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Cohen, Felix Solomon (03 July 1907–19 October 1953), lawyer, was born in New York City, the son of Morris Cohen, an academic and philosopher, and Mary Ryshpan, a former teacher. Cohen attended Townsend Harris High School, which conducted a joint program with City College. After graduating magna cum laude from City College, he earned his M.A. in philosophy from Harvard in 1927. Cohen entered Columbia Law School in 1928, completed his Ph.D. comprehensive exams at Harvard and received his doctorate in 1929, and received his LL.B. from Columbia in 1931. That year he accepted a position as research assistant for a judge on the New York Supreme Court and married Lucy M. Kramer. They had two children....

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William Cranch. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109848).

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Cranch, William (17 July 1769–01 September 1855), jurist and Supreme Court reporter, was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts, the son of Richard Cranch, a watchmaker, judge, and legislator, and Mary Smith. His mother was Abigail Adams’s sister. Graduated from Harvard at the age of nineteen, Cranch was a classmate there of his cousin ...

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Dane, Nathan (29 December 1752–15 February 1835), lawyer, legislator, and legal writer, was born in Ipswich, Massachusetts, the son of Daniel Dane and Abigail Burnham, prosperous farmers. Dane, one of twelve children, received a common school elementary education. He worked on his father’s farm until he entered Harvard College at the unusual age of twenty-two. Dane’s college career from 1774 to 1778 was interrupted by the American Revolution; he apparently performed militia service in Boston during the British siege of the city in 1775–1776. In his academic studies Dane displayed an aptitude for mathematics, which later bore fruit when, as a legislator, he took special interest in taxation, government finance, and census issues. Throughout his life Dane retained the studiousness that marked his college years....

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Deming, Philander (06 February 1829–09 February 1915), author and pioneer in court stenography, was born in Carlisle, New York, the son of Julia Ann Porter and Rufus Romeo Deming, a minister in the Champlain Presbytery. As his father moved from one pulpit to another, Deming spent his childhood in various small towns in the Adirondack Mountain and Champlain Valley regions of New York State. In such circumstances his father’s library provided much of his education, and he was steeped in writers of the New England tradition such as Emerson and Longfellow. After living for a time in Huntingdon, Quebec, the family returned to upstate New York and settled in the village of Burke in Franklin County. As a young man, Deming savored solitude, and could often be found walking about the countryside, fishing, hunting, and rambling. Among the inhabitants of Burke, he was considered “odd” and uncommunicative, yet he still managed to secure a teaching post there from 1852 to 1854. During that time Deming and his two brothers also built themselves a sawmill, which Deming helped operate as he prepared for college. After studying at Whitestown Seminary in Whitesboro, New York, he matriculated at the University of Vermont from which he graduated in 1861, having been elected Phi Beta Kappa. Three years later he received an advanced degree from the university, remaining active in its alumni programs throughout most of his life....

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David Dudley Field. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109910).

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Field, David Dudley, Jr. (13 February 1805–13 April 1894), lawyer, law reformer, and codifier of law, was born in Haddam, Connecticut, the son of David Dudley Field, Sr., a noted clergyman, and Submit Dickinson. In 1819 the Reverend Field moved his family from Haddam to Stockbridge in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, a place to which the younger Field would often return. The Reverend Field’s family was a remarkable one; his five other sons who survived to middle age also achieved fame. ...

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Henry W. Halleck, c. 1860–1865. Photograph by J. A. Scholten. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-6377).

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Halleck, Henry Wager (16 January 1815–09 January 1872), soldier, author, and businessman, was born at Westernville, Oneida County, New York, the son of Joseph Halleck and Catherine Wager, farmers. Raised on the family farm but unwilling to accept agriculture as his life’s work, he ran away from home in 1831 to seek a formal education. He was adopted by his maternal grandfather and attended Union College, where he earned an A.B. degree in 1837. Halleck then entered the U.S. Military Academy, graduated third in the class of 1839, and received appointment in the highly regarded Corps of Engineers....

