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Arvey, Jacob Meyer (03 November 1895–25 August 1977), lawyer and Democratic leader, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Israel Arvey, a businessman, and Bertha Eisenberg. His parents were Jewish Lithuanian immigrants. Arvey, known as “Jack,” married Edith Freeman in 1915; they had three children. After earning a degree at the John Marshall School of Law, he opened a law practice in Chicago in 1916....

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Thomas Burke. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-96663).

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Charles H. Sheldon

Burke, Thomas (22 December 1849–04 December 1925), lawyer, was born in Clinton County, New York, the son of James Burke and Delia Bridget Ryan, farmers. After his mother’s death in 1861, eleven-year-old Thomas left the farm and struck out on his own. He secured a position in a grocery store and then as a water carrier for railroad crews while boarding in Marion, Iowa. Later, while working part-time, he attended Ypsilanti Seminary in Michigan. Although slight of build and with a partially crippled arm, Thomas soon gained the respect of his classmates with his quick wit, unbounded energy, deep resonant voice, and eloquent speech—talents he would later use to great advantage in court and at public forums....

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Burlingham, Charles Culp (31 August 1858–06 June 1959), attorney, civic leader, and social and political reformer, was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, the son of the Reverend Aaron Hale Burlingham, a Baptist minister, and Emma Starr. Reverend Burlingham was a minister in New York City. C. C. B., as he was known by friends, lived in France for a time, after his father became minister of the American Chapel in Paris in 1863. In 1866 the family returned to the United States, and Charles’s father accepted a position as a pastor in St. Louis, Missouri, where Charles lived until he enrolled in Harvard University in 1875. He graduated in 1879 with an A.B. He then entered Columbia Law School, from which he received an LL.B. in 1881, the same year he was admitted to the New York bar. Two years later he married Louisa W. Lawrence; they had two sons and a daughter....

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Homer Cummings. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-90035).

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Cummings, Homer Stillé (30 April 1870–10 September 1956), attorney, Democratic party leader, and attorney general of the United States, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Uriah C. Cummings, a businessman, and Audie Schuyler Stillé. Educated at the Heathcote School in upstate New York, the Sheffield School of Engineering of Yale University, and the Yale Law School, from which he graduated in 1893, Cummings opened a legal practice in Stamford, Connecticut, soon thereafter and formed a partnership with Charles D. Lockwood that lasted until he joined the ...

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Dargan, Edmund S. (15 April 1805–24 November 1879), legislator and judge, was born near Wadesboro, in Montgomery County, North Carolina, the son of a Baptist minister, whose given name is unknown, and a woman whose maiden name was Lilly. Dargan’s full middle name is listed in a number of sources as either Strother or Spawn. His father died when Dargan was very young. There was no adequate estate, and to earn a livelihood he became an agricultural laborer. Dargan was a self-educated young man who studied the law in typical nineteenth-century fashion, in the law office of a local practitioner in Wadesboro. After a year of study he was admitted in 1829 to the North Carolina bar. The following year he walked to Alabama, where he settled in Washington in Autauga County. He was admitted to the Alabama bar and served as a justice of the peace in Autauga County for a number of years....

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Clarence Darrow Left, with John F. Raulston, the judge in the Scopes trial, 1925. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-95411).

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Darrow, Clarence (18 April 1857–13 March 1938), lawyer, orator, and author, was born Clarence Seward Darrow at Kinsman, in rural Ohio, the son of Amirus Darrow, a furniture maker and undertaker, and Emily Eddy. He initially attended local public schools and then, in 1873–1874, the preparatory department of Allegheny College; thereafter he taught school in Vernon, Ohio, for three years while concurrently studying law books. In 1877 he enrolled in the law department of the University of Michigan, at which he remained only one year. He then apprenticed at a law office in Youngstown and was admitted to the Ohio bar on oral examination at the age of twenty-one....

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Dembitz, Lewis Naphtali (03 February 1833–11 March 1907), attorney and activist in public affairs, was born in Zirke, Prussia. His father, Sigmund Dembitz, was a surgeon whose degree from a Prussian university precluded his practicing in Austria, which required an Austrian degree. He, his wife Fanny Wehle, and their three children therefore led a wandering existence throughout other parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, particularly Poland, while Sigmund unsuccessfully sought a profitable practice in various small towns. The young Dembitz attended schools in Munchenberg, Brandenburg, Frangbord, and Sagan and graduated at age fifteen from the Gymnasium of Glogau University in Frankfort-on-the-Oder. Dembitz’s family did not observe religious rituals. A schoolmate at Glogau introduced him to Orthodox Judaism when Dembitz was thirteen, however, and as an adult he adhered strictly to its tenets and rituals. His one semester of legal studies in Prague was interrupted by the unsuccessful political uprising of 1848. Although neither he nor his family were active participants, they found that the combination of their sympathy for the uprising’s libertarian goals and their Jewishness, assimilated though it was, made life in the Empire uncomfortable. Thirty-five members of the interrelated Wehle, Dembitz, and Brandeis families therefore immigrated to the United States in 1849....

