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Bingham, John Armor (21 January 1815–15 March 1900), lawyer and politician, was born in Mercer, Pennsylvania, the son of Hugh Bingham, a carpenter, and Ester Bailey. His father was active in local politics, holding several offices including clerk of courts. After his mother’s death in 1827, John went to Cadiz, Ohio, to live with his uncle Thomas Bingham. He returned to Mercer in 1831 and served two years as an apprentice to an anti-Masonic newspaper. He was a full-time student at Mercer Academy from 1834 to 1835 and enrolled in the antislavery Franklin College in New Athens, Ohio, in 1835. Though some sources suggest that an unspecified illness prevented Bingham from completing his course of study, he appears to have only missed the graduation ceremony. He moved back to Mercer in 1837 and studied law under two prominent local attorneys, John J. Pearson and William Stewart. Bingham was admitted to the practice of law in Pennsylvania and Ohio in 1840. He returned to Cadiz that same year campaigning on behalf of ...

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Bonaparte, Charles Joseph (09 June 1851–28 June 1921), lawyer and politician, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Jerome Bonaparte, a wealthy property owner, and Susan Mary Williams. His grandfather, Jerome Bonaparte, was Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother, and his grandmother, Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte...

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Brandegee, Frank Bosworth (08 July 1864–14 October 1924), lawyer and politician, was born in New London, Connecticut, the son of Augustus Brandegee, a lawyer, and Nancy Christian Bosworth. Brandegee grew up in an aristocratic family and followed closely in the footsteps of his father. Both men graduated Yale University, practiced law, and entered first state and later national politics as members of the Republican party. Brandegee received a B.A. from Yale in 1885, traveled a year in Europe, and was admitted to the Connecticut bar in 1888. At that time he joined the firm of Brandegee, Noyes & Brandegee. From 1889 to 1902, with the exception of two years, he served as corporation counsel of New London and also as U.S. attorney for his district for a time. Elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1888, he was elected again in 1898 and became Speaker of the house in 1899. During this same period, he served as a delegate to the Republican National Conventions of 1888, 1892, 1900, and 1904....

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Bristow, Benjamin Helm (20 June 1832–22 June 1896), lawyer and statesman, was born at Elkton, Kentucky, the eldest son of Francis Marion Bristow and Emily Edwards Helm. His father was a planter, lawyer, and politician while his mother was a member of one of Kentucky’s most distinguished families. Graduating in 1851 from Jefferson College in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, Bristow studied law in his father’s law office and was admitted to the bar in 1854. He married Abigail (“Abbie”) Slaughter Briscoe in 1854, and they had two children....

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Browning, Orville Hickman (10 February 1806–10 August 1881), lawyer and politician, was born near Cynthiana, Kentucky, the son of Micajah Browning, a prosperous farmer and merchant, and Sally Brown. He attended Augusta College in Kentucky from 1825 through 1829 then read law in his uncle William Brown’s office in Cynthiana. In 1831 he was admitted to the bar and moved permanently to Quincy, Illinois. Browning served five weeks in the Illinois militia in the 1832 ...

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Clay, Cassius Marcellus (19 October 1810–22 July 1903), antislavery politician and diplomat, was born in White Hall, Kentucky, the son of Green Clay, a land speculator, and Sally Lewis. Green Clay was one of the wealthiest landowners and slaveholders in Kentucky, and young Cassius was raised in comfort and affluence. He attended Transylvania University (1829–1831) and Yale College (1831–1832), where he received his bachelor’s degree. After returning to Transylvania to study law in 1832–1833, Clay married Mary Jane Warfield in 1833. The marriage produced ten children....

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Clay, Henry (12 April 1777–29 June 1852), statesman, was born in Hanover County, Virginia, the son of John Clay, a Baptist minister, and Elizabeth Hudson. John Clay died during the American Revolution when Henry was four years old. The following year Henry’s mother married Captain Henry Watkins, a planter and militia officer, and later they moved to Kentucky. Henry received his early schooling at the Old Field School and the St. Paul’s School in Virginia. Although he had a gifted mind, his formal education was extremely limited. Nor did he apply himself to his studies. As he later put it, he “relied too much upon the resources of my genius.” But growing up in Hanover County, he heard ...

