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André, John (02 May 1750–02 October 1780), British officer and spy, was born in London, England, the son of Anthony André, a merchant, and Marie Louise Girardot. His early schooling was with a tutor, the Reverend Thomas Newcomb, and he may have attended St. Paul’s School. In his teens André studied mathematics and military drawing at the University of Geneva, giving vent to his romantic temperament by dreaming of a military career. He was rudely brought back to reality by his merchant father when he was called home to work in the countinghouse before he completed a degree. Despising the family business, he nevertheless labored at it manfully for a number of years. After his father died on 14 April 1769, he felt a particular obligation as the eldest son to continue the business, even though his father had left him financially independent, with a small fortune of £5,000. In the summer of 1769 he joined a Lichfield literary group presided over by Anna Seward, a poet. The group included a young lady named Honora Sneyd, for whom he developed a passion. They became engaged and courted for a year and a half before she suddenly rejected him for another man at a Christmas party in 1770. Shattered by this betrayal, André revived his earlier ambition to become a soldier and in early 1771 bought a second lieutenant’s commission in the 23d Regiment, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Later he purchased a first lieutenancy in the same regiment....

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Bentley, Elizabeth Terrill (01 January 1908–03 December 1963), Communist party activist and government witness, was born in New Milford, Connecticut, the daughter of Charles Prentiss Bentley, a newspaper editor and department store manager, and Mary Burrill, a schoolteacher. After growing up in small towns in Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania, Bentley enrolled in Vassar College and in 1930 received an undergraduate degree in English. While at Vassar, she became involved in a variety of Socialist causes but did not demonstrate any interest in more radical left-wing ideas. For two years following graduation, she taught languages at the Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Virginia, but left in 1932 for Columbia University, where she earned her M.A. in Italian in 1935. While working on her graduate degree, she accepted a fellowship that took her to the University of Florence for the 1933–1934 academic year....

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Church, Benjamin (1639–17 January 1718), soldier, was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the son of Richard Church, a carpenter, and Elizabeth Warren. He married Alice Southworth in 1667; the couple had eight children. Early in life Church followed his father’s trade, and he first appeared in public records as a trial juror in Plymouth, 25 October 1668. Two years later he was listed as a freeman of “Duxburrow” (Duxbury, Plymouth Colony), where he also sat on trial juries and served as constable. In 1674 he acquired land in Saconet (later Little Compton, R.I.) from the Plymouth General Court and claimed to be “the first English Man that built upon that Neck, which was full of Indians.” Church described himself as “a Person of uncommon Activity and Industry,” though little is known of his personal life at the time. He gained the favor of the local Indians and, by his own estimation, even won their “great esteem.” He became acquainted with Awashonks, the “Squaw Sachem” of the Sakonnet Indians, and their friendship led to Church’s early involvement in ...

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Fuchs, Klaus Emil Julius (29 December 1911–28 January 1988), physicist and spy, was born in Russelheim, near Frankfurt, Germany, the son of Emil Fuchs, a Lutheran minister, and Else Wagner. Klaus Fuchs studied mathematics and physics at Leipzig University (1928–1931) and continued his undergraduate studies in physics at Kiel University (1931–1933). As a student at Kiel University, he joined, first, the Social Democratic party and, in 1932, the German Communist party. After the Reichstag fire in February 1933, and the attendant Nazi reprisals against the political Left, Fuchs went into hiding in Berlin for a few months, then migrated to Britain in September 1933. He continued his studies in physics at Bristol University, where he secured a position as a research assistant to Neville Mott. In his research Fuchs applied quantum physics to questions of the electrical resistance of metallic films, working with Bernard Lovell, who was later knighted for his achievements in physics. In 1937 Fuchs was granted a Ph.D. in physics at Bristol. A paper that resulted from his doctoral research, “A Quantum Mechanical Calculation of the Elastic Constants of Monovalent Metals,” appeared in the ...

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Means, Gaston Bullock (11 July 1879–12 December 1938), spy, swindler, and detective, was born in Blackwelder’s Spring, North Carolina, the son of William Gaston Means, an attorney, and Corallie Bullock. Means grew up in Concord, North Carolina, in a family that had lost most of its considerable wealth during the Civil War. He left the University of North Carolina in 1900, early in his third year, and served for two years as the superintendent of the elementary schools in Stanly County, adjacent to Concord. In 1902 he took a job as a salesman for the Cannon textile mills, living in New York City and traveling widely....

Article

Wallace, Lew (10 April 1827–15 February 1905), soldier and author, was born Lewis Wallace at Brookville, Indiana, the son of David Wallace, a soldier and later governor of Indiana, and Esther French Test, who died when Lew was only seven years old. His earliest education was unproductive, the boy rebelling against the strictness of a rural schoolmaster for whom, as Wallace described it in his 1906 autobiography, “flogging was a fine art which he seemed fearful of losing.” But his mother encouraged his learning by making available to him Jane Porter’s romantic history ...

Article

Wilson, James Harrison (02 September 1837–23 February 1925), army officer and author, was born near Shawneetown, Illinois, the son of Harrison Wilson, a county official and farmer-rancher, and Katharine Schneyder. He attended McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois, for one year to prepare himself for an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy. Entering West Point in 1855, Wilson graduated sixth in a class of forty-one cadets in 1860 and became a second lieutenant of engineers....