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Adams, Henry Cullen (28 November 1850–09 July 1906), legislator and public servant, was born in Verona, Oneida County, New York, the son of Benjamin Franklin Adams, a professor of classical languages at Hamilton College, and Caroline Shepard. His parents moved to southern Wisconsin before the Civil War, and young Henry grew up on a farm, acquiring an attachment to agriculture that would permeate the remainder of his life. He was educated in country schools, at Albion College, and then spent three years during the 1870s at the University of Wisconsin, but fragile health forced him to quit before earning a degree. Adams returned to his father’s farm near Madison and in 1878 married Anne Burkley Norton, with whom he had four children....

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Anderson, Charles William (28 April 1866–28 January 1938), politician and public official, was born in Oxford, Ohio, the son of Charles W. Anderson and Serena (maiden name unknown). After a public school education in his hometown and in Middletown, Ohio, he studied at Spencerian Business College in Cleveland and the Berlitz School of Languages in Worcester, Massachusetts. His schooling continued informally, as Anderson matured into an intellectually accomplished and engaging man. His friend ...

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Austin, Jonathan Loring (02 January 1748–10 May 1826), government agent and state official, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Benjamin Austin, a merchant and politician, and Elizabeth Waldo. Austin graduated from Harvard College in 1766 and soon began a merchant career in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and neighboring Kittery, Maine....

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Cardozo, Francis Louis (01 February 1837–22 July 1903), minister, educator, and politician, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of a free black woman (name unknown) and a Jewish father. It is uncertain whether Cardozo’s father was Jacob N. Cardozo, the prominent economist and editor of an “ardently anti-nullification newspaper in Charleston during the 1830s” (Williamson, p. 210), or his lesser-known brother, Isaac Cardozo, a weigher in the city’s customhouse. Born free at a time when slavery dominated southern life, Cardozo enjoyed a childhood of relative privilege among Charleston’s antebellum free black community. Between the ages of five and twelve he attended a school for free blacks, then he spent five years as a carpenter’s apprentice and four more as a journeyman. In 1858 Cardozo used his savings to travel to Scotland, where he studied at the University of Glasgow, graduating with distinction in 1861. As the Civil War erupted at home, he remained in Europe to study at the London School of Theology and at a Presbyterian seminary in Edinburgh....

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Cheatham, Henry Plummer (27 December 1857–29 November 1935), congressman and public official, was born near Henderson, Granville (now Vance) County, North Carolina, the son of a house slave about whom little is known. He attended local public schools and worked on farms during the 1860s and 1870s before graduating with honors from Shaw University in 1882. He became principal of the Plymouth Normal School for Negroes, a state-supported institution, and held this position from 1882 until 1884. He returned to Henderson and, after the retirement of the white Republican incumbent, won election as Vance County registrar of deeds, serving in this capacity from 1885 to 1888. During this time he also studied law, though he never established a practice....

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Daniel, Peter Vivian (24 April 1784–31 May 1860), lawyer, state official, and associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was born at “Crow’s Nest,” in Stafford County, Virginia, the son of Travers Daniel, a planter, and Frances Moncure. His ancestors settled in Virginia early in the seventeenth century and founded a prominent gentry family. Daniel attended the College of New Jersey at Princeton for a time, but left in 1805 to read law in Richmond with ...

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Eastman, Joseph Bartlett (26 June 1882–15 March 1944), state and national regulator of business, was born in Katonah, New York, the son of John Huse Eastman, a Presbyterian minister, and Lucy King. He lived in Westchester County until he was fourteen, when his father moved the family to Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Eastman absorbed from his family experience the Puritan values, as his biographer described them, “of plain living and high thinking, simplicity, conscientiousness, and devotion to duty.” Reflecting an independence of thought that permeated his life, Eastman never practiced a formal religion. Never married, he lived with his older sister, Elizabeth, and devoted his energies to public service....

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Forbes, Stephen Alfred (29 May 1844–13 March 1930), ecologist, state entomologist of Illinois, and chief of the Illinois Natural History Survey, was born in a log cabin in Silver Creek, Illinois, the son of Isaac Forbes, a farmer, and Agnes Van Hoesen. While enduring economic hardships common to pioneer families on the prairies, the Forbes family suffered further misfortune when Stephen was ten. With his mother already in poor health, Stephen’s father died, forcing older brother Henry to assume responsibility for the farm and the rearing of Stephen and his younger sister, Nettie. Stephen attended the district school until he was fourteen, studied under Henry’s instruction for two years, and briefly attended a college preparatory school until the family ran out of financial resources....