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Hening, William Waller (1767?–01 April 1828), lawyer and legal editor, was born on the family farm about five miles west of Fredericksburg, Culpeper County, Virginia, the son of David Hening and Mary Waller. Hening received his earliest education at a school conducted by the Reverend John Price in Culpeper County. He studied under Adam Goodlett, whom he styled as his “preceptor of the classics.” He read law in Fredericksburg, where he was admitted to the bar in April 1789....

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Howard, Benjamin Chew (05 November 1791–06 March 1872), lawyer and legislator, was born at “Belvedere” in Baltimore County, Maryland, the son of John Eager Howard, an officer in the revolutionary war, and Peggy Oswald Chew of Pennsylvania. His maternal grandfather was Benjamin Chew...

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Iredell, James (05 October 1751–20 October 1799), statesman and jurist, was born in Lewes, England, and raised in Bristol, the son of Francis Iredell, a merchant, and Margaret McCulloh. Little is known of Iredell’s early education. The family’s circumstances were modest, and when his father suffered a paralytic stroke in 1766, the Iredells were forced to appeal to their well-connected relatives for assistance. In February 1768 one of these relatives, Sir George Macartney, secured for James a position as comptroller of customs for Port Roanoke in Edenton, North Carolina. Aided by his friendly disposition and his family connection to Henry Eustace McCulloh, one of the largest landholders in the colony, Iredell soon entered into Edenton society. He took up the study of law with ...

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Johnson, William (17 December 1769–25 June 1848), law reporter, was born in Middletown, Connecticut, the son of Asahel Johnson and Eunice Wetmore, whose forebears numbered among Connecticut’s earliest settlers. Born into comfortable circumstances, William Johnson attended Yale College, where he associated closely with later famous Connecticutans ...

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Kirby, Ephraim (23 February 1757–20 October 1804), law reporter and Connecticut Jeffersonian, was born near Washington in Litchfield County, Connecticut, the son of Abraham Kirby and Eunice Starkweather, farmers. In December 1775, after five months in the Connecticut militia, three months of which were spent investing British-occupied Boston, Kirby returned to his Litchfield home to begin the study of law with attorney Reynold Marvin. In December 1776 he enlisted as a trooper in the Second Continental Dragoons. He fought at Brandywine and Germantown....

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Leigh, Benjamin Watkins (18 June 1781–02 February 1849), lawyer, court reporter, and politician, was born in Chesterfield County, Virginia, the son of William Leigh, an Episcopalian minister, and Elizabeth Watkins. Benjamin attended the College of William and Mary, where he studied under St. George Tucker...

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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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McClain, Emlin (26 November 1851–25 May 1915), judge and legal educator, was born in Salem, Ohio, the son of William McClain, a teacher and farmer, and Rebecca Harris. In 1855 the family moved to Iowa and settled near Tipton, Cedar County, where McClain’s father farmed, administered the local schools, and taught at the teachers’ institute. After the Civil War the family moved to Iowa City and Des Moines, where his father operated preparatory schools....

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Meigs, Return Jonathan (14 April 1801–19 October 1891), lawyer, abolitionist, and state librarian of Tennessee, was born near Winchester, Clark County, Kentucky, the son of John Meigs and Parthenia Clendinen. After the death of his father in 1807, he lived part of the time with his uncle James Lemme in Bourbon County, where he studied the classics under the tutelage of George Wilson. Subsequently he studied law and was admitted to the bar in Frankfort, Kentucky, in 1822....

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Munford, William (15 August 1775–21 June 1825), court reporter, poet, and politician, was born in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, the son of Robert Munford, a planter, playwright, and poet, and Anne Beverley. William began his education at the grammar school at William and Mary, then attended the college. His talents and intelligence impressed his teachers, including ...

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Redfield, Amasa Angell (19 May 1837–19 October 1902), lawyer and legal author, was born in Clyde, New York, the son of Luther Redfield, a merchant, and Eliza Angell. Redfield was educated at a school in Bloomfield, New Jersey, and at the University of the City of New York (now New York University), from which he graduated in 1860 with an A.B. After graduation he entered the study of the law under the apprenticeship of Austin Abbot and was admitted to the New York bar in 1862. The following year he published ...