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Elizabeth Bentley. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109688).

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Bentley, Elizabeth Terrill (01 January 1908–03 December 1963), Communist party activist and government witness, was born in New Milford, Connecticut, the daughter of Charles Prentiss Bentley, a newspaper editor and department store manager, and Mary Burrill, a schoolteacher. After growing up in small towns in Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania, Bentley enrolled in Vassar College and in 1930 received an undergraduate degree in English. While at Vassar, she became involved in a variety of Socialist causes but did not demonstrate any interest in more radical left-wing ideas. For two years following graduation, she taught languages at the Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Virginia, but left in 1932 for Columbia University, where she earned her M.A. in Italian in 1935. While working on her graduate degree, she accepted a fellowship that took her to the University of Florence for the 1933–1934 academic year....

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Childs, Morris (10 June 1902–02 June 1991), Communist official and American intelligence double agent, was born Moishe Chilovsky in Kiev, Ukraine, the son of Joseph Chilovsky, a cobbler, and Anna Chilovsky. Joseph Chilovsky, a Jew, fled Tsarist oppression, arriving in America in 1910; he sent for the rest of his family late the next year. (In 1926 the spelling of their name was Americanized, and Morris became a naturalized citizen the following year.) In 1916 Morris went to work as an apprentice in his father's business; then he became a milkman. In 1919 he joined the Communist party in Chicago. Twice arrested for participating in street demonstrations, he soon became a protégé of future party leader ...

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Digges, Thomas Attwood (04 July 1742–06 December 1821), gentleman, confidential agent, ne'er-do-well, and novelist, gentleman, confidential agent, ne’er-do-well, and novelist, was born in Warburton, Maryland, the son of William Digges and Ann Attwood, the owners of “Warburton Manor.” Digges was sent abroad to be educated. Family tradition holds that he attended Oxford University, but his Catholic faith and the absence of his name in university records make this unlikely. In 1767, after being disowned by his family for reasons that are not known, Digges purportedly went to live in Portugal, where he stayed until 1773 or 1774. In a subsequent letter to ...

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Hale, Nathan (06 June 1755–22 September 1776), martyr of the American Revolution, was born in Coventry, Connecticut, the son of Richard Hale and Elizabeth Strong, successful farmers. A sickly infant, he barely survived his first year, but as he grew he became an outdoorsman and a powerful athlete. He enjoyed reading, and his father decided to prepare him for the ministry, first by hiring Rev. Joseph Huntington to tutor him and then by sending him in 1769 to Yale College. At Yale he was widely admired by his teachers and fellow students. Dr. ...

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Joseph R. Hawley. From Harper's Weekly, 6 June 1868. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-111073).

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Hawley, Joseph Roswell (31 October 1826–18 March 1905), soldier, editor, and politician, was born in Stewartsville, North Carolina, the son of Francis Hawley, a Baptist minister, and Mary McLeod. Hawley’s father wrote and spoke widely against the sins of affluence and slavery, and when the boy was eleven, his family moved to his father’s native state, Connecticut. Young Hawley was educated there and in New York. In 1847 he graduated from Hamilton College, and during the early 1850s he taught school and embarked on a law career....

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Howell, Evan Park (10 December 1839–06 August 1905), newspaper editor, soldier, and public official, was born in Warsaw, Georgia, the son of Clark Howell, a farmer, and Effiah Jane Park. The family moved to Marthasville—which soon was renamed Atlanta—where Howell grew up. He learned telegraphy, completed a two-year course at Georgia Military Institute in Marietta, studied law in Sandersville, Georgia, and enrolled in Lumpkin Law School (which later became the law department of the University of Georgia) in Athens. He was admitted to the bar in 1859 and returned to Sandersville to practice. Howell married Julia A. Erwin in 1861; they had seven children....

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Rufus King, Jr. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-10662).

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King, Rufus (26 January 1814–13 October 1876), soldier, editor, and diplomat, was born in New York City, the son of Charles King, a merchant and the ninth president of Columbia College, and Eliza Gracie. After attending the preparatory academy of Columbia, Rufus entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1829. After graduating fourth in the class of 1833, he was commissioned into the elite corps of engineers but resigned three years later to accept a position as a civil engineer with the New York & Erie Railroad. In 1839 he began a career as a newspaper editor. After two years with the ...

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Lafayette, James (1748–09 August 1830), patriot spy, also known to history as James Armistead, was born in slavery; little is recorded of his parentage or early life except that he belonged to William Armistead of New Kent County, Virginia. In the summer of 1781 James was attending his master while Armistead worked as a commissary in Richmond, supplying patriot forces under the command of the ...

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Martin, John Alexander (10 March 1839–02 October 1889), journalist, army officer, and governor of Kansas, was born in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, the son of James Martin, a justice of the peace, boardinghouse keeper, and postmaster, and Jane Montgomery Crawford. He attended public school in Brownsville and at age fifteen was apprenticed as a printer on the town newspaper, the ...

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Massing, Hede Tune (1899–08 March 1981), Communist spy and later Federal Bureau of Investigation informant, was born to a Polish-Austrian couple. Hede’s mother was the daughter of a prominent Polish rabbi, while her father was a circus acrobatic rider. When Hede was a young girl, the family moved to the United States and lived in Massachusetts and New York City. Massing’s father tried to start a catering business but failed....

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Sherwood, Isaac Ruth (13 August 1835–15 October 1925), editor, soldier, and politician, was born in Stanford, Dutchess County, New York, the son of Aaron Sherwood and Maria Yeomans. Orphaned at age nine, he lived thereafter with his uncle Daniel Sherwood, who served in the New York State legislature. After attending local schools Isaac was able to study at the Hudson River Institute in Claverack, New York, from 1852 to 1854 and at Antioch College from 1854 to 1856. He briefly read law with Judge Hoogeboom in Hudson, New York, and he then attended Ohio Law College in Poland, Ohio, graduating in 1857....

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Stahel, Julius (05 November 1825–04 December 1912), soldier, journalist, and diplomat, was born Julius Stahel-Szamvald in Szeged, Hungary, the son of Andreas Stahel-Szamvald and Barbara Nagy. After receiving a classical education in Szeged and Budapest, he operated a bookstore in the latter city. In his early twenties he entered the Austrian army and rose to lieutenant. When Hungary waged a war for independence, Stahel joined the revolutionary forces of Louis Kossuth. The independence movement was suppressed in 1849, and he fled his native land, living in London and Berlin before coming to the United States in 1856....

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Tallmadge, Benjamin (25 February 1754–07 March 1835), intelligence officer and congressman, was born in Setauket (now Brookhaven), New York, the son of Benjamin Tallmadge, a Congregational minister, and Susannah Smith. Yale president Naphtali Daggett admitted Tallmadge at age twelve, but Tallmadge entered in 1769. ...