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Charles Francis Adams, Jr. During his Civil War service. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8171-7390).

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Adams, Charles Francis (27 May 1835–20 March 1915), railroad official, civic leader, and historian, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Charles Francis Adams (1807–1886), a diplomat and politician, and Abigail Brown Brooks. He was the grandson of John Quincy Adams (1767–1848) and great-grandson of ...

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Adorno, Theodor (11 September 1903–06 August 1969), social and political theorist, aesthetician, and atonalist musical composer, was born Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund in Frankfurt, Germany, the son of Oskar Wiesengrund, a wealthy wine merchant, and Maria Calvelli-Adorno, a professional singer of Corsican and Genoese origin. He adopted his mother’s maiden name when his scholarly writing began to appear in 1938, perhaps reflecting his close attachment to her rather than to his remote father. His mother had borne her only child at age thirty-seven and lavished attention and resources on him, particularly with regard to “high” culture. His schooling included piano and composition training at a professional level (one teacher was Alban Berg) and philosophy with Edmund Husserl....

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Alexander, De Alva Stanwood (17 July 1845–30 January 1925), congressman and historian, was born in Richmond, Maine, the son of Stanwood Alexander and Priscilla Brown. When his father died in 1852, Alexander and his mother moved to Ohio, where he lived until his enlistment, at the age of sixteen, in the Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. After the war he completed his education at the Edward Little Institute in Auburn, Maine, and graduated from Bowdoin College in 1870. He later served for several years on Bowdoin’s board of overseers. In 1871 he married Alice Colby; their childless union ended with her death in 1890....

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Angell, James Burrill (07 January 1829–01 April 1916), educator and diplomat, was born near Scituate, Rhode Island, the son of Andrew Aldrich Angell and Amy Aldrich, farmers and tavernkeepers. He was educated in local schools and at Brown University, where he received an A.B. in 1849 and was significantly influenced by President ...

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Benjamin W. Arnett. Courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society.

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Arnett, Benjamin William (06 March 1838–09 October 1906), African-American religious, educational, and political leader, was born in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, the son of Samuel G. Arnett and Mary Louisa (maiden name unknown). Arnett was a man of “mixed Irish, Indian, Scots, and African ancestry” (Wright, p. 79). He was educated in a one-room schoolhouse in Bridgeport, Pennsylvania. Arnett worked as a longshoreman along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and briefly as a hotel waiter. His career as a longshoreman and waiter ended abruptly when a cancerous tumor necessitated amputation of his left leg in 1858. He turned to teaching and was granted a teaching certificate on 19 December 1863. At that time, he was the only African-American schoolteacher licensed in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. For ten months during the academic year 1884–1885, Arnett served as a school principal in Washington, D.C. He returned to Brownsville in 1885, teaching there until 1887. Although largely self-educated, he attended classes at Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati. A man of many interests, he was an occasional lecturer in ethics and psychology at the Payne Theological Seminary at Wilberforce University, served as a historian of the AME church, was a trustee of the Archaeological and Historical Society of Ohio, served as a member of the Executive Committee of the National Sociological Society, and was statistical secretary of the Ecumenical Conference of Methodism for the western section from 1891 to 1901....

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George Bancroft. Half-plate daguerreotype (hand-colored), c. 1847, by John Jabez Edwin Mayall. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Dr. and Mrs. Lester Tuchman and Gallery purchase.

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Bancroft, George (03 October 1800–17 January 1891), scholar and diplomat, was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, the son of Aaron Bancroft, the founder of Worcester’s Second Congregational Society and later president of the American Unitarian Association, and Lucretia Chandler. The eighth of thirteen children, George passed his childhood in a frugal rural household dominated by paternal activism. In 1811 he entered the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, run by Benjamin Abbot, a family friend. Attending with a scholarship, Bancroft received a solid grounding in classics, which prepared him for Harvard, where he enrolled at the age of thirteen....

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Barnwell, Robert Woodward (10 August 1801–25 November 1882), educator, congressman, and U.S. and Confederate senator, was born at Beaufort, South Carolina, the son of Robert Gibbes Barnwell, a prosperous planter and Federalist member of Congress, and Elizabeth Wigg Hayne. In 1817 he entered Harvard College, where he became friendly with ...

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Beard, Charles Austin (27 November 1874–01 September 1948), political scientist, historian, and pundit, was born near Knightstown, Indiana, the son of William Henry Beard, a farmer and banker, and Mary Payne. The family was of a Quaker heritage, and Charles attended a local Quaker academy before going on to DePauw University, from which he graduated in 1898. At DePauw his teachers introduced him to modern social theorists, including Herbert Spencer, Karl Marx, ...

