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Allen, Henry Justin (11 September 1869–17 January 1950), politician and newspaper editor, was born in Pittsfield, Pennsylvania, the son of John Allen, a farmer, and Rebecca Goodwin. In 1870 the Allens settled on a farm in Clay County, Kansas, which they lost in 1879. The family relocated in Osage County, Kansas, where Allen graduated from Burlingame High School. Working as a barber to attend Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas, he excelled at forensics, which led to his first newspaper job and forecast his later stature as one of America’s most popular public speakers. While at Baker, he met Elsie Jane Nuzman, and they were married in 1892. Only one of their four children survived to adulthood....

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Brooks, Erastus (31 January 1815–25 November 1886), journalist and politician, was born in Portland, Maine, the son of the late James Brooks (c. 1788–1814), a commander of a privateer in the War of 1812 who had gone down with his ship, and Betsey Folsom. The financial problems caused by his father’s early death meant that Erastus had to begin work at age eight as a grocery store clerk in Boston. Ever enterprising, he used his pocket money to buy books and attend night school. He soon was placed in a printing office, where he learned to set type. Knowledge of this trade enabled him to earn enough money to attend classes at Brown University, although he did not complete the course of study. Eager to work for himself, he started his own newspaper, the ...

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Clemens, Jeremiah (28 December 1814–21 May 1865), politician and novelist, was born in Huntsville, Alabama, the son of James Clemens, a merchant. His mother’s maiden name was Mills, but her first name is unknown. Clemens spent the formative years of his life in the northern Alabama upcountry town of Huntsville with his affluent family. He entered La Grange College in 1830, but in 1831 he moved to the newly opened University of Alabama, graduating in 1833. He also spent a year studying law at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. In 1834 he married Mary Read; they had one child....

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Cox, James Middleton (31 March 1870–15 July 1957), newspaper publisher and politician, was born in Jacksonburg, Ohio, the son of Eliza Andrews and Gilbert Cox, farmers. He attended a one-room school until he was sixteen. His parents divorced, and in 1886 Cox moved to nearby Middletown to live with his mother. Cox’s brother-in-law John Q. Baker, who published the ...

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Dickinson, John (08 November 1732–14 February 1808), statesman and political pamphleteer, was born in Talbot County, Maryland, the son of Samuel Dickinson, a plantation owner and merchant, and his second wife, Mary Cadwalader. Owners of extensive properties in Delaware as well as Maryland, the family moved in John’s youth to Kent, near Dover, Delaware. He was tutored at home until the age of eighteen when he began the study of law in the office of John Moland. Three years later he left for London for further legal training at the Middle Temple, the Inns of Court, and Westminster. After completing his studies in 1757, he returned to Philadelphia to open a law office. His extensive knowledge of legal history and precedent as well as his skills in writing and presentation soon earned him an outstanding reputation....

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Flagg, Azariah Cutting (28 November 1790–24 November 1873), newspaper editor and politician, was born in Orwell, Vermont, the son of Ebenezer Flagg and Elizabeth Cutting. In 1801 his parents apprenticed him to a cousin, a Burlington, Vermont, printer who over a period of five years taught him the trade. For the next five years, he was engaged in printing and publishing, and in 1811 he moved to Plattsburgh, New York. Two years later he founded the Plattsburgh ...

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Greeley, Horace (03 February 1811–29 November 1872), newspaper editor and political figure, was born in Amherst, New Hampshire, the son of Zaccheus Greeley and Mary Woodburn, poor New England farmers. Greeley’s youth was marred by his father’s struggle to improve his family’s financial situation. During his first ten years, the family moved four times, from Amherst to Bedford, New Hampshire, back to Amherst, and in 1821 to Westhaven, Vermont. These years of economic uncertainty made a deep impression on young “Hod” Greeley. He was often absent from school because of the need to help his father; his formal education ended at the age of fourteen. Yet, both in school and on his own, he displayed a remarkable and lively intelligence. In later years Greeley paid tribute to the various influences of his Yankee childhood: the Scotch-Irish ancestry on his mother’s side and his English forebears on his father’s, the powerful hold of Calvinism, the promise of the Enlightenment from the revolutionary era....

