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Aiken, D. Wyatt (17 March 1828–06 April 1887), agricultural editor and congressman, was born David Wyatt Aiken in Winnsboro, South Carolina, the son of David Aiken, a merchant and planter, and Nancy Kerr. Descended from an Irish family that had prospered in the United States, Aiken received an excellent education at Mount Zion Institute in his hometown and, as was common for the sons of planters, attended South Carolina College. He graduated in 1849 and taught mathematics for two years at Mount Zion. After traveling to Europe in 1851, he returned home to marry Mattie Gaillard in 1852. Before her death in 1855, they had two children. Aiken married Virginia Carolina Smith in 1857; they had eleven children. The following year he purchased a plantation from the estate of Virginia’s father in Cokesbury, Abbeville District. As the proprietor of “Coronaca” plantation, he became involved in the agricultural reform movement and in states’ rights politics. He fervently believed that “agriculture climbs high in the scale of science: it develops thought, matures judgment, and requires for the execution, untiring energy, perseverance, and industry.” He was instrumental in the formation of the Abbeville Agricultural Society and was a member of its executive committee. In 1858 he attended the Southern Commercial Convention in Montgomery, Alabama, a meeting that quickly became a forum for disunionist politics....

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Garnett, James Mercer (08 June 1770–23 April 1843), congressman, agricultural reformer, and educator, was born at “Mount Pleasant” plantation, near present-day Loretto in Essex County, Virginia, the son of planters Muscoe Garnett and Grace Fenton Mercer. He was privately educated, and in 1793 married his first cousin, Mary Eleanor Dick Mercer. The couple had four daughters and four sons....

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Hatch, William Henry (11 September 1833–23 December 1896), congressman and agricultural reformer, was born near Georgetown in Scott County, Kentucky, the son of Reverend William Hatch, a Campbellite minister, and Mary Adams. Educated in the public schools of Lexington, Hatch studied law for a year in Richmond, Kentucky, before securing admission to the bar in September 1854. He began his legal practice in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, but shortly thereafter he joined the stream of migration from Kentucky to Missouri and settled in Hannibal, where he practiced law and became active in politics as a Democrat. In 1855 he married Jennie L. Smith; they had one child before Jennie died in 1858. In 1861 he married Thetis Clay Hawkins; they had one child....