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Julius H. Barnes. Right, with Thomas Lamont, left, and Silas Strawn. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92371).

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Barnes, Julius Howland (02 February 1873–17 April 1959), industrialist and government official, was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, the son of Lucien Jerome Barnes, a banker, and Julia Hill. Moving with his family, he attended public schools in Washington, D.C., and Duluth, Minnesota. Following his father’s death in 1886, Barnes left school to take a job as office boy with the Duluth grain brokerage firm of Wardell Ames. There he rose rapidly, becoming president of the company in 1910 and subsequently reorganizing it as the Barnes-Ames Company. By 1915 Barnes-Ames was the world’s largest grain exporter, and Barnes acquired other business interests, principally in shipbuilding and Great Lakes shipping. In 1896 he married Harriet Carey, with whom he had two children....

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Fechner, Robert (22 March 1876–31 December 1939), labor union and New Deal official, was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the son of Charles Robert Fechner, a carriage trimmer, and Virginia Roberts Fechner. Fechner grew up in the Georgia towns of Macon and Griffin. He briefly attended the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, but he left school at the age of sixteen and apprenticed himself in the Augusta shops of the Georgia Railroad as a machinist. His training as a machinist lasted until 1896....

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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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Edward Nash Hurley [left to right]Charles M. Schwab and Edward Nash Hurley, 1918. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-116287 ).

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Hurley, Edward Nash (31 July 1864–14 November 1933), manufacturer, was born in Galesburg, Illinois, the son of Jeremiah Hurley, a railroad mechanic, and Ellen Nash. Both parents were Irish Catholic immigrants. Hurley had little formal education. He quit high school at age fifteen and joined his father and older brothers in the Galesburg machine shops of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. Two years later, in Chicago, he became fireman on a switching engine....

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McCabe, Thomas Bayard (11 July 1893–27 May 1982), international businessman and government official, was born in Whaleyville, Maryland, the son of William Robbins McCabe, a banker, and Beulah Whaley. McCabe received his early education in Whaleyville and then entered Wilmington Academy in Dover, Delaware, in 1907; three years later he entered Swarthmore College, from which he received his A.B. in economics in 1915. After graduating from Swarthmore, McCabe joined the Scott Paper Company of Chester, Pennsylvania, earning $15 a week as a salesman until U.S. entry into World War I. McCabe served in the U.S. Army from 1917 to 1919, rising from the rank of private to captain....

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Nelson, Donald Marr (17 November 1888–29 September 1959), business executive and government official, was born in Hannibal, Missouri, the son of Quincy Marr Nelson, a locomotive engineer, and Mary Ann MacDonald. He studied chemical engineering at the University of Missouri, graduating with a B.S. degree in 1911. Shortly thereafter he married Estelle Lord, who died in 1923. In 1926 he married Helen Wishart; they separated in 1940 and were divorced in January 1945. The following month Nelson married his secretary, Marguerite S. Coulbourn; twenty-six years old at the time, she died only two years later, in February 1947. In November 1947 Nelson married Edna May Rowell, but the marriage ended in divorce. He married Lena Peters Schunzel in February 1959. He had no children....

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Peek, George Nelson (19 November 1873–17 December 1943), businessman, farm leader, and New Deal administrator, was born at Polo, a small village in northern Illinois, the son of Henry Clay Peek, a livestock merchant and local sheriff, and Adeline Chase. In 1885 the family moved to a farm near Oregon, Illinois. In 1891 Peek attended Northwestern University, remaining there one academic year. After briefly working as an office assistant for a furniture company, he was hired in January 1893 in Minneapolis by Deere and Webber, a branch of the John Deere Plow Company. He rose from credit manager and salesman to head of the collections department....

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Shaw, Nathaniel, Jr. (05 December 1735–15 April 1782), merchant and naval official, was born in New London, Connecticut, the son of Nathaniel Shaw, a ship captain and merchant, and Temperance Harris. He probably received his elementary education at the local town school. There is no record of Shaw’s secondary level training, but it can be assumed that he acquired his knowledge of maritime and business matters on an apprenticeship basis or from working at the trade. In 1758 Shaw married Lucretia Rogers; they had no children. During the 1760s Shaw assumed direction of his father’s extensive mercantile enterprises, which included commerce with England and other continental colonies but centered primarily on West Indian trade. Under his shrewd management, business flourished to such an extent that he was able to provide New London with an imported fire engine and the seaport’s first lighthouse. During this period Shaw became increasingly involved in colonial opposition to Britain’s restrictive trade legislation and royal customs collection. In 1769 he was accused of abetting the sinking of the customs ship ...

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Stettinius, Edward Reilly (15 February 1865–03 September 1925), businessman and second assistant secretary of war, was born in Chicago, Illinois, but grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Joseph Stettinius, a wholesale grocer, and Isabel Reilly Gorman. Edward was an excellent student who had to drop out of St. Louis University in 1881 at age sixteen to take care of his mother and chronically ill brother, his father having died years earlier. He held a number of clerical jobs over the next seven years. In the late 1880s he became involved in stock brokering with several firms. He speculated heavily and lost a great deal of money. After his mother’s death in 1891, Stettinius left for Chicago where he lost even more money on the stock market....

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Talbott, Harold Elstner (31 March 1888–02 March 1957), industrialist and government official, was born in Dayton, Ohio, the son of Harry Elstner Talbott, a civil engineer, and Katharine Houk. Talbott attended Yale University from 1907 to 1909 and then joined his father’s construction firm in Dayton. In 1916 he and his father joined with a group of investors to found the Dayton-Wright Aeroplane Company. After American entry into World War I, Dayton-Wright—with Talbott as president—became the main supplier of aircraft for the American war effort. A later investigation by ...

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Wilson, Charles Edward (18 November 1886–03 January 1972), industrialist and government official, was born in New York City, the son of George H. Wilson, a bookbinder, and Hannah Rebecca Stiles, a cleaning lady. Wilson’s father died when the boy was just three years old, leaving him and his mother in poverty. Growing up and attending public school in the notorious Hell’s Kitchen quarter, Wilson sold newspapers and gathered clams from the East River to earn whatever he could....