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Ames, Oakes (10 January 1804–08 May 1873), businessman and politician, was born in North Easton, Massachusetts, the son of Oliver Ames, a manufacturer, and Susanna Angier. He was educated in local schools and, for a few months, at Dighton Academy. At the age of sixteen, he entered his father’s shovel factory as an apprentice, rising quickly to become the works superintendent and then his father’s assistant. In 1827 he married Evelina Orvile Gilmore, and for the next three decades lived with her and their four children in one wing of his father’s house opposite the factory....

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Bloom, Sol (c. 9 Mar. 1870–07 March 1949), music and entertainment entrepreneur and longtime congressman, was born in Pekin, Illinois, the son of Gershon (later anglicized to Garrison) Bloom and Sara Bloom, Jewish immigrants from Szyrpez, Prussian Poland, who emigrated to the United States before the Civil War. Although legal papers maintain that he was born on 9 March, Bloom acknowledged in his autobiography that his exact date of birth is unknown. Never well-off, the Blooms moved to San Francisco in 1873. According to Bloom his formal education lasted one day, but his mother—the family force—taught him to read and write....

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Bush, Prescott Sheldon (15 May 1895–08 October 1972), banker and U.S. senator, was born in Columbus, Ohio, the son of Samuel Prescott Bush, a manufacturer of railway equipment, and Flora Sheldon. Raised in comfortable circumstances, Bush attended Columbus public schools, St. George’s School in Newport, Rhode Island, and Yale College, where he earned a B.A. in 1917. At Yale, he was a three-sport athlete (baseball, football, golf), president of the glee club, and a member of the prestigious secret society, Skull and Bones. The quintessential “big man on campus,” he seemed headed for a career in law and politics....

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Calvert, George (1580?–15 April 1632), first Lord Baltimore and colonial entrepreneur, was born in Kiplin, Yorkshire, the son of Leonard Calvert, a gentleman of modest means, and a woman named Crossland, perhaps Alicia or Alice, or Grace. Calvert received a broad education through formal study and extensive travel. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Trinity College, Oxford, in 1597 and in 1605 an honorary master’s degree from that university. He gained fluency in Spanish, French, and Italian in his sojourns on the European continent. By his mid-twenties this preparation and his obvious talents in administration and diplomacy brought appointment as private secretary to Sir Robert Cecil, a privy councilor and secretary of state, through whom Calvert acquired still other patronage and the attention of the king. Marriage by 1605 to Anne Mynne of Hertfordshire probably also assisted Calvert’s career; she was related to several prominent families active in government circles and in early trading and colonizing ventures....

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Carroll of Carrollton, Charles (19 September 1737–14 November 1832), planter, businessman, investor, and the only Roman Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, as well as the last of the signers to die, was born in Annapolis, Maryland, the son of Charles Carroll of Annapolis, a planter, and his common-law wife, Elizabeth Brooke. An only child, Carroll was sent at the age of ten to the Jesuit college of St. Omers, in French Flanders, where Maryland’s Catholic gentry sent their sons because the colony’s laws, which denied “papists” the right to vote, hold office, practice law, and worship publicly, also forbade them to maintain religious schools. Young Carroll studied abroad for sixteen years, ending with a thesis in philosophy at the college of Louis le Grand in Paris in 1757. After reading civil law in Bourges and Paris, he moved to London in September 1759 to pursue the common law at the Inns of Court. However, his antipathy for the discipline, which he regarded as “founded upon and still subsisting by villainy,” became so intense that he ultimately defied his father’s intention that he formally enter the Inner Temple, one of the four Inns of Court. Finding the paternal insistence on his acquiring the social graces more to his liking, he became adept at dancing, drawing, and fencing and mastered Italian, bookkeeping, and surveying, practical skills the elder Carroll deemed essential for success as a landowner and man of business....

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Clark, Georgia Neese (27 January 1898–26 October 1995), U.S. treasurer, was born Georgia Neese in Richland, Kansas, the daughter of Albert Neese, a farmer and businessman, and Ellen O'Sullivan Neese. Her father, a self-made man, had prospered in the years before her birth and become the town's leading citizen, owning much of its property as well as the bank and general store. Although a Presbyterian, Georgia Neese briefly attended a small Catholic college in nearby Topeka after graduating from high school in 1917, then transferred to Washburn University in that city. She majored in economics at Washburn and was also active on campus, serving as president of several student organizations, including the drama club. Determined to become an actress, she moved to New York City following graduation in 1921 and enrolled at Sargent's Dramatic School....

