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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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William Grayson. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98918).

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Grayson, William (1736–12 March 1790), lawyer, soldier, and statesman, was born in Prince William County, Virginia, the son of Susanna Monroe and Benjamin Grayson, a merchant and factor. He attended the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania), graduating in 1760. Some controversy exists concerning whether he next proceeded to Oxford or to Edinburgh, but the absence of his name from the rolls at Oxford, coupled with his great devotion to the teachings of Adam Smith, seems to militate in favor of the Scottish university. According to tradition, he then received legal training at the Inns of Court. He married Eleanor Smallwood....

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Houstoun, John (1750?–20 July 1796), lawyer, soldier, and politician, was born in St. George’s Parish, Georgia, the son of Sir Patrick Houstoun, a baronet, registrar of grants and receiver of quit rents for the colony, and Priscilla Dunbar. He studied law in Charleston and practiced in Savannah, where he early became involved in the protests against Great Britain prior to the Revolution and was probably a member of the Sons of Liberty. In 1775 he married Hannah Bryan, the daughter of Jonathan Bryan, a prominent planter, a former member of the governor’s council, and one of the leaders of Georgia’s Whig movement; they apparently had no children. In July 1774 he joined ...

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Innes, James (1754–02 August 1798), lawyer, military officer, and Virginia attorney general, was born in Caroline County, Virginia, the son of Robert Innes, a well-educated Scottish clergyman, and Catherine Richards. After receiving a classical education from his father, Innes attended the renowned school of Donald Robertson in King and Queen County, Virginia, with his older brother Harry. At age sixteen he entered the College of William and Mary, where he excelled in his studies. At the college he also cemented a lifelong friendship with fellow student ...

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Reed, Joseph (27 August 1741–05 March 1785), lawyer, soldier, and statesman, was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of Andrew Reed, a minor officeholder and merchant, and Theodosia Bowes. Following the family’s move to Philadelphia, Reed was enrolled in Francis Alison’s Academy of Philadelphia in 1751. Two years later, following the death of Reed’s mother, the family returned to Trenton, where Reed attended the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University). For three years following his graduation on 28 October 1757, he studied law at Princeton under the direction of ...

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Varnum, James Mitchell (17 December 1748–09 January 1789), lawyer, revolutionary war general, and judge, was born in Dracut, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Varnum and Hannah Mitchell, affluent farmers who had James prepared for Harvard College. Varnum successfully entered the class of 1769 along with forty-two other undergraduates. In April 1768, during his junior year, he helped lead a student protest against the college tutors. Several undergraduates, including Varnum, left the campus as a result of this upheaval, though most of them returned and were reinstated. Varnum, however, made his departure permanent and on 23 May 1768 entered the College of Rhode Island (now Brown University) in Providence. He earned his B.A. the following year and, at the college’s commencement exercises, presented the argument that “British America cannot under the present circumstances, consistent with good policy, afford to become an independent State.” He received his M.A. from the college in 1772....