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Allen, Henry Watkins (29 April 1820–22 April 1866), Confederate soldier and governor of Louisiana, was born in Prince Edward County, Virginia, the son of Thomas Allen, a physician, and Ann Watkins. Allen and his family moved from Virginia to Ray County, Missouri, when he was thirteen. His father secured him a position working in a store, but Allen found business distasteful and enrolled in Marion College at age fifteen. At seventeen he ran away from college and traveled to Grand Gulf, Mississippi, where he became a tutor on a plantation a few miles outside of town. After tutoring for two years, Allen moved to Grand Gulf to open his own school and to study law. On 25 May 1841 he received his license to practice law in Mississippi. In 1842, when Allen was becoming an established lawyer in Mississippi, President ...

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B. Gratz Brown. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-90757).

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Brown, Benjamin Gratz (28 May 1826–13 December 1885), U.S. senator and governor of Missouri, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, the son of Mason Brown, a lawyer, and Judith Bledsoe. He was educated at Transylvania and Yale Universities, graduating from the latter in 1847. He then earned a degree from Louisville Law School. Upon being admitted to the bar in the fall of 1849, he moved to St. Louis to join his cousins ...

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Carroll, William (03 March 1788–22 March 1844), soldier, businessman and governor of Tennessee, was born near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas Carroll, a farmer and businessman, and Mary Montgomery. Although his formal education was meager, his letters, papers, and public documents exhibit an unusual clarity of thought and facility of expression. His father formed a partnership with ...

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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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Clark, John (28 February 1766–12 October 1832), governor of Georgia, was born in Edgecombe County, North Carolina, the son of Elijah Clarke and Hanna Arrington, farmers. He enjoyed only brief formal education. He was not yet in his teens when his family settled in the Georgia back country above Augusta. The American Revolution broke out soon after they arrived, and Clark’s father became one of the Whig leaders. Though still a boy, John Clark, who at some point dropped the “e” from his name, joined his father’s unit and fought with it at the battle of Kettle Creek and other engagements during the last years of the war. By the end of the conflict he had risen to the rank of captain. Clark continued in the military service of the state and was involved in the fighting between Georgians and the Creek Indians that followed American independence. By 1796 Clark had reached the rank of major general in the Georgia militia. He also farmed, speculated in land, and held political office....

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Henry S. Foote. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-110163).

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Foote, Henry Stuart (28 February 1804–20 May 1880), U.S. senator and governor of Mississippi, was born in Fauquier County, Virginia, the son of Richard Helm Foote and Jane Stuart. After graduating from Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) in 1819, he was admitted to the bar in Richmond in 1823. Soon, he moved to Tuscumbia, Alabama, for a few years, where he edited a Democratic newspaper, and then to Mississippi, where he quickly became one of the leading criminal lawyers in the state....

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Gist, William Henry (20 August 1809–30 September 1874), governor of South Carolina, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Frances Fincher Gist, a planter. His mother’s name is unknown. As a young child Gist moved with his parents to Union District, South Carolina. He attended South Carolina College, a center of southern rights doctrine during the 1820s, but left in his senior year. He later studied law and was admitted to the bar, deciding soon after to supervise the substantial plantation of his family. Gist married Louisa Bowen in 1828. After Louisa’s death, Gist married Mary Rice in 1832. He fathered twelve children. As a young man Gist killed Samuel Fair in a duel....

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Hamilton, James, Jr. (08 May 1786–15 November 1857), congressman and governor of South Carolina, was born near Charleston, South Carolina, the son of James Hamilton, a rice planter and formerly an aide to George Washington, and Elizabeth Lynch, whose brother Thomas Lynch had signed the Declaration of Independence. He was educated in Newport, Rhode Island, and Dedham, Massachusetts, and then read law in Charleston. Admitted to the bar in 1810, he established a practice with ...

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James Jackson. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-94984 ).

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Jackson, James (21 September 1757–19 March 1806), congressman, U.S. senator, and governor of Georgia, was born in Moreton Hampstead, Devonshire, England, the son of James Jackson, Sr., and Mary Webber, about whom nothing is known. At age fifteen he immigrated alone to Savannah, Georgia, where lawyer John Wereat took him in. Young Jackson received no formal education, but within the next few years the American Revolution transformed and gave focus to his life. In 1777 he was a delegate to the Georgia Constitutional Convention. More notably, he served in the state militia, fought in numerous engagements, including Cowpens in 1781, and became a major general in 1792. For his leadership of the patriot forces that repossessed Savannah after the British departure in July 1782, the assembly awarded him a house and lot in the town. In 1785 he married Mary Charlotte Young; they had five sons. By 1796 Jackson’s estate had grown to include several thousand acres of rice and cotton producing lands, including 4,594 acres from grants made to him by Georgia governors in recognition of war service. Showing little interest in selling this domain, he apparently was immune from the land speculation fever of his day. After studying with ...