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Dawes, Charles Gates (27 August 1865–23 April 1951), banker and vice president of the United States, was born in Marietta, Ohio, the son of General Rufus R. Dawes and Mary Beman Gates. His father served gallantly in the Civil War and later went into the lumber business and served one term in Congress. Dawes earned his B.A. (1884) and M.A. (1887) from Marietta College and his LL.B. (1886) from the Cincinnati Law School. In 1887 he moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, to practice law. He was an earnest opponent of the entrenched railroad powers, spending hours in court fighting discriminatory rail rates. His initial investments in real estate paid off, however, and he gradually became more sympathetic to conservative business views. For the rest of his life he would promote and defend the contribution of business and businessmen to the increasing wealth of the United States. He married Caro Blymyer of Cincinnati in 1889, and they had two children. After their son drowned in 1912, the couple adopted two more children. Although conservative, Dawes was always willing to hear opposing viewpoints. In Lincoln, Dawes became lifelong friends with ...

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Dillon, C. Douglas (21 August 1909–10 January 2003), financier, ambassador, and secretary of the Treasury, was born Clarence Douglass Dillon in Geneva, Switzerland, to Anne Douglass Dillon and Clarence Dillon, whose Polish Jewish father, Samuel Lapowski, was an immigrant who did fairly well in the men's retail business in Texas. The elder Clarence, who was sensitive about anti-Semitism, changed his last name to Dillon, his paternal grandmother's maiden name. At his firm Dillon, Read & Company during the 1920s and 1930s, he became an extremely successful investment banker and acquired a reputation for purveying corporate bonds. The young Douglas (he was known by his middle name, whose last letter was dropped at some point) was well educated. He first attended the Pine Lodge School in Lakehurst, New Jersey, where he became friendly with ...

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Dodge, Joseph Morrell (18 November 1890–02 December 1964), banker and government financial official, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Joseph Cheeseman Dodge, an artist, and Gertrude Hester Crow. After graduating from Central High School in Detroit in 1908, Dodge became a clerk for the Standard Accident Insurance Company. In 1909 he joined the Central Savings Bank, where he advanced from messenger to general bookkeeper. After brief employment as an accountant, Dodge spent five years beginning in 1911 as a bank and securities examiner for the state of Michigan. He then went to work for the Bank of Detroit as an operating officer in 1916. In that same year he married Julia Jane Jeffers, and they had one son....

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Edge, Walter Evans (20 November 1873–29 October 1956), New Jersey businessman and political leader, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of William Edge, a railroad manager, and Mary Elizabeth Evans. In 1877 his family moved to Pleasantville, New Jersey, and in 1887 he took a job as a printer’s devil for the ...

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Gaston, A. G. (04 July 1892–19 January 1996), entrepreneur, was born Arthur George Gaston in Demopolis, Alabama, the son of Tom Gaston, a railroad worker, and Rosa Gaston (maiden name unknown), a cook. He grew up in poverty in rural Alabama before he and his mother moved to Birmingham, Alabama, after his father's death. He attended, and for a good time resided at, Tuggle Institute, where he received a moral and industrial education. In 1910 he graduated from the school with a tenth grade certificate. Before and after graduation, he worked at a variety of part-time jobs, including selling subscriptions for the ...

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Gwin, William McKendree (09 October 1805–03 September 1885), politician and entrepreneur, was born in Sumner County, Tennessee, the son of James Gwin, a Methodist minister, and Mary (maiden name probably Adair). He pursued legal studies in Gallatin, Tennessee, and gained admittance to the state bar. Gwin matriculated at Transylvania University in Kentucky in 1825 for the purpose of studying medicine. He received his medical degree on 5 March 1828 and practiced medicine for several years....

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Hanna, Marcus Alonzo (24 September 1837–15 February 1904), businessman, presidential campaign manager, and U.S. senator, known as Mark Hanna, was born above his family’s grocery store in New Lisbon, Ohio, the son of Samantha Converse, a schoolteacher, and Leonard Hanna, who practiced medicine before joining his father and brothers in the grocery business. A proposed canal to link New Lisbon to the Ohio River failed, wiping out Hanna’s grandfather’s investment and pushing the town into commercial decline. Hanna’s father established a new wholesale grocery and shipping business in Cleveland, where he moved his family in 1852. Mark Hanna attended public schools and Western Reserve College, leaving college after getting caught in a student prank. As a traveling salesman for the family business, the gregarious Hanna proved a resourceful competitor. Elected second lieutenant in a Cleveland-based infantry in 1861, he instead became managing partner of the business following his father’s illness and December 1862 death. Called to defend Washington, D.C., during the summer of 1864, he served briefly in uniform but saw no combat....

