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Durant, Thomas Jefferson (08 August 1817–03 February 1882), publisher, lawyer, and politician, was born in Philadelphia, the son of John Waldo Durant and Sarah Heyliger. Little is known about Durant’s life in Pennsylvania. He was educated in public schools before matriculating at the University of Pennsylvania in 1830. At the age of fourteen, however, he migrated to New Orleans, apparently as the result of his family’s economic misfortune. By 1837 Durant, along with partner John C. LaRue, was publishing the ...

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Gilbert M. Hitchcock. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-36752).

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Hitchcock, Gilbert Monell (18 September 1859–03 February 1934), lawyer, publisher, and politician, was born in Omaha, Nebraska, the son of Phineas W. Hitchcock, a lawyer and politician, and Annie M. Monell. Educated in Omaha and in Baden-Baden, Germany, he studied law at the University of Michigan. Graduating in 1881 with an LL.B., he passed the bar exam and practiced law in Omaha for four years. The young lawyer married Jessie Crounse in 1883; they had two children....

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Munford, William (15 August 1775–21 June 1825), court reporter, poet, and politician, was born in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, the son of Robert Munford, a planter, playwright, and poet, and Anne Beverley. William began his education at the grammar school at William and Mary, then attended the college. His talents and intelligence impressed his teachers, including ...

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Smith, Richard (22 March 1735–17 September 1803), lawyer, diarist, and member of the Continental Congress, was born in Burlington, New Jersey, the son of Richard Smith, a Quaker merchant and member of the colonial assembly, and Abigail Smith. Richard Smith’s older brother Samuel Smith...

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Van Ness, William Peter (1778–06 September 1826), politician, pamphleteer, and jurist, was born in Claverack (later Ghent), New York, the son of Peter Van Ness, a revolutionary soldier and county judge, and Elbertie Hogeboom. After attending the Kinderhook Academy, Van Ness graduated from Columbia College in 1797. Following several years of legal studies in ...

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James Watson Webb. Illustration in Harper’s Weekly, 1858. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-111860).

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Webb, James Watson (02 February 1802–07 June 1884), editor and statesman, was born at Claverack, New York, the son of Brigadier General Samuel Blatchley Webb, a revolutionary war hero and merchant, and Catherine Hogeboom. Orphaned early, he was raised by a sister and brother-in-law in Cooperstown, New York, where he was apprenticed to a merchant. Bored, and conscious of his father’s military fame, Webb obtained an army commission at age seventeen. As a second lieutenant he was stationed at Governor’s Island, New York, and at Detroit....