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Ames, Adelbert (31 October 1835–13 April 1933), soldier and politician, was born in Rockland, Maine, the son of Jesse Ames, a sea captain, and Martha B. Tolman. After spending some time at sea as a teenager, Ames entered the U.S. Military Academy, graduating in 1861. He was commissioned a second lieutenant and assigned to the Fifth Artillery. During the Civil War he was wounded at First Bull Run (First Manassas) on 21 July, and he later received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism there in refusing to leave his post despite the wound. He served with the Army of the Potomac during the Peninsula campaign of 1862, and for his actions at Malvern Hill he was brevetted lieutenant colonel. On 8 August 1862 he was named colonel in command of the Twentieth Maine Volunteer Infantry, with ...

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Banks, Nathaniel Prentiss (30 January 1816–01 September 1894), congressman and Civil War general, was born in Waltham, Massachusetts, the son of Nathaniel P. Banks, a textile mill foreman, and Rebecca Greenwood. He attended a school for factory children until he began work in the mills as a bobbin boy at age eleven. At seventeen he left factory work to assist his father in carpentry and to learn the machinist’s trade....

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Belknap, William Worth (22 September 1829–12 or 13 Oct. 1890), secretary of war, was born in Newburgh, New York, the son of William Goldsmith Belknap, a career army officer, and Ann Clark. Following his graduation from Princeton in 1846, he studied law at Georgetown University. Belknap moved to Keokuk, Iowa, in 1851 and became the law partner of Ralph P. Lowe, who later became the governor of Iowa and a state supreme court justice....

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Burr, Aaron (06 February 1756–14 September 1836), revolutionary soldier, U.S. senator, and vice president of the United States, was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Aaron Burr, a theologian and the second president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University), and ...

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Clinton, George (26 July 1739–20 April 1812), soldier, governor of New York, and vice president of the United States, was born in Little Britain, New York, the son of Charles Clinton, a farmer and surveyor, and Elizabeth Denniston. After schooling with a private tutor, George left home in 1757 to serve as a steward’s mate on the ...

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Donovan, William Joseph (01 January 1883–08 February 1959), lawyer, soldier, and intelligence official, was born in Buffalo, New York, the son of Timothy Patrick Donovan, a railroad yardmaster, and Anna Letitia Lennon. After starting college at Niagara University, Donovan transferred to Columbia University from which he received an A.B. in 1905 and an LL.B. in 1907. He joined the law firm of Love and Keating in Buffalo. In 1912 he and Bradley Goodyear formed a partnership that merged with Buffalo’s leading firm, O’Brian and Hamlin, to become O’Brian Hamlin Donovan and Goodyear. Hamlin’s withdrawal led to the firm’s dissolution in 1920. Meanwhile, in 1914, Donovan married socially prominent Ruth Rumsey. They had two children....

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Eisenhower, Dwight David (14 October 1890–28 March 1969), U.S. Army general and thirty-fourth president of the United States, was born in Denison, Texas, the son of David Jacob Eisenhower and Ida Elizabeth Stover, shopkeepers and laborers. When Eisenhower was a year old, the family moved to Abilene, Kansas. He was a bright, competitive, ambitious, and athletic boy, a bit above average as a student. In 1911 he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. In 1915, after graduating in the middle of his class, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry and assigned to Fort Sam Houston, Texas. There he met Marie Geneva “Mamie” Doud ( ...

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Engen, Donald Davenport (28 May 1924–13 July 1999), naval officer, test pilot, public servant, was born in Pomona, California, the son of Sydney M. Engen, a stockbroker and later an Internal Revenue Service employee, and Dorothy Davenport Engen. Engen spent his childhood years in southern California, principally in Pasadena. When he was in fourth grade, he decided that he wanted to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and become a naval officer....

