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Acheson, Dean Gooderham (11 April 1893–12 October 1971), lawyer and secretary of state, was born in Middletown, Connecticut, the son of Edward Campion Acheson, an Episcopal minister, and Eleanor Gertrude Gooderham. He grew up in comfortable, middle-class circumstances. His mother’s family wealth and his father’s appointment as a bishop in 1915 attest to his family’s secure place in local Connecticut society. Acheson attended Groton and then Yale University, receiving his B.A. in 1915 with an undistinguished academic record. In May 1917 he married Alice Caroline Stanley; they had three children. At Harvard Law School, he studied under ...

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Adonis, Joe (22 November 1902–26 November 1971), organized crime leader, was born Giuseppe Antonio Doto in Montemarano, near Naples, Italy, and illegally entered New York City as a teenager. After settling in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, he adopted the surname “Adonis,” believing that it reflected his good looks. He soon joined forces with other hoodlums who would become famous in organized crime— ...

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Alexander, Raymond Pace (13 October 1898–24 November 1974), lawyer, judge, and civil rights leader, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the third son of Hillard Boone and Virginia Pace Alexander, both slaves in Virginia who were freed in 1865 and migrated to Philadelphia in 1880. His background was working-class poor and he grew up in Philadelphia's seventh ward, an all-black community made famous by W. E. B. Du Bois's seminal study ...

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Allen, Florence Ellinwood (23 March 1884–12 September 1966), federal judge, was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, the daughter of Clarence Emir Allen, a lawyer, congressman, and mine manager, and Corinne Marie Tuckerman, a women’s club leader. In 1904 she earned a bachelor’s degree Phi Beta Kappa from the women’s college of Western Reserve University in Cleveland. She then worked for two years in Berlin, Germany, as a music critic. Returning to Cleveland, she taught at a private girls’ school. Lacking the talent for a concert piano career and bored by teaching duties, she took a master’s degree in political science from Western Reserve in 1908. The public law courses reminded her of the exciting connection between law and social reform, exemplified by her father’s political career....

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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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Atchison, David Rice (11 August 1807–26 January 1886), lawyer and U.S. senator, was born in Frogtown, in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky, the son of William Atchison and Catherine Allen, farmers. Educated at Transylvania University, he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1827. After practicing for three years in Carlisle, Kentucky, he moved to Liberty in western Missouri....

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Baker, Newton Diehl (03 December 1871–25 December 1937), lawyer, mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, and secretary of war, was born in Martinsburg, West Virginia, the son of Newton Diehl Baker, a physician and former Confederate soldier, and Mary Ann Dukehart. Baker graduated in 1892 from Johns Hopkins University, where he first met ...

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Baldwin, Roger Sherman (04 January 1793–19 February 1863), lawyer, governor, and senator, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of Simeon Baldwin, a lawyer, judge, congressman, and mayor of New Haven, and Rebecca Sherman. Baldwin was a direct descendant of the Puritan settlers of Connecticut and the Founding Fathers of the nation. His father’s family was among the original New Haven colonists, and his mother was the daughter of ...

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Ballinger, Richard Achilles (09 July 1858–06 June 1922), lawyer and secretary of the interior, was born in Boonesborough, Iowa, the son of Richard H. Ballinger, a lawyer, and Mary E. Norton. His father read law in the office of Abraham Lincoln and during the Civil War was regimental colonel of the Third Illinois Volunteer Cavalry. Ballinger entered Williams College in the class of 1884 and after graduation read law in an attorney’s office. Admitted to the bar in 1886, he that year married Julia A. Bradley. They had two sons. He practiced law briefly in New Decatur, Alabama, but in 1890 cast his lot with the new state of Washington, admitted to the Union in the same year. He settled first in Port Townsend but soon shifted to the young city of Seattle....

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Bankhead, William Brockman (12 April 1874–15 September 1940), lawyer and Speaker of the House of Representatives, was born in Moscow, Alabama, the son of Senator John Hollis Bankhead (1842–1920), a farmer, and Tallulah Brockman. He was the younger brother of U.S. Senator John H. Bankhead...

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Barnard, Daniel Dewey (11 September 1796–24 April 1861), lawyer, congressman, and diplomat, was born in East Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Timothy Barnard, a county judge, and Phebe Dewey. Barnard’s early years were spent on the family farm near Hartford, Connecticut. When he was twelve the family moved to Mendon, New York (near Rochester). His formal education started with a year at Lenox Academy, after which he transferred to Williams College, where he graduated in 1818....

