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Charles Carroll of Carrollton. Lithograph on paper, 1832, by Albert Newsam. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

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Carroll of Carrollton, Charles (19 September 1737–14 November 1832), planter, businessman, investor, and the only Roman Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, as well as the last of the signers to die, was born in Annapolis, Maryland, the son of Charles Carroll of Annapolis, a planter, and his common-law wife, Elizabeth Brooke. An only child, Carroll was sent at the age of ten to the Jesuit college of St. Omers, in French Flanders, where Maryland’s Catholic gentry sent their sons because the colony’s laws, which denied “papists” the right to vote, hold office, practice law, and worship publicly, also forbade them to maintain religious schools. Young Carroll studied abroad for sixteen years, ending with a thesis in philosophy at the college of Louis le Grand in Paris in 1757. After reading civil law in Bourges and Paris, he moved to London in September 1759 to pursue the common law at the Inns of Court. However, his antipathy for the discipline, which he regarded as “founded upon and still subsisting by villainy,” became so intense that he ultimately defied his father’s intention that he formally enter the Inner Temple, one of the four Inns of Court. Finding the paternal insistence on his acquiring the social graces more to his liking, he became adept at dancing, drawing, and fencing and mastered Italian, bookkeeping, and surveying, practical skills the elder Carroll deemed essential for success as a landowner and man of business....

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Forstall, Edmond Jean (07 November 1794–16 November 1873), merchant, banker, and sugar planter, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Edouard Pierre Forstall and Celeste de la Villebeauve. The father’s occupation is uncertain, but in Edmond’s youth several members of the Forstall family, Edouard perhaps one of them, were active in Louisiana commerce. Record of Edmond’s education is lacking, but at the age of twelve he went to work for a merchant. In his adulthood he was fluent in English as well as French and read and wrote widely in both languages. As early as 1818 he was named a director of the Louisiana State Bank. By 1819 he was associated with the New Orleans firm of Gordon, Grant & Company, and in 1823 when the firm reorganized as Gordon & Forstall, Forstall became managing partner. In July 1823 he married Clara Durel; the couple had eleven children, one of whom died in infancy....

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Vann, Joseph (1800–26 October 1844), Cherokee leader, planter, and businessman, was born in the Cherokee Nation (in what is now Murray County, Ga.), the son of James Vann, a Cherokee leader, and Margret Scott. Vann, known as “Rich Joe,” has often been confused with his cousin and contemporary Joseph Vann (1798–1877). As was common among nineteenth-century Native American leaders, Vann had white and Cherokee ancestors. His father, a wealthy Cherokee of mixed blood, left his son much of his wealth when he died in 1809, including a large plantation, many black slaves, and a handsome federal house at Spring Place, Georgia. Vann continued to live at Spring Place until the Cherokee removal began in the 1830s. The house, which was built in 1804, was later designated a state historic site. In addition to his landholdings and slaves, Vann owned a ferry and engaged in various business ventures. He married Jennis Springston (date unknown); they had at least five children....

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Walker, Thomas (25 January 1715–09 November 1794), planter and land speculator, was born in Virginia, the son of Thomas Walker, Sr., and Susanna Peachy. Because his father died when Thomas was young, he lived with his sister Mary in Williamsburg. Her husband instructed Thomas in medicine and may have sent him to attend William and Mary College. By the early 1740s his reputation as a surgeon was being established. In 1741 he married Mildred Thornton, a relative of ...