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Bacon, John (09 April 1738–25 October 1820), Presbyterian clergyman and public official, was born in Canterbury, Connecticut, the son of John Bacon and Ruth Spaulding. He graduated from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) in 1765 in preparation for the ministry. During his stay at the college, Princeton had become noteworthy for the curriculum innovations of its president, ...

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Bryan, Hugh (1699–31 December 1753), planter, assemblyman, and evangelical Christian, was born near Beaufort in South Carolina, the son of Joseph Bryan, an Indian trader and farmer, and Janet Cochran. Bryan’s father was an early settler on South Carolina’s southern frontier, and it was there that Hugh Bryan spent most of his life. As a boy he was taken prisoner by Indians during the Yamasee War (1715) and was carried to St. Augustine, where he was eventually released. According to tradition, Bryan “met with a Bible among the ...

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Cain, Richard Harvey (12 April 1825–18 January 1887), clergyman and politician, was born to free parents in Greenbriar County, Virginia (now West Virginia). In 1831 his family moved to Gallipolis, Ohio. Cain was educated at local schools and worked on an Ohio River steamboat before being licensed to preach in the Methodist Episcopal church in 1844. Complaining of racial discrimination in the church, he resigned and joined the African Methodist Episcopal church. Assigned a pulpit in Muscatine, Iowa, he was ordained a deacon in 1859. He returned to Ohio and in 1860 attended Wilberforce University. From 1861 to 1865 he served as pastor at Bridge Street Church in Brooklyn, New York, and was elevated to elder in 1862. He participated in the 1864 national black convention in Syracuse, New York, that advocated abolition, equality before the law, and universal manhood suffrage. He married Laura (maiden name unknown), and they adopted a daughter....

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Gibbs, Jonathan C. (1827–14 August 1874), clergyman, educator, and politician, was born free in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Maria Jackson and Jonathan C. Gibbs, a Methodist minister. He learned carpentry as a youth and followed that trade until the Presbyterian Assembly helped him enroll at Dartmouth College in 1848. Gibbs, who was one of only two black students at Dartmouth, claimed that he had been rejected by eighteen colleges before being accepted. After graduating from Dartmouth in 1852 he attended the Princeton Theological Seminary. He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister and pastored churches in Troy, New York, and in Philadelphia. While in New York Gibbs campaigned for the extension of black suffrage in the state. When he moved to Philadelphia in 1859 he became prominent in the local Underground Railroad. During the Civil War he joined the freedmen’s relief efforts, campaigned against segregated city streetcars, encouraged black enlistments in the army, served as vice president of the Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League, and continued his participation in the black convention movement. He represented Philadelphia at the black national convention in Syracuse in 1864, which severely criticized the Republican party for its failure to endorse black suffrage and which gave birth to the National Equal Rights League....

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Hays, Lawrence Brooks (09 August 1898–12 October 1981), politician and Protestant layman, was born in London, Arkansas, the son of Adelbert Steele Hays, an attorney, and Sarah Tabitha “Sallie” Butler. Although his first name was in fact Lawrence, he preferred to go by his middle name, Brooks. His family took its religion—Baptist—and its politics—Democratic—seriously. Later, Hays would write that his early life was a “quadrangle marked by a line from … home to the public school, to the courthouse, to the little Baptist church, and back to the home.” He attended his first Democratic party convention at the age of ten....

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Kinsey, John (1693–11 May 1750), Quaker politician and lawyer, was born in Philadelphia, the son of John Kinsey, a carpenter, politician, and Quaker minister, and Sarah Stevens. The younger John Kinsey likely attended the Friends Public School until the family moved to Woodbridge, New Jersey, sometime between 1702 and 1704. The older Kinsey placed him with a joiner in New York as an apprentice, but as a friend wrote after Kinsey’s death, “having an Inquisitive disposition, and a Genius for something above his then employ, he left his master before his time was out, & applied himself to the Study of the Law.” He probably studied in Philadelphia with ...

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Lloyd, David ( ?1656–06 April 1731), leading Quaker legislator and jurist of early Pennsylvania, was born in Manafon, Montgomeryshire, Wales, the son of Thomas Lloyd. (His mother’s name is unknown.) After grammar school, Lloyd studied law with George Jeffries, the Welshman who later became lord chief justice of the King’s Bench and lord chancellor of England. On the basis of this legal training, ...

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Lynch, James (08 January 1839–18 December 1872), minister, editor, and politician, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Benjamin Lynch, a merchant and minister, and Benjamin’s wife, a former slave purchased by her husband. Her name is not known. Lynch attended the elementary school operated by the Reverend ...

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Niles, Nathaniel (03 April 1741–31 October 1828), politician, theologian, and inventor, was born in South Kingston, Rhode Island, the son of Samuel Niles and Sarah Niles (occupations unknown). Plagued by poor health as a youth, Nathaniel spent one year at Harvard before illness forced him to drop out of school. When his health returned, he entered the College of New Jersey and graduated in 1766. Following graduation Niles made a start at several careers, teaching school in New York City, studying medicine and law, and finally taking up theology under the tutelage of ...

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Noah, Mordecai Manuel (19 July 1785–22 March 1851), politician, playwright, and Jewish communal leader, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Manuel Mordecai Noah, a failed businessman, and Zipporah Phillips. He was orphaned at the age of seven and was raised by his grandparents Jonas and Rebecca (Machado) Phillips. In his youth, first in Philadelphia and later in Charleston, South Carolina, he published journalistic pieces, a political pamphlet, a critique of Shakespeare ( ...

