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Brentano, Lorenz (04 November 1813–17 September 1891), German political leader, journalist, and congressman, was born in Mannheim, in the German state of Baden, the son of Peter Paul Bartholomaeus Brentano, a wholesale merchant, and Helene Haeger. He studied law at universities in Heidelberg, Freiburg, and Giessen and afterward practiced in Rastatt and Bruchsal before returning to Mannheim. In 1837 Brentano married Caroline Lentz; the fate of this union is unclear, but Brentano married a second time in later life. Elected to Baden’s chamber of deputies in 1845, Brentano fell in with a liberal faction clustered around ...

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Cortina, Juan Nepomuceno (16 May 1824–30 October 1892), revolutionary, politician, Mexican governor, and rancher, was born in Camargo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, the son of Trinidad Cortina, the town mayor and an important landowner, and María Estéfana Goseascochea. Little is known of Juan Cortina’s early life and education. Upon the death of his father in the early 1840s, his family moved to the Espíritu Santo grant, part of the area between the Nueces and Río Grande claimed by both Mexico and Texas and the future site of the city of Brownsville, Texas. This land belonged to Cortina’s mother. Cortina associated with ...

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Digges, Thomas Attwood (04 July 1742–06 December 1821), gentleman, confidential agent, ne'er-do-well, and novelist, gentleman, confidential agent, ne’er-do-well, and novelist, was born in Warburton, Maryland, the son of William Digges and Ann Attwood, the owners of “Warburton Manor.” Digges was sent abroad to be educated. Family tradition holds that he attended Oxford University, but his Catholic faith and the absence of his name in university records make this unlikely. In 1767, after being disowned by his family for reasons that are not known, Digges purportedly went to live in Portugal, where he stayed until 1773 or 1774. In a subsequent letter to ...

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Dumont, Gabriel (03 December 1837–19 May 1906), Métis leader and resistance fighter, was born at St. Boniface, in the Red River settlement in what is now Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, the son of tribal leader and buffalo hunter Isidore Dumont and grandson of the French-Canadian fur trader Jean-Baptiste Dumont, and Louise Laframboise. The Métis, classified with the First Nations and the Inuit as one of the three officially recognized aboriginal peoples of Canada, are persons of mixed Native-American and European ancestry. Ranging over the prairies of western Canada, Montana, and the Dakotas, they were highly organized hunters of buffalo, whose hides and meat they used and sold. Although like most of his tribesmen Dumont never learned to read or write, he was fluent in French and at least six Native-American languages and at the age of fifteen participated with his father in establishing a treaty between the Métis and the Sioux. He was also a courageous fighter and had fought in the defense of a Métis encampment against a Sioux attack two years earlier. In 1858 he married Madeleine Wilkie (also recorded as Welkey and Wilke), the daughter of a Scottish-Métis leader and trader and his Indian wife; the couple had no children but adopted a son and a daughter....

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Fannin, James Walker (01 January 1804–27 March 1836), Texas revolutionary leader, was the son of Dr. Isham Fannin, a Georgia planter. His mother’s identity is unknown, but apparently she was a member of the Walker family. James was adopted and raised by his maternal grandfather, James W. Walker, on a plantation near Marion, Georgia, following a dispute over his legitimacy. Little is known about Fannin’s years in Georgia....

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Fay, Jonas (28 January 1737–06 March 1818), frontier revolutionary leader, was born in Hardwick, Massachusetts, the son of Stephen Fay and Ruth Child, farmers and tavernkeepers. After serving briefly in the Seven Years’ War as a clerk, Fay trained himself in the practice of medicine. In 1766 he moved with his family to the frontier town of Bennington, where his father opened the Catamount Tavern, a famous center for radical political action. From 1750 until 1775 the Green Mountain region lay at the center of a jurisdictional conflict between New York and New Hampshire, both of which held charter rights to the area. Jonas Fay quickly became a key participant in the separatist movement seeking to negate the claims of both provinces, serving as secretary of the extralegal conventions that eventually created the state of Vermont. A member of the Green Mountain Boys, Fay was present at the capture of Fort Ticonderoga and served as a surgeon in ...

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Garza, Catarino Erasmo (25 November 1859–08 March 1895), Texas newspaper editor and Latin American revolutionary leader, nicknamed "Cato", Texas newspaper editor and Latin American revolutionary leader, nicknamed “Cato,” was born near Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, the son of Don Encarnacíon and Doña Maria Jesús Rodriquez de la Garza. Catarino was educated at Galahuises, Nuevo Leon, and became a student at San Juan College. He served in the Mexican National Guard. Partly because of his disillusionment with Porfirio Díaz’s seizure of the Mexican presidency, Garza emigrated to Brownsville, Texas, in the 1880s. There he edited ...

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Hecker, Friedrich Karl Franz (28 September 1811–24 March 1881), German revolutionary and American politician and soldier, was born in Eichtersheim, Grand Duchy of Baden, German League, the son of Joseph Hecker, a civil servant, and Wilhelmine von Lüder. Born a Catholic, he was educated at the humanistically oriented Gymnasium at Mannheim, finishing in 1830. He studied law at Heidelberg University from 1830 to 1833, taking the summer semester of 1833 at Munich before returning to Heidelberg to complete his doctorate in law in June 1834. Although Hecker underwent training to be a civil servant (including half a year studying legal procedures in Paris in 1835–1836), he entered private practice as an attorney. In 1839 he married Josephine Eisenhardt; they had nine children, five of whom survived infancy....

