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Benjamin, Judah Philip (06 August 1811–06 May 1884), Confederate cabinet member, U.S. senator, and lawyer, was born at Christiansted, St. Croix, West Indies, the son of Philip Benjamin, a shopkeeper, and Rebecca de Mendes. St. Croix was under British rule at the time of Benjamin’s birth. He grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. Though his father’s circumstances were always modest, wealthy relatives and other benefactors helped him attend Yale (1825–1827), but he left as a junior under circumstances that remain unclear....

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Clay, Clement Claiborne (13 December 1816–03 January 1882), U.S. and Confederate senator, was born near Huntsville, Alabama, the son of Clement Comer Clay, a lawyer and later governor and U.S. senator, and Susanna Claiborne Withers. He used the designation C. C. Clay, Jr., to distinguish himself from his father. He graduated from the University of Alabama in 1834 and studied law under John B. Minor at the University of Virginia, receiving his degree in 1839. During his father’s tenure as governor of Alabama, 1835–1837, Clay was his father’s secretary. He practiced law with him from 1839 to 1846, after which he became Madison County judge. He resigned in 1848 for financial reasons. Debt was a lifelong problem, along with chronic bad health, particularly asthma. Clay was associated with the ...

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Hunter, Robert M. T. (21 April 1809–18 July 1887), congressman and statesman, was born Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter at “Mount Pleasant,” his father's estate in Essex County, Virginia, the son of James Hunter, a planter, and Maria Garnett Hunter. Born into a family that had achieved local prominence, he grew up in comfortable surroundings. After receiving his early education through home tutoring, he entered the University of Virginia and graduated in July 1828. Interested in government and history, he decided to become a lawyer and studied under Judge ...

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Mallory, Stephen Russell (1811–09 November 1873), U.S. senator and Confederate secretary of the navy, was born in Trinidad, the son of John Mallory, an engineer, and Ellen Russell. Shortly after his birth, Mallory’s parents moved to Key West. After his father died in 1822, Mallory helped his mother operate a boardinghouse there. From 1826 to 1829 Mallory received his only formal education when he attended a Moravian-run school at Nazareth, Pennsylvania. He returned to Key West, where he studied law and served as inspector of customs (1830), town marshal (1832), fire department director (1835), and collector of customs (1845). He also served in the Florida militia during the Seminole War (1836–1838)....

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Preston, William Ballard (29 November 1805–16 November 1862), U.S. congressman and Confederate senator, was born at Smithfield plantation in Montgomery County, Virginia, the son of James Patton Preston, a prominent planter and Virginia governor, and Ann Barraud Taylor. Preston graduated from Hampden-Sydney College in 1824 and then studied law briefly, at the University of Virginia in 1825 and for a year with his cousin ...