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Clingman, Thomas Lanier (27 July 1812–03 November 1897), politician and businessman, was born in Huntsville, North Carolina, the son of Jacob Clingman, a merchant, and Jane Poindexter. After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1832, he studied law at the office of ...

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Cobb, Howell (07 September 1815–09 October 1868), lawyer and politician, was born at Cherry Hill in Jefferson County, Georgia, the son of John Addison Cobb, a planter, and Sarah Robinson (Rootes). Enrolling in Franklin College (now the University of Georgia) in Athens, Georgia, in 1829, he graduated in 1834. His college years were marked by his expulsion from school after participating in a riot to protest disciplinary action by the faculty for a minor infraction of leaving campus without permission; he was later readmitted. At the same time, they saw him first show signs of his strong Unionism, for he opposed the nullification movement in South Carolina. On 26 May 1835 he married Mary Ann Lamar; the couple had six children. With marriage Cobb acquired his wife’s sizable estate, including several cotton plantations and some 200 slaves....

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Colden, Cadwallader David (04 April 1769–07 February 1834), lawyer and politician, was born at “Spring Hill,” the family estate, near Flushing, Long Island, New York, the son of David Colden, a scholar, and Ann Willett. He was the grandson of Cadwallader Colden, who was lieutenant governor and often acting governor of the province in the years before the Revolution. As a member of the famous Colden family, he grew up in privileged circumstances, receiving his education in Flushing, then spending a year (1784) at a school in London, England. Following the death of his father, he returned to the United States and took up the study of law, pursuing the subject by moving to St. John, New Brunswick, and working under the guidance of William Wylly, the Crown counsel. Imbibing Wylly’s vast learning and his love of British law, Colden became thoroughly knowledgeable in, and respectful toward, English jurisprudence. In 1791, having completed his legal studies under Wylly, he returned to New York City and opened his own law office. Two years later he married Maria Provoost, a daughter of ...

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Colt, LeBaron Bradford (25 June 1846–18 August 1924), lawyer and politician, was born in Dedham, Massachusetts, the son of Christopher Colt, a businessman, and Theodora Goujand DeWolf. Colt, the nephew of Samuel Colt of Colt revolver fame, spent much of his childhood at his maternal grandfather’s mansion, “Linden Place,” in Bristol, Rhode Island. Graduating from Yale College (now Yale University) in 1868, he earned an LL.B from Columbia College Law School in 1870. Following a year of travel in Europe, Colt returned to the United States and began a law practice in Chicago in 1872. There he married Mary Louise Ledyard in 1873; they had six children. In 1875 the Colts decided to make Bristol, Rhode Island, their permanent home. That same year Colt became a law partner of Francis Colwell in Providence....

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Crater, Joseph Force (05 January 1889–1930), jurist, was one of four children born in Easton, Pennsylvania, to Frank E. Crater, orchard owner and the operator of a produce market, and his wife (whose name cannot be ascertained). The family was comfortable financially, but Joseph learned the value of hard work from an early age by working long hours for his father. He also loved music, and encouraged by his mother he became a skillful pianist. After attending local public schools, he enrolled at Lafayette College, also in Easton, graduating with honors in 1911. He went on to law school at Columbia University and received his degree in 1916....

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Davis, John (13 January 1787–19 April 1854), lawyer and politician, was born in Northborough, Massachusetts, the son of Isaac Davis and Anna Brigham, farmers. Davis attended Yale College, graduating with high honors in 1812, after which he studied law in the office of Francis Blake, a prominent Worcester lawyer, and was admitted to the bar in 1815. After a short time in Spencer, Massachusetts, he settled in Worcester and established a successful law practice. In 1822 Davis married Eliza Bancroft, a sister of historian, Democratic politician, diplomat, and secretary of the navy ...

