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Egan, Patrick (13 August 1841–30 September 1919), Irish nationalist and U.S. minister to Chile, was born at Ballymahon, County Longford, Ireland, the son of Francis Egan, a civil engineer. (His mother’s identity is unknown.) As a young man in Dublin, Egan prospered in the grain, milling, and bakery businesses and from boyhood devoted great effort to Irish independence. He became prominent in nationalist organizations, including the Fenian Brotherhood. When he was prosecuted by the British government in 1880 for sedition and conspiracy, he fled first to Paris where he continued his political activities and then to the United States. In 1883 he settled in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he rebuilt his finances, dealing in grain, woolen mills, and real estate. Egan became an American citizen in 1888 but never slackened in defense of the cause of home rule for Ireland. He was active in Irish-American nationalist organizations, serving as president of the Irish National League of America (1884–1886). His wife, whose identity is not known, bore him at least fourteen children....

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Henry P. Fletcher. [left to right] Frank Kellogg, Warren G. Harding, Chick Evans, and Henry P. Fletcher. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-96909).

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Fletcher, Henry Prather (10 April 1873–10 July 1959), diplomat and Republican party leader, was born in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, the son of Lewis Henry Clay Fletcher, a bank cashier, and Martha Ellen Rowe. Fletcher’s mother died prematurely in 1882, leaving his father to raise eight children alone. Two years later his father accepted an auditor’s position with the Cumberland Railroad, and the family moved to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. After graduating from a nearby private academy, Fletcher served as district court reporter and read law with his uncle, D. Watson Rowe. He passed the bar examination in 1894 and subsequently formed a law partnership with his uncle and became active in the local Republican party. Later, Fletcher would perceive his lack of a college education as a personal shortcoming, despite receiving honorary law degrees from several institutions....

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MacVeagh, Isaac Wayne (19 April 1833–11 January 1917), lawyer, diplomat, and political reformer, was born near Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, the son of Major John MacVeagh and Margaret Lincoln, hotelkeepers. Margaret was a relative of Abraham Lincoln. Isaac, known as Wayne, attended Freeland Seminary (later Ursinus College) for two years before entering the junior class at Yale College, graduating in 1853. In 1856 he married Letitia Minor Lewis, who died in 1862. The couple had three children, one of whom died in infancy. In 1866 MacVeagh married Virginia Rollette Cameron, daughter of ...

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Raymond Robins Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-114893).

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Robins, Raymond (17 September 1873–26 September 1954), social reformer, politician, and diplomat, was born on Staten Island, New York, the son of Charles Ephraim Robins, a businessman, and his second wife, Hannah Mariah Crow. After his father went bankrupt and moved to Colorado to mine for metals and his mother went into a mental asylum, Raymond grew up with relatives in Zanesville, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; and Brooksville, Florida. In the early 1890s Robins took coal mining jobs in Coal Creek, Tennessee, and in Leadville, Colorado. In 1893 he took a position as manager of a Florida phosphate company, where he became interested in phosphate mining and discovered a rich deposit of kaolin clay, used for porcelain production. He purchased land options worth $10,000 at once, but he sold the property to a New York company for $3,000 in 1893. The company’s lawyer, by using his knowledge and legal skills, outmaneuvered Robins, who, as a result, had to absorb a severe financial loss on what had looked like a sound investment. This experience convinced him to study law. Working as a lawyer, Robins felt, suited both his personal temperament and his social and political inclinations. In 1896 he graduated with a law degree from Columbian University (now George Washington University). He moved to San Francisco, where he was admitted to the bar in 1896....