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Dean Acheson. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-94484).

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Acheson, Dean Gooderham (11 April 1893–12 October 1971), lawyer and secretary of state, was born in Middletown, Connecticut, the son of Edward Campion Acheson, an Episcopal minister, and Eleanor Gertrude Gooderham. He grew up in comfortable, middle-class circumstances. His mother’s family wealth and his father’s appointment as a bishop in 1915 attest to his family’s secure place in local Connecticut society. Acheson attended Groton and then Yale University, receiving his B.A. in 1915 with an undistinguished academic record. In May 1917 he married Alice Caroline Stanley; they had three children. At Harvard Law School, he studied under ...

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Joe Adonis. Right, handcuffed to a guard, leaving the New York City Federal Courthouse. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-114628).

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Adonis, Joe (22 November 1902–26 November 1971), organized crime leader, was born Giuseppe Antonio Doto in Montemarano, near Naples, Italy, and illegally entered New York City as a teenager. After settling in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, he adopted the surname “Adonis,” believing that it reflected his good looks. He soon joined forces with other hoodlums who would become famous in organized crime— ...

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Alden, John (1599?–12 September 1687), farmer and magistrate, was one of the original settlers of Plymouth Colony, arriving in New England on the Mayflower in 1620. No definite information exists about his birth, parentage, childhood, or education. In 1620 he lived at Southampton, England, where the migrating Pilgrims stopped for provisions on their way from the Netherlands to the New World. There he was hired as the ship’s cooper in charge of its supply of beer and drinking water. Upon landfall, Alden joined in signing the now famous Mayflower Compact. After the colonists’ arrival in Plymouth, Governor ...

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Aldrich, Winthrop (02 November 1885–25 February 1974), lawyer, banker, and legal and political adviser, was born Winthrop Williams Aldrich in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Nelson Wilmarth Aldrich, a U.S. senator, and Abby Chapman. Aldrich graduated from Harvard College in 1907 and Harvard Law School in 1910. Upon graduation from law school Aldrich joined the New York City law firm of Byrne, Cutcheon & Taylor, specializing in finance and commercial law. In 1916 Aldrich was named a junior partner in the firm, and in December of that year he married Harriet Alexander, the granddaughter of California railroad and banking magnate ...

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Raymond Pace Alexander At his desk in his law office, circa 1935-1940. Collections of the University of Pennsylvania Archives.

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Alexander, Raymond Pace (13 October 1898–24 November 1974), lawyer, judge, and civil rights leader, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the third son of Hillard Boone and Virginia Pace Alexander, both slaves in Virginia who were freed in 1865 and migrated to Philadelphia in 1880. His background was working-class poor and he grew up in Philadelphia's seventh ward, an all-black community made famous by W. E. B. Du Bois's seminal study ...

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Alioto, Joseph L. (12 February 1916–29 January 1998), businessman and mayor, was born Joseph Lawrence Alioto in San Francisco, California, the son of Giuseppe Alioto, a businessman, and Domenica Lazio Alioto. After receiving his early education in local parochial schools, he earned a B.A. from St. Mary's College in Moraga, California, in 1937. An excellent student, he entered the law school at Catholic University on a scholarship and received his J.D. in 1940. Although he gained admittance to the California bar that same year, he remained in Washington and began working at the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice. He married Angelina Genaro on 2 June 1941; the couple would have six children....

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Allen, Henry Watkins (29 April 1820–22 April 1866), Confederate soldier and governor of Louisiana, was born in Prince Edward County, Virginia, the son of Thomas Allen, a physician, and Ann Watkins. Allen and his family moved from Virginia to Ray County, Missouri, when he was thirteen. His father secured him a position working in a store, but Allen found business distasteful and enrolled in Marion College at age fifteen. At seventeen he ran away from college and traveled to Grand Gulf, Mississippi, where he became a tutor on a plantation a few miles outside of town. After tutoring for two years, Allen moved to Grand Gulf to open his own school and to study law. On 25 May 1841 he received his license to practice law in Mississippi. In 1842, when Allen was becoming an established lawyer in Mississippi, President ...

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Allen, Macon Bolling (1816–15 October 1894), lawyer and judge, was born A. Macon Bolling in Indiana; the names of his parents and exact date of birth are unknown. He changed his name to Macon Bolling Allen by act of the Massachusetts legislature on 26 January 1844. Details of Allen’s early life and education are sketchy and contradictory. His birth name is given in some sources as Malcolm B. Allen, and his birthplace as South Carolina. Evidence suggests that he lived in Maine and Massachusetts as a young man. Maine denied his initial application to the Maine bar because of allegations that he was not a state citizen, but he purportedly ran a Portland business before 1844. It is known that he read law in the Maine offices of two white abolitionist lawyers, Samuel E. Sewell and General Samuel Fessenden, and that the latter promoted his admission to the Maine bar in 1844....