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Fenner, Charles Erasmus (14 February 1834–24 October 1911), soldier, jurist, and education leader, was born in Jackson, Tennessee, the son of Erasmus Darwin Fenner and Annie America Callier. Fenner’s father was a prominent physician in New Orleans and the founder of the New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal...

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Judith Ellen Foster. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102556).

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Foster, Judith Ellen Horton Avery (03 November 1840–11 August 1910), lawyer, temperance activist, and Republican party leader, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, the daughter of Jotham Horton, a blacksmith and a Methodist minister, and Judith Delano. Both parents died when she was young, and Judith moved to Boston to live with her older married sister. She then lived with a relative in Lima, New York, where she attended the Genessee Wesleyan Seminary. After graduation she taught school until her first marriage to Addison Avery in 1860. They had two children, one of whom died in childhood. The marriage ended about 1866, and she moved to Chicago, supporting herself and her child by teaching music in a mission school. In Chicago she met Elijah Caleb Foster, a native of Canada and a recent graduate of the University of Michigan Law School. After their marriage in 1869, they moved to Clinton, Iowa. They had two children; one died at the age of five....

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Gardiner, John ( December 1733?–08 August 1793), attorney, political radical, and legal reformer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Silvester Gardiner, a physician, and Anne Gibbins. He attended local schools and in 1745 was sent to the office of attorney Benjamin Prat...

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Garfield, Harry Augustus (11 October 1863–12 December 1942), lawyer, educator, and public official, was born in Hiram, Ohio, the son of James A. Garfield, the twentieth president of the United States, and Lucretia Rudolph (Lucretia Rudolph Garfield). A witness to the fatal shooting of his father in 1881, Garfield grappled with the implications of that tragedy for the rest of his life. He earned a B.A. at Williams College, 1881–1885, and after teaching briefly at St. Paul’s, a private school for boys, he studied law at Columbia University, 1886–1887, and in England at Oxford University and the Inns of Court, 1887–1888. In the latter year he married Belle H. Mason; they had four children....

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Griffith, Goldsborough Sappington (04 November 1814–24 February 1904), civic and religious leader, prison reformer, and philanthropist, was born in Harford County, Maryland, the son of James Griffith and Sarah Cox. His father died in the War of 1812, leaving Griffith, not one year old, the youngest of eight. His mother subsequently remarried and, when Griffith was twelve, moved to Baltimore with her husband and family of fourteen children. Griffith left school and obtained regular employment in a tobacco manufacturing house to help support the family. He continued his education in night school and devoted his leisure time to reading. Several years later he found a rewarding position as a paperhanger and, at the age of twenty-two, with $500 in savings and a knowledgeable partner, began a prosperous paperhanging and upholstery business. In 1854 he sold this thriving business to his half brothers and turned his attentions to his very successful wholesale and retail carpet business in which he was joined by his nephews....

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Patrick Henry. Etching by Albert Rosenthal, 1888. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102566).

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Henry, Patrick (29 May 1736–06 June 1799), revolutionary statesman, orator, and lawyer, was born at Studley, Hanover County, Virginia, the son of John Henry, a Scottish-born and prosperous planter, and Sarah Winston Syme, a young widow, also from a family of substantial means. Often mistakenly thought to have been of more humble origins, Patrick Henry was, by birth and estate, a member of the gentry of the colony, if not of the highest rank. After attending a local school for a few years, he received the remainder of his formal education from his father, who had attended King’s College, University of Aberdeen....

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Ingersoll, Robert Green (11 August 1833–21 July 1899), orator and lawyer, was born in Dresden, New York, the son of the Reverend John Ingersoll, a fiery Congregational orator and abolitionist, and Mary Livingston. When Robert was two years old his mother died. His father then moved the family through a dozen or more pastorates in New York, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois. Robert came to reject his father’s gloomy Calvinism but embraced his oratorical style, abolitionism, and his assiduous reading habits. Although the itinerant status of the family limited his formal schooling, Ingersoll was well versed in the classics. He taught for two years at subscription schools in Mount Vernon and Metropolis, Illinois, and in Waverly, Tennessee. Both Robert and his brother Ebon Clark Ingersoll, a future congressman, were introduced to the law and politics when they read law for a few months in the office of Democratic congressman Willis Allen, in Marion, Illinois, where they were admitted to the bar in 1854. Robert served as a legal clerk in various federal, county, and circuit courts in southern Illinois. In late 1857 or early 1858 the brothers moved to Peoria, where they developed a thriving legal practice....

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Ingle, Richard (1609–1653), pirate and rebel, was born possibly in Redriff, Surrey, England, the son of unknown parents. Virtually nothing is known of his early life before he appeared in the colony of Maryland shortly after its 1634 founding. His first known occupation was that of ship captain and tobacco merchant, and his first definite appearance in the historical record was in March 1642, when he transported Captain Thomas Cornwallis, a member of the original colony council, from England on the ship ...