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Alexander, Abraham (1718–23 April 1786), early leader in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, was born probably in Cecil County, Maryland, the son of Francis Alexander (mother’s name unknown). Alexander was descended from one of several families bearing his surname who arrived in the middle colonies from Northern Ireland early in the eighteenth century, many of them settling in Cecil County. His grandfather, Joseph Alexander, a tanner, recorded his will in Cecil County in 1726. His father may have migrated with his wife and children, but it is more likely that Abraham was in the vanguard of younger relatives who commenced relocating in the early 1750s to the southern piedmont of North Carolina. The Alexander clan was enticed to the region by Lord George Augustus Selwyn and ...

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Attucks, Crispus (1723–05 March 1770), probably a sailor, was the first to be killed in the Boston Massacre of 5 March 1770. Generally regarded to have been of mixed ancestry (African, Indian, and white), Attucks seems to have hailed from a Natick Indian settlement, Mashpee (incorporated as a district in 1763, near Framingham, Massachusetts)....

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Bache, Sarah Franklin (11 September 1743–05 October 1808), revolutionary war Patriot, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790) and Deborah Read Franklin. During her childhood, Sarah, known as Sally throughout her life, resided with her parents and half brother, ...

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Cabell, William (13 March 1730–23 March 1798), revolutionary political figure, antifederalist, and tobacco planter, was born in the James River valley, north of Richmond, Virginia, the son of William Cabell and Elizabeth Burks. His father was a surgeon of the Royal Navy, who was born in Wiltshire, England, migrated to Virginia in the early 1720s, and married into a wealthy planter family in 1726. As his family grew, Cabell’s father took up extensive lands in the upper James River valley. As a leading planter on a frontier, he served as vestryman, deputy sheriff, justice of the peace, and militia officer, as well as practicing medicine....

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Clarke, Parker (03 April 1748–25 March 1823), surgeon and soldier, was born in Ipswich, Massachusetts, the son of Parker Clarke and Lydia Phillips. In 1769 he married Judith Lunt; they had three sons. After obtaining some medical training in New England, Clarke immigrated to Cumberland Township on the Isthmus of Chignecto in Nova Scotia. By 1770 he was living in Fort Lawrence, where he farmed and practiced medicine as a prominent member of the New England planter community, which by then formed the majority of the population on the isthmus and throughout Nova Scotia....

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Corbin, Margaret Cochran (12 November 1752–1800), revolutionary war heroine, was a . The details of her early life are based on an undocumented source that indicates she was born in Pennsylvania in what is now Franklin County, the daughter of Robert Cochran. Her mother’s name is not known. In 1756, Native Americans killed her father and abducted her mother. Margaret and her brother John, who might have been visiting their mother’s brother, escaped capture and were subsequently raised by their uncle. She was probably still living in Pennsylvania when she married John Corbin, a Virginian by birth, in about 1772. Although a 1782 source referred to a son being killed in the Revolution, the couple apparently had no children. When John went to war, Margaret, who at about five feet eight inches was tall for the era, accompanied him....

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Crane, John (07 December 1744–21 August 1805), soldier and patriot, was born in Braintree, Massachusetts, the son of Abijah Crane and Sarah Beverly. Crane entered into his profession of soldiering at an early age. In 1759 he volunteered to serve in the French and Indian War in the place of his father, who had been drafted. Nothing specific is known of his service in that war. He returned from the conflict and learned the trade of housewright. In 1767 he married Mehitable Wheeler. That same year he set up a shop with his brother on Tremont Street in Boston and soon became associated with the organization of the Sons of Liberty. It is not known whether Crane wrestled with the competing notions of loyalty to the king and patriotism for Massachusetts, but in 1773 some members of the group that undertook the Boston Tea Party met at his shop and dressed themselves as Indians prior to the event. Crane went to the tea ships with his fellows, and while in the hold of one of the three ships, he was knocked unconscious when a tea chest fell on him. His companions took him to be dead and left him buried underneath a pile of wood shavings in a carpenter’s shop near the wharf, but Crane recovered....

