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Burnet, Jacob (22 February 1770–10 May 1853), Ohio lawmaker and U.S. senator, was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of William Burnet, a doctor and farmer, and Mary Camp. His father was the son of Scottish Presbyterian immigrants and served in the Continental Congress and as surgeon general in the Continental army. Jacob Burnet graduated from Nassau Hall in September 1791, studied law, and gained admittance to the New Jersey bar in spring 1796. He promptly moved to Cincinnati in the Northwest Territory, where he married Rebecca Wallace, daughter of a former pastor of the Presbyterian church, in 1800. They had seven children....

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Connor, Henry Groves (03 July 1852–23 November 1924), legislator and judge, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, the son of David Connor, a carpenter, and Mary Catherine Groves. In 1855 the family moved to Wilson, North Carolina, where Connor’s father was employed in building the county courthouse. His father’s death in 1867 ended Connor’s schooling; following a brief stint as a shopkeeper’s assistant, he began the study of law in the office of George Howard and George W. Whitfield. After further study with William T. Dortch of Goldsboro, North Carolina, Connor was licensed to practice law in 1871, while still eighteen years old. It was later said of him that the only law he ever broke was the one requiring lawyers to be at least twenty-one. In November 1871 Connor married Katherine Whitfield, the daughter of his former mentor, with whom he had twelve children, nine of whom survived infancy. Leaving the Roman Catholic religion of his parents, Connor joined the Episcopal church, his wife’s denomination....

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Duer, William Alexander (08 September 1780–30 May 1858), politician, lawyer, and college president, was born in Rhinebeck, New York, the son of Catharine Alexander and William Duer, a patriot entrepreneur whose ventures collapsed in 1792. Duer’s maternal grandfather, Major General William Alexander of New Jersey, claimed the Scottish earldom of Stirling, and through his maternal great-grandfather, ...

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Fournet, John Baptiste (27 July 1895–03 June 1984), jurist and state legislator, was born in St. Martinville, Louisiana, the son of Louis Michel Fournet, a wealthy sugar planter, and Marcélite Gauthier. The first of ten children, Fournet attended public schools in St. Martin Parish and after graduating from high school in 1913 became a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in a rural part of southwestern Louisiana. In 1915 he graduated with honors from the Louisiana State Normal College in Natchitoches and returned to his teaching career. After teaching in Vernon, Jefferson Davis, and Pointe Coupée parishes, he became the principal of Morganza High School at the age of twenty-one....

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Howard, Timothy Edward (27 January 1837–09 July 1916), professor, legislator, and judge, was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the son of Martin Howard and Julia Beahan, farmers. Howard enrolled in the University of Michigan after attending “common schools” and a seminary in Ypsilanti but left during his sophomore year because of an illness in his family. He taught in rural Michigan schools for two years before entering Notre Dame in 1859. In February 1862, before he had graduated, he enlisted in the Twelfth Michigan Infantry. His friends would later recall that he had enlisted without telling anyone at Notre Dame. He served only two months before he was seriously wounded in the battle of Shiloh. Although he recovered, the wound was so severe that he was discharged as unfit for further service....

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Johnston, Peter (06 January 1763–08 December 1831), jurist, legislator, and soldier, was born at Osborne’s Landing on the James River, Virginia, the son of Peter Johnston, a merchant and farmer, and Martha Rogers. At two years of age Johnston moved with his parents to a large farm in Prince Edward County, Virginia, where he was educated by tutors before enrolling in Hampden-Sydney College (established on land donated by Johnston’s father). In late 1779, in a decision that displeased his Loyalist father, Johnston quit college to join the cavalry legion of Lieutenant Colonel ...

