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Henry Justin Allen. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-96805).

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Allen, Henry Justin (11 September 1869–17 January 1950), politician and newspaper editor, was born in Pittsfield, Pennsylvania, the son of John Allen, a farmer, and Rebecca Goodwin. In 1870 the Allens settled on a farm in Clay County, Kansas, which they lost in 1879. The family relocated in Osage County, Kansas, where Allen graduated from Burlingame High School. Working as a barber to attend Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas, he excelled at forensics, which led to his first newspaper job and forecast his later stature as one of America’s most popular public speakers. While at Baker, he met Elsie Jane Nuzman, and they were married in 1892. Only one of their four children survived to adulthood....

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Anthony, Henry Bowen (01 April 1815–02 September 1884), newspaper editor and U.S. senator, was born in Coventry, Rhode Island, the son of William Anthony, a cotton manufacturer, and Mary Kinnicutt Greene. Preparatory school in Providence preceded Anthony’s entrance into Brown University. He graduated in 1833, fifth in a class of twenty. His lifelong regard for literature and Brown University culminated in the bequest of an exceptional collection of poetry volumes....

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Brough, John (17 September 1811–29 August 1865), journalist and governor of Ohio, was born in Marietta, Ohio, the son of John Brough, a tavern keeper, and Jane Garnet. Born in the building that housed both the county courthouse and his father’s tavern, Brough was orphaned at age eleven. Provided a home by a local editor, he soon became a printer’s apprentice. In 1830 he briefly attended Ohio University and the next year organized a Democratic newspaper in Marietta, the ...

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Brownlow, William Gannaway (29 August 1805–29 April 1877), minister, newspaper editor, and governor of Tennessee, was born in Wytheville, Virginia, the son of Joseph A. Brownlow and Catherine Gannaway, farmers. Born into a moderately comfortable, slaveholding family, Brownlow was taken in by a maternal uncle after both parents died in 1816. From ages eleven through eighteen he worked on his uncle’s farm and attended the local common schools when possible, although most of his education came through his own private reading. In 1823 he moved to Abingdon, Virginia, to learn the carpentry trade from another uncle. His work as a carpenter ended abruptly when he experienced a religious conversion at a Methodist camp meeting in nearby Sulphur Springs in 1825. Following this meeting, he completed his current carpentry jobs and moved back to Wytheville to study for the ministry with William Horne. After a year of training, he was licensed for the ministry by the church’s Holston Conference and began a career as an itinerant preacher....

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James M. Cox [left to right] Franklin D. Roosevelt and James M. Cox, c. 1920. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-96173).

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Cox, James Middleton (31 March 1870–15 July 1957), newspaper publisher and politician, was born in Jacksonburg, Ohio, the son of Eliza Andrews and Gilbert Cox, farmers. He attended a one-room school until he was sixteen. His parents divorced, and in 1886 Cox moved to nearby Middletown to live with his mother. Cox’s brother-in-law John Q. Baker, who published the ...

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Orval Faubus [left to right, foreground] President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Orval Faubus, after a meeting, 1957. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-107805).

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Faubus, Orval (07 January 1910–14 December 1994), publisher and governor of Arkansas, was born Orval Eugene Faubus in Combs, Arkansas, the son of John Samuel Faubus and Addie Joslen, poor farmers. The elder Faubus was a follower of the Socialist party presidential nominee ...

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Hill, Isaac (06 April 1788–22 March 1851), editor and politician, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Isaac Hill and Hannah Russell, farmers. Hill had a difficult childhood because his family was poor, his father became insane, and he himself was left permanently lame by an early accident. In 1798 his mother moved the family to Ashburnham on the New Hampshire border, where Hill received a few months of formal schooling before being apprenticed in 1802 to the publisher of the ...

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Hobby, William Pettus (26 March 1878–07 June 1964), newspaper publisher and governor, was born in Moscow, Texas, the son of Edwin E. Hobby, a state senator and district judge, and Eudora Adeline Pettus. The family lived in Livingston, Texas, until 1893 when they moved to Houston. Hobby quit school in 1895 to work as a circulation clerk for the ...

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Holden, William Woods (24 November 1818–02 March 1892), editor and political leader, was born near Hillsboro, North Carolina, the illegitimate son of Thomas Holden, a relatively prosperous mill owner, and Priscilla Woods. When he was two or three years old, he went to live with his father. He briefly attended a local “field school,” and at age nine or ten he became a printer’s apprentice in the office of the ...

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Johnson, John Albert (28 July 1861–21 September 1909), newspaper editor and governor of Minnesota, was born in a log cabin near St. Peter on Minnesota’s agricultural frontier, the son of Swedish immigrant parents Gustav Johnson, a farmer and blacksmith, and Caroline Christine Hedén. Because of his father’s alcoholism and shiftlessness after the family had moved into the town of St. Peter, his mother supported the family by taking in washing. Johnson and his older brother Edward assisted her by delivering laundry to customers. Years later, after he had entered politics, his humble beginnings and youthful poverty worked to his advantage; his boosters freely likened his past to that of ...

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Martin, John Alexander (10 March 1839–02 October 1889), journalist, army officer, and governor of Kansas, was born in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, the son of James Martin, a justice of the peace, boardinghouse keeper, and postmaster, and Jane Montgomery Crawford. He attended public school in Brownsville and at age fifteen was apprenticed as a printer on the town newspaper, the ...

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Osborn, Chase Salmon (22 January 1860–11 April 1949), governor of Michigan, journalist, and entrepreneur, was born in Huntington County, Indiana, the son of George Augustus Osborn and Margaret Ann Fannon, hydropathic physicians. Osborn was named by his abolitionist-oriented parents after Ohio’s then-U.S. senator and soon-to-be ...

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Perry, Benjamin Franklin (20 November 1805–03 December 1886), journalist and governor, was born in Pendleton District, South Carolina, the son of Benjamin Perry, a slaveowning farmer and storekeeper, and Anna Foster. Perry received his early education at local schools. In 1821–1822 he attended the Asheville (N.C.) Academy, and in 1823 he attended the Greenville (S.C.) Academy. The following year Perry began the study of law in the office of Baylis J. Earle, solicitor of the Western Circuit of South Carolina, and in 1827 he was admitted to the bar. Perry resided at Greenville and developed a successful practice throughout the northwestern part of the state. In 1837 he married Elizabeth Frances McCall; they had seven children....

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Petersen, Hjalmar (02 January 1890–29 March 1968), newspaper publisher and governor of Minnesota, was born in Eskildstrup, on the island of Fyn, Denmark, the son of Lauritz Petersen, a grocery store owner, and Anna Preben-Hansen. In 1891 his family immigrated to rural Lincoln County, Minnesota, where they tried to establish a working farm. By the mid-1890s the farming venture had failed, and the Petersens moved to the town of Tyler, Minnesota, where Lauritz Petersen found work in a steel mill and as a school janitor. The family made ends meet by taking in boarders. In 1899 Hjalmar became a naturalized U.S. citizen through his father’s papers. After completing four grades in a Danish parochial school in Tyler, he moved to the town’s English-speaking school, which he attended through the seventh grade....

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P. B. S. Pinchback. Courtesy of the National Afro-American Museum.

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Pinchback, P. B. S. (10 May 1837–21 December 1921), politician, editor, and entrepreneur, was born Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback in Macon, Georgia, the son of William Pinchback, a Mississippi plantation owner, and Eliza Stewart, a former slave of mixed ancestry. Because William Pinchback had taken Eliza to Philadelphia to obtain her emancipation, Pinckney was free upon birth....