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Abernethy, George (07 October 1807–02 May 1877), businessman and provisional governor of Oregon, was born in New York City, the son of William Abernethy, a shoemaker; the name of his mother is unknown. He attended school in New York. In 1830 he married Anne Cope, with whom he would have two children. As a young man, he entered a mercantile business and continued in it until his firm failed in the panic of 1837, an event that ruined him financially. He sold his property in Brooklyn, New York, and repaid his debts....

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Blount, William (26 March 1749–21 March 1800), territorial governor and U.S. senator, was born in Bertie County, North Carolina, the son of Jacob Blount, a landowner, and Barbara Gray. While probably not formally schooled, he displayed a keen interest in the promotion of education throughout his career. Blount married Mary Grainger (known as “Molsey”) in 1778; they had eight children....

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Branch, John, Jr. (04 November 1782–04 January 1863), governor of North Carolina and Florida Territory, U.S. senator, and secretary of the navy, was born in the borough of Halifax, North Carolina, the son of prominent and wealthy parents, John Branch, Sr., and Rebecca Bradford. The senior Branch was a large landowner and revolutionary patriot who, as high sheriff, gained a reputation for identifying Tories. He represented Halifax County in four sessions of the House of Commons in the 1780s. The well-born Bradford was a daughter of Colonel John Bradford (d. 1787). Young Branch assumed the patrician inclinations of his parents. After receiving an A.B. from the University of North Carolina in 1801, he read law under the supervision of Judge ...

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Call, Richard Keith (24 October 1792–14 September 1862), territorial governor of Florida, (1836–1839, 1841–1844), was born in Prince George County, Virginia, the son of William Call and Helen Meade Walker, farmers. Upon the death of William, Helen moved her family to Kentucky. For two years Richard Call attended Mount Pleasant Academy near Clarksville, Tennessee....

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Campbell, John Allen (08 October 1835–14 July 1880), Wyoming's first territorial governor, Wyoming’s first territorial governor, was born in Salem, Columbiana County, Ohio. Little is known about Campbell’s parents. After attending public schools, he entered the newspaper profession, and by the beginning of the Civil War he was an editorial writer for the ...

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Chambers, John (06 October 1780–21 September 1852), U.S. congressman and territorial governor, was born at Bromley Bridge in Somerset County, New Jersey, the son of Rowland Chambers, a farmer and storekeeper, and Phoebe Mullican. After the Revolution, Chambers’s family suffered economic reverses and moved to Kentucky. Aged fourteen and barely literate, he found a job as a clerk. Supported by his brother William, John spent four months at Transylvania University in Lexington, leaving in the summer of 1795 to resume his position in the store. Two years later he apprenticed himself to the clerk of the county court. He read law in his spare time and gained admittance to the Kentucky bar in 1800. In his rise from store clerk to attorney, he followed the pattern of many ambitious young men on the frontier....

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Claiborne, William Charles Coles (1775–23 November 1817), frontier politician, was born in Sussex County, Virginia, the son of William Claiborne, a small landowner, and Mary Leigh. He attended Richmond Academy and studied briefly at the College of William and Mary until financial difficulties ended his formal instruction at age fifteen. ...

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William Clark. Reproduction of a watercolor based on a painting by Charles Willson Peale. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-10609).

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Clark, William (01 August 1770–01 September 1838), explorer, Indian agent, and governor of Missouri Territory, was born in Caroline County, Virginia, the son of John Clark III, a planter, and Ann Rogers. Although he was informally educated, Clark acquired the refinement and intellectual development usually reserved for those who had been exposed to formal study. His family noted of him that at a young age he demonstrated leadership skills as well as an intellectual curiosity about the natural phenomena of his native Virginia....

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Colton, George Radcliffe (10 April 1865–06 April 1916), American colonial administrator, banker, and customs specialist, was born in Galesburg, Illinois, the son of Francis Colton and Frances A. Garey. Nothing is known about his parents’ occupations. At seventeen Colton moved west to work on a New Mexico cattle ranch for five years before he entered the banking business in David City, Nebraska, as cashier, manager, and subsequently vice president of the Central Nebraska National Bank. He entered Republican politics in 1889 when he served one term in the Nebraska state legislature. He married Jessie T. McLeod in the same year; they had two children. In 1897 he was a Nebraska state bank examiner and an active member of the National Guard. When the Spanish-American War of 1898 began, Colton helped organize the First Regiment of Nebraska Volunteer Infantry. As lieutenant colonel he served with his regiment in the Philippines. When the war ended President ...

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Connelly, Henry (01 September 1800–12 August 1866), territorial governor of New Mexico, was born in Fairfax County, Virginia, the son of John Donaldson Connelly and Frances Brent. In 1804 his family moved to Kentucky, where he studied to become a physician. Although several historians have claimed that he graduated from the medical department at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, that institution has no record of his attendance. In the early 1820s he moved to Liberty, Missouri, and practiced medicine there. Connelly joined a trade caravan to the Mexican province of New Mexico in 1824, traveling over the Santa Fe Trail, and ultimately abandoned the medical profession for the career of an overland merchant....

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Crosby, John Schuyler (19 September 1839–08 August 1914), military officer and government official, was born in Albany County, New York, the son of Clarkson Floyd Crosby, who was independently wealthy, and Angelica Schuyler. Crosby attended the University of the City of New York in 1855–1856 but left for a grand tour of the Far East and South America. In 1863 he married Harriet Van Rensselaer; they had two children....