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Forrestal, James Vincent (15 February 1892–22 May 1949), secretary of the navy and first U.S. secretary of defense, was born in Matteawan, New York, the son of James Forrestal, a construction contractor, and Mary Ann Toohey, a schoolteacher. Raised in a small-town Irish-Catholic community, Forrestal attended Dartmouth College in 1911. In 1912 he transferred to Princeton University, where he developed social and business connections with the Protestant establishment. He withdrew before graduating with his class, possibly over a dispute with a professor. He held a number of sales jobs before a Princeton alumnus arranged for him to join the Wall Street investment firm of William A. Read and Company. The First World War interrupted Forrestal’s rising career as a bond salesman. During the war he served as a lieutenant junior grade in the Aviation Division of the newly created Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, D.C. In 1926 he married Josephine Ogden, a ...

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Grant, Ulysses S. (27 April 1822–23 July 1885), Union army general and president of the United States, was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio, the son of Jesse Root Grant, a tanner and farmer, and Hannah Simpson. Baptized as Hiram Ulysses Grant, he was called Ulysses from infancy. When he was a year old, the family moved to Georgetown, Ohio, where Ulysses attended local schools and worked in his father’s tannery, a job he hated, and on the farm. Shy and reticent with people, Ulysses loved horses and developed extraordinary skills of gentle discipline and command over them. At the age of seven he was driving a team; soon he took over much of the hauling for the tannery and plowing on the farm....

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Hindman, Thomas Carmichael (28 January 1828–27 September 1868), general and congressman, was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, the son of Thomas Carmichael Hindman and Sallie Holt. His father moved to Jacksonville, Alabama, in 1832 as an Indian agent of the federal government and then to Ripley, Tippah County, Mississippi, in 1841, where he operated a large plantation. As the son of a well-to-do family, Hindman attended a variety of local private schools and graduated in 1846 from the Lawrenceville Classical and Commercial Institute located near Princeton, New Jersey....

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Hobson, Richmond Pearson (17 August 1870–16 March 1937), naval officer and congressman, was born in Greensboro, Alabama, the son of James Marcellus Hobson, a lawyer, and Sarah Croom Pearson. He received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis in May 1885. The youngest member of his class, he was put “in Coventry” (ostracism via the silent treatment) by his classmates for placing some of them on report and spent the balance of his second- and all of his first-class years under the ban. Never lower than third academically, he graduated in 1889 first in his class. The ostracism was to cast a long shadow on the active naval career of one who, in his own words, “ ...

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Howard, Oliver Otis (08 November 1830–26 October 1909), soldier, government official, and educator, was born in Leeds, Maine, the son of Rowland Bailey Howard and Eliza Otis, farmers. As a boy Howard worked in the company of a young black farmhand, an experience to which he later attributed his broadmindedness in racial matters. Howard graduated from Bowdoin College in 1850 and entered the U.S. Military Academy. He graduated from West Point in 1854, ranked fourth in his class. In 1855 Howard married Elizabeth Ann Waite; the couple had seven children. He first served at the federal arsenals in New York and Maine and then as an ordnance officer in Florida. In 1857 Howard returned to West Point to teach mathematics. The same year he experienced the religious conversion that would earn him such sobriquets as “the Christian Soldier.” His distaste for alcohol and profanity hardly endeared him to many of his fellows. ...

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Jackson, Andrew (15 March 1767–08 June 1845), soldier and seventh president of the United States, was born in the Waxhaw Settlement, South Carolina, the son of Andrew Jackson and Elizabeth Hutchinson, farmers. Like many other Scotch-Irish at the time, Andrew and Elizabeth Jackson migrated to this country from the port of Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland in 1765, landing most probably in Philadelphia and then journeying southward to join relatives living in the Waxhaw Settlement along the northwestern boundary separating North and South Carolina. They settled with their two sons, Hugh and Robert, on a stretch of land on the south side of Twelve Mile Creek, a branch of the Catawba River, and for two years tried to scratch a living from this acid soil. Then, early in March 1767, Andrew died suddenly. Approximately two weeks later, on 15 March, Elizabeth gave birth to her third son and named him after her deceased husband. Later a dispute arose over the exact location of the birthplace of the future president—whether he was born in North or South Carolina—but Jackson himself always believed and repeatedly stated that he was born in South Carolina....

