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Ames, Oliver (04 February 1831–22 October 1895), industrialist and governor of Massachusetts, was born in North Easton, Massachusetts, the son of Oakes Ames (1804–1873), a manufacturer and congressman, and Evelyn Gilmore. Ames came from a long line of Massachusetts capitalists. The family gained notoriety in 1872, when the House of Representatives censured Oliver’s father because of his part in the Credit Mobilier scandal. Oliver was to fight throughout his life to clear his father’s besmirched image....

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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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Brown, Joseph Emerson (15 April 1821–30 November 1894), U.S. senator, governor, and entrepreneur, was born at Long Creek in the Pickens District of South Carolina, the son of Mackey Brown and Sally Rice, farmers. The family moved to Union County in northern Georgia, where Brown spent most of his childhood and adolescence on the family farm. His formal education was meager until, at the age of nineteen, he left home to attend an academy in the Anderson District of South Carolina. Returning to Georgia, he taught school for a time to repay tuition charges, and he subsequently read law and was admitted to the Georgia bar in August 1845. During 1845–1846 he attended the Yale Law School but did not receive a degree. In 1847 Brown married Elizabeth Grisham, daughter of a prominent Baptist minister. The marriage produced seven children. Moderate and controlled in his public actions, Brown has been characterized by his biographer as a traditional, occasionally even harsh, husband and father....

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Bulkeley, Morgan Gardner (26 December 1837–06 November 1922), president of the Aetna Life Insurance Company, governor of Connecticut, and U.S. senator from Connecticut, was born in East Haddam, Connecticut, the son of Eliphalet Adams Bulkeley, a public official, Republican party leader, and founder of the Aetna Life Insurance Company, and Lydia S. Morgan Gardner....

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Asa Smith Bushnell. c. 1895. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-DIG-pga-01541).

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Bushnell, Asa Smith (16 September 1834–15 January 1904), entrepreneur and governor of Ohio, was born in Rome, New York, to Daniel Bushnell, a teacher whose father, Jason Bushnell, fought as a Connecticut soldier in the American Revolution, and Harriet Smith Bushnell. His mother helped to develop her son's ambitious qualities. In 1845 his family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where his father became involved with the Underground Railroad. Asa Bushnell attended the city's public schools for six years, the only formal education he ever received....

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Walter E. Edge Seated, left, at a session of the Senate's Committee on Elections, 1921. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-104398).

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Edge, Walter Evans (20 November 1873–29 October 1956), New Jersey businessman and political leader, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of William Edge, a railroad manager, and Mary Elizabeth Evans. In 1877 his family moved to Pleasantville, New Jersey, and in 1887 he took a job as a printer’s devil for the ...

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English, James Edward (13 March 1812–02 March 1890), businessman and politician, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of James English, a customs collector and shipowner, and Nancy Griswold. When he was eleven, English persuaded his parents to allow him to live with and work for a local farmer. After three years his father enrolled him in a private school. At sixteen he became an apprentice to a New Haven carpenter and joiner and grew adept at creating architectural designs and drawing up contracts. Subsequently, he worked as an independent contractor and master builder, planning and constructing several of New Haven’s more imposing houses. English had accumulated enough money by 1835 to form a lumber company in New Haven with a partner, Harmanus M. Welch. However, in the wake of the panic of 1837, he decided that it would be prudent to diversify his business. He purchased and constructed ships to serve the Philadelphia–New England trade and over the next two decades built a considerable fortune....

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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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Herbert H. Lehman. At laying of the cornerstone of Letchworth Village, a state mental institution near Haverstraw, New York. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102023).

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Lehman, Herbert Henry (28 March 1878–05 December 1963), investment banker and politician, was born in New York City, the son of Mayer Lehman and Babette Newgass, German immigrants. Lehman was reared in the prosperous surroundings of German-Jewish society in midtown Manhattan. His father was a founding partner of Lehman Brothers, a cotton-trading company that developed into a leading investment banking firm....

