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W. Averell Harriman. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-105320 ).

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Harriman, W. Averell (15 November 1891–26 July 1986), businessman and government official, was born William Averell Harriman in New York City, the son of the railroad organizer Edward H. Harriman and Mary Averell (Mary Williamson Averell Harriman). He spent his early years in New York and on the family estate of Arden in the nearby Ramapo Mountains. He was educated at Groton and Yale. Harriman did poorly in preparatory studies, which brought admonishment from his father, and it is possible that his stammer, which he carried throughout his long life, resulted from this experience. At Yale he did better academically, and excelled socially....

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Lawrence, David Leo (18 June 1889–21 November 1966), political boss and government official, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Charles B. Lawrence, an unskilled laborer, and Catherine Conwell. Lawrence’s early political universe was confined to the Gaelic Irish community located at the juncture of Pittsburgh’s three rivers. His maternal grandfather and his father were both involved in ward-level politics and young David’s first job at age nine was to run errands for First Ward alderman Steve Toole. Young Lawrence’s association with these three men introduced him to Democratic pro-labor politics in a town dominated by Republican manufacturing interests. Political survival for Democrats in Pittsburgh required cooperation, if not collaboration, with the Republican interests....

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Merriam, William Rush (26 July 1849–18 February 1931), banker, Minnesota governor, and director of the 1900 census, was born at Wadham’s Mills, Essex County, New York, the son of John Lafayette Merriam, a merchant and iron ore dealer, and Mahala Kimpton De Lano. His mother died in 1857, and his father married Helen M. Wilder. In 1861 he moved with his family to St. Paul, Minnesota, joining his stepuncle, Amherst H. Wilder, who had moved from New York two years earlier. Merriam’s father, who was often associated in business with Wilder, soon achieved prominence and wealth through investments in stagecoaches, railroads, and banks....

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Tiffin, Edward (10 or 19 June 1766–09 August 1829), first governor of Ohio, U.S. senator, and first commissioner of the General Land Office, was born in Carlisle, England, the son of Henry Tiffin and Mary Parker (occupations unknown). Tiffin left England with his parents and four siblings in 1783. The next year they settled in Berkeley County, Virginia (now Jefferson County, W.Va.). Edward had begun to study medicine at the age of twelve and may have briefly attended the University of Pennsylvania. He established a practice near Charlestown, Virginia, and became a prominent local figure. From 1795 to 1798 Tiffin served as a justice of the county common pleas court. In 1787 or 1789 he married Mary Worthington, the daughter of a gentleman farmer. The newlyweds became Methodists in 1790, and Bishop ...