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Norris, Isaac (26 July 1671–04 June 1735), Quaker politician, provincial Pennsylvania officeholder, and merchant, was born in Southwark, London, England, the son of Thomas Norris, a Quaker carpenter, and Mary Moore. About 1678 his family immigrated to Port Royal, Jamaica. The extent of his formal education is unknown, but in adulthood he was well read in both classical Latin authors and the best of contemporary English literature. He first visited Philadelphia on a trading voyage in 1692; during his absence his father was killed in the earthquake that destroyed Port Royal on 7 June 1692, and his brother and sister died shortly thereafter. Norris settled permanently in Philadelphia about 1693. He gained important political and commercial connections through his marriage in 1694 to Mary Lloyd, a daughter of ...

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Norris, Isaac (23 October 1701–13 July 1766), Quaker political leader and Philadelphia merchant, was born in Philadelphia, the son of Isaac Norris and Mary Lloyd, who as members of the Society of Friends joined in William Penn’s “Holy Experiment” and settled in Philadelphia in 1694. The junior Isaac Norris was educated at the Friends’ School. In adulthood he was, like his father, devoted to books; as his biographer George Washington Norris wrote, Norris “might indeed be called learned; for, in addition to a knowledge of Hebrew, he wrote in Latin and French with ease, and his reading was extensive.” By the time Norris came of age, his father had been for many years one of Philadelphia’s most successful merchants. The family was prosperous enough to send Norris to England in 1722 for several months; he returned to England for a longer visit in 1734–1735, at which time he also traveled on the Continent. He managed the family firm, Norris and Company, during his father’s later years and became the senior partner after his father died in 1735. Norris married Sarah Logan, ...

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Palfrey, John Gorham (02 May 1796–26 April 1881), clergyman, author, and politician, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of John Palfrey, an unsuccessful merchant and shipmaster, and Mary Sturges Gorham. After his mother’s death in 1802, his father left him (the eldest) and his four brothers with relatives. Two years later his father moved permanently to New Orleans, taking only his four youngest sons with him, and became a plantation owner and slaveholder. Meanwhile, left behind, young John attended the Berry Street Academy in Boston and Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, where he was a charity student. With no encouragement and little financial support from his father, Palfrey attended Harvard as a scholarship student, graduating in 1815. He studied at the Harvard Divinity School from 1816 to 1818, graduated and was ordained in 1818, and served as pastor of the prestigious Unitarian Church at Brattle Square, Boston, from 1818 until 1831. He developed into a respected religious, social, and intellectual leader known throughout Boston and beyond....

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Pusey, Caleb (1651–25 February 1728), political leader and Quaker tract writer, was born in Berkshire, England, the son of William Pusey and Margaret (maiden name unknown). He became a Baptist in 1659 but sometime during the next decade converted to Quakerism and in 1672 wrote a tract against his former church insisting that Friends endorsed essential Christian doctrines. While working in London as a lastmaker, in 1681 he married Anne Stone Worley (or Wharley), a widow, and the next year migrated to Pennsylvania, acquiring 250 acres for £5. Pusey served as manager with a one-thirty-second share of a gristmill in Upland, Pennsylvania, owned principally by absentees, including ...

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Shippen, Edward (1639– August 1712), merchant, religious martyr, and political leader, was born in Yorkshire, England, the son of William Shippen, a prominent landholder, and Mary Nunnes (or Nuns). Although his older brother earned degrees at Oxford and became an Anglican clergyman, Edward in 1668 emigrated to Boston, Massachusetts, a wilderness town of about 3,500. In 1671 he married Elizabeth Lybrand; they had eight children during their seventeen years together. Not long after he joined an artillery company, Shippen converted to his wife’s faith and became a member of the Society of Friends....

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Toulmin, Harry (07 April 1766–11 November 1823), clergyman, statesman, and judge, was born in Taunton, England, the son of Joshua Toulmin, a Unitarian clergyman, and Jane Smith, a bookstore proprietor. Toulmin attended Hoxton Academy, but much of his education came from spending time in his mother’s bookstore....

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Upham, Charles Wentworth (04 May 1802–15 June 1875), historian, minister, and politician, was born in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada, the son of Joshua Upham, a lawyer and entrepreneur, and Mary Chandler. Joshua Upham’s Royalist politics and service in the British military led to the confiscation of his property by the state of Massachusetts in 1778. He fled with his wife to the British province of New Brunswick and in 1784 was appointed an assistant justice to its first Supreme Court. The position, however, was more prestigious than profitable, and his death in 1808 left Mary Upham and her son with little means of support. At age ten Charles worked in an apothecary shop, mixing medicines and teaching himself the trade by reading a pharmacology text. At age twelve he was a day laborer on a farm in Annapolis, Nova Scotia....

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Zubly, John Joachim (27 August 1724–23 July 1781), clergyman, politician, and pamphleteer, was born in St. Gall, Switzerland, the son of David Zubly, a Reformed minister, and Helena (maiden name unknown). After completing his studies at the Gymnasium there, he followed his father to London and was ordained at the German Church in London on 19 August 1744. That same year he joined the Swiss German migration to Purrysburg, South Carolina, settling with his father and other Zubly family members who had removed there in 1736. Zubly preached among Swiss-, German-, and English-speaking settlers in South Carolina and Georgia and assisted the Reverend ...