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Aycock, Charles Brantley (01 November 1859–04 April 1912), lawyer and governor of North Carolina, was born in Wayne County, North Carolina, the son of Benjamin Aycock and Serena Hooks. The youngest of ten children of a prosperous, slaveholding family whose farmlands by 1863 exceeded a thousand acres, Charles Aycock spent his early years in a rural setting. His father, an active member of the Democratic party, served as clerk of court of Wayne County for eight years and as a member of the North Carolina Senate from 1863 to 1866. Serena Aycock managed the family properties in her husband’s absence, but she could not read or write, and her lack of an education profoundly influenced young Charles. Although the Civil War imposed hardships on the Aycocks, their holdings expanded during the Reconstruction era. Benjamin Aycock’s support of the Confederacy and disdain for Radical Reconstruction and the enfranchisement of freedmen shaped Charles’s own politics....

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Roger S. Baldwin. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-90730).

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Baldwin, Roger Sherman (04 January 1793–19 February 1863), lawyer, governor, and senator, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of Simeon Baldwin, a lawyer, judge, congressman, and mayor of New Haven, and Rebecca Sherman. Baldwin was a direct descendant of the Puritan settlers of Connecticut and the Founding Fathers of the nation. His father’s family was among the original New Haven colonists, and his mother was the daughter of ...

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Gaspare J. Saladino

Bassett, Richard (02 April 1745–16 August 1815), lawyer, was born at Bohemia Ferry, Cecil County, Maryland, the son of Arnold Bassett, a tavernkeeper, and Judith Thompson. Bassett’s father left the family, and lawyer Peter Lawson assumed the role of stepfather. In 1755 Lawson inherited thousands of acres of Bohemia Manor from his brother John, whose wife demanded and received a one-third share. Mary Lawson, a cousin of Bassett’s mother, gave Bassett and his brother 1,000 acres each in 1765. Bassett was admitted to the Delaware bar in 1770 and moved to Dover, Kent County. He became an expert in property, libel, and inheritance law. In 1774 Bassett married Ann Ennals of Dorchester County, Maryland, and they had two daughters who survived infancy....

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Baxter, Elisha (01 September 1827–31 May 1899), lawyer and governor of Arkansas, was born in Rutherford County, North Carolina, the son of William Baxter, a wealthy farmer, and Catherine Lee. Elisha Baxter received a meager education in the local schools and at an early age opened a store at Rutherfordton with his brother-in-law. Baxter also tried farming. In 1849 he married Harriet Patton; they had six children....

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Bell, Samuel (09 February 1770–23 December 1850), lawyer, governor, and senator, was born in Londonderry, New Hampshire, the son of John Bell and Mary Ann Gilmore, farmers. His father, a tall, rugged, hot-tempered man, was a commanding figure in his community, who served as a deacon and selectman and as a member of the New Hampshire committee of safety and provincial congress during the Revolution. After working on the farm until he was eighteen, Bell studied at a local school and attended New Ipswich Academy before entering the sophomore class at Dartmouth College in 1791. Following graduation in 1793, he studied law in Amherst, New Hampshire, under ...

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Black, Frank Swett (08 March 1853–22 March 1913), lawyer and politician, was born in Limington, York County, Maine, the son of Jacob Black and Charlotte Swett, farmers. When Black was eleven years old, his family moved to Alfred, Maine, where he attended what later became the Limerick Academy. While still a youth he taught school to earn enough money to pursue his education at the Lebanon Academy in preparation for study at Dartmouth College. In 1875 he graduated from Dartmouth with honors and in his senior year married Lois B. Hamlin; they had one child....

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Bloomfield, Joseph (18 October 1753–08 October 1823), lawyer, soldier, and politician, was born in Woodbridge, New Jersey, the son of Moses Bloomfield, a physician, and Sarah Ogden. The family was one of the most prominent in colonial New Jersey. His father had received a first-rate medical education in Edinburgh, Scotland, and had a thriving practice in Middlesex County by the time Joseph was born. Joseph’s mother was a member of a wealthy and influential family of Elizabethtown, which further assured Joseph’s upper-class pedigree. His education and choice of occupation were in line with his social standing. While in his early teens, he attended the Reverend Enoch Green’s classical academy in Deerfield, Cumberland County, at the opposite end of the province from Woodbridge. Upon graduation, Bloomfield returned to East Jersey, determined to be a lawyer. He entered the profession at the top, studying in Perth Amboy with Cortlandt Skinner, attorney general of New Jersey, and was admitted to the bar in November 1774. Setting up practice in Bridgeton, Cumberland County, he soon became known and respected in all of New Jersey’s southern counties. The future seemed secure, had not the American Revolution intervened....

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Blount, Willie (18 April 1768?–10 September 1835), lawyer and governor of Tennessee, was born in Bertie County, North Carolina, the son of Jacob Blount, a prominent landowner, and Hannah (Salter) Baker, the daughter of the influential settler Edward Salter and widow of William Baker of South Quay, Virginia. Although a member of a leading family, little is known about Willie’s (pronounced Wylie) early life and education. He attended both King’s College and the College of New Jersey (now Columbia and Princeton Universities, respectively) and subsequently read law with the noted judge John Sitgraves at New Bern, North Carolina....

