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Edward D. Baker. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-90165).

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Baker, Edward Dickinson (24 February 1811–21 October 1861), statesman and soldier, was born in London, England, the son of Edward Baker, an educator, and Lucy Dickinson. The family emigrated to the United States in 1815 and lived in Philadelphia for about ten years. The elder Baker ran a school that young Edward attended until he secured employment as a hand loom weaver. Attracted by ...

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Frank P. Blair. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1704).

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Blair, Francis Preston, Jr. (19 February 1821–09 July 1875), statesman and Union army officer, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, the son of Francis Preston Blair, the influential editor of the Congressional Globe, and Eliza Violet Gist Blair. He was a brother of Montgomery Blair...

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Blunt, James Gillpatrick (21 July 1826–25 July 1881), physician, soldier, and politician, was born in Trenton, Hancock County, Maine, the son of John Blunt. Blunt spent his early youth in Ellsworth, Maine, but at age fifteen enlisted as a merchant seaman. Leaving the sea at age twenty, Blunt studied medicine at the Starling Medical College in Columbus, Ohio, earning a medical degree in 1849. He set up a practice in New Madison, Ohio, where he married Nancy Carson Putnam. In 1856 he migrated to the frontier, settling at Greeley, Kansas. There he continued his medical practice but soon became actively interested in politics, becoming deeply involved in the antislavery movement and aiding ...

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Brayton, Charles Ray (16 August 1840–23 September 1910), soldier and politician, was born in the village of Apponaug in the town of Warwick, Rhode Island, the son of William Daniel Brayton, a Republican congressman (1857–1861), and Anna Ward Clarke. He traced his Rhode Island roots back to 1643 and the founding of Warwick. He first attended nearby East Greenwich Academy, then studied at the Fruit Hill Classical Academy in North Providence, and finally entered Brown University in 1859. He was scheduled to graduate in the class of 1863 but left college in 1861 to organize a Warwick company for the Third Rhode Island Volunteers, a heavy artillery unit. As an artillery officer Brayton served in such sieges and battles as those at Fort Pulaski, Fort Sumter, Fort Wagner, Drury’s Bluff, Laurel Hill, Fort Burnham, and Petersburg. In March 1864 he was appointed chief of artillery for the Department of the South, a post he held until his discharge in 1865, when he was allowed to retire with the rank of brigadier general of volunteers. In March 1865 he married Antoinette Percival Belden, daughter of Brayton’s headmaster at Fruit Hill Classical Academy; the couple had one child....

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Joshua L. Chamberlain. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1859).

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Chamberlain, Joshua Lawrence (08 September 1828–24 February 1914), soldier, politician, and educator, was born in Brewer, Maine, the son of Joshua Chamberlain, a farmer and shipbuilder, and Sarah Dupee Brastow. After attending a military academy in Ellsworth, Chamberlain entered Bowdoin College in 1848, graduating in 1852. Three years later, after graduating from the Bangor Theological Seminary, he joined Bowdoin’s faculty and taught a broad range of subjects, including logic, natural theology, rhetoric, oratory, and modern languages. In 1855 he married Frances Caroline Adams; of the couple’s five children, three survived to adulthood....

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Clark, William Thomas (29 June 1831–12 October 1905), soldier and politician, was born in Norwalk, Connecticut, the son of Levi Clark and Fanny (maiden name unknown). Little is known of his family except that they were poor, and he was forced to leave the common schools of Norwalk at the age of thirteen. Afterward he did odd jobs, taught school, and studied law. In 1854 he moved to New York City, where he was admitted to the bar in 1855. In 1856 he married Laura Clark (no relation) from Hartford, Connecticut....

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Connor, Patrick Edward (02 March 1820?–17 December 1891), soldier, entrepreneur, and politician, was born Patrick Edward O’Connor in County Kerry, Ireland. His exact birth date and the names of his parents are in question. As a teenager, he emigrated with his parents to New York City, where he probably briefly attended public school....

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Corse, John Murray (27 April 1835–27 April 1893), soldier and politician, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of John L. Corse, a stationer, and Sarah Murray. At age seven he moved with his family to Burlington, Iowa, where he worked in and later helped manage his father’s business. After spending two years (1853–1855) at the U.S. Military Academy, he returned to Iowa to practice law and dabble in local politics. He married Ellen Edwards Prince in 1856. Corse’s political horizons soon expanded: in the election of 1860 he was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Iowa secretary of state. His prominence as a Democrat who supported the war effort, along with his family’s political connections (his father was a six-term mayor of Burlington), brought Corse to the attention of state officials when the Civil War broke out. On 13 July 1861 he was appointed major of the sixth Iowa Volunteer Infantry....