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Bennett, Henry Garland (14 December 1886–22 December 1951), university and government administrator, was born near New Hope in Nevada County, Arkansas, the son of Thomas Jefferson Bennett, a blind evangelist, and Mary Elizabeth Bright. At the age of eight, Henry was enrolled in the primary department (laboratory school) at Ouachita College in Arkadelphia, where he remained until 1907, when he received the bachelor of arts degree. Following graduation, he earned a teaching certificate, taught in a business college in Texarkana, sold textbooks, and finally entered the public educational system in Oklahoma, subsequently holding teaching or administrative positions in Boswell, Choctaw County, and Hugo. Bennett secured a master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1924, and Columbia University granted him the Ph.D. in 1926 for a dissertation entitled “The Coordination of the State Institutions of Higher Education in Oklahoma.” In Hugo, Bennett met Vera Pearl Connell, the daughter of a lawyer and federal judge who resided in Durant. The couple were married in January 1913; they had five children....

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Benson, Oscar Herman (08 July 1875–15 August 1951), educator and organizer of youth groups, was born in Delhi, Iowa, the son of P. C. Benson and Celia Ortberg, farmers. His father died when Oscar was still a child, and he became the principal support for his mother and three younger siblings. He continued to farm and took on additional jobs to pay for his education. At the age of eighteen, while working in a sawmill, he lost three fingers in an accident. His neighbors, in admiration of his determination to succeed, took up a collection that enabled him to continue his schooling. In 1898 Benson graduated from Epworth (Iowa) Seminary and Teaching College and then financed three further years of college (the State University of Iowa, Iowa State Teachers’ College, and the University of Chicago) by teaching in rural schools. In 1902 he married Sadie J. Jackson; they had three children....

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Bentley, Arthur Fisher (16 October 1870–21 May 1957), sociologist, political scientist, and philosopher, was born in Freeport, Illinois, the son of Angeline Alice Fisher and Charles Frederick Bentley, a banker. The family moved to Omaha and then to Grand Island, Nebraska. Bentley briefly attended both York College, Nebraska, and the University of Denver, Colorado, before returning to Grand Island to work in his father’s bank. In 1890 Bentley entered Johns Hopkins University to study economics and sociology. He returned again to Grand Island and, with his father, collected economic and agricultural data on the community of Harrison, Nebraska. Bentley received an A.B. in 1892. His undergraduate thesis, “The Condition of the Western Farmer as Illustrated by the Economic History of a Nebraska Township,” was published the next year in the ...

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Benton, Thomas Hart, Jr. (05 September 1816–10 April 1879), frontier educator and legislator, was born in Williamson County, Tennessee, the son of Samuel Benton, a congressman. His mother’s name is unknown. His uncle and namesake practiced law as an associate of Andrew Jackson...

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Benton, William (01 April 1900–18 March 1973), advertising executive, educator, and politician, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the son of Charles Benton, a Congregationalist clergyman and professor of romance languages, and Elma Hixson, a schoolteacher. After brief military service in World War I, Benton attended Yale University and graduated in 1921. In 1928 he was married to Helen Hemingway. They had four children....

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Albert J. Beveridge Photograph by Louis Fabian Bachrach, 1922. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-89794).

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Beveridge, Albert Jeremiah (06 October 1862–27 April 1927), U.S. senator and historian, was born in Highland County, Ohio, the son of Thomas Beveridge and Frances Parkinson, farmers. The family moved to Illinois when Beveridge was a child. Because of his father’s financial difficulties, Beveridge worked as a plowboy, railroad section hand, logger, and teamster. He attended Asbury College (now DePauw University), graduating in 1885. He made his mark there in oratory, and he had a reputation throughout his life as a spellbinding public speaker. He was admitted to the bar in 1887. He married Katherine Langsdale that same year; she died in 1900. He married Catherine Eddy in 1907; they had two children....

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Bissell, Richard Mervin, Jr. (18 September 1909–07 February 1994), economics professor and government administrator, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Richard Bissell, a wealthy insurance executive, and Marie Truesdel. As a young man, Bissell studied at elite educational institutions, including Groton School; Yale University, where he received a B.A. in 1932; and the London School of Economics, where he began his postgraduate work. In 1933 he returned to Yale as an instructor and was promoted to assistant professor before earning his Ph.D. in economics in 1939. In 1940 he married Ann Cornelia Bushnell; they had five children. Described by one friend as “desperately shy,” Bissell seemed destined in 1941 to remain a university educator and scholar. However, the outbreak of World War II dramatically changed his life, as he left Yale to become a member of ...

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Bliss, Tasker Howard (31 December 1853–09 November 1930), soldier, scholar, and diplomat, was born in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, the son of George Ripley Bliss, a Baptist clergyman and professor at Lewisburg Academy (now Bucknell University), and Mary Ann Raymond. After attending Lewisburg Academy for two years, Tasker Bliss was admitted to West Point, where he excelled in foreign languages and finished eighth in his class in 1875. After graduating, he was assigned to the First Artillery in Savannah, Georgia. The next year he returned to West Point for a four-year tour as an instructor in modern languages. His grasp of other tongues included not only his beloved Greek, which he studied relentlessly, but also Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, and Russian. The Custer massacre in 1876 prompted him to request active duty at a frontier post, but Major General ...