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Boreman, Arthur Ingram (24 July 1823–19 April 1896), lawyer and politician, was born in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, the son of Kenner Seaton Boreman, a merchant, and Sarah Ingram. Kenner Boreman’s father, John Boreman, was a Philadelphia merchant who served as assistant paymaster to the revolutionary army. Kenner Boreman moved his family to Middlebourne, Tyler County, Virginia, when Arthur was four. There Arthur attended a tuition-supported common school. In 1840 the family moved to Elizabethtown, Marshall County, where Arthur Boreman clerked in his father’s store. At age twenty he returned to Middlebourne to read law with his brother and brother-in-law, and in 1845 he began practicing law in Parkersburg, Wood County....

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Briggs, George Nixon (12 April 1796–12 September 1861), lawyer, congressman, and governor, was born in Adams, Massachusetts, the son of blacksmith Allen Briggs, a veteran of the revolutionary war, and Nancy Brown. As with many settlers in the Berkshire area of Massachusetts, the Briggses had moved north from Rhode Island and were earnest Baptists (although Nancy Briggs had come from a Huguenot family). At age thirteen Briggs, one of twelve siblings, was apprenticed to Quaker John Allen, a hatter in White Creek, New York. He returned home in 1811 to help his father and attended grammar school for about a year. In 1813 he studied law with Ambrose Kasson (also spelled Kapen) of Adams, Massachusetts; the following year he moved to the office of Luther Washburn in Lanesboro. During his apprenticeship in White Creek, Briggs, then a Quaker, had experienced a conversion at a revival and thereby became a Baptist. While studying law in Lanesboro and helping to found a Baptist church there, he met Harriet Hall, whom he married in May 1818; they would have at least two children....

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Casey, Robert (09 January 1932–30 May 2000), attorney and governor, was born in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York, the son of Alphonsus L. Casey, attorney, and Marie Cummings Casey. Shortly after his birth, his family returned to their native town of Scranton, Pennsylvania, where his father practiced law, often representing working men against powerful moneyed interests; Casey later attributed his own political philosophy to his father's influence. After graduating from nearby Scranton Prep, he entered the College of Holy Cross on a basketball scholarship and graduated with an A.B. degree in 1953. Later that year he married Ellen Theresa Harding. The couple had eight children....

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Chamberlain, George Earle (01 January 1854–09 July 1928), lawyer and politician, was born near Natchez, Mississippi, the son of Charles Thomson Chamberlain, a physician, and Pamelia H. Archer. He received both the bachelor of arts and bachelor of law degrees from Washington and Lee University in 1876. He sought broader opportunities outside his native region and shortly after graduation moved to Albany, Oregon, where he took a job as a teacher. In 1878–1879 he served as the Linn County (Ore.) deputy clerk. Although he returned to Mississippi briefly in 1879 to marry Sallie Newman Welch (they would have six children), he never really went home again....

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Chapman, Reuben (15 July 1799–17 May 1882), lawyer and politician, was born in Caroline County, Virginia, the son of Colonel Reuben Chapman, a revolutionary war veteran, and Ann Reynolds. Educated at Bowling Green, Virginia, he, like many other young men, migrated to Alabama, arriving on horseback in 1824. He read law with his brother Samuel Chapman in Huntsville, was admitted to the bar in 1825, and began to practice law at Somerville, Morgan County. Tall, red-headed, and conspicuous, he was keenly interested in politics and in 1824 was selected to carry Alabama’s electoral vote to Washington, D.C....

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Howell Cobb. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-110081).

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Cobb, Howell (07 September 1815–09 October 1868), lawyer and politician, was born at Cherry Hill in Jefferson County, Georgia, the son of John Addison Cobb, a planter, and Sarah Robinson (Rootes). Enrolling in Franklin College (now the University of Georgia) in Athens, Georgia, in 1829, he graduated in 1834. His college years were marked by his expulsion from school after participating in a riot to protest disciplinary action by the faculty for a minor infraction of leaving campus without permission; he was later readmitted. At the same time, they saw him first show signs of his strong Unionism, for he opposed the nullification movement in South Carolina. On 26 May 1835 he married Mary Ann Lamar; the couple had six children. With marriage Cobb acquired his wife’s sizable estate, including several cotton plantations and some 200 slaves....

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Culberson, Charles Allen (10 June 1855–19 March 1925), lawyer, governor, and U.S. senator, was born in Dadeville, Alabama, the son of David Browning Culberson, a lawyer, and Eugenia Kimbal. His parents moved to Texas when he was young, and he grew up in Jefferson. He attended Virginia Military Institute, from which he graduated in 1874. After studying law with his father, he received a law degree from the University of Virginia in 1877. He married Sallie Harrison in 1882; they had one daughter. While practicing law in Jefferson, Culberson served briefly as county attorney. His father, in the meantime, had become an influential Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. A brother recalled that Culberson “took a drink now and then and played an occasional game of poker or whist” (Madden, p. 7)....

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Curtin, Andrew Gregg (22 April 1815–07 October 1894), lawyer, politician, and diplomat, was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, the son of Roland Curtin, an iron manufacturer and county coroner and sheriff, and Jane Gregg, the daughter of U.S. congressman and senator Andrew Gregg. After attending private academies near his home, Curtin studied law with W. W. Potter of Bellefonte and with Judge ...

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John Davis. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-110173).

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Davis, John (13 January 1787–19 April 1854), lawyer and politician, was born in Northborough, Massachusetts, the son of Isaac Davis and Anna Brigham, farmers. Davis attended Yale College, graduating with high honors in 1812, after which he studied law in the office of Francis Blake, a prominent Worcester lawyer, and was admitted to the bar in 1815. After a short time in Spencer, Massachusetts, he settled in Worcester and established a successful law practice. In 1822 Davis married Eliza Bancroft, a sister of historian, Democratic politician, diplomat, and secretary of the navy ...