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Abbott, Joseph Carter (15 July 1825–08 October 1881), senator and journalist, was born in Concord, New Hampshire, the son of Aaron Carter Abbott, a farmer and laborer, and Nancy Badger. After graduating in 1846 from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, Abbott studied law. He began his practice in Concord in 1852, the year he became editor and proprietor of the ...

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Aiken, George David (20 August 1892–19 November 1984), farmer and U.S. senator, was born in Dummerston, Vermont, the son of Edward W. Aiken and Myra Cook, farmers. He attended high school in Brattleboro. In 1914 he married Beatrice M. Howard; they had four children. His first wife died in 1966, and a year later Aiken married one of his Senate aides, Lola Pierotti....

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James Lusk Alcorn. Photograph from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the National Archives (NWDNS-111-B-1117).

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Alcorn, James Lusk (04 November 1816–20 December 1894), governor of Mississippi and U.S. senator, was born in Golconda, Illinois, the son of James Alcorn and Hannah (maiden name unknown). Soon after his birth, Alcorn’s family moved to Salem, Kentucky, where his father farmed and served as a boatman on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. In 1836 Alcorn briefly attended Cumberland College in Princeton, Kentucky. He tried teaching in Jackson, Arkansas, but soon returned to Livingston County, Kentucky, to serve as deputy sheriff under his uncle. Alcorn also studied law and in 1838 was admitted to the Kentucky bar. In the same year he married Mary Catherine Stewart; they had four children....

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Nelson W. Aldrich. Drawing by Arthur Dove, published in Success, 1909. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-54138).

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Aldrich, Nelson Wilmarth (06 November 1841–16 April 1915), U.S. senator, congressman, and businessman, was born in Foster, Rhode Island, the son of Anan Aldrich and Abby Burgess, farmers. Having received a modest education in East Killingly, Connecticut, and at the East Greenwich Academy in Rhode Island, Aldrich was by age seventeen working in Providence. Eventually a large wholesale grocery firm, Waldron, Wightman & Co., hired him as a clerk and bookkeeper. His career there was briefly interrupted in 1862 by service with the Tenth Rhode Island Volunteers garrisoning Washington, D.C. After contracting typhoid that same year he returned to Providence and, by 1866, had been elevated to junior partner at Waldron, Wightman. He married Abby Chapman that year; the couple would have eleven children. His wife was of independent means, but Aldrich insisted on accumulating a fortune on his own account and gradually did so. He worked his way up to full partner at Waldron, Wightman, was a director of the Roger Williams Bank by 1872, and by 1877 was president of Providence’s First National Bank. He also headed the city’s Board of Trade in these years....

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Allen, Philip (01 September 1785–16 December 1865), manufacturer, governor, and senator, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Captain Zachariah Allen, a West Indies trader, and Nancy Crawford. Allen received his early education from tutors before attending Taunton Academy in Providence, Robert Rogers School in Newport, and Jeremiah Chaplin’s Latin School in Providence. In 1799 he entered Rhode Island College (now Brown University) and graduated in 1803....

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William Allen. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109897).

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Allen, William (18 December 1803–11 July 1879), U.S. senator and congressman and governor of Ohio, was born in Edenton, North Carolina, the son of Nathaniel Allen, a wealthy merchant and landowner, and Sarah Colburn. Allen’s father had surrendered his Quaker principles to fight in the American Revolution and was a delegate to the North Carolina convention convened to consider the federal Constitution in 1788. Both parents died shortly after William’s birth, and he was raised by his half sister, the wife of a Methodist Episcopal minister, the Reverend Pleasant Thurman. Although born into the gentry, the tangled genealogy of his family, owing to his father’s three marriages and various legal technicalities, denied Allen any inheritance of his father’s considerable assets....

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Allen, William Vincent (28 January 1847–12 January 1924), U.S. senator, was born in Midway, Ohio, the son of Samuel Allen, a minister who died when William was an infant, and Phoebe Pugh. His abolitionist family was actively involved in the underground railroad. In 1857 Allen’s stepfather moved the family from Ohio to Fayette County, Iowa. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Allen, at the age of fourteen, tried to enlist in the army, but when his age was discovered he was sent home. The following year he became a private with the Thirty-second Iowa Volunteer Infantry and served for three years. Afterward he enrolled at Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Iowa, where he completed two or three terms before taking a job as a schoolteacher. While teaching he read law and was admitted to the bar in 1869. From 1869 until 1884 Allen practiced law in Fayette and Ackley, Iowa....

