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Salmon P. Chase. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1747).


Chase, Salmon Portland (13 January 1808–07 May 1873), statesman, antislavery leader, and chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was born in Cornish, New Hampshire, the son of Ithamar Chase, a glassmaker and tavernkeeper, and Janette Ralston. When Chase was nine years old, his father died. To ease the financial burden on his mother, Chase, the eighth of eleven children, moved to Ohio and lived with his uncle ...


Poydras, Julien (03 April 1746–23 June 1824), philanthropist and legislator, was born in Brittany, France, at Rezé, near Nantes, the son of François Poydras and Magdeleine Simon. (Following the custom of Louisiana after the Purchase, Poydras did not use the patronymic “de Lalande,” which otherwise would have appeared as an extension of his surname.) Little is known of his early life. He arrived in New Orleans around 1768, by tradition having served briefly in the French navy and been held prisoner by the British before escaping to Santo Domingo in 1760. Beginning his business career as a peddler up and down the Mississippi valley, Poydras soon established his primary base in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana, just south of where the Red River empties into the Mississippi. From this site he expanded his commercial activities into the interior as far as Texas. He eventually became one of the largest proprietors in the Spanish colony, also acquiring extensive properties in and around New Orleans, particularly in the suburb just upriver from the original town, which quickly developed into the principal area of the city’s commercial activity after the Louisiana Purchase....


Skaggs, William H. (16 September 1861–19 January 1947), businessman, mayor, reformer, and commentator, was born in the North Alabama town of Talladega, the son of James M. Skaggs, a wagonmaker, and Mary Smith Skaggs. The brilliant child of an unpretentious family, Skaggs had the great ambition of making an impact on the world of public affairs. A voracious reader from childhood, he soon developed an interest in government and history. Yet his first career was in business, and for a time he was remarkably successful....