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Baldwin, John Brown (11 January 1820–30 September 1873), Virginia legislator and Confederate congressman, was born near Staunton, Augusta County, Virginia, the son of Briscoe G. Baldwin, a lawyer and judge, and Martha Steele Brown. Baldwin lived his entire life in Staunton, an urban center in the fertile Shenandoah Valley. After attending the University of Virginia between 1836 and 1839, he studied law for two years with his father and soon developed his own practice. In 1842 Baldwin married Susan Madison Peyton; they had no children....

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Brown, Albert Gallatin (31 May 1813–12 June 1880), U.S. and Confederate congressman, was born in Chester District, South Carolina, the son of Joseph Brown. (His mother’s identity is unknown.) The second son of a struggling, ambitious farmer, Brown moved with his family in 1820 from South Carolina to Copiah County, Mississippi. In this raw frontier setting his father acquired land and slaves. After attending Mississippi College and Jefferson College from 1829 to 1832, Brown wanted to attend Princeton or Yale, but when his father refused to pay the costs, he turned to law and politics. He won his first elective office in 1832 as a colonel of militia. He was admitted to the Mississippi bar in 1833 and had just started his law practice in the now extinct town of Gallatin when he was elected a brigadier general in the militia. Soon after his marriage in 1835 to Elizabeth Frances Taliaferro, he entered the Mississippi legislature as a Democratic representative. He began a remarkable record of holding elective office virtually without interruption for the next thirty years....

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Gilmer, John Adams (04 November 1805–14 May 1868), state senator and U.S. and Confederate congressman, was born in Guilford County, North Carolina, the son of Robert Gilmer, a farmer and wheelwright, and Anne Forbes. Both parents were of Scotch-Irish descent; their families had come from Ireland to North Carolina via Pennsylvania. His father and both grandfathers fought against the British in the American Revolution. John Adams Gilmer’s name reflected his father’s Federalist political predilections. Young Gilmer worked on the family farm and attended a local subscription school a few months during the winter. When he was nineteen, he enrolled in the Reverend Eli W. Caruther’s school in Greensboro, where he excelled in classical languages and mathematics. For three years afterward (1826–1829), he taught school in Laurel County, South Carolina, to pay debts resulting from his education. In 1829 he returned to Greensboro to study law in the office of Archibald D. Murphey. In 1832 he married Juliana Paisley; they had six children, five of whom survived childhood. One son, John Alexander Gilmer, became a Confederate lieutenant colonel and superior court judge. Also in 1832 Gilmer was admitted to the bar, and he gradually built a lucrative practice. He was listed in the 1860 census as an agriculturalist and lawyer who owned fifty-three slaves and property valued at $112,000....

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Graham, William Alexander (05 September 1804–11 August 1875), governor of North Carolina, secretary of the navy, and U.S. and Confederate senator, was born in Lincoln County, North Carolina, the son of Joseph Graham, a revolutionary war soldier, iron entrepreneur, and major general of a North and South Carolina brigade in the War of 1812, and Isabella Davidson. After attending preparatory academies in Lincolnton, Statesville, and Hillsborough, Graham graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1824, sharing first honors in a distinguished class. He read law with the eminent jurist ...

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Johnson, Herschel Vespasian (18 September 1812–16 August 1880), Georgia governor, U.S. and Confederate senator, and vice presidential candidate, was born in Burke County, Georgia, the son of Moses Johnson, a planter, and Nancy Palmer. He studied at local schools before entering Monaghan Academy near Warrenton at fourteen. Attending the University of Georgia, he became a friend of ...

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McRae, John Jones (10 January 1815–31 May 1868), governor of Mississippi and Confederate congressman, was born in Sneedsboro (now McFarlan), North Carolina, the son of John M. McRae, a merchant, and Elizabeth Mary Hempstead. The third son in a large family descended from Scotch Highlanders, McRae was raised on the frontier of southern Mississippi, where his father had moved the family to pursue mercantile opportunities in the cotton trade. After attending a local academy, McRae was sent north to Miami University in Ohio, from which he graduated in 1834. Returning to Mississippi to read law in Pearlington, in 1835 he joined the bar and married Mary A. McGuire, a widow. The total number of their children is unknown, but one son died in childhood....

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James Lawrence Orr. Photograph by Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-91142).

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Orr, James Lawrence (12 May 1822–05 May 1873), Speaker of the House of Representatives, governor of South Carolina, and Confederate States senator, was born in Craytonville, Pendleton District (now Anderson County), South Carolina, the son of Christopher Orr, a merchant, and Martha McCann. After a conventional education in the local schools, he began the study of law at the University of Virginia in 1839. Following the death of his favorite mentor there, he returned to South Carolina, read law in a local firm, and was admitted to the bar in 1843. A year later he married Mary Jane Marshall, a union that produced seven children. For two years he edited the ...

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Pettus, John Jones (09 October 1813–26 January 1867), lawyer and Confederate governor, was born in Wilson County, Tennessee, the son of John Jones Pettus and Alice Taylor Winston, farmers. Pettus was raised in Limestone County, Alabama, after his father moved the family from Tennessee. Only nine when his father died, Pettus helped out with farm chores and was educated at home by his mother. He settled in Mississippi in 1835. After a brief stay in Sumter County, Alabama, where he studied law, he opened a law practice in Scooba, Kemper County, Mississippi, where in the early 1840s he married a cousin, Permelia Virginia Winston. They had at least three children. He became a successful planter and by 1850 owned 1,600 acres and 24 slaves....

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Walker, Leroy Pope (07 February 1817–22 August 1884), politician and Confederate secretary of war, was born in Huntsville, Alabama, the son of John Williams Walker, a U.S. senator, and Maria Pope. A member of a slaveholding family, Walker attended the Universities of Alabama and Virginia in preparation for a career in law. Admitted to the bar in 1837, he practiced law for a year in Mississippi and in several north Alabama towns before settling in 1850 in Huntsville, where he became one of the leading attorneys in the state. He married Eliza Dickson Pickett in 1850. This was his second marriage; details of his first marriage are unknown....

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Watts, Thomas Hill (03 January 1819–16 September 1892), Confederate attorney general and governor of Alabama, was born on his father’s plantation near Greenville, Alabama, the son of John Hughes Watts and Prudence Hill. John H. Watts was a substantial planter, the owner of thirty-one slaves in 1840. Thomas Watts was graduated with honors from the University of Virginia in 1840 and in 1841 began the practice of law in Greenville. The next year he was elected to represent Butler County in the Alabama House of Representatives and was reelected in 1844 and 1845....