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Alvarez, Manuel (1794–05 July 1856), merchant and U.S. consul, was born in Abelgas, León, Spain, the son of Don José Alvarez and Doña María Antonia Arias. Alvarez spent his childhood in his native village in the Cantabrian Mountains. Under the care of his parents, he became proficient in both French and Spanish. As a youth he wanted to become a writer. An avid reader, he was familiar with the writings of Thomas Carlyle, Sir Walter Raleigh, and ...

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Bowdoin, James (22 September 1752–11 October 1811), merchant and diplomat, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, son of James Bowdoin, a merchant and Massachusetts governor, and Elizabeth Erving. After early schooling at Boston Latin School, he attended Harvard College, from which he received his degree in absentia in 1771, having gone to England in 1770 for health reasons. In England he studied at Christ Church, Oxford University, and subsequently traveled on the Continent until his return home in late 1775....

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Carter, Henry Alpheus Peirce (07 August 1837–01 November 1891), merchant and diplomat, was born in Honolulu, Kingdom of Hawaii, the son of Captain Joseph Oliver Carter, a Pacific trader and master mariner, and Hannah Trufant Lord. At age three, Henry and his older brother were sent to Boston, Massachusetts, to be educated, but owing to their father’s subsequent financial losses, they had to return to Hawaii in 1849....

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Chouteau, Auguste Pierre (09 May 1786–25 December 1838), fur trader and Indian diplomat, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Jean Pierre Chouteau, a fur trader and one of the founders of St. Louis, and Pelagie Kiersereau. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point from 17 July 1804 until 20 June 1806 and became an ensign in the Second United States Infantry. After serving briefly as aide to General ...

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Clark, Daniel (1766–13 August 1813), merchant, diplomat, and territorial delegate, was born in Sligo, Ireland. Although his parents’ names are unknown, his family’s wealth and connections were sufficient to provide him with an education at Eton and other English schools. Declining fortunes in Ireland prompted the Clarks in 1785 or 1786 to emigrate to America, where they settled in Germantown, outside of Philadelphia....

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Hamilton, John (1740–12 December 1816), colonial merchant, Loyalist, and British consul, was born in Scotland. Nothing is known of his education. In 1756 he joined his brother Archibald in Nansemond County, Virginia, as a partner in a mercantile company, which included an uncle in Glasgow as a third partner. The Hamiltons extended their operations into North Carolina, where they established an extensive trading center at Hamilton Hill near Halifax; they had stores and warehouses for retail and wholesale trade in imported and colonial goods, a tavern, and shops for a blacksmith, a cooper, a hatter, and a tailor. By 1776 the Hamiltons, who operated under the name of John Hamilton and Company, had become the largest commercial house in the colony. Throughout its existence, the company maintained an excellent reputation with North Carolina farmers and merchants, who benefited from its ample provision of purchasing credit....

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Herrman, Augustine (1605?–1686?), merchant, attorney, ambassador, and mapmaker, was born in Prague, Bohemia, thought to be the son of Ephraim Augustin Herrman, a shopkeeper and city councilman, and Beatrix Redel, but possibly the son of Abraham Herrman, a Hussite minister in Mseno who was exiled to Zittau in Saxony because he was not Roman Catholic, and eventually settled in Amsterdam (wife’s name unknown)....

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Holker, John (1745–1822), agent for the French during the American Revolution and influential merchant, also known as Jean Holker, was born at the time of the last Jacobite Rebellion (exact date and place unknown), the son of John Holker, an English soldier from the Manchester area who had sided with the Pretender. (His mother’s name is not known.) John Sr. fled with his family to France when the rebellion collapsed. In exile he turned to pioneering the introduction of new manufacturing techniques from England. He became a prosperous textile merchant-industrialist based in Rouen, and in 1755, thanks to the patronage of a powerful minister at court, Trudaine de Montigny, was appointed inspector general of manufactures. In 1775 he acquired the additional title of chevalier. In 1777 he acted as principal in a large contract for military clothing and uniforms placed by the American commissioners at Versailles on Congress’s behalf....

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Larkin, Thomas Oliver (16 September 1802–27 October 1858), merchant, diplomatic agent, and capitalist, was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, the son of Thomas Oliver Larkin, Sr., a sea captain, and Ann Rogers Cooper. His spotty education is reflected in his correspondence, which is sprinkled with misspellings and grammatical slips. When Oliver was five, his father died, and in 1813 his mother remarried and moved the family to Lynn, which young Oliver always looked upon as his hometown. At the age of fifteen, he went to nearby Boston “to learn the art of making books,” a trade he abandoned two years later for a clerkship in a bookstore. That, too, proved confining, so in October 1821 he set out with a friend for Wilmington, North Carolina, to seek his fortune....

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Merry, William Lawrence (27 December 1842–11 December 1911), sea captain, merchant, and diplomat, was born in New York City, the son of Thomas Henry Merry, a merchant and sea captain, and Candida Isbina Xavier, apparently Brazilian. Merry attended the Collegiate Institute in New York City during the 1850s. He became a junior officer on the ...

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Welsh, John (09 November 1805–10 April 1886), merchant, civic leader, and minister to Great Britain, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Welsh, a merchant, and Jemima Maris. Although trained by his father, who specialized in trade with the West Indies, Welsh entered the dry goods business and became a partner in the firm of Dulles, Wilcox, & Welsh. In 1829 he married Rebecca B. Miller, with whom he had two children before her death in 1832. In 1838 he married Mary Lowber; they had nine children. After his father died in 1854, Welsh joined his brothers Samuel and William in the family sugar-importing firm. Welsh widened his business interests by investing in and becoming president, for one disastrous year, of the North Pennsylvania Railroad, which in July 1855 began a nineteen-mile run between Philadelphia and Gwynedd. In 1856 a careless conductor caused a collision on a North Pennsylvania excursion train carrying 500 Roman Catholic girls and boys from St. Michael’s parish in Kensington. Thirty-nine children were killed and seventy-two were wounded. Deeply distressed, Welsh contributed $500 to a relief fund and gave up the presidency of the road....