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Cox, Jacob Dolson (27 October 1828–08 August 1900), Union general and Republican political figure, was born in Montreal, Canada, the son of Jacob Dolson Cox, Sr. (whose family name was originally Koch), a New York builder, and Thedia Redelia Kenyon. Cox’s family had moved to Montreal, where his father supervised construction of the Basilica of Notre Dame; they returned to New York City shortly after Jacob’s birth. The family’s financial reverses in the wake of the depression of 1837 forced young Cox to curtail his formal education. He clerked for New York City lawyers and bankers while pursuing a rigorous course of self-study, which by 1846 prepared him to enter Oberlin College. Cox was drawn to Oberlin by Professor (soon to be President) ...

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Devens, Charles, Jr. (04 April 1820–07 January 1891), soldier, jurist, and politician, was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, the son of Charles Devens, Sr., a hardware merchant and town clerk, and Mary Lithgow. Charles Devens attended the Boston Latin School before being admitted to Harvard University. He graduated in 1838 and went on to Harvard Law School. He was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1840 and practiced from 1841 to 1849 in Franklin County, Massachusetts. From 1848 to 1849 he served in the state senate, and from 1849 to 1853 he held the post of U.S. marshal for the District of Massachusetts. While serving as marshal he became involved in a runaway slave dispute. After a U.S. Commissioner ruled that the slave was to be returned to his owner, Devens, as U.S. marshal, was required to carry out the order. This duty was most repugnant to him, and for several years he worked unsuccessfully for the release of the slave by offering to pay for his freedom. Eventually the slave gained his freedom during the Civil War, and Devens was able to find him a position in the federal government during the ...

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John Adams Dix. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109924).

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Dix, John Adams (24 July 1798–21 April 1879), politician and general, was born in Boscawen, New Hampshire, the son of Timothy Dix, a merchant, and Abigail Wilkins. He received a varied liberal education, including a year at Phillips Exeter Academy and fifteen months at the College of Montreal. At age fourteen, while being tutored in Boston, Dix pleaded to join the army to defend the nation in the War of 1812. His father, a major, helped him to obtain a commission, and he served in battles at Chrysler’s Field (1813) and Lundy’s Lane (1814). His father’s death during the war caused Dix to stay in the army to help support his stepmother and siblings. Serving as an aide to Major General ...

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Halderman, John Adams (15 April 1833–21 September 1908), soldier, politician, and diplomat, was born in Fayette County, Kentucky, the son of Susan Henderson Rogers and John A. Halderman, a physician. Subsequent to the death of Halderman’s mother in 1843, Halderman’s father remarried and moved to Illinois, but the younger Halderman remained in Kentucky in the care of his maternal grandparents. Little else is known of his early years except that he aspired to a military career and thus sought appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. When these efforts were frustrated, Halderman attended McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois, Xavier College in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the University of Louisville. His most important educational experience, however, came in the Lexington law office of his uncle, Colonel C. C. Rogers, where he read law. In the spring of 1854 Halderman was admitted to the bar....

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Winfield S. Hancock. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1877).

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Hancock, Winfield Scott (14 February 1824–09 February 1886), soldier and presidential candidate, was born at Montgomery Square, Pennsylvania, the son of Benjamin Franklin Hancock, a schoolteacher and later a lawyer, and Elizabeth Hoxworth, who named him in honor of Winfield Scott, a military hero of the War of 1812. Raised at Norristown, Pennsylvania, he attended the local academy, where he organized a military company before his appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. After graduating in 1844, eighteenth in a class of twenty-five (with fifty-five nongraduates), Hancock was assigned to the Sixth Infantry. He barely arrived in time for the last month of fighting in the Mexican War, winning brevet promotion to first lieutenant. While stationed at St. Louis, in 1850 he married Almira Russell; they had two children....

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John F. Hartranft. Seated, center, with his staff. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8171-7758).

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Hartranft, John Frederick (16 December 1830–17 October 1889), Civil War officer and politician, was born near Pottstown, Pennsylvania, the child of Samuel E. Hartranft, a local landowner, and Lydia Bucher, both of German ancestry. He graduated from Union College in 1853 with a degree in civil engineering. About the same time as his marriage to Sallie Sebring (with whom he had one son and two daughters) in 1854, Hartranft changed his life’s vocation to law and politics....