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Blyden, Edward Wilmot (03 August 1832–12 February 1912), advocate of Pan Africanism, was born on the island of St. Thomas, part of the present-day Virgin Islands, the son of Romeo Blyden, a tailor, and Judith (maiden name unknown), a schoolteacher. The family lived in a predominantly Jewish, English-speaking community in the capital, Charlotte-Amalie. Blyden went to the local primary school but also received private tutoring from his father. In 1842 the Blydens left St. Thomas for Porto Bello, Venezuela, where Blyden showed his facility for learning foreign languages. By 1844 the family had returned home to St. Thomas. Blyden attended school only in the morning, and in the afternoons he served a five-year apprenticeship as a tailor. In 1845 the Blyden family met the Reverend John P. Knox, a famous white American minister who had assumed pastorship of the Dutch Reformed Church in St. Thomas, where the Blydens were members. Knox quickly became Blyden’s mentor and encouraged his academic studies and oratorical skills. Because of Knox’s influence, Blyden decided to become a clergyman, an aspiration his parents supported....

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Campbell, Thomas (01 February 1763–04 January 1854), one of the early leaders of the Restoration movement in American Protestantism, was born in County Down, Ireland, the son of Archibald Campbell, a soldier, and Alice McNally. Little is known about Campbell’s early life, but from a young age he was pious and studious. His father had converted from Roman Catholicism to Anglicanism, but Thomas joined the Seceder branch of the Presbyterian church as a young man. After teaching Latin and Greek near his home town, Thomas was allowed to attend the University of Glasgow, where he studied for the Presbyterian ministry. Following the normal three-year theological program, he received special training provided by the Antiburgher faction of the Seceder Presbyterian church. When his formal education was completed, he returned to Ireland, where he taught at Ballymena in County Antrim. There he married Jane Corneigle, probably in 1787. They had ten children, two of whom died in infancy. In 1798 he accepted the pastorate of Ahorey Church and also began an academy at Rich Hill....

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Delany, Martin Robison (06 May 1812–24 January 1885), black nationalist, was born in Charles Town, Virginia (now West Virginia), the son of Samuel Delany, a slave, and Pati Peace, a free black seamstress. In 1822 his mother moved the family to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, to avoid punishment for violating state law after whites discovered that she had taught her five children to read and write. In 1823 Samuel joined the family after he had, with his wife’s assistance, purchased his freedom. In 1832 Martin Delany moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the next year began an apprenticeship with Andrew N. McDowell, a local white doctor. In 1843 he married Catherine Richards. The couple had seven children, whom Delany proudly named after famous blacks. After being rejected by a number of medical schools, he entered Harvard Medical School in 1850 but was dismissed under the pressure of student protests....

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Dowie, John Alexander (25 May 1847–09 March 1907), religious sectarian, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of John Murray Dowie, a tailor and lay preacher, and Ann Macfarlane-McHardie. Early years in the family were marked by poverty, piety, and illness. A move to Australia in 1860 alleviated conditions somewhat, and young Dowie became successful in the dry goods business. In 1868, however, he decided to enter the ministry and studied at the University of Edinburgh for two years. Upon returning to Australia he was ordained minister of the Congregational church in Alma in May 1870. In 1876 he married Jane Dowie, a cousin whose family was initially quite opposed to the union; they had two children. Over the next few years Dowie held pastorates in Sydney and one of its suburbs, Newtown. However, in 1878 he decided that it was wrong for ministers to be salaried, and so he turned to independent evangelistic work. This proved to be so successful that he was soon able to build a large nondenominational tabernacle in Melbourne....

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Garvey, Marcus (17 August 1887–10 June 1940), black nationalist, was born Marcus Moziah Garvey in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica, the son of Marcus Moziah Garvey, a stonemason, and Sarah Jane Richards. He attended the local elementary school and read widely on his own. Difficult family finances forced him into employment at age fourteen as a printer’s apprentice. Three years later he moved to Kingston, found work as a printer, and became involved in local union activities. In 1907 he took part in an unsuccessful printers’ strike. These early experiences honed his journalistic skills and raised his consciousness about the bleak conditions of the black working class in his native land....

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Gordon, John Brown (06 February 1832–09 January 1904), soldier and politician, was born in Upson County, Georgia, the son of Zachariah Herndon Gordon, a minister, and Malinda Cox. After studies at a private school established by his father, John attended Pleasant Green Academy for a year before entering the University of Georgia in 1850. He did well at Georgia but did not graduate. In 1854 he moved to Atlanta to pursue a legal career. His practice, however, was not as successful as he had hoped, and he decided to explore other fields of employment. After a brief stint as a journalist covering the Georgia General Assembly, he joined his father in a coal-mining venture that quickly prospered. In 1854 he married Fanny Rebecca Haralson, with whom he had six children....

