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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....

Article

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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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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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....