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Breckinridge, John (02 December 1760–14 December 1806), lawyer, planter, and statesman, was born on a farm near Staunton, Virginia, the son of Robert Breckinridge, a farmer and member of the local gentry, and Lettice Preston. While John was still a boy the family moved to the frontier part of Augusta County that became Botetourt County. Determined to acquire an education, John entered William and Mary College in late 1780 or early 1781. His attendance was irregular, but when he left the school in 1784 he had studied for some two years, much of it under the guidance of ...

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Goldsborough, Robert (03 December 1733–22 December 1788), lawyer and planter, was born in Cambridge, Dorchester County, Maryland, the son of Charles Goldsborough, a lawyer, legislator, and large landowner, and his first wife Elizabeth Ennalls. When Robert was five and a half years old, his father married Elizabeth Dickinson, half sister of ...

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Marigny, Bernard (28 October 1785–03 February 1868), Creole planter and politician, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Pierre Enguerrand Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville, a Spanish army officer and rich landowner, and Jeanne Marie d’Estréhan, daughter of a distinguished family. He was christened Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville and grew up in the richest family in the French colony of Louisiana. When Marigny was fifteen his father died, at which time Lino de Chalmette, a relative, became his guardian. Already Marigny had developed into an unruly, spoiled young man, so addicted to gambling that Chalmette could not control him. Hence Marigny was dispatched to Pensacola, Florida, and placed in the care of a wealthy merchant named Panton, who found him so impossible that he immediately sent him back. Chalmette then sent Marigny to England, where he lived on an extravagant allowance, mingled with the best society, met Lord Byron, and continued his dissipated ways. Soon he was deeply in debt to London and Parisian gamblers. Returning to New Orleans after his eighteenth birthday, he came into possession of his entire fortune of $7 million but was compelled to liquidate a plantation in order to pay his creditors. Supposedly he maintained an entire street of houses on what he called “Rue de l’Amour” to shelter his numerous mistresses....

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John Young Mason. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109927).

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Mason, John Young (18 April 1799–03 October 1859), planter-lawyer, politician, and diplomat, was born at “Homestead,” the family plantation in Greensville County, Virginia, the son of Edmunds Mason and Frances Ann Young, both descendants of landed southern Tidewater families. An excellent student, young Mason graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1816, read law with Judge Griffin Stith in Southampton County, and then attended the law school of Judge ...