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Jenkins, Albert Gallatin (10 November 1830–21 May 1864), congressman and Confederate general, was born at “Greenbottom,” Cabell County, Virginia (now West Virginia), the son of William A. Jenkins, businessman and planter, and Jeannette Grigsby McNutt. Before settling in western Virginia along the Ohio River on his Greenbottom plantation, William A. Jenkins had prospered as the owner of a shipping business that exported tobacco and cotton to South America in exchange for coffee. Albert received preparatory schooling at the Marshall Academy in nearby Huntington. In 1846 he and his two brothers enrolled at Jefferson College in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, graduating two years later. From 1848 to 1850 Jenkins attended Harvard Law School, earning his LL.B. degree in July 1850. Returning to his native state, he was admitted to the bar and began his legal practice in Charleston. In 1858 he married Virginia Southard Bowlin. The couple had three children who lived to adulthood and, according to family history, a fourth who died in infancy....

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Logan, John Alexander (09 February 1826–26 December 1886), Union general and U.S. senator, was born in Jackson County, Illinois, the son of John Logan, a physician and politician, and Elizabeth Jenkins. He was educated in local schools and at an academy in adjoining Randolph County before serving as second lieutenant in an Illinois regiment during the Mexican War, service that took him as far as Santa Fe but involved no combat. Afterward he studied law at the University of Louisville (1850–1851), won election as prosecuting attorney for Jackson and Franklin counties, Illinois, moved to Benton, Illinois, and then successfully campaigned for the Illinois legislature. At the age of twenty-six, the fiery Jacksonian Democrat won popularity as the chief proponent of legislation effectively banning blacks from Illinois. In 1855 he married Mary Simmerson Cunningham, who, well educated and vivacious, furthered his career with her charm and writing ability. The couple had three children. Prominence in the law, both in private practice and as prosecutor, and another term in the legislature (1857) prepared the way for his election to Congress in 1858....

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Myer, Albert James (20 September 1828–24 August 1880), army officer, first chief signal officer, and first head of the National Weather Service, was born in Newburgh, New York, the son of Henry Beeckman Myer and Eleanor Pope McClanahan. After his mother’s death in 1835, Albert lived with his aunt, Serena Nixon McClanahan, in Buffalo, New York. Myer learned telegraphy as a boy. He graduated from Geneva (now Hobart) College in 1847....

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Rosecrans, William Starke (06 September 1819–11 March 1898), soldier and congressman, was born in Delaware County, Ohio, the son of Crandall Rosecrans and Jemima Hopkins, farmers. His father died when Rosecrans was in his teens, forcing the boy to play a major role in supporting his family. Largely through his own efforts, he secured an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy, from which he graduated fifth in the 56-man class of 1842....

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Rousseau, Lovell Harrison (04 August 1818–07 January 1869), military officer and congressman, was born near Stanford, Lincoln County, Kentucky; his parents’ names are unknown. He briefly attended local schools and worked on neighboring farms before joining a construction crew to build a road from Lexington to Lancaster. Rousseau then studied law in Louisville. He moved to Bloomfield, Indiana, in 1840 and was admitted to the bar in February 1841. He took an immediate interest in politics and became affiliated with the Whig party. Rousseau was a member of the Indiana State House of Representatives in 1844 and 1845. Attached to the Second Indiana Infantry during the Mexican War, he held the rank of captain and in 1847 served with General ...

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Schurz, Carl (02 March 1829–14 May 1906), Civil War general, U.S. senator, and secretary of the interior, was born in Liblar near Cologne, the son of Christian Schurz, a teacher and small businessman, and Marianne Jüssen. He was educated at the Marcellen Gymnasium in Cologne and at the University of Bonn, where he was strongly influenced by Professor Gottfried Kinkel, a convinced German nationalist and democrat. During the Revolution of 1848 Schurz joined Kinkel in agitating for radical democratic and republican reforms. His participation in an ill-conceived attempt to seize the arsenal at Siegburg caused him to flee to the Palatinate, where he joined the revolutionary forces. Commissioned a lieutenant, he took part in engagements at Übstadt and Bruchsal and was almost captured by the Prussians in besieged Rastatt. In danger of punishment for treason, he managed to escape through a sewer and reach safety in France....