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Joel Barlow. Watercolor on ivory, 1806, by William Dunlap. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Joel Barlow.

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Barlow, Joel (24 March 1754–26 December 1812), businessman, diplomat, and poet, was born in Redding, Connecticut, the son of Samuel Barlow and Esther Hull, fairly well-to-do farmers. Barlow was born the second-to-last child in a large family. Given the size of the family and their farm, Barlow could receive formal education only from the local minister, an education probably interspersed with farm chores. When Barlow was eighteen, his father arranged for his schooling at Moor’s Indian School (now Dartmouth) in Hanover, New Hampshire. Barlow began his studies there in 1772, yet his father’s death shortly thereafter made it necessary for Barlow to return home. He entered Yale College with the class of 1778. At Yale Barlow began to give evidence of an interest in poetry, in moral and political philosophy, and in science as a key to the improvement of the human condition. His first published poem, a broadside publication, was a satire in pseudobiblical verse about the bad food served in Yale commons. Although he wrote poems throughout his college days, Barlow’s best-known college verses were verse orations delivered at two Yale commencements, ...

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John Barrett. Photograph by Louis Fabian Bachrach. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92747).

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Barrett, John (28 November 1866–17 October 1938), commercial publicist and diplomat, was born in Grafton, Vermont, the son of Charles Barrett and Caroline Sanford. His father, reportedly shy and withdrawn, served for a time as a town official and a Republican state legislator but devoted most of his life to artistic pursuits. His mother, who was more outgoing, had a lively regard for politics, law, journalism, theology, and economics, and Barrett’s letters to her suggest she strongly influenced him....

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Bigelow, John (25 November 1817–19 December 1911), writer, and diplomat, was born in Bristol (now Malden-on-Hudson), New York, the son of Asa Bigelow and Lucy Isham, successful farmers and merchants. At thirteen he entered Washington (later Trinity) College in Hartford, Connecticut, but transferred to Union College in Schenectady, New York, from which he was graduated in 1835. In New York City Bigelow studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1838....

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Bingham, Robert Worth (08 November 1871–18 December 1937), lawyer, newspaper publisher, and diplomat, was born in Mebane, North Carolina, the son of Robert Bingham, an educator, and Delphine Louise Worth. Bingham graduated from the Bingham School, a private school run by his father, and from 1888 to 1890 attended the University of North Carolina (no degree). He married Eleanor Everhart Miller in 1896; they had three children. He received a law degree from the University of Louisville a year later and, settling in Louisville, went into law practice with fellow North Carolinian W. W. Davies....

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Boker, George Henry (06 October 1823–02 January 1890), playwright and diplomat, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Lydia Stewart and Charles S. Boker, a banker and merchant. Boker’s wealthy father provided him with an education at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton) and a lavish lifestyle, including extensive travel abroad, leaving the son free to pursue a career in letters and diplomacy without the usual economic worries that plagued writers. Boker’s only obligation was to study law, which he read in the office of ...

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Solon Borland. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109949).

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Borland, Solon (08 August 1811–15 December 1864), editor, U.S. senator, and diplomat, was born in Suffolk, Virginia, the son of Thomas Wood Borland, a physician, and Harriet Godwin. His father was politically active, serving as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Nansemond County between 1815 and 1820. In 1831 Borland married Huldah Wright, with whom he had two children. Following in the medical footsteps of his father, he attended the University of Pennsylvania Medical School during the academic year of 1833–1834. He then practiced medicine in Suffolk, but upon the death of his wife in 1836 Borland moved to Memphis, Tennessee. There he entered into a medical career with his brother, who was also a physician. In 1839 Borland married Eliza Hart, who died just a few months later. They had no children. By this time he had forsaken pills for politics, becoming the founding editor of the ...

