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Allen, Philip (01 September 1785–16 December 1865), manufacturer, governor, and senator, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Captain Zachariah Allen, a West Indies trader, and Nancy Crawford. Allen received his early education from tutors before attending Taunton Academy in Providence, Robert Rogers School in Newport, and Jeremiah Chaplin’s Latin School in Providence. In 1799 he entered Rhode Island College (now Brown University) and graduated in 1803....

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W. Warren Barbour. Courtesy of Congessional Biography.

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Barbour, W. Warren (31 July 1888–22 November 1943), businessman and U.S. senator from New Jersey, was born William Warren Barbour in Monmouth Beach, New Jersey, the son of Colonel William Barbour, president of The Linen Thread Company, and Julia Adelaide Sprague. Barbour was educated at the Browning School in New York City. Though admitted to Princeton in 1906, he instead entered the family's thread business. In 1908 Barbour enlisted in Squadron A of the New York National Guard....

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Coolidge, Thomas Jefferson (26 August 1831–17 November 1920), businessman and diplomat, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Joseph Coolidge, Jr., a businessman, and Eleanora Wayles Randolph. On his father’s side Coolidge was descended from John Coolidge, one of the first settlers of Watertown; on his mother’s side he was descended from Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States. His parents were members of the Boston elite, and throughout his life Coolidge moved in the same circles....

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Douglas, William Lewis (22 August 1845–17 September 1924), shoe manufacturer and governor, was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the son of William Douglas, a sailor, and Mary C. Vaughan. Attending public schools sporadically throughout his boyhood, Douglas was sent to work for his uncle, a shoemaker, at age seven, two years after his father’s death at sea. As a shoe pegger, he worked long hours and faced habitual mistreatment, but by age eleven he began to train formally as an apprentice under his uncle. Becoming a journeyman shoemaker at age fifteen, he was first employed at a cotton mill in Plymouth, where he earned thirty-three cents a day. He continued in the shoemaking trade in Hopkinton and later South Braintree under the well-known bootmaker Ansel Thayer until 26 February 1864, when he enlisted in the Fifty-eighth Massachusetts Regiment. Wounded at the battle of Cold Harbor in that same year, Douglas spent months in army hospitals and was discharged in 1865. In 1866 he headed west to Colorado, settling in Black Hawk and later Golden City. There he received training in designing, drafting, cutting, and fitting shoes—knowledge that allowed him to be classified as a professional shoemaker—and opened a retail boot and shoe store. He returned to Massachusetts in 1868 and that year married Naomi Augusta Terry. They had three children....

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Fox, Gustavus Vasa (13 June 1821–29 October 1883), naval officer, assistant secretary of the navy, and business executive, was born in Saugus, Massachusetts, the son of Jesse Fox, a physician, inventor, and manufacturer, and Olivia Flint. Growing up in Lowell, Fox developed an “unconquerable desire” (Jesse Fox to ...

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Grover, La Fayette (29 November 1823–10 May 1911), lawyer, politician, and manufacturer, was born in Bethel, Maine, the son of John Grover, a surgeon, and Fanny Lary. He grew up among the Bethel elite; his father served in the Maine constitutional convention of 1819 and later in the state legislature. La Fayette received his early education in Bethel’s common schools and the private Gould’s Academy. After two years of study at Bowdoin College (1844–1846), he moved to Philadelphia, where he studied law in the office of Asa I. Fish and attended lectures at the Philadelphia Law Academy. He was admitted to the bar in 1850....

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Grundy, Joseph Ridgway (13 January 1863–03 March 1961), business leader, lobbyist, and senator, was born in Camden, New Jersey, the son of William Hulme Grundy, a woolens manufacturer, and Mary Lamb Ridgway. Reared in an upper-class Quaker home in Bristol, Pennsylvania, he received a part of his early education at the Moravian School for Boys (Lititz, Pa.) and subsequently spent three years at Swarthmore College (two in its preparatory division). In 1880 he made a grand tour of Europe and after his return began work for his father’s company. In 1885, after working in each of the mill’s operations, he became a wool buyer. Following his father’s death in 1893, he became the company’s head and also the principal stockholder in the Farmers National Bank of Bucks County, originally founded by his great-great-grandfather. Under his leadership, Grundy and Company prospered, soon making him a multimillionaire. He never married....

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Hewes, George Robert Twelves (25 August 1742–05 November 1840), shoemaker and rank-and-file participant in the American Revolution, shoemaker and rank‐and‐file participant in the American Revolution, was born in Boston, the son of George Hewes (1701–1749), tanner, soap boiler, and tallow chandler, and Abigail Seaver (1711–c. 1755). George Robert Hewes told a biographer that his education “consisted only of a moderate knowledge of reading and writing” (Hawkes, p. 17). An orphan at fourteen and short in stature—only five feet one inch tall at full height—he was apprenticed to a shoemaker, a trade for boys who could not handle heavy work. He eventually became owner of a small shop near Griffin 's Wharf, where he mended shoes and crafted them to order. In January 1768 he married Sarah Sumner, the daughter of a church sextant and a washwoman. They had fifteen children, eleven of whom survived childhood. In a trade that was low in status and prospects, Hewes remained poor; in 1770 he was imprisoned briefly for an unpaid debt to a tailor....

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Lawrence, Abbott (16 December 1792–18 August 1855), manufacturer, philanthropist, and diplomat, was born in Groton, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Lawrence and Susanna Parker, farmers. Lawrence was educated at the district school and the town academy. In 1808 he went to Boston as an apprentice in the warehouse of his older brother, Amos Lawrence (1786–1852), who was a well-established merchant in the city. In 1814 Abbott was admitted to partnership, and the firm of A. & A. Lawrence was founded, specializing in imports of English goods. Taking advantage of renewed trade following the War of 1812, the firm became one of the wealthiest in Boston. In 1819 Lawrence married Katherine Bigelow, the daughter of Timothy Bigelow, then Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Lawrence and his wife had seven children....

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Maybank, Burnet Rhett (07 March 1899–01 September 1954), politician and businessman, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Joseph Maybank, a physician, and Harriet Lowndes Rhett. By birth, Maybank was a member of Charleston’s aristocracy and inherited a place in two of South Carolina’s oldest and most distinguished families. The Maybanks were an integral part of the Low Country plantation life in South Carolina, and the Rhetts were among the earliest settlers in Charleston. ...

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Myron C. Taylor Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-100836).

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Taylor, Myron Charles (18 January 1874–06 May 1959), business executive and diplomat, was born in Lyons, New York, the son of William Taylor, a textile executive, and Mary Morgan Underhill. His father made a fortune in the textile and leather industries. After a comfortable youth, Taylor attended Cornell University and earned a law degree in 1894, studying with ...

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Williams, David Rogerson (08 March 1776–17 November 1830), politician, planter, and textile manufacturer, was born on the family plantation, on the Pee Dee River near Society Hill, South Carolina, the son of David Williams, a well-to-do planter, and Anne Rogerson. The elder Williams died a few months before his son’s birth and left an estate that had grown to some 4,300 acres and 70 slaves by David’s sixteenth birthday. Growing up in Charleston, where his widowed mother settled, Williams experienced the powerful influence of ...