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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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Arnold, Benedict (14 January 1741–14 June 1801), revolutionary war general and traitor, was born in Norwich, Connecticut, the son of Benedict Arnold III, a merchant, and Hannah Waterman King. Of his mother’s eleven children, only he and a younger sister survived. At age eleven he was sent away to grammar school, but he left two years later when his alcoholic father lost the family’s fortune. Apprenticed to his mother’s cousin, an apothecary in Norwich, he volunteered in three campaigns (1757–1759) of the French and Indian War, deserting finally to be with his dying mother. His father died soon after, leaving little except debts, but his generous master paid the debts and set Arnold up in business when he decided to move to New Haven in 1762....

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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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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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Canby, Edward Richard Sprigg (09 November 1817–11 April 1873), Civil War general, was born in Piatt’s Landing, Kentucky, the son of Israel T. Canby, a land speculator and politician, and Elizabeth Piatt. Canby received an appointment to West Point and graduated thirtieth out of thirty-one in the class of 1839. Shortly after graduation he married Louisa Hawkins; they had one child, who died young. He began his military career as a second lieutenant with the Second Regiment of the U.S. Infantry. Canby gained his first military leadership experience during the confrontation with the Seminole Nation in northern Florida, 1840–1842, and his first administrative experience in the Adjutant General’s Office during garrison duty at Fort Niagara, 1842–1846. At the end of this duty, in June 1846, he received promotion to first lieutenant and, in 1847, to captain as assistant adjutant general. During the Mexican War Canby fought beside ...

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Crittenden, Thomas Leonidas (15 May 1819–23 October 1893), lawyer and soldier, was born in Russellville, Kentucky, the son of John J. Crittenden, a lawyer and statesman, and Sarah “Sally” Lee. After unsuccessful business ventures in New Orleans and with a brother-in-law in Louisville, he studied law and was admitted to the Kentucky bar in 1840. Appointed a commonwealth’s attorney in 1843, he occasionally opposed his famous father in courtroom appearances. Crittenden married his stepsister Kittie Todd, probably in 1840. Their only son, Lieutenant John J. Crittenden, was killed with ...

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Doniphan, Alexander William (09 July 1808–08 August 1887), soldier and lawyer, was born near Maysville, Mason County, Kentucky, the son of Joseph Doniphan and Anne Smith, farmers. His father died when Doniphan was not quite five years old. He attended a private school at Augusta, Kentucky, graduating from Augusta College at the age of nineteen. After two years of studying law in the office of Martin Marshall, Doniphan was admitted to the bar in Kentucky and Ohio. He moved to Missouri in 1830, settling initially at Lexington. Three years later, he reestablished his law practice at Liberty in Clay County, where he shared a law office with ...

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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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Force, Manning Ferguson (17 December 1824–08 May 1899), soldier, jurist, and writer, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Peter Force and Hannah Evans. His father was later mayor of Washington and was most famous as compiler of the “American Archives,” a vast collection of rare books, pamphlets, newspapers, maps, and other documents dealing with the history of the American colonies. Manning Force attended Benjamin Hallowell’s preparatory school in his mother’s hometown, Alexandria, Virginia, preparing himself for appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Instead, he went to Harvard, entering as a sophomore and graduating in 1845. He received a law degree after three years of further study, and in 1849 he moved to Cincinnati to practice law. He passed his bar examination in 1850, and the law firm he worked for made him a partner, changing its name to Walker, Kebler, and Force....

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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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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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Halleck, Henry Wager (16 January 1815–09 January 1872), soldier, author, and businessman, was born at Westernville, Oneida County, New York, the son of Joseph Halleck and Catherine Wager, farmers. Raised on the family farm but unwilling to accept agriculture as his life’s work, he ran away from home in 1831 to seek a formal education. He was adopted by his maternal grandfather and attended Union College, where he earned an A.B. degree in 1837. Halleck then entered the U.S. Military Academy, graduated third in the class of 1839, and received appointment in the highly regarded Corps of Engineers....

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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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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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Imboden, John Daniel (16 February 1823–15 August 1895), army officer and lawyer, was born near Staunton in Augusta County, Virginia, the son of George William Imboden and Isabella Wunderlich. Little is known of his parents except that his father fought in the War of 1812. He attended Washington College in 1841 and 1842. Later, in Staunton, he read law, was admitted to the bar, and practiced for some years. He served two terms in the state legislature. After the election of ...

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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....

Article

Lee, Charles (26 January 1731–02 October 1782), revolutionary war general, was born in Chester, England, the son of John Lee, a British officer, and Isabella Bunbury. Possessing the important social advantage of gentle ancestry, his education was not neglected. His father, desiring that he familiarize himself with peoples and languages other than English, enrolled him at an early age in an academy in Switzerland. Over the years, Lee became proficient in Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, and German. In 1746 he entered grammar school at Bury St. Edmunds, where he became lifelong friends with important and well-placed companions such as William Butler and Charles Davers. His father, colonel of the Fifty-fifth Regiment of Foot, also determined that young Lee would continue the family’s tradition of military service. Thus when Lee was fourteen years old, Colonel Lee purchased for him an ensigncy in the Fifty-fifth Regiment, soon renumbered the forty-fourth; when young Lee completed his education he reported for active duty. His father died in 1750, and four years later Lee fell out with his mother. Their problems likely stemmed from a strain of eccentricity in the Bunbury family, which Lee inherited, and which manifested itself in moodiness and a choleric temper. As Lee himself later admitted, he suffered from a “distemper of … mind.” Thereafter, Lee was on close terms only with his unmarried sister, Sidney Lee, who like himself had survived a childhood scarred by the deaths of five siblings....

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Leggett, Mortimer Dormer (19 April 1821–06 January 1896), soldier, educator, and commissioner of patents, was born near Ithaca, New York, the son of Isaac Leggett and Mary Strong, farmers. When he was fifteen, his parents moved to Montville, Ohio, where for the next three years he helped his father clear and tend farmland. After attending night school, Leggett graduated first in his class from a teacher’s college in Kirtland, Ohio. He then studied law at Western Reserve College (later part of Case Western Reserve University). After being admitted to the bar, he attended medical school so that he could specialize in medical jurisprudence; he received an M.D. in 1844. That same year he married Marilla Wells of Montville; they had four sons and a daughter....

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Meagher, Thomas Francis (23 August 1823–01 July 1867), Irish-American nationalist, lawyer, and soldier, was born in Waterford, Ireland, the son of Thomas Meagher, a merchant and member of the British Parliament, and (first name unknown) Quan. Both of Meagher’s parents came from wealthy and prominent Irish families. His mother died while Meagher was an infant. He was subsequently educated at his father’s alma mater, Clongowes-Wood, a Jesuit school in Ireland, and then at Stoneyhurst College in England from 1839 to 1843. Upon graduation he seemed destined to follow his father into a career in business, but in 1845 he joined the Young Ireland party and became embroiled in the rising debate over Irish independence from Great Britain. In the fateful year of 1848, when revolution swept over Europe, Meagher made an impassioned public appeal in Ireland for the violent overthrow of British rule. This advocacy earned him the popular title of “Meagher of the Sword,” which he carried for the rest of his life. His determination to overthrow British rule by violence also landed him in difficulty with the British authorities. In July 1848 he was arrested, tried, convicted of high treason, and condemned to death. Partly because of the prominence of his family, his sentence was commuted in 1849, and the British banished him for life to the island of Tasmania (then a British possession) off the southern coast of Australia....

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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....