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Beck, James Montgomery (09 July 1861–12 April 1936), lawyer, solicitor general, and congressman, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of James Nathan Beck, the owner of a small music publishing company, and Margaretta C. Darling. Coming from modest financial means, Beck inherited his father’s interest in music and the family’s Moravian antiwar and communitarian heritage, which contributed to his early pacifism and anticorporation viewpoints. Following matriculation at Philadelphia’s Episcopal Academy, Beck graduated from Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1880. After reading law, he began legal practice in 1884. From 1888 to 1892, he served as assistant U.S. attorney for eastern Pennsylvania. In 1890 he married Lilla Mitchell, daughter of a Philadelphia businessman, with whom he had two children....

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Bedaux, Charles Eugene (10 October 1886–18 February 1944), scientific manager, entrepreneur, and fascist collaborator, was born in Charenton-le-Pont, France, a suburb of Paris, the son of Charles Emile Bedaux, a railroad engineer, and Marie Eulalie, a dressmaker. Bedaux spent his first twenty years on the streets of Paris, doing odd jobs and usually avoiding school. He attended the Lycée Louis LeGrand in Paris but did not receive a regular degree. In 1906 he left Paris to seek his fortune across the Atlantic. In the United States Bedaux worked as a dishwasher, an insurance salesman, and a sandhog with the crews building the Hudson River tunnels. He also had a stint at the New Jersey Worsted Mills in Hoboken. He became a naturalized citizen in 1908....

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Belli, Melvin (29 July 1907–09 July 1996), lawyer, was born Melvin Mouron Belli (pronounced Bell-eye) in Sonora, California, to Caesar Belli, a prosperous banker and rancher whose family had emigrated from Switzerland after the Civil War, and Leonie Mouron Belli. After spending his early childhood in Sonora, Melvin moved with his parents to the town of Stockton, California. During his youth he was especially drawn to his maternal grandparents: he was fascinated by the medical collections of his grandfather, a physician and surgeon, and by the apothecary jars in the drugstore owned by his grandmother, the first female pharmacist in California. Medicine, however, never appealed to him as a career, nor was he especially interested in science. A romantic by temperament, he preferred reading adventure stories by ...

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Benjamin, Judah Philip (06 August 1811–06 May 1884), Confederate cabinet member, U.S. senator, and lawyer, was born at Christiansted, St. Croix, West Indies, the son of Philip Benjamin, a shopkeeper, and Rebecca de Mendes. St. Croix was under British rule at the time of Benjamin’s birth. He grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. Though his father’s circumstances were always modest, wealthy relatives and other benefactors helped him attend Yale (1825–1827), but he left as a junior under circumstances that remain unclear....

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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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Benton, Thomas Hart (14 March 1782–10 April 1858), U.S. senator and congressman, was born near Hillsboro (now Hillsborough), North Carolina, the son of Jesse Benton, a lawyer and farmer, and Ann “Nancy” Gooch. Jesse Benton died in 1791, leaving eight children, considerable land, extensive debts, and an aristocratic lifestyle. The family suffered a further blow when Thomas Hart Benton, at age sixteen, was expelled from the University of North Carolina for misusing money entrusted to him by roommates. The future senator was known ever after for scrupulous honesty and belligerent defense of his honor; concern that the story of his expulsion might surface probably influenced his consistent refusals to be considered for the presidency....

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Bingham, John Armor (21 January 1815–15 March 1900), lawyer and politician, was born in Mercer, Pennsylvania, the son of Hugh Bingham, a carpenter, and Ester Bailey. His father was active in local politics, holding several offices including clerk of courts. After his mother’s death in 1827, John went to Cadiz, Ohio, to live with his uncle Thomas Bingham. He returned to Mercer in 1831 and served two years as an apprentice to an anti-Masonic newspaper. He was a full-time student at Mercer Academy from 1834 to 1835 and enrolled in the antislavery Franklin College in New Athens, Ohio, in 1835. Though some sources suggest that an unspecified illness prevented Bingham from completing his course of study, he appears to have only missed the graduation ceremony. He moved back to Mercer in 1837 and studied law under two prominent local attorneys, John J. Pearson and William Stewart. Bingham was admitted to the practice of law in Pennsylvania and Ohio in 1840. He returned to Cadiz that same year campaigning on behalf of ...

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Blair, Montgomery (10 May 1813–27 July 1883), postmaster general and lawyer, was born in Franklin County, Kentucky, the son of Francis Preston Blair and Eliza Violet Gist Blair. His father, who served in the War of 1812 and was an assistant newspaper editor at the time of Montgomery’s birth, later became the founder and editor of ...