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Musmanno, Michael Angelo (07 April 1897–12 October 1968), legislator, judge, and author, was born in the town of McKees Rocks in Stowe Township, Pennsylvania, the son of Antonio Musmanno, a railroad worker and coal miner, and Maddelena Castellucci. The son of Italian immigrants, Musmanno grew up in a working-class family and neighborhood. It is said that at the age of twelve, after offering a strong and successful defense against corporal punishment following a fight with a classmate, Musmanno was encouraged by his school principal to consider a career as a lawyer. When he was only fourteen years old, Musmanno began working as a coal loader. Growing up in the Pittsburgh area, he continued to work throughout high school in the coal industry and also held a job as a waterboy for the steel workers. Musmanno then attended evening classes while he continued to labor during the day....

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O’Neall, John Belton (10 April 1793–27 December 1863), legislator and judge, was born near Bush River, Newberry District, South Carolina, the son of Hugh O’Neall, a merchant, and Anne Kelly. Both of O’Neall’s parents were members of the Society of Friends. He studied at the Newberry Academy, where he was pushed, according to O’Neall, “much too rapidly,” reading classical Latin authors without understanding them. He also worked in his father’s mercantile store but, his father “deprived of his reason,” it ended in bankruptcy. However, Belton was helped by his uncle and later was graduated in 1812 from South Carolina College (later the University of South Carolina). This was followed by the study of law in the office of John Caldwell in Newberry and admission to the bar in 1814....

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Sedgwick, Theodore (09 May 1746–24 January 1813), legislator and judge, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Benjamin Sedgwick, a storekeeper and farmer, and Ann Thompson. After moving the family to Cornwall, Connecticut, Sedgwick’s father died in 1757, leaving Theodore to be raised in modest circumstances by his mother and older brother John, a farmer and tavernkeeper. Showing early promise, Theodore entered Yale in the winter of 1761–1762. Dismissed three years later for some unrecorded breach of college rules, he received his degree for his earlier work in 1772 as of 1765....

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Spencer, Ambrose (13 December 1765–13 March 1848), politician and judge, was born in Salisbury, Connecticut, the son of Philip Spencer, a farmer and iron dealer, and Abigail Moore. After preparation with a Presbyterian minister in Canaan, Spencer entered Yale in 1779 but transferred to Harvard, from which he graduated in 1783. That year he began studying law in John Canfield’s Sharon, Connecticut, office. In 1784 he eloped with Canfield’s daughter Laura Canfield. They had eight children before Laura died in 1807. Later that year Spencer married ...

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Tucker, Henry St. George (29 December 1780–28 August 1848), legislator, judge, and law teacher, was born at Matoax Plantation, Chesterfield County, Virginia, the son of St. George Tucker, a judge and law teacher, and Frances Bland. Tucker studied under his father at the College of William and Mary and received a law degree in 1801. Following graduation Tucker set up a law practice in Winchester, Virginia. His clients ranged from the estates of Lord Fairfax to a number of indigents he represented without fee. Tucker also served in the Virginia House of Delegates for one term, 1806–1807. In 1806 Tucker married Ann Evelina Hunter, with whom he had at least eleven children....

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Upshur, Abel Parker (17 June 1790–28 February 1844), lawmaker, jurist, and cabinet officer, was born in Northampton County, Virginia, the son of Littleton Upshur, a prosperous planter, and Ann Parker, a member of one of the most prominent families on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The Upshurs were conservative and aristocratic and identified politically with the Federalist party. Educated at home by private tutors, Abel received instruction in Latin, Greek, and other college preparatory subjects. In 1805 he enrolled as a junior at Yale, and the following year he transferred to Princeton, from which he was expelled in 1807 for supporting a student protest against the college administration. Although Upshur had not played a leading role in the protest, he refused to recant his support as a matter of principle. Returning to Virginia in 1808, he studied law at the offices of ...

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Van Ness, William W. (1776–27 February 1823), politician and judge, was born at Claverack, New York, the son of William Van Ness, a farmer. (His mother’s identity is not known.) Van Ness’s background is highly obscure, and he is often confused for his cousin ...