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Anderson, Joseph Inslee (05 November 1757–17 April 1837), jurist, U.S. senator, and Treasury official, was born near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of William Anderson and Elizabeth Inslee (occupations unknown). When not yet twenty, Anderson enlisted in the Continental army as a private and rose to the rank of major by the war’s end. He was regimental paymaster during much of the war, and his experience in that capacity served him well in positions he held later. He was with ...

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Ashe, Samuel (1725–22 January 1813), judge and governor, was born in Beaufort County, North Carolina, the son of John Baptista Ashe and Elizabeth Swann. His father, Beaufort’s representative in the lower house of the assembly and its Speaker at the time of Samuel’s birth, was allied through marriage to a clique of planters who hoped to open the Cape Fear River to white settlement. In 1727 the elder Ashe moved his family of two sons, ...

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Ashe, Thomas Samuel (19 July 1812–04 February 1887), jurist and congressman, was born at “the Hawfields,” Orange County, North Carolina, the home of his maternal grandfather, where his parents regularly spent the summer. He was the son of Pasquale Paoli Ashe, the owner of a plantation in coastal New Hanover County, North Carolina, and a coal mine in Alabama, and Elizabeth Jane Strudwick. His father lost his entire fortune about 1829 as surety for the debts of a friend....

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Axtell, Samuel Beach (14 October 1819–06 August 1891), politician, lawyer, and jurist, was born near Columbus, Ohio, the son of Samuel Loree Axtell and Nancy Sanders, farmers. Axtell graduated from Western Reserve College in Hudson, Ohio, and, after studying law, was admitted to the bar. He married Adaline S. Williams in 1840, and in 1843 they moved to Mount Clemens, Michigan, where Axtell established a law practice. The couple had at least one child. In 1851 Axtell migrated to California, where he invested in the booming mining industry and practiced law. Politically active as a Democrat, he helped organize Amador County east of Sacramento in 1854 and was elected as the new county’s first district attorney, a post to which he was reelected in 1856 and 1858....

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Ayllón, Lucas Vázquez de (1480?–18 October 1526), Spanish judge and founder of the first Spanish colony in North America, was born at Toledo, Spain, the son of Juan Vázquez de Ayllón, a member of a distinguished Mozarabic family, and Inés de Villalobos. Lucas was educated in the law, earning the ...

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Baldwin, Simeon Eben (05 February 1840–30 January 1927), law professor, judge, and Connecticut governor, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of Roger Sherman Baldwin, a lawyer and U.S. senator, and Emily Perkins. Baldwin entered Yale College in 1857 and graduated with a B.A. in 1861. After studying at Yale Law School and Harvard Law School from 1861 to 1863, he was admitted to the Connecticut bar and opened a solo law office in New Haven. He rapidly proceeded to build up the largest individual practice in the state by representing railroads, corporations, and wealthy individuals....

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Barry, William Taylor (05 February 1784–30 August 1835), politician, jurist, and postmaster general, was born in Lunenburg County, Virginia, the son of John Barry, a revolutionary war veteran and farmer, and Susannah Dozier. The family moved to Kentucky, apparently in 1796, and settled in Fayette County. Following a course of study in law at William and Mary College, Barry was admitted to the Kentucky bar and set up practice in Lexington in 1805. That same year he married Lucy Waller Overton, with whom he would have two children before her premature death....

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Bedford, Gunning, Jr. (1747–30 March 1812), revolutionary statesman, signer of the U.S. Constitution, and federal district judge, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Gunning Bedford and Susannah Jacquett. His upper-middle-class father was associated with the Philadelphia Carpenter’s Company, a labor combination of master workers. Bedford referred to himself as Gunning Bedford, Jr., probably to avoid being confused with his notable cousin and contemporary, Colonel ...

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Benson, Egbert (21 June 1746–24 August 1833), jurist and founding father, was born in New York City, the son of Robert Benson and Catherine Van Borsum. After graduating from King’s College (now Columbia) in 1765, Benson served his legal clerkship in the New York City office of the revolutionary leader ...

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Bibb, George Mortimer (30 October 1776–14 April 1859), jurist and politician, was born in Prince Edward County, Virginia, the son of Richard Bibb, a clergyman, and Lucy Booker. George attended Hampden-Sydney College in 1790–1791 and graduated in 1792 from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). He later attended the College of William and Mary, probably to study law, and apparently he also read law with Richard Venable and practiced briefly in Williamsburg. He moved to Lexington, Kentucky, in 1798, and in 1799 he married Martha Tabb, the daughter of ...

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Biddle, Francis Beverley (09 May 1886–04 October 1968), lawyer, judge, and U.S. attorney general, was born in Paris, France, the son of Algernon Sydney Biddle, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and Frances Robinson. Biddle attended Haverford Academy (1895–1899); Groton Academy (1899–1905), where he excelled at boxing and gymnastics; and Harvard University, from which he graduated with a B.A. cum laude in 1909 and an LL.B. in 1911. His first job upon graduating was as personal secretary to Associate Justice ...

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Bourne, Benjamin (09 December 1755–17 September 1808), U.S. congressman and jurist, was born in Bristol, Rhode Island, the son of Shearjashub Bourne and Ruth Bosworth Church. Bourne began a career in law and public service after graduating from Harvard with an A.B. in law in 1775. In January 1776 he became the quartermaster for the Second Regiment of Rhode Island. He left military service in January 1777 and returned to Bristol. In 1778 Bourne married Hope Child Diman, the widow of Captain Benjamin Diman of Bristol; they had four children....

