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McKean, Thomas (19 March 1734–24 June 1817), statesman, jurist, and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the son of William McKean, an innkeeper and farmer, and Letitia Finney. He studied at Francis Alison’s New London Academy (1742–1750), then left to study law (1750–1754) with his cousin David Finney of New Castle, Delaware. He joined the Delaware bar in 1754 and expanded his practice into Pennsylvania (1755) and New Jersey (1765). Following his admittance to practice before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 1757, he gained admission to the Society of the Middle Temple in London as a specialiter, which permitted him to earn certification in 1758 as a barrister without attending....

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Sharkey, William Lewis (12 July 1798–30 March 1873), Mississippi chief justice and politician, was born near Muscle Shoals in Holston Valley, East Tennessee, the son of Patrick Sharkey, a farmer, and his wife, the daughter of Robert Rhodes, a frontiersman. At the age of six he moved with his family to a Warren County, Mississippi, farm. His parents died during his youth, after which he took over the responsibility of providing for himself and his orphaned brothers. He joined the American forces during the War of 1812 and served under ...