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John Adams. After a painting by Gilbert Stuart. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-13002 DLC).

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Adams, John (19 October 1735–04 July 1826), second president of the United States, diplomat, and political theorist, was born in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts, the son of John Adams (1691–1760), a shoemaker, selectman, and deacon, and Susanna Boylston. He claimed as a young man to have indulged in “a constant dissipation among amusements,” such as swimming, fishing, and especially shooting, and wished to be a farmer. However, his father insisted that he follow in the footsteps of his uncle Joseph Adams, attend Harvard College, and become a clergyman. John consented, applied himself to his studies, and developed a passion for learning but refused to become a minister. He felt little love for “frigid John Calvin” and the rigid moral standards expected of New England Congregationalist ministers....

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Bowles, Chester Bliss (05 April 1901–25 May 1986), businessman, politician, and diplomat, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of Charles Allen Bowles, a paper manufacturer, and Nellie Harris. His grandfather, Samuel Bowles (1826–1878), a man Chester frequently identified as his inspiration and role model, transformed the Springfield ...

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Brown, Ethan Allen (04 July 1776–24 February 1852), governor of Ohio, U.S. senator, and diplomat, was born in Darien, Connecticut, the son of Roger Brown, a prominent landholder, and Mary Smith. The youngest of seven children, Brown studied under private tutors who stressed a wide knowledge of languages, most beneficial later in his brief diplomatic career. With the American Revolution playing havoc on his father’s finances, Brown’s later education was sporadic, but in 1797 he began to study law in ...

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Clayton, Powell (07 August 1833–25 August 1914), governor of Arkansas, U.S. senator, and diplomat, was born in Bethel County, Pennsylvania, the son of John Clayton and Ann Clarke. His father was an orchard keeper and carpenter and was prominent locally in Whig politics. Clayton attended local public schools and the Partridge Military Academy at Bristol, Pennsylvania, and he studied civil engineering in Wilmington, Delaware. In 1855 he moved to Leavenworth, Kansas, where he was a land speculator and surveyor....

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Curtin, Andrew Gregg (22 April 1815–07 October 1894), lawyer, politician, and diplomat, was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, the son of Roland Curtin, an iron manufacturer and county coroner and sheriff, and Jane Gregg, the daughter of U.S. congressman and senator Andrew Gregg. After attending private academies near his home, Curtin studied law with W. W. Potter of Bellefonte and with Judge ...

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Eustis, William (10 June 1753–06 February 1825), politician and diplomat, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Benjamin Eustis, a housewright, and Elizabeth Hill. Eustis graduated from Harvard in 1772 and then studied medicine with Joseph Warren of Boston. During the Revolution, he served as surgeon to Gridley’s and Knox’s artillery regiments and as a hospital surgeon. In 1782, while attached to the General Hospital at West Point, Eustis was among the coterie of disgruntled officers who petitioned Congress over the financial plight of the army. General Washington was able to mollify the discontent with his Newburgh Address and prevented the budding rebellion among his officers. From this officer corps at West Point and Newburgh developed the Society of Cincinnati, which Eustis called a “band of friends and brothers.” He served as vice president of the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati from 1786 to 1810 and again in 1820....

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Fairchild, Lucius (27 December 1831–23 May 1896), soldier, governor, and diplomat, was born in Portage County, Ohio, the son of Jairus Cassius Fairchild, a tanner and storekeeper, and Sally Blair. In 1846 the family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where Jairus Fairchild became state treasurer. After a local education supplemented by a brief stint at Carroll College, Lucius Fairchild left Wisconsin for the gold fields of California. From March 1849 to May 1855 he prospected and farmed in the Shasta Valley, where he also owned an interest in a general store. Returning home, he developed an interest in politics, joined the Democratic party, and in 1858 was elected clerk of the circuit court of Dane County, Wisconsin....

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Forsyth, John (22 October 1780–21 October 1841), politician and diplomat, was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the son of Robert Forsyth, a businessman and farmer, and Fanny Johnston Houston. John was reared in Augusta, Georgia, where the Forsyth family had made its home in 1785. In 1799 he graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), returned to Augusta, studied law, and in 1802 started his practice. In May he married Clara Meigs, daughter of ...

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Christopher Gore. Engraving of a portrait by John Trumbull, 1809. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-111573).

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Gore, Christopher (21 September 1758–01 March 1827), Federalist statesman, diplomat, and lawyer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of John Gore, a paint and color dealer, and Frances Pinkney. Paternally, he was descended from a Puritan family that migrated from Hampshire in England to Roxbury, Massachusetts, in 1635. After attending the Boston Public Latin School, Gore entered Harvard College where he graduated in 1776. Although his Loyalist father fled Boston in 1776, Gore remained in Massachusetts and served the revolutionary cause as an officer in an artillery regiment. John Gore returned to America from England in 1785 and regained his citizenship. The taint of his father’s Toryism persisted, however, and Gore’s opponents used it against him when he was a candidate for the Massachusetts ratifying convention in 1787....