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Cumming, Alfred (04 September 1802–09 October 1873), territorial governor of Utah, was born in Augusta, Georgia, the son of Thomas Cumming, a politically prominent Georgian, and Ann Clay, a Georgia socialite. Originally making their home in Savannah, Thomas and Ann later moved to Augusta, where they became prominent landowners, merchants, bankers, railroad builders, and developers. Thomas was the first intendant (mayor) of Augusta after it was incorporated in 1798. Alfred’s older brother William was a major (later colonel) in the War of 1812. In 1835, while studying in Boston, Alfred married Elizabeth Wells Randall, a great-granddaughter of patriot ...

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Denver, James William (23 October 1817–09 August 1892), soldier, governor of Kansas Territory, and lawyer, was born near Winchester, Virginia, the son of Patrick Denver and Jane Campbell, farmers of Irish extraction. In 1831 his family migrated to a farm near Wilmington, Ohio. After a grade school education, James taught briefly at Platte City, Missouri, graduated from Cincinnati College (now the University of Cincinnati) in 1844, and was admitted to the bar. He opened a newspaper and law office in Xenia, Ohio, but after less than a year, in 1845, returned to Platte City, where he continued to practice both professions. After the outbreak of the Mexican War on 4 March 1847, Denver was appointed captain in the Twelfth Regiment, U.S. Volunteers, commanding a company he had raised, and was ordered to Mexico. Sick much of the time, he was ordered home on 26 October 1847....

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Dodge, Henry (12 October 1782–19 June 1867), soldier, governor of Wisconsin Territory, and U.S. senator, was born at Post Vincennes (now Vincennes), Indiana, the son of Israel Dodge, a farmer and businessman, and Nancy Ann Hunter. His father moved the family to Kentucky and then to Ste. Genevieve on the Missouri frontier in 1796. By the time Henry was born his father had become a wealthy landowner. Henry had little formal education, but worked on his father’s farms and in his mills, distilleries, and mines. In 1800 Henry Dodge married Christina McDonald; they had thirteen children, but only nine survived infancy. He succeeded his father as sheriff of the Ste. Genevieve district in 1805....

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Dole, Sanford Ballard (23 April 1844–09 June 1926), president of the Republic of Hawaii and governor of the territory of Hawaii, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, the son of Daniel Dole and Emily Hoyt Ballard, Congregational missionaries to the islands who superintended Punahou School. His father also served as pastor at the Seamen’s Bethel in Honolulu. His mother died when Dole was four days old, and he was cared for by other missionary families, first the Chamberlains and then the Bishops, until 1846, when his father married Charlotte Knapp, who raised him as her own son. Dole attended Punahou School, then spent his senior year (1866–1867) at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Upon graduation he studied law for a year in Boston. On 10 September 1868 he passed the bar examination and was admitted to practice law in Suffolk County. “I look upon law,” Dole wrote to his parents, “as a possible stepping stone to influence and power in Government, where they need good men, and where a good man could, I think, do more for the nation, for morality and justice, than preaching to the natives.” He returned to Hawaii to open his law practice. In 1873 he married Anna Prentice Cate. They built a home on Emma Street in Honolulu and attended the Fort Street Church. Along with law, Dole continued numerous hobbies, from bird watching to yacht racing....

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DuVal, William Pope (1784–19 March 1854), Kentucky congressman and territorial governor of Florida, was born in Henrico County, Virginia, the son of William DuVal and Ann Pope, farmers. While a teenager, he moved to Kentucky with a brother and lived the life of a frontiersman for several years. Desiring to better himself, he settled in Bardstown and read law with a friend of his father. After admission to the bar in 1804, he married Nancy Hynes. The couple had eight children....

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Eaton, John Henry (18 June 1790–17 November 1856), politician and diplomat, was born in Halifax County, North Carolina, the son of John Eaton, a carriage maker and state assemblyman, and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). Eaton attended the University of North Carolina in 1803–1804 and then studied law. Circa 1809 he moved to Franklin, Tennessee, where he inherited nearly 5,000 acres of land from his father and became a prosperous planter and lawyer. He married Myra Lewis, a ward of ...

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Edgerton, Sidney (17 August 1818–19 July 1900), congressman and first territorial governor of Montana, was born in Cazenovia, New York, the son of Amos Edgerton, a schoolteacher, and Zerviah Graham. When Edgerton was just six months old, his father died, leaving the family in a difficult financial situation. At the age of eight, Edgerton was forced to leave home to obtain an education and to support himself with the assistance of other relatives. He taught school for several years in New York State and in 1844 moved to Akron, Ohio, where he immediately began to study law under the tutelage of Rufus P. Spaulding, a respected Akron lawyer. While training with Spaulding, Edgerton spent a short time teaching at an academy in nearby Tallmadge....

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Edwards, Ninian (17 March 1775–20 July 1833), U.S. senator and governor of Illinois, was born on the family farm, “Mount Pleasant,” in Montgomery County, Maryland, the son of Benjamin Edwards, a farmer, merchant, and prominent politician, and Margaret Beall. As a boy, Ninian received instruction from private tutors in preparation for formal schooling at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Upon graduation in 1792 he took up law and, after moving with his parents in 1795 to Bardstown, Kentucky, was elected to the Kentucky legislature at age twenty. He also won election as a presidential elector on the Jefferson/Clinton ticket in 1804....