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Baker, Edward Dickinson (24 February 1811–21 October 1861), statesman and soldier, was born in London, England, the son of Edward Baker, an educator, and Lucy Dickinson. The family emigrated to the United States in 1815 and lived in Philadelphia for about ten years. The elder Baker ran a school that young Edward attended until he secured employment as a hand loom weaver. Attracted by ...

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Blair, Francis Preston, Jr. (19 February 1821–09 July 1875), statesman and Union army officer, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, the son of Francis Preston Blair, the influential editor of the Congressional Globe, and Eliza Violet Gist Blair. He was a brother of Montgomery Blair...

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Chamberlain, Joshua Lawrence (08 September 1828–24 February 1914), soldier, politician, and educator, was born in Brewer, Maine, the son of Joshua Chamberlain, a farmer and shipbuilder, and Sarah Dupee Brastow. After attending a military academy in Ellsworth, Chamberlain entered Bowdoin College in 1848, graduating in 1852. Three years later, after graduating from the Bangor Theological Seminary, he joined Bowdoin’s faculty and taught a broad range of subjects, including logic, natural theology, rhetoric, oratory, and modern languages. In 1855 he married Frances Caroline Adams; of the couple’s five children, three survived to adulthood....

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Colquitt, Alfred Holt (20 April 1824–26 March 1894), Confederate military officer and politician, was born in Walton County, Georgia, the son of Walter T. Colquitt, an attorney and later a judge, congressman, and U.S. senator, and Nancy Lane. Graduating from Princeton University in 1844, Colquitt studied law and was admitted to the bar in Georgia in 1846....

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Dix, John Adams (24 July 1798–21 April 1879), politician and general, was born in Boscawen, New Hampshire, the son of Timothy Dix, a merchant, and Abigail Wilkins. He received a varied liberal education, including a year at Phillips Exeter Academy and fifteen months at the College of Montreal. At age fourteen, while being tutored in Boston, Dix pleaded to join the army to defend the nation in the War of 1812. His father, a major, helped him to obtain a commission, and he served in battles at Chrysler’s Field (1813) and Lundy’s Lane (1814). His father’s death during the war caused Dix to stay in the army to help support his stepmother and siblings. Serving as an aide to Major General ...

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Gordon, John Brown (06 February 1832–09 January 1904), soldier and politician, was born in Upson County, Georgia, the son of Zachariah Herndon Gordon, a minister, and Malinda Cox. After studies at a private school established by his father, John attended Pleasant Green Academy for a year before entering the University of Georgia in 1850. He did well at Georgia but did not graduate. In 1854 he moved to Atlanta to pursue a legal career. His practice, however, was not as successful as he had hoped, and he decided to explore other fields of employment. After a brief stint as a journalist covering the Georgia General Assembly, he joined his father in a coal-mining venture that quickly prospered. In 1854 he married Fanny Rebecca Haralson, with whom he had six children....

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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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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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Hartranft, John Frederick (16 December 1830–17 October 1889), Civil War officer and politician, was born near Pottstown, Pennsylvania, the child of Samuel E. Hartranft, a local landowner, and Lydia Bucher, both of German ancestry. He graduated from Union College in 1853 with a degree in civil engineering. About the same time as his marriage to Sallie Sebring (with whom he had one son and two daughters) in 1854, Hartranft changed his life’s vocation to law and politics....

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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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Hurlbut, Stephen Augustus (29 November 1815–27 March 1882), army officer and politician, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Martin Luther Hurlbut, a Unitarian minister and teacher, and Lydia Bunce. He studied law with prominent Charleston Unionist lawyer James L. Petigru...

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Lafayette, Marquis de (06 September 1757–20 May 1834), major general in the Continental army and French soldier and statesman, was born Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch Gilbert du Motier Lafayette in Chavaniac, France, the son of Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, and Julie de la Rivière. After his father, a colonel in the grenadiers, was killed at the battle of Minden in 1759, his mother moved to Paris. The boy was raised at Château Chavaniac in the mountains of Auvergne until he was twelve. He then spent four years at the Collège du Plessis in Paris in a curriculum emphasizing the civic virtues of republican Rome....