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Henderson, Leon (26 May 1895–19 October 1986), economist and government official, was born in Millville, New Jersey, the son of Chester Henderson, a glass factory worker, and Lida Beebe. When Leon was twelve years old, his father bought a farm with the family’s savings, leaving nothing for Henderson’s further education. While working odd jobs, Henderson graduated from Millville High School in 1913. After a semester at the University of Pennsylvania (having dropped out because of money problems), and with the help of a scholarship, he enrolled at Swarthmore college in 1915. When the United States entered World War I, Henderson enlisted in the army. Discharged in 1919, he returned to Swarthmore, graduating in 1920. From 1920 to 1922 he was a graduate student in economics at the University of Pennsylvania and then became an assistant professor of economics at Carnegie Institute of Technology. Next he joined the administration of Pennsylvania governor ...

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Jones, Jesse Holman (05 April 1874–01 June 1956), businessman, federal agency head, and cabinet member, was born in Robertson County, Tennessee, the son of William Hasque Jones and Anne Holman, farmers and merchants. Jones’s mother died when he was six. In 1883 the family moved to Dallas, Texas, where his father helped manage the expanding lumber business of his brother M. T. Jones. In 1886 the family returned to north central Tennessee, where his father purchased a 600-acre farm and resumed an active interest in the tobacco business. Despite the family’s modest wealth and comfortable home life, at age fourteen Jones left school and began grading, buying, and selling tobacco for his father and uncles. His father offered to send him to college, but Jones was anxious to make money. When his father died in 1894, Jones became the Dallas branch manager for M. T. Jones Lumber Company. When M. T. Jones died in 1898, Jones moved to Houston to become general manager of the company and an executor of the $1 million estate....

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Leffingwell, Russell C. (10 Sept. 1878–2 Oct. 1960), lawyer, financier, and federal government official, was born Russell Cornell Leffingwell in New York City to Mary Cornell Leffingwell and Charles Russell Leffingwell. Charles Leffingwell, whose ancestors played a major role in the development of colonial and revolutionary Connecticut, operated his wife’s family’s lucrative iron business. He sent his son to fine private schools, first to Yonkers Military Academy and then to New York City’s Halsey School, where he graduated in ...

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Lehman, Herbert Henry (28 March 1878–05 December 1963), investment banker and politician, was born in New York City, the son of Mayer Lehman and Babette Newgass, German immigrants. Lehman was reared in the prosperous surroundings of German-Jewish society in midtown Manhattan. His father was a founding partner of Lehman Brothers, a cotton-trading company that developed into a leading investment banking firm....

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Mellon, Andrew William (24 March 1855–26 August 1937), financier, statesman, and art collector, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas Mellon, a lawyer and later a judge, entrepreneur, and banker, and Sarah Jane Negley. Mellon attended public schools in Pittsburgh and Western University of Pennsylvania (now the University of Pittsburgh). While still a student he observed his father’s financial dealings with industrialists ...

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Meyer, Eugene Isaac (31 October 1875–17 July 1959), investment banker, government official, and newspaper publisher, was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Marc Eugene Meyer, a retail merchant, and Harriet Newmark. After growing up in San Francisco, Meyer attended the University of California for one year in 1892. He was a mediocre student who spent much of his time drinking and gambling. After his freshman year, his family moved to New York City and he transferred to Yale. By working much harder academically at Yale, Meyer earned excellent grades and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. After skipping his junior year, he graduated with an A.B. with honors in 1895, ranking nineteenth in a class of 250. Meyer then spent two years in Europe learning French and German and gaining work experience in banking and international finance. On returning to the United States, Meyer was employed by the international banking firm of Lazard Frères, where his father was a partner. However, because his duties there were menial compared with the work he had been doing in Europe, Meyer left the firm in 1901, much against his father’s wishes, to open his own investment firm....

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Morgenthau, Henry (26 April 1856–25 November 1946), lawyer, real estate agent, and diplomat, was born in Mannheim, Germany, the son of Lazarus Morgenthau, a cigar manufacturer, and Babette Guggenheim. After his business failed, Lazarus Morgenthau immigrated to the United States in 1866 and became an insurance salesman. Henry Morgenthau attended public high school, graduating in 1870, the same year he entered the City College of New York. He remained there only one year before financial pressures compelled him to work. Employed as an errand boy at a law firm, Morgenthau slowly learned the business, becoming expert in title searches and mortgage foreclosure sales. In 1875 he quit his job to enter Columbia Law School, supporting himself by teaching at night. He graduated in 1877 and was admitted to the bar....