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Lowden, Frank Orren (26 January 1861–20 March 1943), businessman, governor of Illinois, and agriculturist, was born near the village of Sunrise City, Minnesota, the son of Lorenzo Orren Lowden and Nancy Elizabeth Bregg, and grew up in central Iowa. His father, a restless and independent man, worked as blacksmith and farmer, then studied law while in his forties; he was also somewhat of a rebel and political activist, involved in the Grange and the Democratic and Greenback parties. Lowden studied at rural schools, became a teacher at the age of fourteen, and in 1881 entered the University of Iowa, where he graduated as valedictorian in 1885. He then moved to Chicago, where he studied law at the Union College of Law, graduating in 1887, and landed a position at a major law firm. In 1896 he married Florence Pullman, daughter of the extremely wealthy and powerful industrialist ...

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Merriam, William Rush (26 July 1849–18 February 1931), banker, Minnesota governor, and director of the 1900 census, was born at Wadham’s Mills, Essex County, New York, the son of John Lafayette Merriam, a merchant and iron ore dealer, and Mahala Kimpton De Lano. His mother died in 1857, and his father married Helen M. Wilder. In 1861 he moved with his family to St. Paul, Minnesota, joining his stepuncle, Amherst H. Wilder, who had moved from New York two years earlier. Merriam’s father, who was often associated in business with Wilder, soon achieved prominence and wealth through investments in stagecoaches, railroads, and banks....

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Morrill, Edmund Needham (12 February 1834–14 March 1909), banker, congressman, and governor of Kansas, was born in Westbrook, Maine, the son of Rufus Morrill, a tanner and currier, and Mary Webb. He was educated in the common schools and at Westbrook Academy, where he graduated in 1855. For one year he was the academy’s superintendent, but he moved with a colony of settlers in 1857 to Brown County, Kansas Territory, and established a sawmill a few miles west of present-day Hiawatha. The mill failed after a fire in 1860, but Morrill repaid all of his creditors....

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Ogden, Aaron (03 December 1756–19 April 1839), soldier, public official, and entrepreneur, was born in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, the son of Robert Ogden II, a lawyer, and Phebe Hatfield. He attended the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) and graduated with the class of 1773. Over the next three years he taught school, first in Princeton, then in Elizabethtown, but with the outbreak of hostilities between Great Britain and its American colonies, he was quickly drawn into the revolutionary confrontation....

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Osborn, Chase Salmon (22 January 1860–11 April 1949), governor of Michigan, journalist, and entrepreneur, was born in Huntington County, Indiana, the son of George Augustus Osborn and Margaret Ann Fannon, hydropathic physicians. Osborn was named by his abolitionist-oriented parents after Ohio’s then-U.S. senator and soon-to-be ...

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P. B. S. Pinchback. Courtesy of the National Afro-American Museum.

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Pinchback, P. B. S. (10 May 1837–21 December 1921), politician, editor, and entrepreneur, was born Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback in Macon, Georgia, the son of William Pinchback, a Mississippi plantation owner, and Eliza Stewart, a former slave of mixed ancestry. Because William Pinchback had taken Eliza to Philadelphia to obtain her emancipation, Pinckney was free upon birth....

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Woodring, Harry Hines (31 May 1887?–09 September 1967), banker, governor of Kansas, and secretary of war, was born in Elk City, Kansas, the son of Hines Woodring, a grain dealer, and Melissa Jane Cooper. Being the youngest of six children and the only boy, Woodring grew up in an overprotected environment. Although a good student, he never graduated from high school, choosing instead to go to Indiana and live with an aunt so he could attend Lebanon Business University. After his return to Elk City in 1905, he worked as a bank cashier and four years later took a similar position in nearby Neodesha, Kansas. In 1918 he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was sent to Camp Colt, Pennsylvania. In October he completed officer’s school and was commissioned a second lieutenant, in the tank corps, but the war ended before he could go overseas....