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Bouligny, Dominique (23 August 1773–05 March 1833), soldier, planter, and U.S. senator, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Francisco Bouligny, the lieutenant governor of Louisiana, a colonel in the Fixed Louisiana Regiment, and the acting governor of Louisiana, and Marie Louise le Sénéchal d’Auberville. He spent his childhood in the comfort that his father’s influence and wealth provided. Surrounded by a large extended family and a full complement of house servants, Bouligny developed a strong attachment to his family, an even stronger admiration for the military that commanded his father’s devotion, and pride in being a citizen of Spain. Louisiana offered few opportunities for the sons of army officers outside of military service. Sons of officers entered the army at an early age, and as a senior officer in the Fixed Louisiana Regiment, Bouligny’s father arranged an appointment for his twelve-year-old son as a cadet in the regimental school in March 1786. His father’s influence assured Bouligny’s rapid promotion to the first officer rank of sublieutenant at the age of fourteen....

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Cortina, Juan Nepomuceno (16 May 1824–30 October 1892), revolutionary, politician, Mexican governor, and rancher, was born in Camargo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, the son of Trinidad Cortina, the town mayor and an important landowner, and María Estéfana Goseascochea. Little is known of Juan Cortina’s early life and education. Upon the death of his father in the early 1840s, his family moved to the Espíritu Santo grant, part of the area between the Nueces and Río Grande claimed by both Mexico and Texas and the future site of the city of Brownsville, Texas. This land belonged to Cortina’s mother. Cortina associated with ...

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Hampton, Wade (1754?–04 February 1835), planter, military commander, and congressman, was born (according to different sources) in either Halifax County, Virginia, or Rowan County, North Carolina, the son of Anthony Hampton, a farmer, land jobber, and trader, and Elizabeth Preston. He is often known as Wade Hampton I to distinguish him from two noted descendants of the same name. Hampton’s history prior to the American Revolution is largely mysterious. He must, however, have received some sort of formal education. Early in 1774 the Hampton family followed the example set by other backcountry residents and moved to South Carolina. Wade Hampton joined several of his brothers in a mercantile enterprise before the American War of Independence intervened....

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McMinn, Joseph (22 June 1758–17 November 1824), soldier, planter, and governor of Tennessee, was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the son of Robert McMinn and Sarah Harlan, farmers. He grew up in Pennsylvania, but as a young man he moved with his wife, Hannah Cooper, whom he had married in 1785, and their only child to Hawkins County, North Carolina (later Tennessee), where at least one other member of his family had settled. He established himself as a planter and soon was commissioned a militia captain in the Southwest Territory, which was created in 1790 to prepare Tennessee for statehood. He was a member of the territorial legislature in 1794 and of the constitutional convention that assembled in Knoxville in 1796 to draft a constitution and a petition to Congress for Tennessee’s admission to the Union. McMinn was entrusted by the assembly to deliver the document and petition to national leaders in Philadelphia. Having presented the documents to the secretary of state, he remained in Philadelphia long enough to sit for a portrait by ...

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Vallejo, Mariano Guadalupe (07 July 1808–18 January 1890), soldier, rancher, and elected official, was born in Monterey, California, the son of Ignacio Alvarado Vallejo, a soldier, and Maria Antonia Lugo. Vallejo grew up in Monterey in an elite family. His parents encouraged his schooling, and the young man’s reading tastes ran to Enlightenment literature, some of it forbidden by the church. He once smuggled into California a small library of prohibited books, an offense for which he was briefly excommunicated. Vallejo followed in his father’s footsteps by enlisting in the military. In 1828 or 1829 the young ...