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Marshall, George Catlett, Jr. (31 December 1880–16 October 1959), soldier and statesman, was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, the son of George Catlett Marshall, Sr., a businessman distantly related to Chief Justice John Marshall, and Laura Bradford. Marshall spent an unexceptional childhood in Uniontown. In 1897 he was admitted to the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, where he first exhibited his leadership abilities and was selected first corporal, sergeant, and captain of the cadets. Soon after graduation in 1901 he applied for and on 2 February 1902 received a commission in the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant. Nine days later he married Elizabeth Carter Coles. They remained happily married until her death in 1927 but had no children....

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McClernand, John Alexander (30 May 1812–20 September 1900), politician and soldier, was born near Hardinsburg, Kentucky, the son of John A. McClernand, a physician, and Fatima Cummins Seaton. His father died when McClernand was four, and he was raised by his mother in and near Shawneetown, Illinois, where he attended school and studied law. Admitted to the bar in 1832, he soon enlisted in the ...

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McLane, Allen (08 August 1746–22 May 1829), soldier and politician, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of a Scottish immigrant, Allen McLeane (as he spelled his name in his will), a leather breeches maker, and Jane Irwin. The son always spelled his first name Allen, although it appears as Allan on his tombstone in Asbury Church cemetery in Wilmington. Details of his rearing and education are unknown, except that he traveled to Europe in 1767. Apparently having previously moved to Kent County, Delaware, he was married there in 1770 to Rebecca Wells, daughter of the sheriff; they had fourteen children, of whom eleven died in infancy....

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Muhlenberg, John Peter Gabriel (01 October 1746–01 October 1807), revolutionary soldier and politician, , also known as Peter Muhlenberg, was born in the German settlement of Trappe, Pennsylvania, the son of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, a Lutheran minister, and Anna Maria Weiser. Tall and strong as a boy, impulsive but shy, he was drawn to the military. From 1760 to 1763 he attended the Academy of Philadelphia but preferred fishing and hunting to his studies. In April 1763 his father sent him, together with two brothers, to Halle, Germany, to give them the advantages of a better education than was available at the time in Pennsylvania. John Peter’s mentors at the Franckesche Stiftungen, however, found him unsuited to study for the ministry and thought him better qualified for a career in commerce....

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Pinckney, Thomas (23 October 1750–02 November 1828), soldier and statesman, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Charles Pinckney and Elizabeth “Eliza” Lucas. Members of South Carolina’s low-country landed aristocracy, his parents prepared him, his older brother, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, and his sister, Harriott, for expected leadership roles in the colony’s society. Because of limited educational opportunities, the parents moved to England in 1753, enrolling the boys in local academies. Threats of war with France, however, forced the elder Pinckneys to return with Harriott to South Carolina in 1754, leaving their sons in England. Unfortunately, the elder Charles Pinckney died two months after arriving at Charleston....

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Roosevelt, Theodore, Jr. (13 September 1887–12 July 1944), public official and military officer, was born in Oyster Bay, New York, the son of Theodore Roosevelt, twenty-sixth president of the United States, and Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt. He grew up in the shadow of his presidential father, who pushed his son toward ever greater accomplishments. He entered Harvard University in 1905 and graduated in 1908. Two years later he married Eleanor Alexander; they had three sons and a daughter....

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Sickles, Daniel Edgar (20 October 1819–03 May 1914), politician, soldier, and diplomat, was born in New York City, the son of George Garrett Sickles, a lawyer, and Susan Marsh. Young Sickles briefly attended New York University prior to entering law practice in 1840; he was admitted to the bar in 1843 and soon became affiliated with Tammany Hall, the Democratic political machine that controlled New York City....

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Sigel, Franz (18 November 1824–21 August 1902), soldier, educator, and politician, was born in Sinsheim, Grand Duchy of Baden, the son of Franz Moritz Sigel, a chief magistrate, and Maria Anna Lichtenauer. Sigel graduated from the military academy at Karlsruhe in 1843 and entered the service of the Grand Duke of Baden as a lieutenant. He played a conspicuous role in the revolutionary ferment that swept Baden five years later. During the 1848 revolt for unification of the German states along liberal constitutional lines, he held a command in the revolutionary army in Baden. Defeated by the Prussian army, he fled to Switzerland. In 1849, after a revolutionary government came to power, Sigel returned to Baden and became secretary of war. Prussian troops entered Baden soon after to restore the deposed government. Sigel took the field as adjutant to the commander of the army, which was defeated at the battle of Waghäusel. With the revolution over, Sigel took command of the beaten army and conducted a difficult retreat to Switzerland. He would be fondly remembered by his fellow exiles as a magnificent failure in a memorable cause....