of Israel Dodge, a farmer and businessman, and Nancy Ann Hunter. His father moved the family to Kentucky and then to Ste. Genevieve on the Missouri frontier in 1796. By the time Henry was born his father had become a wealthy landowner. Henry had little formal education, but worked on his father’s farms and in his mills, distilleries, and mines. In 1800 Henry Dodge married Christina McDonald; they had thirteen children, but only nine survived infancy. He succeeded his father as sheriff of the Ste. Genevieve district in 1805....

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Eaton, William (23 February 1764–01 June 1811), soldier and diplomat, was born in Woodstock, Connecticut, the son of Nathaniel (or Nathan) Eaton, a teacher and farmer, and Sarah Johnson. The family moved to Mansfield shortly before the Revolution. In January 1780 Eaton ran off and joined the army, but he was discharged after a month with frostbitten toes. In early 1781 Eaton reenlisted with his father’s blessing. He saw no military action and was released with the rank of sergeant when the war ended. Eaton returned to Mansfield and taught school before enrolling at Dartmouth. He graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in 1790 and became clerk of the Vermont Assembly....

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Elliot, James (18 August 1775–10 November 1839), politician, soldier, and author, was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the son of James Elliot, a sailor, and Martha Day. His father died at sea of smallpox early in the Revolution, and in 1780 the family moved to New Salem, Massachusetts, where Elliot’s mother made a meager living as a seamstress. As a boy Elliot developed a strong love of reading and study, but the family’s poverty denied him a chance for a formal education. He worked as a household servant for Ebenezer Sanderson, a Petersham farmer and merchant, from 1782 to 1789, then took a job as clerk at a general store in Guilford, Vermont. There he made the acquaintance of ...

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Fannin, James Walker (01 January 1804–27 March 1836), Texas revolutionary leader, was the son of Dr. Isham Fannin, a Georgia planter. His mother’s identity is unknown, but apparently she was a member of the Walker family. James was adopted and raised by his maternal grandfather, James W. Walker, on a plantation near Marion, Georgia, following a dispute over his legitimacy. Little is known about Fannin’s years in Georgia....

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Folsom, Nathaniel (18 September 1726–26 May 1790), merchant and soldier, was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, the son of Jonathan Folsom and Anna Ladd Foster, farmers. When Folsom was fourteen his father died. He was apprenticed to a trade but later became a merchant and, with two partners, began his own trading firm. He had no formal or academic education....

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Gadsden, James (15 May 1788–26 December 1858), soldier, politician, and railroad executive, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Philip Gadsden, and Catherine Edwards. He was the grandson of Christopher Gadsden, a merchant and revolutionary leader. Like his older brothers, he attended Yale, from which he was graduated in 1806. After leaving Yale he returned to Charleston and became a merchant. Gadsden married Susanne Gibbs Hort; the couple had no children....

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Gilpin, William (04 October 1815–19 January 1894), geopolitician, soldier, and land speculator, was born in New Castle County, Delaware, the son of Joshua Gilpin, a manufacturer of fine paper, and Mary Dilworth. He was educated at home until age thirteen, when he was sent to Settle, England, for preparatory school. Two years later he returned home, and after an examination, he was admitted to the University of Pennsylvania as a junior. He received his A.B. in 1833 at the age of eighteen....

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Hamtramck, John Francis (19 April 1798–21 April 1858), soldier, mayor, and jurist, was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the son of John F. Hamtramck, Sr., a soldier, and Rebecca Mackenzie. When his father died in Detroit in 1803, Hamtramck fell under the guardianship of ...

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Hardin, John J. (06 January 1810–23 February 1847), soldier and politician, was born in Frankfort, Kentucky, the son of Martin D. Hardin, a politician, and Elizabeth Logan. It is not known what the middle initial, “J.,” stood for, if indeed Hardin had a full middle name. He was raised in a wealthy Kentucky family. His father was a U.S. senator (1816–1817) and Kentucky’s secretary of state, and his mother was the daughter of General ...