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Cermak, Anton Joseph (09 May 1873–06 March 1933), mayor of Chicago, Illinois, was born in Kladno, Czechoslovakia (then a province in the Austro-Hungarian Empire), the son of Anton Cermak, a miner, and Catherine Frank. Cermak’s family arrived in the United States in 1874 and settled in Braidwood, Illinois, where young Cermak had a few years of schooling before he moved to Chicago in 1889. He engaged in a number of businesses including wood hauling, real estate, and insurance. In 1894 he married Mary Horejs, with whom he had three children. He began his political career in 1894 as an assistant precinct captain and gradually worked his way up until 1902 when he won election as state representative. From then until his death he always held one or more elective appointments in Chicago, Cook County, or the state of Illinois, as well as Democratic party offices. Beginning in 1902 he won four successive elections to the Illinois state legislature. In 1909 he was elected alderman in Chicago, representing a predominantly Czech ward. The Czech ethnic group was to be the base for his political success at the city, county, and state levels....

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Goebel, William (04 January 1856–03 February 1900), governor of Kentucky, was born in Carbondale, Pennsylvania, the son of Johann Christian Goebel, a cabinetmaker, and Augusta Greenclay. Both parents had recently immigrated from Germany. About 1863 the family moved to Covington, Kentucky. As a boy, William Goebel was influenced by a reform-minded, crippled cobbler, who lent him books. After finishing high school in Covington, William served as an apprentice in a Cincinnati store while attending business college. He graduated from Cincinnati Law School in 1877. One of his examiners, ...

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Harrison, Carter Henry (15 February 1825–28 October 1893), mayor of Chicago, was born in Fayette County, Kentucky, the son of Carter Henry Harrison, a plantation owner, and Caroline Evalind Russell. Harrison was born in a log cabin, but this did not imply poverty or deprivation, simply the newness of his family estate in the bluegrass region of Kentucky. He came from a family that traced its lineage back to the 1630s in colonial Virginia, and he was distantly related to two American presidents, ...

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Huey Long Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-111005).

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Long, Huey Pierce (30 August 1893–10 September 1935), governor of Louisiana and U.S. senator, was born in the hill country of Winn Parish, Louisiana, the son of Huey Pierce Long and Caledonia Tison, modestly prosperous farmers who lived comfortably by the standards of their community and sent six of their ten children to college. Huey, however, was not one of them. Even while attending high school, he worked for several years as a traveling salesman. Later, he briefly studied law at the University of Oklahoma and Tulane University. He received no degree, but he equipped himself to pass the Louisiana bar exam. By the summer of 1915, he was practicing law in his home town of Winnfield and starting a family with his wife of two years, Rose McConnell. They would eventually have three children....

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William McKinley. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-13025 DLC).

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McKinley, William (29 January 1843–14 September 1901), twenty-fifth president of the United States, was born in Niles, Ohio, the son of William McKinley and Nancy Allison, both of Scotch-Irish ancestry. McKinley’s father managed charcoal furnaces and manufactured pig iron in a small way. McKinley went to school in Niles and later in Poland, Ohio. At seventeen he entered Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, but a brief illness and financial problems forced him to drop out after a single term....

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Milk, Harvey (22 May 1930–27 November 1978), politician and gay rights activist, was born Harvey Bernard Milk in Woodmere, Long Island, New York, the son of William Milk and Minerva Karns. His father operated a department store in Woodmere that was founded in 1882 by his grandfather, Morris Milk (originally Milch), a Lithuanian immigrant. Before she married his father, Milk’s mother was an early feminist activist who joined the Yoemanettes, a group agitating for the inclusion of women in the U.S. Navy during World War I....

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Moscone, George Richard (24 November 1929–27 November 1978), mayor of San Francisco, was born in San Francisco, California, the son of George J. Moscone, a guard at San Quentin Prison, and Lena “Lee” Monge. Moscone graduated from St. Brigid Elementary School and St. Ignatius High School. From a family of modest means, he won an athletic scholarship to the College of the Pacific (later University of the Pacific), where he received a B.A. in 1952, and an academic scholarship to the Hastings College of the Law, where he received a J.D. and an LL.B. in 1956. In 1954 he married Eugenia “Gina” Bondanza; they had four children....

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Randolph, Benjamin Franklin (1820?– October 1868), African-American political leader in Reconstruction South Carolina, was born free in Kentucky, the child of mixed-race parents whose names are unknown. As a child, Randolph’s family moved to Ohio where he was educated in local schools. In 1854 he entered Oberlin College’s preparatory department, before attending the college from 1857 to 1862. At Oberlin, Randolph received instruction both in the liberal arts and at the college’s theological seminary. Soon after graduation he was ordained as a Methodist Episcopal minister. During the Civil War Randolph served as a chaplain in the Twenty-sixth Colored Infantry, which was dispatched to Hilton Head, South Carolina, in 1864....