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Herrick, Myron Timothy (09 October 1854–31 March 1929), banker, governor of Ohio, and diplomat, was born near Huntington, Ohio, the son of Mary Hulbert Herrick and Timothy R. Herrick, farmers. He attended local schools and at age sixteen began teaching in nearby Brighton. Two years later he enrolled in Oberlin Academy for a year and a half, and he later attended Ohio Wesleyan University for two years. In 1875 Herrick began reading law in the Cleveland offices of G. E. Herrick and J. F. Herrick and became active in the Cleveland Grays, a local militia group. In 1878 he opened his own law office. In 1880 he married Carolyn M. Parmely; they had one son. Until her death in 1918, Herrick considered his wife his closest adviser....

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John Jay. Engraving by Albert Rosenthal, 1889. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-96380 ).

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Jay, John (12 December 1745–17 May 1829), diplomat and first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was born in New York City, the son of Peter Jay, a prosperous merchant, and Mary Van Cortlandt, a member of one of the great Dutch patroon landed families of the Hudson Valley. On 28 April 1774 John Jay joined another powerful landlord clan by marrying Sarah Livingston, daughter of a future governor of New Jersey; the couple had seven children....

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Kavanagh, Edward (27 April 1795–21 January 1844), politician and diplomat, was born in Damariscotta Mills, in what was then the District of Maine, part of Massachusetts. His father, James Kavanagh, a pioneering lumberman and prosperous merchant, emigrated from Ireland in 1784; his mother was Sarah Jackson of Boston. Edward grew up in a staunchly Catholic household. His mother was a convert to Catholicism in Boston before he was born. His father was a major donor for the construction costs of the brick St. Patrick’s Church in Newcastle built in 1808, the oldest standing Catholic church in New England. The family played a role similar to other middle-class Catholics in Ireland and Maine, “consolidating the community” and “maintaining cultural continuity” (McCarron, p. 285)....

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Lind, John (25 March 1854–18 September 1930), congressman, governor, and diplomat, was born in Kånna parish in the southern province of Småland, Sweden, the son of Gustav Lindbacken and Katherina Jonasson, farmers. Lind immigrated with his parents to the United States in 1867, and at the same time his father changed the family surname to Lind. Lind’s left hand was amputated following a hunting accident in December 1868, so as a young immigrant boy, he faced the challenges of learning English and overcoming a physical disability....

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Low, Frederick Ferdinand (30 June 1828–21 July 1894), businessman, politician, and diplomat, was born in Frankfort (present-day Winterport), Maine, into a Penobscot Valley farming family. His parents’ names are not known. Frederick Low attended public schools and Hampden Academy. At age fifteen he was apprenticed to Russell, Sturgis and Company, a Boston firm with a large China trade. He enriched his education by attending Fanuiel Hall and Lowell Institute lectures. Low completed his apprenticeship in 1849 and joined other Forty-niners in California. For three months he panned gold on the American River. Taking some $1,500 from his claim, he declared himself “satisfied” and returned to San Francisco to commence successful careers in business and government....

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McLane, Robert Milligan (23 June 1815–16 April 1898), congressman and diplomat, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the son of Louis McLane, an attorney who served as secretary of the treasury and secretary of state in the Jackson administration, and Catherine Mary Milligan. After attending St. Mary’s College in Baltimore and Collège Bourbon in Paris, Robert entered the U.S. Military Academy in 1833. He graduated in 1837 and assumed command of Company E, First Artillery Regiment. After participating in the Seminole War in Florida and in what he termed the “mournful” removal of the Cherokees from Georgia, he transferred in 1838 to the Corps of Topographical Engineers. He went to Italy in 1841 on orders to observe dikes and drainage systems. Having studied law in Washington, D.C., while stationed there with the military engineers, he was admitted to the bars in the District of Columbia (1840) and in Maryland (1843). He resigned his commission in 1843 and began the practice of law in Baltimore. He married Georgine Urquhart in 1841, and they had two daughters....

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McNutt, Paul Vories (19 July 1891–24 March 1955), politician and diplomat, was born in Franklin, Indiana, the son of John Crittenden McNutt, a lawyer and librarian of the Indiana Supreme Court, and Ruth Neely. After a childhood in Martinsville, Indiana, where his father practiced law, McNutt studied at Indiana University. He was an active campus politician who became editor of the school newspaper and president of the student union. He graduated with an A.B. in 1913 and then went on to Harvard Law School, from which he received an LL.B. in 1916. He entered the army during World War I and became a major in the artillery. His duties kept him in the United States. He married Kathleen Timolat in 1918; the couple had one daughter....

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Middleton, Henry (28 September 1770–14 June 1846), planter, politician, and diplomat, was born in London, England, the son of Arthur Middleton, signer of the Declaration of Independence, member of the Continental Congress, and governor of South Carolina, and Mary Izard. He was educated in classical studies by private tutors at Middleton Place, the family plantation near Charleston, and in England. While residing in Great Britain, on 13 November 1794 he married Mary Helen Hering, the daughter of Juliness Hering of Heybridge Hall, captain of his Majesty’s Thirty-Fourth Regiment. The couple had twelve children, eight of whom survived infancy. Upon Middleton’s permanent return to the United States in 1800, he inherited Middleton Place, where he planted the first camellias in the United States, and the family estate at Newport, Rhode Island....