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Coolidge, Thomas Jefferson (26 August 1831–17 November 1920), businessman and diplomat, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Joseph Coolidge, Jr., a businessman, and Eleanora Wayles Randolph. On his father’s side Coolidge was descended from John Coolidge, one of the first settlers of Watertown; on his mother’s side he was descended from Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States. His parents were members of the Boston elite, and throughout his life Coolidge moved in the same circles....

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C. Douglas Dillon. Pencil and white chalk on paper, 1968, by Gardner Cox. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Phyllis B. Cox.

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Dillon, C. Douglas (21 August 1909–10 January 2003), financier, ambassador, and secretary of the Treasury, was born Clarence Douglass Dillon in Geneva, Switzerland, to Anne Douglass Dillon and Clarence Dillon, whose Polish Jewish father, Samuel Lapowski, was an immigrant who did fairly well in the men's retail business in Texas. The elder Clarence, who was sensitive about anti-Semitism, changed his last name to Dillon, his paternal grandmother's maiden name. At his firm Dillon, Read & Company during the 1920s and 1930s, he became an extremely successful investment banker and acquired a reputation for purveying corporate bonds. The young Douglas (he was known by his middle name, whose last letter was dropped at some point) was well educated. He first attended the Pine Lodge School in Lakehurst, New Jersey, where he became friendly with ...

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Larkin, Thomas Oliver (16 September 1802–27 October 1858), merchant, diplomatic agent, and capitalist, was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, the son of Thomas Oliver Larkin, Sr., a sea captain, and Ann Rogers Cooper. His spotty education is reflected in his correspondence, which is sprinkled with misspellings and grammatical slips. When Oliver was five, his father died, and in 1813 his mother remarried and moved the family to Lynn, which young Oliver always looked upon as his hometown. At the age of fifteen, he went to nearby Boston “to learn the art of making books,” a trade he abandoned two years later for a clerkship in a bookstore. That, too, proved confining, so in October 1821 he set out with a friend for Wilmington, North Carolina, to seek his fortune....

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Tower, Charlemagne (17 April 1848–24 February 1923), diplomat and financier, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Charlemagne Tower, a lawyer and industrialist, and Amelia Bartle. He attended Harvard (class of 1872) and afterward traveled and studied in Europe for several years. In 1878 he was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar and began practicing law. For several years during the 1880s he personally directed his father’s extensive mining-related enterprises in Minnesota, including a railroad and a large iron manufacturing company. After a syndicate bought out these holdings in a multimillion-dollar takeover, Tower returned to Philadelphia where he assumed positions as officer or director in finance, railroad, and coal mining companies. In 1888 he married Helen Smith; they had five children. Upon the death of his father the following year, he succeeded to a substantial family fortune. Tower published a two-volume study of the ...

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Wallace, Hugh Campbell (10 February 1863–01 January 1931), financier, politician, and diplomat, was born in Lexington, Missouri, the son of Thomas Bates Wallace, a wholesale merchant, and Lucy Briscoe. Wallace attended public and private schools in Lexington. His entrepreneurial spirit was evident in childhood, as he worked many jobs and organized numerous business enterprises. In 1885 President ...

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Whitehead, John C. (2 Apr. 1922–7 Feb. 2015), financier and diplomat, was born John Cunningham Whitehead in Evanston, Illinois, to Winifred K. Whitehead and Eugene D. Whitehead, a lineman for Western Electric. After his father was offered a management position with this company, the family moved to Montclair, New Jersey. There John distinguished himself as a fine student, graduating high school in ...