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Paca, William (31 October 1740–13 October 1799), lawyer and officeholder, was born on the Bush River near Abingdon in Baltimore (later Harford) County, Maryland, the son of John Paca, a planter, local officeholder, and delegate to the lower house of the Maryland General Assembly, and Elizabeth Smith. The Paca family was English, the Maryland progenitor arriving in the colony about 1660. At age twelve, Paca entered the Academy and Charity School in Philadelphia, which three years later became the College of Philadelphia. Paca took his B.A. in 1759 and studied law in the office of Stephen Bordley, a prominent Annapolis lawyer. Soon after arriving in Annapolis in 1759, Paca became a founding member of the Forensic Club, a group of “young Gentlemen” that met twice each month to debate politics, morality, and natural law....

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Paine, Robert Treat (11 March 1731–11 June 1814), lawyer, Massachusetts attorney general, and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Thomas Paine, a merchant, and Eunice Treat. Shortly before Paine’s birth, his father had left the ministry for a mercantile career that soon flourished, providing comfortable circumstances for the family. Paine followed the traditional Boston elite educational path from Boston Public Latin School to Harvard College, where he graduated with the class of 1749. At about the same time, his father lost his fortune; following graduation, Paine was forced to seek his own way without the benefit of a family business....

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Walton, George (1749?–02 February 1804), lawyer, statesman, and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in either Cumberland County or Goochland County, Virginia, the son of John Walton and Mary Hughes. Walton was orphaned at an early age and subsequently raised by his uncle and aunt, George and Martha Hughes Walton. He began an apprenticeship with a carpenter at the age of fifteen but was released from his term of service, because the carpenter recognized Walton’s natural intelligence and ambition and wanted him to go to school. Nevertheless, Walton underwent little formal education and was largely self-taught. In 1769 he moved to Savannah, Georgia, and began studying law in the office of Henry Young. Walton was admitted to the bar in 1774 and quickly built up one of the largest legal practices in Savannah....