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Gibson, Mary Simons (1855?–11 September 1930), reformer and California state commissioner, was born in the Santa Clara valley, California, the daughter of Solon Simons, a commercial merchant from Maine, and Aurilla K. (maiden name unknown). She was educated in the county public schools and taught school there before moving to Los Angeles in 1878....

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Gilman, John Taylor (19 December 1753–31 August 1828), merchant, treasurer, and governor of New Hampshire, was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, the son of Nicholas Gilman, a shipbuilder, merchant, and state treasurer, and Ann Taylor. Following his education in the local schools, Gilman learned the businesses of shipbuilding and finance from his father. Throughout his life he resided in Exeter; there he married Deborah Folsom in 1776, and the couple would have three children....

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David McMurtrie Gregg. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1756).

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Gregg, David McMurtrie (10 April 1833–07 August 1916), U.S. Army officer, diplomat, and Pennsylvania state official, was born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, the son of Matthew Duncan Gregg and Ellen McMurtrie (occupations unknown). He was the paternal grandson of U.S. senator Andrew Gregg and the first cousin of ...

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Harpur, Robert (25 January 1731–15 April 1825), college professor and government official, was born in Ballybay, County Monaghan, Ireland, the son of Andrew Harpur and Elizabeth Creighton, immigrants from Scotland. Raised a devout Presbyterian, Harpur graduated from Glasgow University. He intended to enter the ministry but found that he lacked the necessary oratorical skills. Harpur taught grammar school for several years in Newry, Ireland....

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Anna Arnold Hedgeman. Oil on canvas, 1945, by Betsy Graves Reyneau. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Harmon Foundation.

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Hedgeman, Anna Arnold (05 July 1899–17 January 1990), educator, policy consultant, and political activist, was born Anna Marie Arnold in Marshalltown, Iowa, the daughter and eldest child of William James Arnold II, an entrepreneur, and Marie Ellen Parker Arnold. The Arnolds subsequently moved to Anoka, Minnesota, becoming the only black family in that town. Young Anna graduated from high school in 1918 and went on to attend Hamline University in nearby Saint Paul, becoming the college's first black graduate in 1922....

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John Alexander Kennedy. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109831).

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Kennedy, John Alexander (09 August 1803–20 June 1873), immigration official and police superintendent, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of John Kennedy, a schoolmaster who, accompanied by his wife (name unknown), immigrated to the United States from the north of Ireland. After receiving a common school education, Kennedy learned the sign painter’s trade. Residence in the slave state of Maryland bred in him a hostility to slavery that was to prove lifelong. In 1925 he became secretary of the newly formed Maryland Anti-Slavery Society, but the society was soon forced to disband by mob action. At about the same time he became ...

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Parsons, Lewis Eliphalet (28 April 1817–08 June 1895), provisional governor of Alabama (1865), provisional governor of Alabama (1865), was born in Lisle, New York, the eldest son of Erastus Bellamy Parsons, a farmer and a descendant of Jonathan Edwards, and Jennett Hepburn. Educated in New York public schools, Parsons read law in New York and Philadelphia. In 1840 he moved to Talladega, Alabama, and formed a successful law partnership with Alexander White. In 1841 he married Jane Chrisman, with whom he had seven children. Active as a Whig and then as a Know-Nothing, he was a presidential elector for ...

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Pettit, Charles (1736–03 September 1806), merchant and New Jersey and Pennsylvania state official, was born near Amwell, New Jersey, the son of John Pettit, a wealthy Philadelphia import merchant and an underwriter of marine insurance. His mother’s name is unknown. Of French Huguenot stock, Charles apparently received a classical education and planned to practice law. In 1758 he married Sarah Reed, with whom he had four children. His wife’s father was Trenton merchant Andrew Reed, John Pettit’s business associate in Philadelphia, and her half-brother was ...

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Reed, John (05 June 1786–19 January 1850), legal educator, judge, and author, was born in Millerstown, Pennsylvania, the son of General William Reed, a farmer who distinguished himself during the Revolutionary War and in 1790 was a member of the convention from York County that in the same year framed the first constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. William Reed later served as a senator in the state legislature, representing York and Adams counties in 1806. The name of John Reed's mother is unknown. John Reed remained on the farm until the age of seventeen, when he was sent together with his brother William to grammar school under the care of the Reverend Mr. James Dobbin at Gettysburg. Both Reed brothers attended Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, graduating—according to college records—with the class of 1806. Then the two studied law under the supervision of William Maxwell of Gettysburg. In 1809 John Reed was admitted to the bar, and as his autobiography relates, he “settled down for practice in Greensburg, Westmoreland County” on 1 April of that year. For several years he practiced in the counties of Somerset, Indiana, Armstrong, and Westmoreland, acting as prosecuting attorney in the latter two counties....