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Hall, Abraham Oakey (26 July 1826–07 October 1898), politician and journalist, was born in Albany, New York, the son of Morgan James Hall, a wholesale merchant whose business was in New Orleans, and Elsie Lansing Oakey. In 1830 his father died of yellow fever and his mother moved to New York City, where she ran a boardinghouse. Relatives helped his mother finance his education, and Oakey (as he preferred to be called) graduated from New York University in 1844. He attended Harvard Law School for one term but decided that study in a law office would allow him to practice law sooner. Living with an uncle in New Orleans, he studied under noted states’ rights Democrats ...

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Hawley, Joseph Roswell (31 October 1826–18 March 1905), soldier, editor, and politician, was born in Stewartsville, North Carolina, the son of Francis Hawley, a Baptist minister, and Mary McLeod. Hawley’s father wrote and spoke widely against the sins of affluence and slavery, and when the boy was eleven, his family moved to his father’s native state, Connecticut. Young Hawley was educated there and in New York. In 1847 he graduated from Hamilton College, and during the early 1850s he taught school and embarked on a law career....

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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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Luce, Clare Boothe (10 April 1903–09 October 1987), writer and political figure, was born Ann Clare Boothe in New York City, the daughter of William F. Boothe, a businessman and pit-orchestra violinist, and Ann Clare Snyder, a former dancer. She spent her childhood in Chicago and Memphis and also lived for a year in France with her mother after her parents separated. She attended several private schools, including St. Mary’s in Garden City, Long Island, from 1915 to 1917, and then Miss Mason’s School in Tarrytown, New York, from which she graduated in 1919. As a child, Clare Boothe had briefly been an understudy to ...

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Pinchback, P. B. S. (10 May 1837–21 December 1921), politician, editor, and entrepreneur, was born Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback in Macon, Georgia, the son of William Pinchback, a Mississippi plantation owner, and Eliza Stewart, a former slave of mixed ancestry. Because William Pinchback had taken Eliza to Philadelphia to obtain her emancipation, Pinckney was free upon birth....

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Raymond, Henry Jarvis (24 January 1820–18 June 1869), politician and editor, was born in Lima, New York, the son of Jarvis Raymond and Lavinia Brockway, farmers. He grew up on his parents’ eighty-acre farm in western New York. A precocious child, Henry learned to read, according to some accounts, at three years of age. He attended the University of Vermont, where he became a talented orator, a skill that would later help his political career. ...

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Roosevelt, Elliott (23 September 1910–27 October 1990), advertising executive, public figure, and author, was born in New York City, the son of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the thirty-second president of the United States, and Eleanor Roosevelt. He attended Groton Academy in Massachusetts (1923–1929) and Hun School in New Jersey (1929–1930). He declined to follow the family tradition and did not go to Harvard but entered the business world instead. He was an advertising account executive in one firm (1930), vice president of another (1931), and then an account executive in yet another (1932). He became aviation editor for the ...

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Smith, Harry Clay (28 January 1863–10 December 1941), newspaper editor and politician, was born in Clarksburg, West Virginia, the son of John Smith and Sarah (maiden name unknown), occupations unknown. Accompanied by his sister and widowed mother, he came to Cleveland in 1866 and remained there for the rest of his life. A self-taught cornet player, Smith played in several bands while attending high school. After graduating in 1883 he and three friends established the ...

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Tyler, Ralph Waldo (18 March 1860?–02 June 1921), African-American newspaperman and federal officeholder, was born in Columbus, Ohio, the son of James S. Tyler, a shopkeeper active in Republican party politics, and Maria McAfee. Tyler attended public schools in Columbus and studied for one year in Baldwin, Missouri. As a teenager and young man he worked as a coal shoveler, a teacher, a clerk for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and a letter carrier. In 1888 he began a seventeen-year association with the ...

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Webb, James Watson (02 February 1802–07 June 1884), editor and statesman, was born at Claverack, New York, the son of Brigadier General Samuel Blatchley Webb, a revolutionary war hero and merchant, and Catherine Hogeboom. Orphaned early, he was raised by a sister and brother-in-law in Cooperstown, New York, where he was apprenticed to a merchant. Bored, and conscious of his father’s military fame, Webb obtained an army commission at age seventeen. As a second lieutenant he was stationed at Governor’s Island, New York, and at Detroit....