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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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Rives, William Cabell (04 May 1793–25 April 1868), politician, diplomat, and author, was born in Amherst County, Virginia, the son of Robert Rives, a revolutionary war veteran and merchant, and Margaret Jordan Cabell. Rives was educated at Hampden-Sydney College and graduated from William and Mary in 1809. He studied law with ...

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Thayer, Alexander Wheelock (22 October 1817–15 July 1897), diplomat and biographer, was born in South Natick, Massachusetts, the son of Alexander Thayer, a physician, and Susanna Bigelow. As a Harvard undergraduate, Thayer wrote a prize-winning essay on modern philosophy. Following his graduation in 1843, he pursued a law degree at his alma mater while serving as an assistant librarian, a position in which he developed research skills that would ultimately permit him to succeed in his life’s work: writing a factually accurate biography of Beethoven. He received his law degree in 1848 and worked for a summer for the United States Geological Survey before leaving the next year for Europe, where he mastered the German language and conducted research on Beethoven in Bonn, Berlin, and Vienna. Lack of funds and ill health caused him to return to the United States in 1851; the following year he assumed an editorial position with the ...