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Bacon, Robert (05 July 1860–29 May 1919), banker, diplomat, and soldier, was born in Jamaica Plain near Boston, Massachusetts, the son of William Benjamin Bacon and Emily Crosby Low. Raised in an old Massachusetts family long prominent in business, he was educated at Hopkinson’s School and at Harvard, graduating in 1880. Although his intellectual abilities were considerable, he won attention for his athletic ability, personality, and good looks, as he would throughout life. After graduation he traveled around the world, then joined the banking firm of Lee, Higginson, and Company. In 1883 he became a member of E. Rollins Morse and Brother. That year he married Martha Waldron Cowdin; they were the parents of three sons and a daughter....

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Bowles, Chester Bliss (05 April 1901–25 May 1986), businessman, politician, and diplomat, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of Charles Allen Bowles, a paper manufacturer, and Nellie Harris. His grandfather, Samuel Bowles (1826–1878), a man Chester frequently identified as his inspiration and role model, transformed the Springfield ...

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Coolidge, Thomas Jefferson (26 August 1831–17 November 1920), businessman and diplomat, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Joseph Coolidge, Jr., a businessman, and Eleanora Wayles Randolph. On his father’s side Coolidge was descended from John Coolidge, one of the first settlers of Watertown; on his mother’s side he was descended from Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States. His parents were members of the Boston elite, and throughout his life Coolidge moved in the same circles....

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C. Douglas Dillon. Pencil and white chalk on paper, 1968, by Gardner Cox. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Phyllis B. Cox.

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Dillon, C. Douglas (21 August 1909–10 January 2003), financier, ambassador, and secretary of the Treasury, was born Clarence Douglass Dillon in Geneva, Switzerland, to Anne Douglass Dillon and Clarence Dillon, whose Polish Jewish father, Samuel Lapowski, was an immigrant who did fairly well in the men's retail business in Texas. The elder Clarence, who was sensitive about anti-Semitism, changed his last name to Dillon, his paternal grandmother's maiden name. At his firm Dillon, Read & Company during the 1920s and 1930s, he became an extremely successful investment banker and acquired a reputation for purveying corporate bonds. The young Douglas (he was known by his middle name, whose last letter was dropped at some point) was well educated. He first attended the Pine Lodge School in Lakehurst, New Jersey, where he became friendly with ...

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Forbes, William Cameron (21 May 1870–24 December 1959), businessman and diplomat, was born in Milton, Massachusetts, the son of William Hathaway Forbes, president of the American Bell Telephone Company, and Edith Emerson, daughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Forbes attended Milton (Mass.) Academy and Hopkinson’s School in Boston and was graduated from Harvard University in 1892. Between 1894 and 1898 he traveled extensively, became a world-class polo player, and coached Harvard’s football team. He joined Stone and Webster, a utilities holding company and electrical engineering firm, in 1897. In 1899, after the death of his grandfather, ...

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Grady, Henry Francis (12 February 1882–14 September 1957), diplomat, economist, and businessman, was born in San Francisco, California, the son of John Henry Grady and Ellen Genevieve Rourke. He earned his A.B. in 1907 from St. Mary’s University in Baltimore, Maryland, and his doctorate in economics in 1927 from Columbia University. As a young man, Grady studied for the Roman Catholic priesthood, but his interest in economics and finance led him to overlapping careers in business, academia, and government. In 1917 he married Lucretia del Valle; they had four children....

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Herrick, Myron Timothy (09 October 1854–31 March 1929), banker, governor of Ohio, and diplomat, was born near Huntington, Ohio, the son of Mary Hulbert Herrick and Timothy R. Herrick, farmers. He attended local schools and at age sixteen began teaching in nearby Brighton. Two years later he enrolled in Oberlin Academy for a year and a half, and he later attended Ohio Wesleyan University for two years. In 1875 Herrick began reading law in the Cleveland offices of G. E. Herrick and J. F. Herrick and became active in the Cleveland Grays, a local militia group. In 1878 he opened his own law office. In 1880 he married Carolyn M. Parmely; they had one son. Until her death in 1918, Herrick considered his wife his closest adviser....

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Holbrooke, Richard (24 Apr. 1941–13 Dec. 2010), diplomat, magazine editor, and investment banker, was born Richard Charles Albert Holbrooke in New York City, the son of Dan Holbrooke, a doctor, and Trudi Kearl (née Moos), a potter. Holbrooke’s Jewish parents immigrated to the United States separately before his birth. His father emigrated in the 1930s from Warsaw, Poland, and changed his last name from Goldbrajch, while Trudi emigrated to the US from Germany, via Argentina. Holbrooke’s father died of cancer when Richard was fifteen. Holbrooke attended and graduated from Scarsdale High School in New York in ...