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Dana, Richard (26 June 1700–17 May 1772), lawyer, justice of the peace, and resistance leader, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Daniel Dana, a selectman of Cambridge, and Naomi Croswell. Little is known of his early life. In 1718 he graduated from Harvard College, where his roommate was John Hancock, father of the famous patriot and in 1721 he was inoculated against smallpox. He then began to practice law in Marblehead, Massachusetts. The Massachusetts General Court appointed him notary public for the ports of Marblehead and Salem in 1733, a post he held until Marblehead elected him to the House of Representatives for one term, his only one, in 1738. In 1737 he married Lydia Trowbridge, the daughter of Thomas Trowbridge and sister of Judge ...

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Dawes, William (06 April 1745–25 February 1799), Boston patriot, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of William Dawes, a tailor, grocer, and goldsmith, and Lydia Boone. He became a wealthy tanner in Boston and married Mehitable May in 1768; they had seven children....

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Derby, Elias Hasket (16 August 1739–08 September 1799), merchant, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of Captain Richard Derby, an established ship master and merchant, and Mary Hodges, a merchant’s daughter. His father’s rise as a prominent general merchant was instrumental in lofting Derby to the position of one of the wealthiest and most successful merchants of his age. As an apprentice in his father’s counting-house, young Derby assisted in the management of a burgeoning shipping business through the 1750s and 1760s. He became adept at keeping the firm’s books and coordinating the flow of New England fish, lumber, and produce, West Indies sugar and molasses, and Southern tobacco and naval stores. As his aging father gradually withdrew from the business, the younger Derby assumed full control of counting-house operations, introducing new practices to adapt to the increasing complexity of the Atlantic trade. In 1761 he married Elizabeth Crowninshield; they had seven children....

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Downer, Silas (16 July 1729–15 December 1785), scrivener and lawyer, was born in Norwich, Connecticut, the son of Samuel Downer and Phebe Bishop, farmers. The family soon moved to Sunderland, Massachusetts. Downer entered Harvard in 1747 and was ranked twenty-eighth in a class of thirty. Since Harvard students were then ranked according to their family’s social standing, Downer’s low ranking indicates his relatively humble origins. As an undergraduate, he won Brattle and Hollis scholarships. After receiving an M.A. in 1750, he moved to Rhode Island, settled in Providence, and became a scrivener. He married Sarah Kelton in 1758; within a decade the couple had five children....

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Faulkner, Thomas (1743–07 July 1803), soldier, was born in New England, the son of Edward Faulkner and Martha Stewart. Faulkner immigrated to Nova Scotia in the early 1760s, settling in the Cobequid district on the north shore of Minas Basin. This prosperous farming district included the townships of Truro, Onslow, and Londonderry, and it had a population, primarily composed of New Englanders of Scotch-Irish background, that amounted to perhaps 1,000 people in 1775. Noted for its antipathy to the central government at Halifax, Cobequid was characteristically in the forefront of political opposition to Governor Francis Legge’s militia legislation of late 1775. This legislation imposed a tax to support the militia, a portion of which would be drawn from outlying districts to defend the capital of Halifax....

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Flora, William (fl. 1775–1818), war hero and businessman, was born probably in the vicinity of Portsmouth, Virginia, the son of free black parents, whose names are unknown. On the eve of the American Revolution fewer than 2,000 free blacks lived in Virginia. The colony’s statutes forbade the manumission of slaves except those who exposed an incipient slave uprising. Consequently, Flora, who was known as “Billy,” was probably descended from Africans who arrived in Virginia before 1640, when blacks were treated like indentured servants rather than slaves....

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Hale, Nathan (06 June 1755–22 September 1776), martyr of the American Revolution, was born in Coventry, Connecticut, the son of Richard Hale and Elizabeth Strong, successful farmers. A sickly infant, he barely survived his first year, but as he grew he became an outdoorsman and a powerful athlete. He enjoyed reading, and his father decided to prepare him for the ministry, first by hiring Rev. Joseph Huntington to tutor him and then by sending him in 1769 to Yale College. At Yale he was widely admired by his teachers and fellow students. Dr. ...