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Kościuszko, Tadeusz Andrzej Bonawentura (12 February 1746–15 October 1817), revolutionary war officer and leader for Polish independence, was born at one of his family’s estates, either “Mereczowszczyna” or “Siechnowicze,” both near Kosów, Poland, the son of Ludwig Tadeusz Kościuszko, an army colonel and member of the minor gentry, and Thecla Ratomska. As the youngest of four sons, Kościuszko could share in inheritance but not control of the family estates. Thus he chose an army career. His father died in 1758, and his mother ten years later. After being tutored by an uncle and briefly attending a Jesuit school in Brześć, Kościuszko, from 1755 to 1760, studied at a school of the Piarist Fathers in Lubieszów, near Pinsk. Sponsored by Prince Casimir Czartoryski, Kościuszko entered the Royal Corps of Cadets at the Royal Military School in Warsaw in December 1765. After one year he was an ensign and an instructor of students; in 1768 he was promoted to captain, graduating the following year....

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Mack, Julian William (19 July 1866–05 September 1943), lawyer, judge, and Zionist leader, was born in San Francisco, California, the son of William Jacob Mack, an immigrant from Bavaria who prospered as a dry goods merchant, and Rebecca Tandler. Julian was the second of thirteen children born to the couple. Because of health reasons, William Mack resettled the family in Cincinnati in 1870, and there young Julian came under the influence of Rabbi ...

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MacNeven, William James (21 March 1763–12 July 1841), physician, professor, and Irish-American nationalist, was born on a small estate in Ballynahowne, County Galway, Ireland, the son of James MacNeven and Rosa Dolphin. William’s mother died when he was young, and he and his three brothers were raised by their aunt. At age ten or eleven William was sent to Prague to live with his uncle Baron William O’Kelley MacNeven, a court physician to Empress Maria Theresa. Following a classical education, William attended university in Prague and went on to study medicine at the University of Vienna, from which he graduated in 1783. In 1784 MacNeven returned to Dublin, where he established a medical practice....

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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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Mitchel, John (03 November 1815–20 March 1875), Irish nationalist and journalist, was born near Dungiven, County Derry (Londonderry), Ireland, the son of John Mitchel, a Presbyterian (and later Unitarian) clergyman, and Mary Haslett. In 1819 Mitchel’s family moved to Derry City and then in 1823 to Dromalane near Newry, County Down, where he spent the rest of his childhood. From 1830 to 1834 Mitchel was enrolled in Trinity College, Dublin. In late 1835 or early 1836 he began studying law in the office of a Newry solicitor. In February 1837, during his legal apprenticeship, he married Jane (Jenny) Verner of Newry. The couple had six children. In 1840 Mitchel completed his legal training and moved to nearby Banbridge, where he practiced law....

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Simmons, William Joseph (06 May 1880–18 May 1945), founder and imperial wizard of the modern Ku Klux Klan, was born in Harpersville, Alabama, the son of Calvin Henry Simmons, a physician, and Lavonia David. A talent for oratory led Simmons into the ministry at an early age. “When I was fourteen years old I was a regular leader of the mid-week evening prayer meetings in our Methodist Church,” Simmons told an interviewer for ...

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Wise, Stephen Samuel (17 March 1874–19 April 1949), rabbi, reformer, and Jewish communal leader, was born in Erlau, Hungary (near Budapest), the son of Aaron Weisz (later Wise), a rabbi, and Sabine de Fischer Farkashazy, the daughter of a baron. Aaron Weisz immigrated to the United States in 1874 and fifteen months later sent for his wife and children. The descendant of six generations of rabbis, Stephen Wise never considered any other career. He studied first with his father, then simultaneously at both the new Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University (graduating from Columbia in 1892). In 1893 he took his rabbinical ordination in Vienna from Adolf Jellinik, the renowned Jewish rabbi and scholar....

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Wright, Frances (06 September 1795–13 December 1852), reformer and author, was born in Dundee, Scotland, the daughter of James Wright, a linen merchant, and Camilla Campbell. Wright’s father was an ardent supporter of Thomas Paine, and although “Fanny” was younger than three when her parents died, she later remarked on “a somewhat singular coincidence in views between a father and daughter, separated by death when the first had not reached the age of twenty-nine, and when the latter was in infancy” (Eckhardt, pp. 5–6). After her parents’ death, she and her siblings were parceled out to various relatives, and Wright went to live with her aunt and maternal grandfather in England. She and her sister Camilla were reunited in Dawlish around 1806, only to suffer the death of their brother and their grandfather three years later....