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Boyle, John (28 October 1774–28 January 1834), congressman and state and federal judge, was born at “Castle Woods,” near Tazewell, Botetourt County, Virginia, the son of John Boyle, a farmer, and Jane (maiden name unknown). An 1878 encyclopedia describes Boyle as “descended from a sound but humble stock, he was the carver of his own fortune, and the ennobler of his own name” ( ...

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Bradbury, Theophilus (13 November 1739–06 September 1803), lawyer, jurist, and congressman, was born in Newbury (now Newburyport), Massachusetts, the son of Theophilus Bradbury, a wealthy sea captain, and Ann Woodman. Graduated from Harvard College in 1757, he moved to Falmouth (now in Maine but a part of Massachusetts until 1820), where he briefly taught school. When courts were organized in Cumberland and Lincoln counties in 1761, Bradbury was the first man admitted to the bar. Bradbury’s knowledge of the law and effective, dignified courtroom manner led to his appointment as collector of the excise on liquor, tea, coffee, and china in Maine for the province. In 1762 he married Sarah Jones; they had seven children....

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Bradley, Stephen Row (20 February 1754–09 December 1830), jurist and senator, was born in Wallingford (now Cheshire), Connecticut, the son of Moses Bradley and Mary Row. Moses Bradley’s occupation is not known, but he may have been a silversmith like his father. He had the means, at any rate, to send his son Stephen to Yale College for an education. After receiving his baccalaureate degree in July 1775, Stephen Bradley became captain of the Cheshire Volunteers, a militia unit that joined the Continental army in January 1776. Enlistment periods were brief, typically for ninety days, and Bradley served intermittently from 1775 through 1779. He was an aide-de-camp to General ...

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Brawley, William Hiram (13 May 1841–15 November 1916), South Carolina politician and federal judge, was born in Chester, South Carolina, the son of Hiram Brawley, a planter, and Harriet Foote. He graduated from the South Carolina College in 1860. When South Carolina seceded, he volunteered for military service as a private in the Sixth South Carolina Volunteers. His unit saw action in the reduction of Fort Sumter and was then transferred to the Virginia front. As a result of wounds he received in the battle of Seven Pines (May 1862), his left arm had to be amputated. Discharged from military duty, he went back home to manage his father’s plantation. In 1864, still in poor health, he ran the Union naval blockade and spent the remainder of the war in England and France studying law and literature....

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Breese, Sidney (15 July 1800–27 June 1878), politician and jurist, was born in Whitesboro, New York, the son of Arthur Breese, a lawyer, and Catherine Livingston. After graduating from Union College in Schenectady in 1818, he moved west to Kaskaskia, the backwoods capital of the newly admitted state of Illinois. There he became the assistant of Elias Kent Kane, the secretary of state and an old family friend. Breese read law under Kane’s direction and was admitted to the bar in 1820. When the government moved to Vandalia in December 1820, Breese transported the state archives to the new capital in a small wagon and supervised the opening of a new office for the secretary of state before returning to his law practice in Kaskaskia. The 82-mile journey through uncleared wilderness took a week to complete. In 1823 he married Eliza Morrison; they had fourteen children....

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Brinkerhoff, Jacob (31 August 1810–19 July 1880), politician and jurist, was born in Niles, New York, the son of Henry I. Brinkerhoff and Rachel Bevier, farmers. Raised in rural New York, where he studied law, Brinkerhoff moved to Ohio in 1836 and began a legal practice in Mansfield. Combining politics with law, he served two terms as county prosecutor before he was elected to Congress as an expansionist Democrat. He served two terms (1843–1847), during which he represented a district of northeastern Ohio characterized by antislavery sentiment. Although a party regular on most issues, he broke with fellow Democrats over the joint resolution annexing Texas in 1845. As an opponent of the extension of slavery, he proposed an amendment prohibiting the institution in half of Texas; without it, he believed, northern whites would refuse to settle there. When the House rejected his proposal, he voted against annexation....

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Browne, William (27 February 1737–13 February 1802), Massachusetts Superior Court judge and Loyalist, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Browne, Jr., a merchant, and Catherine Winthrop. Both families had lived in Salem for five generations. On the matrilineal side William could trace his lineage back to four colonial governors, the Winthrops and the Dudleys. On the patrilineal side one of William’s great-grandfathers was Gilbert Burnet, bishop of Salisbury, England. When William was only five years old, his father died, and when William was seven, his mother married Colonel Epes Sargent. Because the Browne family was the most distinguished and popular in Salem, when William entered Harvard at age fourteen, he was ranked third in his class. He lived in Massachusetts Hall, held a scholarship, and was noted as “an excellent scholar.” He graduated in 1755 as valedictorian of his class. Classmate ...

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Bryan, George (11 August 1731–27 January 1791), politician and jurist, was born in Dublin, Ireland, the son of Samuel Bryan, a merchant, and Sarah Dennis. Little is known about his first twenty years in Dublin other than that he was reared in a Presbyterian household while his father developed trade connections in the colonies. Apparently self-educated, Bryan clearly learned much about his father’s commercial activities. Samuel Bryan arranged a partnership for his son with Philadelphia merchant and fellow Presbyterian James Wallace in 1752. George Bryan then migrated to America, but his joint venture lasted only three years....