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Bowers, Claude Gernade (20 November 1878–21 January 1958), journalist, diplomat, and historian, was born in Westfield, Indiana, the son of Lewis Bowers, a storekeeper, and Juliet Tipton, a milliner and dressmaker. Reared in rural communities in central Indiana, Claude moved to Indianapolis with his divorced mother when he was thirteen. He was a voracious reader and became a confirmed Democrat while at Indianapolis High School. In 1898 Bowers graduated and also won the state oratorical contest but was unable to attend college for lack of funds. Instead he worked for the publishing firm that later became the Bobbs-Merrill Company. In 1900 Bowers became the major editorial writer for the ...

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Carter, William Beverly, Jr. (01 February 1921–09 May 1982), newspaper publisher and ambassador, was born in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, the son of William Beverly Carter and Maria Green. Carter grew up in Philadelphia and graduated in 1944 from historically African-American Lincoln University. As a student, he was a member of Alpha Boule, Sigma Pi Phi, and Kappa Alpha Psi, and he served as executive secretary of the alumni association from 1952 to 1955. He attended Temple University Law School from 1946 to 1947 and the New School for Social Research from 1950 to 1951....

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Coggeshall, William Turner (06 September 1824–02 August 1867), journalist, state librarian, and diplomat, was born in Lewistown, Pennsylvania, the son of William C. Coggeshall, a coachsmith, and Eliza Grotz. At the age of eighteen he headed west and settled in Akron, Ohio. There he launched his career by starting the ...

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Daggett, Rollin Mallory (22 February 1831–12 November 1901), journalist, congressman, minister to Hawaii, and author, was born in Richville, New York, the son of Eunice White and Gardner Daggett, farmers. Daggett was the youngest of seven children, the other six being girls. After his mother’s death in 1833, the family moved to Defiance, Ohio, in 1837. In 1849 Daggett became a printer, learning a trade which endowed him with an education and influenced his later choice of a journalistic career....

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Daniel, John Moncure (24 October 1825–30 March 1865), diplomat and editor, was born in Stafford County, Virginia, the son of John Moncure Daniel, a country doctor, and Elizabeth Mitchell. As a child, Daniel received a rigorous education from his father and was known as an insatiable bookworm. He was particularly fond of the writings of Joseph Addison, Jonathan Swift, and Sir Richard Steele. In 1840 he went to Richmond to live with his great-uncle, Justice ...

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Josephus Daniels. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-107581).

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Daniels, Josephus (18 May 1862–15 January 1948), publisher, secretary of the navy, and ambassador, was born in Washington, North Carolina, during a bombardment by Union gunboats, the son of Josephus Daniels, Sr., a shipbuilder, and Mary Cleaves Seabrook. His father refused to join the Confederate forces and died in 1865. His mother raised three sons by opening a millinery shop and served as the town’s postmistress. She was later fired from the latter position because of her son’s anti-Republican editorials....

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Durham, John Stephens (18 July 1861–16 October 1919), diplomat, lawyer, and journalist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Samuel Durham and Elizabeth Stephens. Two of his uncles, Clayton Durham and Jeremiah Durham, were noted clergymen who helped Bishop Richard Allen establish the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church. A mulatto, Durham studied in the Philadelphia public schools, graduating from the Institute for Colored Youth in 1876....

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Fay, Theodore Sedgwick (10 February 1807–24 November 1898), author and diplomat, was born in New York, the son of Joseph Dewey Fay, a practicing attorney, and Caroline Broome. After receiving a liberal education, he read law with and became a clerk for his father. When Joseph Fay died in 1825 Theodore’s interest in the law began to wane. Although he was admitted to the New York bar in 1828, he gave up law the same year, responding to the call of literary diversions to join ...

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Lloyd Carpenter Griscom Standing on a wharf in Yokohama, 1905. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-114538).

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Griscom, Lloyd Carpenter (04 November 1872–08 February 1959), diplomat, lawyer, and newspaper publisher, was born in Riverton, New Jersey, the son of Clement Acton Griscom, a shipping company executive, and Frances Canby Biddle. Shortly after his birth, Griscom moved with his family to Haverford, Pennsylvania. He enjoyed a privileged and cosmopolitan upbringing, attending private schools in Europe and mingling from childhood with America’s political and business elite. He received his Ph.B. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1891 and then attended the university’s law school....