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Cornell, Alonzo Barton (22 January 1832–15 October 1904), businessman and governor of New York, was born in Ithaca, New York, the son of Ezra Cornell, the capitalist and founder of Cornell University, and Mary Ann Wood. At the age of fifteen Cornell withdrew from the Ithaca Academy, left home, and moved to Troy, New York, where he worked as a telegrapher. From there he moved to Montreal, Quebec, then to Buffalo, New York, and Cleveland, Ohio, to take various managerial jobs with telegraph companies. In 1851 Cornell returned to Ithaca, where he worked as an officer of the Tompkins County Bank. The following year he married Elen Augusta Covert. In 1855 he moved to New York City to take a job as a telegraph manager on Wall Street....

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Gardiner Greene Hubbard Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-105888).

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Hubbard, Gardiner Greene (25 August 1822–11 December 1897), businessman and civic leader, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Hubbard, a justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, and Mary Anne Greene. Hubbard was named for his mother’s father, who had come, modestly wealthy, from Ireland and had become one of the richest men in Boston. After Hubbard’s graduation from Dartmouth in 1841, he studied law for a year at Harvard before entering a prominent Boston firm. He married Gertrude McCurdy in 1846 and moved with her to Cambridge. Of their six children, two died in infancy....

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Amos Kendall. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109899).

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Kendall, Amos (16 August 1789–12 November 1869), journalist, postmaster general, and business agent, was born in Dunstable, Massachusetts, the son of Zebedee Kendall and Molly Dakin, farmers. Kendall spent his early years working on the family farm under the supervision of his father, a deacon in the Congregational church. After attending academies in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, and Groton, Massachusetts, he enrolled in 1807 at Dartmouth College. Frail and unaccustomed to independence, Kendall had difficulty adjusting to college life, especially because many of his classmates had moral standards much less strict than his own and because he had to drop out each winter to earn money by teaching school. But he adapted, made friends, and was so intelligent and hardworking that when he graduated in 1811 he ranked first in his class. Uncertain about his future, he spent the next few years in Groton studying law under Republican congressman William M. Richardson, who later became chief justice of the New Hampshire Superior Court....

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Vail, Theodore Newton (16 July 1845–16 April 1920), business leader, was born near Minerva, in Carroll County, Ohio, the son of Davis Vail, a farmer and iron manufacturer, and Phebe Quinby. Vail grew up in Morristown, New Jersey, where his father oversaw the Speedwell Ironworks, a family concern. Vail obtained a high school education at the Morristown Academy and, after working briefly as a drugstore clerk, moved to New York City, where he secured a job through a friend as a telegraph operator for Western Union. Telegraphy was something of a family tradition, since Vail’s cousin Alfred had worked closely with ...