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Kemper, James Scott (18 November 1886–17 September 1981), insurance executive and ambassador, was born in Van Wert, Ohio, the son of Hathaway Kemper, a prominent attorney, and Mary Jane Scott. After receiving his early education in the public schools of his hometown, he abandoned plans to attend Harvard and instead in 1905 became an office boy for a local insurance firm, the Central Manufacturers Insurance Company. Within two years he was named a special agent for Indiana and western Ohio, and in 1911 he moved to Chicago, Illinois, as the manager of the western department of the company. Leaving Central Manufacturers that same year, he joined Lumbermans & Manufacturers Insurance Company, where he also served as a manager....

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Larkin, Thomas Oliver (16 September 1802–27 October 1858), merchant, diplomatic agent, and capitalist, was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, the son of Thomas Oliver Larkin, Sr., a sea captain, and Ann Rogers Cooper. His spotty education is reflected in his correspondence, which is sprinkled with misspellings and grammatical slips. When Oliver was five, his father died, and in 1813 his mother remarried and moved the family to Lynn, which young Oliver always looked upon as his hometown. At the age of fifteen, he went to nearby Boston “to learn the art of making books,” a trade he abandoned two years later for a clerkship in a bookstore. That, too, proved confining, so in October 1821 he set out with a friend for Wilmington, North Carolina, to seek his fortune....

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Leidesdorff, William Alexander (1810– May 1848), pioneer, diplomat, and businessman, was born in St. Croix in the Danish Virgin Islands, the son of William Leidesdorff, a Danish planter, and Anna Marie Sparks, an Afro-Caribbean slave. He was educated by his owner, who reportedly treated him more as a son than as a slave. As a young man he was sent to New Orleans to work for his uncle’s cotton business as a master of ships sailing between New York and New Orleans. Both his father and uncle died soon after, leaving Leidesdorff a sizable inheritance. His newly acquired wealth allowed him to propose to a woman he had been courting, Hortense, who accepted. The engagement ended painfully shortly before the marriage date when Leidesdorff told his fiancée that through his mother he was of African descent. She called off the wedding, and he, heartbroken, left New Orleans....

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McCloy, John Jay, Jr. (31 March 1895–11 March 1989), lawyer, banker, and diplomat, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Jay McCloy, a claims officer for an insurance firm, and Anna May Snader. McCloy’s father died just before McCloy’s sixth birthday. Left with a modest bequest, Anna McCloy learned hairdressing and developed a wealthy clientele to support herself, John, and her two spinster sisters. In summers Anna followed her clients to their vacation homes in the Adirondack Mountains, where John worked as a chore boy at resorts and taught tennis, a sport in which he excelled. Tennis opened doors for him for many years, as did his mother’s clients and his father’s business associated....

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Henry Morgenthau Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-93469).

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Morgenthau, Henry (26 April 1856–25 November 1946), lawyer, real estate agent, and diplomat, was born in Mannheim, Germany, the son of Lazarus Morgenthau, a cigar manufacturer, and Babette Guggenheim. After his business failed, Lazarus Morgenthau immigrated to the United States in 1866 and became an insurance salesman. Henry Morgenthau attended public high school, graduating in 1870, the same year he entered the City College of New York. He remained there only one year before financial pressures compelled him to work. Employed as an errand boy at a law firm, Morgenthau slowly learned the business, becoming expert in title searches and mortgage foreclosure sales. In 1875 he quit his job to enter Columbia Law School, supporting himself by teaching at night. He graduated in 1877 and was admitted to the bar....

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Dwight W. Morrow. Center, introducing J. Reuben Clark, Jr. , left, to President Ortiz Rubio of Mexico at a Fourth of July celebration. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-113166).

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Morrow, Dwight Whitney (11 January 1873–05 October 1931), investment banker, diplomat, and senator, was born in Huntington, West Virginia, the son of James Elmore Morrow, a mathematics teacher and school principal, and Clara Johnson. Dwight Morrow grew up in a close-knit and intellectually active family, which possessed all the virtues of “right-minded” Presbyterianism, yet was perennially short of money. He was a frail and sickly child who compensated for his diminutive size through precocity of intelligence and tenacity....

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Seward, George Frederick (08 November 1840–28 November 1910), diplomat and business executive, was born in Florida, New York, the son of George Washington Seward and Tempe Wicke Leddell. George Frederick attended Seward Institute in his hometown and Union College in Schenectady, New York, but left before graduation to take charge of his family’s affairs. In 1861 his uncle, Secretary of State ...

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Straight, Willard Dickerman (31 January 1880–01 December 1918), diplomat and business executive, was born in Oswego, New York, the son of Henry H. Straight and Emma May Dickerman, both teachers. After his father’s death in 1886, Willard spent two years in Japan, where his mother taught at the Girls’ Normal School in Tokyo. Orphaned in 1890, he was adopted jointly by Dr. Elvire Rainier and Laura Newkirk, friends of his parents in Oswego. In 1897 he entered Cornell University, where he earned the bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1901. It was at Cornell that he developed a strong interest in Asia under the tutelage of Professor of History Henry Morse Stephens....

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Myron C. Taylor Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-100836).