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Dana, Francis (13 June 1743–25 April 1811), public official, diplomat, and jurist, was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, the son of Richard Dana, a lawyer, and Lydia Trowbridge. Francis entered Harvard College in 1758 and graduated in 1762. He received an M.A. from Harvard in 1765 at the same time that he was studying law in Cambridge with his uncle Edward Trowbridge. Dana was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1767 and became successful in his practice. In 1773 he married Elizabeth Ellery, daughter of ...

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Davis, Bancroft (29 December 1822–27 December 1907), jurist and diplomat, was born John Chandler Bancroft Davis in Worcester, Massachusetts, the son of John Davis (1761–1847), a congressman, senator, and three-time governor nicknamed “Honest John,” and Eliza Davis, sister of historian George Bancroft. A member of the Harvard class of 1840, Davis was suspended in his senior year for unknown reasons but was nevertheless awarded his A.B. by Harvard in 1847. By that time he had already studied law, been admitted to the Massachusetts bar, opened an office in New York City, and published ...

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Ellis, Powhatan (17 January 1790–18 March 1863), jurist, politician, and foreign minister, was born at Red Hill plantation in Amherst County, Virginia, the son of Josiah Ellis and Jane Shelton. Powhatan’s lineage can be traced backed to 17th-century Virginia; despite his assertions to the contrary, however, there is no evidence that he was related to the Indian leader for whom he was named....

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Ferguson, Homer (25 February 1889–17 December 1982), U.S. senator, ambassador, and judge, was born in Harrison City, Pennsylvania, the son of Samuel Ferguson, a coal mine supervisor, and Margarete Bush. At the age of fifteen Ferguson took his first job, working in the local coal mines. He attended the University of Pittsburgh from 1910 to 1911 and in 1913 received a law degree from the University of Michigan. In 1913 Ferguson married Myrtle Jones, was admitted to the bar, and began practicing law in Detroit, Michigan. He had one child. He continued in private practice until 1929, teaching night school to supplement his income....

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Hunt, William Henry (12 June 1823–27 February 1884), U.S. secretary of the navy, jurist, and diplomat, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Thomas Hunt, a planter, lawyer, and state legislator, and Louisa Gaillard, the sister of U.S. senator John Gaillard. After Hunt’s father’s death in 1830, his family moved to New Haven, Connecticut. Hunt matriculated at Yale, briefly studying law, but he could not afford to complete his education and did not earn a degree. He moved to New Orleans, where his family had settled, and read law in the offices of his elder brothers. Admitted to the Louisiana bar in 1844, Hunt prospered in his practice. The 1860 census reported that he held $34,000 in property, including one slave....

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Philip C. Jessup Before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-113051).

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Jessup, Philip C. (05 January 1897–31 January 1986), diplomat, professor, and member of the International Court of Justice, was born in New York City, the son of Henry Wynans Jessup, a law professor at New York University, and Mary Hay Stotesbury. Philip spent his early years in the city but was later sent to the Ridgefield School in Connecticut, the beginning of what would become a lifetime of scholarship. Following high school, Jessup enrolled at Hamilton College, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1919 after a brief stint in the U.S. Army during World War I. Despite his interest in academia, in 1919 Jessup began his professional career as a banker, working at the First National Bank in Utica, New York. In 1921 he married Lois Walcott Kellogg; the couple had one child....

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Kenneth B. Keating Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-110565).

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Keating, Kenneth Barnard (18 May 1900–05 May 1975), congressman, senator, ambassador, and judge, was born in Lima, New York, the son of Thomas Mosgrove Keating, a local businessman, and Louise Barnard, a schoolteacher. Much of Keating’s early education was at Genesee Wesleyan Seminary in Lima, New York. He then attended the University of Rochester (N.Y.), from which he graduated in 1919, and Harvard Law School, which granted him an LL.B. in 1923. From that date until he entered the U.S. Congress in 1947 Keating was active in the law firm of Harris, Beach, Wilcox and Dale, earning a reputation as an adroit trial lawyer. In 1928 Keating married Louise Depuy; they had one daughter....

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Nelson, Hugh (30 September 1768–18 March 1836), congressman, diplomat, and jurist, was born in Yorktown, Virginia, the son of Thomas Nelson, a merchant and governor of Virginia, and Lucy Grymes. The great event of his childhood was the American Revolution, in which his father played a prominent role. He graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1790 and shortly thereafter moved to Albemarle County, Virginia. Nelson married Eliza Kinloch in 1799; they had nine children who survived to maturity. Nelson and his family lived at “Belvoir,” an Albemarle County estate acquired from his father-in-law....

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Taft, Alphonso (05 November 1810–21 May 1891), judge, U.S. attorney general, and diplomat, was born in Townshend, Vermont, the son of Peter Rawson Taft, a farmer and lawyer, and Sylvia Howard. Taft was educated at county schools until he was sixteen. He then taught high school in order to attend Amherst Academy. He received a bachelor’s degree from Yale College in 1833, graduating third in his class, and after several more years of teaching high school he returned to Yale Law School. He received a J.D. in 1838 and was admitted that year to the bar of Connecticut....

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Taylor, Hannis (12 September 1851–26 December 1922), author, diplomat, and lawyer, was born in New Bern, North Carolina, the son of Richard N. Taylor, a merchant, and Susan Stevenson. He studied at primary and secondary schools in the area before entering the University of North Carolina in 1867 at the age of sixteen. Because of his father’s financial problems, Taylor withdrew from the university after one year and moved with his family to Mobile, Alabama, in 1869. There he continued the study of law and was admitted to the Alabama bar in 1870 and to practice before the state supreme court in 1875. In 1878 he married Leonora LeBaron; they had five children. Taylor built a most reputable law practice in Mobile by 1892. He also served as solicitor for Baldwin County, Alabama, and was elected president of the Alabama Bar Association, serving in 1890–1891. He achieved national prominence in 1892, when he unsuccessfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court for the repeal of an 1890 federal law that prohibited the advertisement of lotteries through the mails, including newspapers....

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Wheaton, Henry (27 November 1785–11 March 1848), scholar, diplomat, and Supreme Court reporter, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Seth Wheaton, a prosperous merchant, civic leader, and later president of the Rhode Island branch of the Bank of the United States, and Abigail Wheaton (a cousin). Wheaton entered Rhode Island College (now Brown University) at age twelve, studied law at his father’s urging, and graduated in 1802. After three years in the offices of Providence attorney Nathaniel Searles, he gained admission to the Rhode Island bar in 1805 at age nineteen. His father then sent him for a year abroad to become familiar with the languages, history, and literature of Europe. While in France and England, Wheaton studied civil law at Poitiers and attended the law courts, including the Court of Admiralty at Westminster. He returned to Providence in 1806, embarking on six years of law practice and increasing political involvement, including writings on local, state, national, and international affairs. In 1811 Wheaton married his cousin Catherine, the daughter of Dr. Levi Wheaton, his uncle and mentor. They had three children....