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Johnson, William (1809–17 June 1851), diarist and entrepreneur, was born in Natchez, Mississippi, the son of William Johnson, a slaveholder, and Amy Johnson, a slave. When William was five years old his mother was emancipated and established her household in Natchez. In 1820 the eleven-year-old William was freed by the Mississippi legislature at the request of his owner. Once emancipated, he apprenticed with his brother-in-law, James Miller, in his barber business in Natchez. Johnson became proprietor of the business—reportedly the most popular barber shop in Natchez—when Miller moved to New Orleans in 1830. Johnson and his African-American staff ran the shop, which served a predominantly white clientele. Johnson’s barbers not only offered haircuts and shaves, they also fitted wigs, sold fancy soaps and oils, and, beginning in 1834, operated a bathhouse at the Main Street location....

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Langford, Nathaniel Pitt (09 August 1832–18 October 1911), diarist, vigilante, and park superintendent, was born in Westmoreland, Oneida County, New York, the son of George Langford II, a bank cashier, and Chloe Sweeting. After an education in a rural school, young Langford migrated with four of his siblings to St. Paul, Minnesota, in either 1853 or 1854, and followed his father’s career, clerking in several banks....

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Miller, David Hunter (02 January 1875–21 July 1961), lawyer, State Department official, and historian, was born in New York City, the son of Walter Thomas Miller, a stockbroker and a member of the New York cotton exchange, and Christiana Wylie. He was educated in private and public schools in New York. Soon after the United States declared war with Spain, Miller enlisted in the Ninth New York Volunteers, serving in the army from May to November 1898. After his military service he began working in his father’s brokerage. In 1900 he married Sarah Whipple Simmons; they had no children. In 1904 he decided to prepare himself for a legal career and entered the New York Law School, where he earned an LL.B. in 1910 and an LL.M. the next year. Admitted to the New York bar, he began the general practice of law....

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Sewall, Samuel (28 March 1652–01 January 1730), colonial merchant, judge, and philanthropist, was born at Bishop Stoke, Hampshire, England, the son of Henry Sewall, a pastor, and Jane Dummer. Sewall’s father had immigrated to Newbury, Massachusetts, in 1634, and although he was admitted to freemanship in 1637, he returned to England in 1646 and subsequently took the pulpit of North Baddesley. The family returned to Massachusetts in 1659....

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Smith, Richard (22 March 1735–17 September 1803), lawyer, diarist, and member of the Continental Congress, was born in Burlington, New Jersey, the son of Richard Smith, a Quaker merchant and member of the colonial assembly, and Abigail Smith. Richard Smith’s older brother Samuel Smith...

Article

Strong, George Templeton (26 January 1820–21 July 1875), attorney and diarist, was born in New York City, the son of George Washington Strong, one of the most prominent attorneys in Manhattan, and Eliza Catherine Templeton. He graduated from Columbia College in 1838 and began reading law as a clerk in his father’s law office. Strong would have preferred a career in teaching or journalism, but his father encouraged him to become a practicing attorney, and in 1844 he became a counselor-at-law and a partner in his father’s firm, where he specialized in real estate and probate law. Although he was interested in legal and constitutional issues, the mechanics of law irritated and bored him. He complained in his diary that he feared being “swallowed up in a kind of snowbank of mortgages, subpoenas, depositions and polyonymous botherations.” In 1848 he married Ellen Ruggles, with whom he had three children. In 1853 he became a trustee of Columbia College. He argued for modernization of its curriculum and was a founder of the Columbia School of Law....