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Gore, Christopher (21 September 1758–01 March 1827), Federalist statesman, diplomat, and lawyer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of John Gore, a paint and color dealer, and Frances Pinkney. Paternally, he was descended from a Puritan family that migrated from Hampshire in England to Roxbury, Massachusetts, in 1635. After attending the Boston Public Latin School, Gore entered Harvard College where he graduated in 1776. Although his Loyalist father fled Boston in 1776, Gore remained in Massachusetts and served the revolutionary cause as an officer in an artillery regiment. John Gore returned to America from England in 1785 and regained his citizenship. The taint of his father’s Toryism persisted, however, and Gore’s opponents used it against him when he was a candidate for the Massachusetts ratifying convention in 1787....

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Grayson, William (1736–12 March 1790), lawyer, soldier, and statesman, was born in Prince William County, Virginia, the son of Susanna Monroe and Benjamin Grayson, a merchant and factor. He attended the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania), graduating in 1760. Some controversy exists concerning whether he next proceeded to Oxford or to Edinburgh, but the absence of his name from the rolls at Oxford, coupled with his great devotion to the teachings of Adam Smith, seems to militate in favor of the Scottish university. According to tradition, he then received legal training at the Inns of Court. He married Eleanor Smallwood....

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Green, John Patterson (02 April 1845–30 August 1940), lawyer and politician, was born in New Bern, North Carolina, the son of John R. Green, a tailor, and Temperance (maiden name unknown), free African Americans of mixed ancestry. He learned the rudiments of reading and writing at a private school for free blacks. His father died while John was a child, and in June 1857 his mother moved the family to Cleveland, Ohio....

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Hamilton, Alexander (11 January 1757?–12 July 1804), statesman and first secretary of the treasury, was born in Nevis, British West Indies, the second of two illegitimate sons of James Hamilton and Rachel Faucett Lavien. (The year of birth is often given as 1755, but the evidence more strongly supports 1757.) The father deserted the family when Hamilton was eight; the mother died three years later. Hamilton was apprenticed to a firm of international merchants and proved to be so gifted in commerce that he was soon left in full charge of the business. At fifteen he was “discovered” by a Presbyterian minister, who arranged financial support to send him to the College of New Jersey at Princeton. After a year at a preparatory school he passed the stiff entrance exams at Princeton, but when the president refused to allow him to advance at his own pace rather than with the regular classes, he went to King’s College (now Columbia) in New York instead....

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Hays, Will H. (05 November 1879–07 March 1954), motion picture industry official, lawyer, and politician, was born William Harrison Hays in Sullivan, Indiana, the son of John T. Hays, an attorney, and Mary Cain. He graduated from Indiana’s all-male Wabash College in 1900 and privately studied law. Upon passing the Indiana bar, Hays opened a law office in Sullivan and became city attorney. He moved through a variety of political offices in Indiana before he was named chairman of the Republican National Committee in June 1918. When ...

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Hitchcock, Gilbert Monell (18 September 1859–03 February 1934), lawyer, publisher, and politician, was born in Omaha, Nebraska, the son of Phineas W. Hitchcock, a lawyer and politician, and Annie M. Monell. Educated in Omaha and in Baden-Baden, Germany, he studied law at the University of Michigan. Graduating in 1881 with an LL.B., he passed the bar exam and practiced law in Omaha for four years. The young lawyer married Jessie Crounse in 1883; they had two children....

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Holland, Spessard Lindsey (10 July 1892–06 November 1971), lawyer and politician, was born in Bartow, Florida, the son of Benjamin Franklin Holland, an owner of a citrus grove and general farm, and Fannie Virginia Spessard, a teacher in the Summerlin Institute, Bartow. His paternal grandfather, Lindsay Holland, served in the Georgia legislature, and his maternal grandfather, Nat Spessard, served in the Virginia legislature. Holland attended Emory College, Oxford, Georgia, from the fall of 1909 until June 1912, graduating magna cum laude while earning letters in track and football. He then taught high school in Warrenton, Georgia, for two years before enrolling at the University of Florida Law School in Gainesville, Florida, in 1914. Holland served as president of the student body and graduated with an LL.B. in 1916, finishing second in his class. He earned letters in basketball and baseball. ...