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George P. Marsh. Photograph from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-BH8201-4981).

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Marsh, George Perkins (15 March 1801–23 July 1882), scholar, politician, and diplomat, was born in Woodstock, Vermont, the son of Charles Marsh, a prominent lawyer, and Susan Perkins. The Marshes were among New England’s aristocracy of Puritan intellectuals. Woodstock, unlike western Vermont of the free-spirited Green Mountain Boys, was a town of law-abiding, substantial settlers, conservative in religion and politics. George, in a milieu of book lovers, became an avid reader, although a lifelong eye ailment periodically forced him to turn from the printed page to the outdoor world. As a child, with his father or friends, he observed firsthand the effects of deforestation in early Vermont settlements, the decline of fish in the rivers, and the destruction of precious topsoil....

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Morris, Edward Joy (16 July 1815–31 December 1881), legislator, author, and diplomat, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, of unknown ancestry. He attended the University of Pennsylvania and graduated from Harvard College in 1836. He studied law and was admitted to the Philadelphia bar in 1842, while serving in the Pennsylvania assembly, 1841–1843. Morris served one term as a Whig in Congress, 1843–1845. When his bid for reelection failed, he resumed his law practice. In 1847 he married Elizabeth Gatliff Ella of Philadelphia, with whom he had two daughters....

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Reischauer, Edwin Oldfather (15 October 1910–01 September 1990), educator and diplomat, was born in Tokyo, Japan, the son of August Karl Reischauer, a missionary of long residence in Japan, and Helen Sidwell. He lived in Japan until his graduation from the American School in Tokyo in 1927. That year, Reischauer entered Oberlin College, where he earned an A.B. degree, and from there went to Harvard University for graduate study. By the time he entered Harvard, in 1931, he knew that he wanted to become an expert in East Asian studies; in order to receive further specialized training, which was not then available in the United States, he went in 1933 to the University of Paris, where he continued his study of Japanese and Chinese. Two years later he returned to Japan to conduct research for his dissertation. The contrast between the more open, cosmopolitan Japan he remembered from the 1920s and the militaristic and chauvinistic Japan he experienced in the 1930s made a deep impression on Reischauer and provided the point of departure for his thinking about modern Japanese history. For the time being, however, he concentrated on his studies, working on a translation of the diary of Ennin, a ninth-century Buddhist monk who traveled and studied in China. While in Japan, Reischauer married Adrienne Danton, an alumna of Oberlin, in 1935. They were to have three children....

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William W. Rockhill. Photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston, late nineteenth or early twentieth century. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-96755).

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Rockhill, William Woodville (01 April 1854–08 December 1914), Orientalist and diplomat, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas Cadwallader Rockhill, a lawyer, and Dorothy Anna Woodville. The death of his father when William was ten months old, the consequent decision of his energetic mother to move to France, and the near poverty in which he and his brother were raised shaped Rockhill’s childhood, remarkable education, cosmopolitan outlook, and personality. While a cadet at the rigorous École Spéciale Militaire de St. Cyr, Rockhill began his lifetime fascination with the Orient and his serious study of its civilizations and languages, especially Chinese, Sanskrit, and Tibetan. After Rockhill graduated with honors from St. Cyr in 1873, this self-driven, stoical perfectionist served three years as sublieutenant in the French Foreign Legion in Algeria. In 1876 he resigned his commission, returned as a virtual stranger to the United States, and married Caroline Adams Tyson, with whom he had two children....