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Baldwin, Joseph Glover (21 January 1815–30 September 1864), attorney and author, was born in Friendly Grove Factory, Virginia, the son of Joseph Clarke Baldwin, a mill owner, and Eliza Cook. He was educated at Staunton Academy (Virginia), where he learned Latin and read widely in English and American authors. He left school at fourteen and became a clerk in the chancery court. This experience turned him toward a legal career, and after private study and law school he qualified as a lawyer at twenty. Baldwin also worked for a time as a newspaperman in Virginia and suffered a disappointment in love. In March 1836 he set out for the “Southwest”—specifically Alabama and Mississippi....

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Blackford, Charles Minor (17 October 1833–10 March 1903), lawyer and author, was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the son of William Matthews Blackford, an editor, and Mary Berkeley Minor. He shaped his life by both emulating and rejecting his parents’ lives and wishes. Although trained in law, Blackford’s father pursued a career in politics and in 1846 moved the family to Lynchburg to take a job as a newspaper editor. Thus his father subjected the family to a precarious living based on party patronage but encouraged his five sons’ interest in political and literary lives. His mother held strong antislavery beliefs and pressured her sons to seek their fortunes away from the taint of the South. Charles was educated at home and at boarding schools; he completed his education at the University of Virginia, earning an L.L.B. in 1855....

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Bollan, William (1710?–1782), colonial agent and lawyer, was born in England and emigrated from there to America while a teenager. He pursued a legal career by studying as an apprentice under the tutelage of Massachusetts attorney Robert Auchmuty. Little is known of Bollan’s early life and career. However, by 1733 he had begun to gain prominence as an attorney, as evidenced by his acquisition of Harvard College and Boston’s Anglican parish, King’s Chapel, as clients. Bollan was an Anglican, which placed him in a religious minority in Congregational-dominated Boston. By the mid-1730s he had begun to venture into land speculation in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island....

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Crafts, William (24 January 1787–23 September 1826), author and lawyer, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of William Crafts, an affluent merchant, and Margaret Tébout. The handsome and precocious Crafts studied under Charleston tutors and then went to Harvard College, entering in 1802 as a sophomore. Young Crafts’s geniality and his ease in learning foreign languages brought him popularity and a reputation for both wit and scholarship. After graduation in 1805, he studied law in Charleston at the office of Ford and DeSaussure; but after three years and apparently with only superficial knowledge he returned to Cambridge to pursue a master’s degree....

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Fosdick, Raymond Blaine (09 June 1883–18 July 1972), lawyer, author, and foundation president, was born in Buffalo, New York to Frank Fosdick, a teacher and school principal, and Amie Weaver. Fosdick’s childhood was a comfortable and content one, if somewhat constrained by his parents’ financial situation, which he described as “always precarious and frequently disastrous.” His parents sought to foster in their children a love of learning, books, and music, as well as a strong devotion to the Baptist faith. They also encouraged intellectual discussion and debate, which sometimes conflicted with Fosdick’s rigid religious upbringing. Out of the family’s Sunday dinner discussions, he recalled developing a growing “conviction . . . that moral values and ideals do not require the abdication of intelligence and critical judgment.” This early realization would profoundly shape Fosdick’s career in public and philanthropic service....

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Hanson, Alexander Contee (22 October 1749–16 January 1806), lawyer, jurist, and Federalist essayist, was born in Annapolis, Maryland, the son of John Hanson, a continental congressman and first president of the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation, and Jane Contee. Hanson was reared in Annapolis and educated at the College of Philadelphia. College records do not indicate that he received a degree. Upon leaving Philadelphia, Hanson returned to Annapolis, where he studied law, and was admitted to practice by the Maryland bar in 1772. By early 1776 he had pledged himself to the revolutionary effort, and in June of that year he became assistant secretary to General ...

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Hay, George (15 December 1765–21 September 1830), lawyer and political writer, was born in Williamsburg, Virginia, the son of Anthony Hay, a cabinetmaker, and Elizabeth Davenport. The early death of his father deprived Hay of a college education. As a teenager, he moved to Albemarle County, where he read law under the direction of ...

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Herndon, William Henry (25 December 1818–18 March 1891), lawyer and biographer, was born in Greensburg, Kentucky, the son of Archer G. Herndon, a farmer, tavern keeper, and merchant, and Rebecca Day Johnson. Herndon’s family moved to Illinois in 1820; in 1825 his father opened a tavern in Springfield, later expanding his business to include a general store. In 1836 Herndon briefly attended the preparatory department of Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois. Later, he worked as a clerk at a store in Springfield, joining ...

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Ingersoll, Charles Jared (03 October 1782–14 May 1862), attorney, author, and congressman, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Jared Ingersoll, Jr., an attorney, judge, and colonial official, and Elizabeth Pettit. Ingersoll spent his childhood in Philadelphia, then entered Princeton University in 1796. He left Princeton in his third year and returned to Philadelphia, where he took up writing. Ingersoll published poetry and wrote a play, ...

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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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Pauli Murray Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109644).

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Murray, Pauli (20 November 1910–01 July 1985), lawyer, writer, and minister, was born Anna Pauline Murray in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of William Henry Murray, a public school teacher, and Agnes Fitzgerald, a nurse. Triracial, she had African, European, and Native American ancestry. Her parents both died when she was a child (her mother had a cerebral hemorrhage in March 1914; her father was murdered in a state hospital in June 1923), and she grew up from age three in North Carolina with her maternal grandparents and her mother’s oldest sister, Pauline Fitzgerald Dame, a public school teacher who adopted her....

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Pierce, Edward Lillie (29 March 1829–05 September 1897), attorney and biographer, was born in Stoughton, Massachusetts, the son of Jesse Pierce, a farmer and legislator, and Elizabeth Lillie. An effective writer from the time of his youth, Pierce, a member of an old New England Puritan family, graduated from Brown University in 1850 and Harvard Law School in 1852. Several of his college essays were published in the ...

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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...

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Sorensen, Theodore Chaikin (8 May 1928–31 Oct. 2010), lawyer, presidential advisor, and speechwriter, was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, to Christian A. Sorensen, a lawyer who also served as attorney general for the state of Nebraska from 1929 to 1933, and Annis Chaikin, a social worker. Christian Sorensen was influenced by the progressive wing of the Republican Party and named his son after President ...

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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....