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McDuffie, George (10 August 1790–11 March 1851), U.S. senator, congressman, and governor of South Carolina, was born in Columbia County, Georgia, the son of John McDuffie and Jane (maiden name unknown). His parents were poor Scottish immigrants, and he was put to work early on farms and in stores. While employed as a store clerk in Augusta, Georgia, he caught the eye of store-owner James Calhoun, brother of ...

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Mitchell, David Brydie (22 October 1766–22 April 1837), governor of Georgia and U.S. Indian agent, was born near Muthill, Perthshire, Scotland, the son of John Mitchell; his mother’s name is unknown. He originally came to the United States in 1783 to claim a Georgia estate left to him under the terms of an uncle’s will. On 19 January 1792 he married Jane Mills, with whom he had four known children. Mitchell read law in the Savannah office of William Stephens, at which time he also served as a clerk for the committee to revise the state criminal code. This experience led to his election as state attorney general in 1795 as a Democratic-Republican. In 1796 Mitchell was elected to the first of two consecutive terms as a representative in the Georgia General Assembly, where he became known for his opposition to the fraudulent Yazoo land sales. From 1798 to 1801 he served as the eastern district judge in the state superior court, after which he was elected mayor of Savannah. His popularity and legal skills led to his appointment as U.S. attorney general for Georgia in the following year, a post he held until his selection as major general of the state militia in 1804....

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Moore, Gabriel (1785?–06 August 1844), U.S. representative and senator, Alabama governor, was born in Stokes County, North Carolina, the son of Matthew Moore, a farmer and iron worker, and Letitia Dalton. He received his education and studied law in North Carolina. By 1810 he migrated to Huntsville, Madison County, Mississippi Territory, to open a law practice and entered public service soon thereafter, first holding the position of assessor and collector of taxes for Madison County, then the most populous county in the area that ultimately became Alabama. He represented Madison County in the House of Representatives of the Mississippi Territorial Legislature from 1811 to 1817, serving as its speaker from 1815 to 1817. After Alabama became a separate territory, Moore represented Madison County in the House of Representatives of the Alabama Territorial Legislature, serving as speaker for the first session in January and February 1818. However, he did not serve as speaker for the second session in November 1818. During that session, the legislature granted his wife, whom he had married earlier that year, a divorce from him and granted her petition to resume using her maiden name of Mary Parham Caller. Soon afterward, Moore wounded his former wife’s brother in a pistol duel....

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Perry, Benjamin Franklin (20 November 1805–03 December 1886), journalist and governor, was born in Pendleton District, South Carolina, the son of Benjamin Perry, a slaveowning farmer and storekeeper, and Anna Foster. Perry received his early education at local schools. In 1821–1822 he attended the Asheville (N.C.) Academy, and in 1823 he attended the Greenville (S.C.) Academy. The following year Perry began the study of law in the office of Baylis J. Earle, solicitor of the Western Circuit of South Carolina, and in 1827 he was admitted to the bar. Perry resided at Greenville and developed a successful practice throughout the northwestern part of the state. In 1837 he married Elizabeth Frances McCall; they had seven children....

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Pierce, Benjamin (25 December 1757–01 April 1839), governor of New Hampshire, was born at Chelmsford in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, the son of Elizabeth Merrill and Benjamin Pierce, farmers. His father died when young Benjamin was six years old, leaving the boy to be raised by his uncle, Robert Pierce, also a Chelmsford farmer. He received little formal education; he attended school for three or four weeks annually for several years and learned to read and write, but he never progressed beyond grammar school. He studied mathematics while he was a soldier in the Revolution, however, and throughout his adult life he endeavored to improve himself through a regimen of self-study. This enabled him, when he later held public office, to write letters and produce state papers that were reasonably literate....

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Henry Alexander Wise. Engraving by Adam B. Walter. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-89802).

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Wise, Henry Alexander (03 December 1806–12 September 1876), congressman, governor, and Confederate general, was born on Virginia’s Eastern Shore in Drummondtown (now Accomac), the son of John Wise, a Federalist lawyer and legislator, and Sarah Corbin Cropper. Orphaned in 1812–1813, he was raised by relatives and had few resources other than a small inheritance. He received only a meager education until his admission in 1822 to Washington College (now Washington and Jefferson College) in Pennsylvania, where he graduated with first honors in 1825. He attended Chancellor ...