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Allen, William (05 August 1704–06 September 1780), chief justice of colonial Pennsylvania, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of William Allen, a wealthy merchant. His mother’s maiden name was Budd; her first name is unknown. Both parents emigrated from Dungannon, Ireland. Through close ties to ...

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Alston, Melvin Ovenus (07 October 1911–30 December 1985), educator, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of William Henry “Sonnie” Alston, a drayman, and Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Smith, a laundress. Of middle-class background in terms of an African-American family in the urban South in the 1920s, he grew up in a house that his family owned, free of any mortgage. After attending Norfolk’s segregated black public schools and graduating from Booker T. Washington High School, he graduated from Virginia State College (B.S., 1935), honored for his debating and for excellence in scholarship, and began teaching math at Booker T. Washington High School in 1935. Beginning in 1937 he served as president of the Norfolk Teachers Association, and he also held local leadership positions in the Young Men’s Christian Association and the First Calvary Baptist Church....

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Ames, James Barr (22 June 1846–08 January 1910), dean of Harvard Law School, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Tarbell Ames, a merchant, and Mary Hartwell Barr. Ames attended the Brimmer School and the Boston Latin School. He enrolled at Harvard College in 1863, receiving an A.B. in 1868. During the next two years he taught at a private school and toured Europe....

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Amidon, Charles Fremont (17 August 1856–26 December 1937), federal judge, was born in Chautauqua County, New York, the son of the Reverend John Smith Amidon and Charlotte Ann Curtis. Raised in rural poverty, he worked his way through high school and Hamilton College, from which he graduated in 1882 with honors. He then moved to Fargo, Dakota Territory, as the principal and sole teacher in the city’s newly established high school but soon gave up teaching to read law. Admitted to the bar in 1886, Amidon established himself as a successful lawyer and civic reformer in the growing frontier city. In 1892 he married Beulah Richardson McHenry, who, in addition to caring for their five children, became a prominent civic reformer and feminist....

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Anderson, Joseph Inslee (05 November 1757–17 April 1837), jurist, U.S. senator, and Treasury official, was born near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of William Anderson and Elizabeth Inslee (occupations unknown). When not yet twenty, Anderson enlisted in the Continental army as a private and rose to the rank of major by the war’s end. He was regimental paymaster during much of the war, and his experience in that capacity served him well in positions he held later. He was with ...

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John André. A rendering of his capture at Tarrytown, New York. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZC4-2395).

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André, John (02 May 1750–02 October 1780), British officer and spy, was born in London, England, the son of Anthony André, a merchant, and Marie Louise Girardot. His early schooling was with a tutor, the Reverend Thomas Newcomb, and he may have attended St. Paul’s School. In his teens André studied mathematics and military drawing at the University of Geneva, giving vent to his romantic temperament by dreaming of a military career. He was rudely brought back to reality by his merchant father when he was called home to work in the countinghouse before he completed a degree. Despising the family business, he nevertheless labored at it manfully for a number of years. After his father died on 14 April 1769, he felt a particular obligation as the eldest son to continue the business, even though his father had left him financially independent, with a small fortune of £5,000. In the summer of 1769 he joined a Lichfield literary group presided over by Anna Seward, a poet. The group included a young lady named Honora Sneyd, for whom he developed a passion. They became engaged and courted for a year and a half before she suddenly rejected him for another man at a Christmas party in 1770. Shattered by this betrayal, André revived his earlier ambition to become a soldier and in early 1771 bought a second lieutenant’s commission in the 23d Regiment, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Later he purchased a first lieutenancy in the same regiment....

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Angell, Joseph Kinnicutt (30 April 1794–01 May 1857), legal writer, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Nathan Angell, a storekeeper, and Amy Kinnicutt. Angell entered Brown University in 1809 at the age of fifteen and graduated in 1813 with a B.A. He immediately began a three-year preparation for the bar, first at ...

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Appleton, John (12 July 1804–07 February 1891), lawyer and judge, was born in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, the son of John Appleton and Elizabeth Peabody, farmers. After graduating from Bowdoin College in 1822, Appleton taught school briefly, then studied law in the offices of George F. Farley of Massachusetts and Nathan Dane Appleton, a relative and prominent attorney in Maine....