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Allison, William Boyd (02 March 1829–04 August 1908), U.S. senator, was born near Ashland, Ohio, the son of John Allison and Margaret Williams, farmers. After one year at Allegheny College, he taught in a country school for two years, earning enough money to enter Western Reserve College in 1850. Again he left college after only a year’s residence and returned home to read law. In 1852 he opened a law office in Ashland, where over the next four years he entered into three different partnerships, none of which was successful. In 1854 he married Anna Carter, the daughter of the most prosperous farmer in the county. They had no children....

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Adalbert Ames. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1728).

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Ames, Adelbert (31 October 1835–13 April 1933), soldier and politician, was born in Rockland, Maine, the son of Jesse Ames, a sea captain, and Martha B. Tolman. After spending some time at sea as a teenager, Ames entered the U.S. Military Academy, graduating in 1861. He was commissioned a second lieutenant and assigned to the Fifth Artillery. During the Civil War he was wounded at First Bull Run (First Manassas) on 21 July, and he later received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism there in refusing to leave his post despite the wound. He served with the Army of the Potomac during the Peninsula campaign of 1862, and for his actions at Malvern Hill he was brevetted lieutenant colonel. On 8 August 1862 he was named colonel in command of the Twentieth Maine Volunteer Infantry, with ...

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Anderson, Clinton Presba (23 October 1895–11 November 1975), secretary of agriculture and U.S. senator, was born in Centerville, South Dakota, the son of Andrew Jay Anderson and Hattie Belle Presba, farmers. His childhood was spent in Mitchell, South Dakota, where his family had to work hard to make a living from the stubborn land. The experience made his father an activist in Populist party politics. This childhood and his struggle for health as a young adult made Anderson sensitive to the varied hardships faced by many people. In 1915, after two years at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, Anderson transferred to the University of Michigan. At Ann Arbor, Anderson was a successful student editor of the school newspaper while he worked at several odd jobs. When his father suffered a major injury, Anderson returned to Mitchell. He never completed his college degree....

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Anderson, Joseph Inslee (05 November 1757–17 April 1837), jurist, U.S. senator, and Treasury official, was born near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of William Anderson and Elizabeth Inslee (occupations unknown). When not yet twenty, Anderson enlisted in the Continental army as a private and rose to the rank of major by the war’s end. He was regimental paymaster during much of the war, and his experience in that capacity served him well in positions he held later. He was with ...

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Anthony, Henry Bowen (01 April 1815–02 September 1884), newspaper editor and U.S. senator, was born in Coventry, Rhode Island, the son of William Anthony, a cotton manufacturer, and Mary Kinnicutt Greene. Preparatory school in Providence preceded Anthony’s entrance into Brown University. He graduated in 1833, fifth in a class of twenty. His lifelong regard for literature and Brown University culminated in the bequest of an exceptional collection of poetry volumes....

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Ashurst, Henry Fountain (13 September 1874–31 May 1962), U.S. senator, was born in Winnemucca, Nevada, the son of William Henry Ashurst, a sheep rancher, and Sarah Elizabeth Bogard. In 1875 he moved with his family to northwestern Arizona and in 1877 settled in the vicinity of present-day Flagstaff. The second of ten children, Henry dropped out of school at age thirteen to work for his father as a cowboy, and at nineteen he took a job as a jailer in Flagstaff. While working as a jailer, he developed his interest in oratory and law by reading Sir William Blackstone’s ...

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David Rice Atchison. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109952).

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Atchison, David Rice (11 August 1807–26 January 1886), lawyer and U.S. senator, was born in Frogtown, in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky, the son of William Atchison and Catherine Allen, farmers. Educated at Transylvania University, he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1827. After practicing for three years in Carlisle, Kentucky, he moved to Liberty in western Missouri....

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Atherton, Charles Gordon (04 July 1804–15 November 1853), U.S. representative and senator, was born in Amherst, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, the son of Charles Humphrey Atherton, a politician and lawyer, and Mary Ann Toppan. Atherton graduated in 1822 from Harvard College, where he received a classical education, and he then studied law under the tutelage of his father, a former Federalist politician and one of the most distinguished attorneys in the state. The bar admitted Atherton in 1825, and he established practice in Dunstable (now Nashua). He continued to practice law for the rest of his life. He married Ann (Nancy) Barnard Clark in 1828; they had no children....