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Fisher Ames. Oil on wood, c. 1807, by Gilbert Stuart. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of George Cabot Lodge.

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Ames, Fisher (09 April 1758–04 July 1808), Federalist party leader, member of Congress, essayist, and renowned orator, was born in Dedham, Massachusetts, the son of Nathaniel Ames, Sr., a physician, tavern keeper, and almanac writer, and Deborah Fisher. Intellectually honed, Ames was admitted to Harvard at twelve. Steeped in the classics, he excelled in elocution and participated in a debating club, the Institute of 1770. Graduating in 1774, he served with the Dedham militia at the time of the battle of Bunker Hill but did not see combat. At home he pursued his scholarly interests, reading widely in classical literature and history. He also occasionally taught school. Under the tutelage of the prominent ...

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Simmons, Roscoe Conkling Murray (20 June 1878–27 April 1951), orator, politician, and writer, was born in Greenview, Mississippi, the son of Emory Simmons, a principal of a black school in Hollandale, Mississippi, and Willie Murray. He grew up in Aberdeen, Mississippi, and worked for a time as Ohio senator ...

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Smith, Gerald Lyman Kenneth (27 February 1898–15 April 1976), minister, publisher, and political crusader, was born in Pardeeville, Wisconsin, the son of Lyman Z. Smith, a farmer and traveling salesman, and Sarah Henthorn, a schoolteacher. Raised in poverty in small towns in Wisconsin, Smith graduated from Viroqua High School, where he won prizes for track and oratory....

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Tanner, James R. (4 Apr. 1844–2 Oct. 1927), Civil War veteran, public speaker, and activist for veterans’ causes and the Republican Party, was born James R. Tanner (there is no record of his actual middle name) in Richmondville, Schoharie County, New York, the son of Josiah and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown) Tanner. After receiving a somewhat better than average education, as a teenager he was a county schoolteacher for a time. Despite his father’s initial opposition, “Jimmie” fought in the Civil War, joining the Eighty-Seventh New York Infantry regiment at the age of seventeen in fall ...