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Hall, Prince (1735–04 December 1807), Masonic organizer and abolitionist, was born in Bridgetown, Barbados, the son of a “white English leather worker” and a “free woman of African and French descent”; his birth date is variously given as 12 Sept. 1748 (Horton). He was the slave of William Hall, a leather dresser. At age seventeen, Hall found passage to Boston, Massachusetts, by working on a ship and became employed there as a leather worker. In 1762 he joined the Congregational Church on School Street. He received his manumission in 1770. Official records indicate that Hall was married three times. In 1763 he married Sarah Ritchie, a slave. In 1770, after her death, he married Flora Gibbs of Gloucester, Massachusetts; they had one son, Prince Africanus. In 1798 Hall married Sylvia Ward. The reason for the dissolution of the second marriage is unclear....

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Hart, Nancy (1735–1830), revolutionary war heroine, was born Ann Morgan, in Pennsylvania or North Carolina, the daughter of Thomas Morgan and Rebecca Alexander. Nothing is known of her childhood except that she grew up in North Carolina. Portrayed as “unlearned” in most accounts, she probably received little education. She married Benjamin Hart, a Virginia-born North Carolinian, with whom she had eight children. In the early 1770s the Harts migrated to Georgia and settled in the upcountry area that became Elbert County. There her revolutionary exploits took place. Like many uneducated eighteenth-century women who left no personal writings, the real Nancy Hart is an elusive figure, making it difficult to separate fact from myth. The early information of her deeds was oral tradition, with the earliest extant written accounts dating to the 1840s. She does not appear in the earliest Georgia histories, and even modern Georgia scholars have dealt with her in qualified terms....

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Haynes, Lemuel (18 July 1753–28 September 1833), Congregational minister, was born in West Hartford, Connecticut, the son of a black father and a white mother, both unknown, and both of whom abandoned him at birth. He was indentured at five months of age to a white family named Rose, through whom he absorbed strong Calvinist theology and evangelical piety. He was educated in the local schools, but, a serious and diligent child, he also taught himself by the light of the fireside at night; he later said, “I made it my rule to know more every night than I knew in the morning.” In 1783 he married Elizabeth Babbit, a white schoolteacher who had proposed to him; they became the parents of ten children....

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Hewes, George Robert Twelves (25 August 1742–05 November 1840), shoemaker and rank-and-file participant in the American Revolution, shoemaker and rank‐and‐file participant in the American Revolution, was born in Boston, the son of George Hewes (1701–1749), tanner, soap boiler, and tallow chandler, and Abigail Seaver (1711–c. 1755). George Robert Hewes told a biographer that his education “consisted only of a moderate knowledge of reading and writing” (Hawkes, p. 17). An orphan at fourteen and short in stature—only five feet one inch tall at full height—he was apprenticed to a shoemaker, a trade for boys who could not handle heavy work. He eventually became owner of a small shop near Griffin 's Wharf, where he mended shoes and crafted them to order. In January 1768 he married Sarah Sumner, the daughter of a church sextant and a washwoman. They had fifteen children, eleven of whom survived childhood. In a trade that was low in status and prospects, Hewes remained poor; in 1770 he was imprisoned briefly for an unpaid debt to a tailor....

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Howley, Richard (1740–30 December 1784), lawyer and governor, was born near Savannah, Georgia; his parents are unknown. Few records of his early life survive, but he apparently studied law and moved to Sunbury, St. John’s Parish, as a young man. In 1775 he married Sarah Fuller of Charleston, South Carolina, the widow of William Fuller and mother of two daughters. Subsequently, the couple had two daughters of their own, one of whom reached adulthood. When the Revolution began, Howley was practicing law at Sunbury, where he also owned a small plantation and a few slaves. He was not prominent in the early stages of the Revolution in Georgia. Apparently, he did not attend early Whig meetings in Savannah during 1774–1775, nor was he a member of the provincial congress. Savannah fell to the British on 29 December 1778, and Colonel Augustine Prevost began a siege of Sunbury. When Fort Morris surrendered in January 1779, Howley fled to Augusta....

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Hull, Agrippa (1759–1848), revolutionary war soldier, was born a free African American in Northampton, Massachusetts, of unknown parentage. He was taken to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, at the age of six by Joab, an African-American former servant to Jonathan Edwards. When Hull was eighteen years old, in May 1777, he enlisted to fight in the revolutionary war as a private in General ...