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Few, William (08 June 1748–16 July 1828), lawyer, politician, and banker, was born near Baltimore, Maryland, the son of William Few, a failed tobacco planter turned frontier farmer, and Mary Wheeler. Few’s family moved in 1758 to North Carolina, where young William received little formal schooling but enough skills and enough love for reading that the future Founding Father was able to educate himself. In the early 1770s, the Few family joined the Regulator movement, rural westerners’ sometimes violent opposition to unrepresentative coastal political control. The family lost one of William’s brothers, the family farm, and the family fortune in the struggle for more local autonomy. The Fews then moved to Georgia, leaving William behind to settle the family’s affairs, to farm, and to teach himself law....

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Houstoun, John (1750?–20 July 1796), lawyer, soldier, and politician, was born in St. George’s Parish, Georgia, the son of Sir Patrick Houstoun, a baronet, registrar of grants and receiver of quit rents for the colony, and Priscilla Dunbar. He studied law in Charleston and practiced in Savannah, where he early became involved in the protests against Great Britain prior to the Revolution and was probably a member of the Sons of Liberty. In 1775 he married Hannah Bryan, the daughter of Jonathan Bryan, a prominent planter, a former member of the governor’s council, and one of the leaders of Georgia’s Whig movement; they apparently had no children. In July 1774 he joined ...

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Howley, Richard (1740–30 December 1784), lawyer and governor, was born near Savannah, Georgia; his parents are unknown. Few records of his early life survive, but he apparently studied law and moved to Sunbury, St. John’s Parish, as a young man. In 1775 he married Sarah Fuller of Charleston, South Carolina, the widow of William Fuller and mother of two daughters. Subsequently, the couple had two daughters of their own, one of whom reached adulthood. When the Revolution began, Howley was practicing law at Sunbury, where he also owned a small plantation and a few slaves. He was not prominent in the early stages of the Revolution in Georgia. Apparently, he did not attend early Whig meetings in Savannah during 1774–1775, nor was he a member of the provincial congress. Savannah fell to the British on 29 December 1778, and Colonel Augustine Prevost began a siege of Sunbury. When Fort Morris surrendered in January 1779, Howley fled to Augusta....

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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....