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Lea, Homer (17 November 1876–01 November 1912), writer, was born in Denver, Colorado, the son of Alfred Erskine Lea, a businessman, and Hersa Coberly. After his mother died in 1878, Lea was brought up in Denver by his stepmother, Emma Wilson Lea, a schoolteacher. Most of Lea’s uncles were active on the side of the Confederacy, and one, Joseph C. Lea, a captain in the Confederate army, became a founder of the New Mexico Military Academy at Rosewell. Homer Lea, proud of his family’s military background, allegedly claimed family ties to General ...

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Popé (?–1688), principal organizer of the Pueblo revolt (1680) that drove the Spanish from New Mexico for twelve years, principal organizer of the Pueblo revolt (1680) that drove the Spanish from New Mexico for twelve years, was a native of the village of San Juan. Although virtually nothing is known about Popé’s early life, emergence as an important political and religious leader marks his adulthood. Popé (the Tewa name may refer to a ripe plant) lived amid the turmoil created by Spain’s 1598 colonization of New Mexico. By 1680 many of New Mexico’s village-dwelling Pueblo farmers felt victimized by Spanish religious persecution and demands on their labor. Conditions favored the emergence of a leader like Popé, who offered a counterweight to Spanish domination. For traditional leaders, whose secular roles entwined with the religious sphere of Pueblo life, the remedy lay in emphasizing those cultural attributes that set them apart from the Spanish. Accordingly, Popé and those of like mind sought revival of the proven ways of the Pueblo past. It was as a proponent of this policy of cultural renaissance, acting in his capacity as a religious leader of shamanic proportions, that Popé attained influence....

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Rapp, Wilhelm (14 July 1827–01 March 1907), German-American leader and journalist, was born in Leonberg, Württemberg, Germany, the son of Georg Rapp, a Protestant minister, and Augusta (maiden name unknown). He studied theology, first in a seminary at Blaubeuren, then with the theological faculty at Tübingen. While a student at Tübingen, he was swept up in the revolutionary movements of 1848 in the German states. In May 1849 he was elected by the Democratic Society of Tübingen as a delegate to the revolutionary Peoples Assembly at Reutlingen. He also joined a group of students in the uprising in Baden. After this failed he fled to Switzerland, where he taught for a time in a private school in Ilanz in the canton of Graubünden. In the summer of 1850 Rapp secretly visited his family in Württemberg, whereupon he was apprehended and held for a year in the prison of Hohenasperg, near Ludwigsburg. In 1852 he followed other refugees of the 1848 revolutions to the United States....

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John Reed. Gelatin silver print, c. 1916, by Pirie MacDonald. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

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Reed, John (22 October 1887–17 October 1920), journalist and revolutionary, was born John Silas Reed in Portland, Oregon, the son of Charles Jerome Reed, a supervisor in the sale of farm equipment and later a U.S. marshal, and Margaret Green, the daughter of a wealthy capitalist. Sickened by kidney troubles, young Reed was sheltered by his mother. Having only his brother Harry as a playmate, Reed read fantasy and history books and developed an active imagination. He was healthy enough by age twelve to attend the prestigious Portland Academy, where he was a shy, mediocre student. In 1904 he enrolled in Morristown, a college preparatory school in New Jersey. There, through his pranks and charm, he became a popular rebel, writing short stories, poems, and essays for the school literary magazine....

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Sanders, George Nicholas (27 February 1812–12 August 1873), political booster and Confederate agent, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, the son of Lewis Sanders, a breeder of horses, and Ann Nicholas. Sanders’s maternal grandfather was Colonel George Nicholas, who had proposed the celebrated Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 in opposition to the Federalists’ Alien and Sedition Acts. As a youth, Sanders worked with his father raising and selling Kentucky thoroughbreds. He first spoke politically during a November 1843 mass meeting at Ghent, Kentucky, held in support of Texas annexation. He used this opportunity to begin a dialogue with various contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination to discover attitudes on the Texas issue, and he soon became acquainted with the rough and tumble world of political promotion and lobbying. In 1846 Sanders used his lobbying skills to calm Democratic critics after it was rumored that he had earned a huge commission as the agent of the Hudson’s Bay Company, seeking claims adjustments during the settlement of the Oregon country question. During the next few years he acted as an agent in a series of curious business arrangements, ranging from highly speculative Chicago real estate transactions to the provision of weapons to the French revolutionists of 1848....

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van Heijenoort, Jean (23 July 1912–30 March 1986), logician, historian, and one-time revolutionary, was born Jean Louis Maxime van Heijenoort in Creil, France, the only child of Jean (Jan) Théodore Didier van Heijenoort, an émigré from Delft, Holland, who worked as an artisan, and Charlotte Hélène Balagny, a native of the region. After his father’s death at the beginning of World War I, Jean, who was only two, lived with his aunt while his mother worked as a domestic in a hotel. He grew up next to battlefields in wartime and in harsh postwar circumstances. As an adult he spoke of the profound effects of his father’s death and the deep unhappiness of his childhood. Education was his consolation. Recognized as brilliant by his primary school teachers in Creil, van Heijenoort was encouraged to take the scholarship examinations for the district secondary school in Clermont de l’Oise. Awarded a complete scholarship, from the age of eleven to eighteen he lived as a boarding student at the Collège of Clermont. After the unusual accomplishment of a double baccalaureate in philosophy and mathematics, he went on to the prestigious Lycée Saint Louis in Paris, where he specialized in mathematics....

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Villa, Pancho (05 June 1878–20 July 1923), Mexican revolutionary leader, was born Doroteo Arango in Río Grande, state of Durango, the son of Agustín Arango and Micaela Arámbula, tenant farmers. After his father’s death (or disappearance), Villa’s family moved to Rancho Gogojito, about thirty-five miles north of Durango City. There they worked as sharecroppers for the wealthy López Negrete family....

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Pancho Villa Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-108595).