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Nathaniel Prentiss Banks. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-4780).

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Banks, Nathaniel Prentiss (30 January 1816–01 September 1894), congressman and Civil War general, was born in Waltham, Massachusetts, the son of Nathaniel P. Banks, a textile mill foreman, and Rebecca Greenwood. He attended a school for factory children until he began work in the mills as a bobbin boy at age eleven. At seventeen he left factory work to assist his father in carpentry and to learn the machinist’s trade....

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Barksdale, William (21 August 1821–03 July 1863), congressman and Confederate officer, was born in Rutherford County, Tennessee, the son of William Barksdale and Nancy Hervey Lester, farmers. He was educated in the local schools and briefly attended the University of Nashville. After his father’s death, William and his three brothers moved in 1837 to Mississippi, where they began separate careers. William settled near Columbus, read law, was admitted to the bar, and invested in land and a small number of slaves before he was twenty-five years old. During the Mexican War, he was appointed captain and served as a commissary officer under General ...

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Beatty, John (19 December 1749–30 April 1826), physician, army officer, and government official, was born in Warwick, Pennsylvania, the son of Charles Clinton Beatty, a Presbyterian minister, and Anne Reading. John attended the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), where he was one of twenty graduates in the class of 1769. He received an A.M. there three years later. As an undergraduate, he was an original member of the school’s literary club, the American Whig Society. During the interval between his two degree awards, Beatty studied medicine under Dr. ...

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Bedinger, George Michael (10 December 1756–08 December 1843), soldier, legislator, and businessman, was born in York County, Pennsylvania, the son of Henry Bedinger and Magdalene von Schlegel, innkeepers. In 1737 his grandfather had moved to Pennsylvania from the vicinity of Strasbourg in Alsace-Lorraine. At the time of George Michael’s birth, the family name was spelled Biedinger and German was the language spoken at home. Late in life Bedinger was described by a contemporary as a “full blooded Virginia Dutchman.”...

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Bonham, Milledge Luke (25 December 1813–27 August 1890), governor, congressman, and soldier, was born in South Carolina’s Edgefield District, the son of James Bonham and Sophie Smith, planters. His father died when he was two, and his mother saw to his education. Bonham attended private academies before graduating from South Carolina College in 1834. He entered the legal profession, engaged in local politics, and became prominent in state military affairs, rising to the rank of major general of militia. He led a brigade of Palmetto State volunteers in the Seminole War of 1836, a position that helped win him a stint in the state house of representatives (1840–1844). In 1845 he married Ann Griffin; they had fourteen children....

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Bragg, Edward Stuyvesant (20 February 1827–20 June 1912), Civil War general, congressman, and diplomat, was born in Unadilla, Otsego County, New York, the son of Joel Bragg, a rural businessman, and Margaretha Kohl. Bragg received his early education at local schools and went on to study law at Geneva College (now Hobart College) in Geneva, New York. He was admitted to the New York bar in 1848. After briefly practicing in Unadilla, he migrated to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, at the age of twenty-three. He was admitted to the Wisconsin bar and began a lifetime practice of arguing cases before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. In 1854 he was elected district prosecuting attorney. That same year he married Cornelia Coleman; they had four children....

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Butler, William (17 December 1759–23 September 1821), revolutionary war soldier and congressman, was born in Prince William County, Virginia, the son of James Butler and Mary Simpson, farmers. He attended grammar schools in his early years, and when he was about twelve years old his family moved to Ninety Six District, in western South Carolina. At the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1775, although he was only fifteen, he declared for the rebels and joined the South Carolina militia. Late that fall he accompanied Colonel Richard Richardson on a campaign into the backcountry of South Carolina to disperse a powerful concentration of Loyalists under the leadership of Patrick Cuningham. On 22 December he took part in a battle against Cuningham’s forces at Great Canebrake on Reedy Creek, in which the Loyalists were dispersed. Because heavy snow fell during the last days of this operation, it came to be known as the “Snow Campaign.” From July to September 1776 he served in Major ...

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Cabell, Samuel Jordan (15 December 1756–04 August 1818), revolutionary soldier and congressman, was born at “Union Hill” in Amherst County, Virginia, the son of Margaret Jordan and William Cabell, a prominent planter who served on the colony’s important revolutionary committee of safety and was chairman of the Amherst Committee. With the approach of the Revolution, Colonel William Cabell dropped plans to send Samuel to college in England and enrolled him instead at the College of William and Mary. Samuel attended from 1772 until December 1775, when Virginia militia clashed with British regulars at Great Bridge near Norfolk. Colonel Cabell, who was meeting in Williamsburg with the Virginia Committee of Safety when the battle occurred, sent Samuel home to raise a company of riflemen for Virginia’s defense....

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Chalmers, James Ronald (11 January 1831–09 April 1898), Confederate general and U.S. congressman, was born in Halifax County, Virginia, the son of Joseph W. Chalmers, a lawyer, and Fannie Henderson. In 1839 the family moved to Holly Springs, Mississippi; his father became a prominent attorney there and served in the U.S. Senate. James Chalmers attended South Carolina College, graduating in 1851. Returning to Holly Springs, he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1853. Between 1853 and 1858 he practiced law in Holly Springs. In 1858 he was elected district attorney and served in this office until 1861. He married Rebecca Arthur around 1865; they had one daughter. A Democrat in politics, he supported secession after Lincoln’s election and served as chairman of the committee on military affairs in the state convention of 1861 that took Mississippi out of the Union....

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Chandler, John (01 February 1762–25 September 1841), soldier, U.S. congressman, and senator, was born in Epping, New Hampshire, the son of Joseph Chandler and Lydia Eastman. His father, a subsistence farmer and soldier, died in 1776, leaving a destitute widow and ten children. To help support the family, John, upon turning fifteen, enlisted in the Continental army, engaging in the 1777 Saratoga campaign that resulted in the defeat and capture of General ...

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Cook, Philip (30 July 1817–20 May 1894), soldier and congressman, was born in Twiggs County, Georgia, the son of Philip Cook, a cotton planter and former field officer in the Eighth U.S. Infantry, and Martha Wooten. Cook was educated at a local academy, which he left in 1836 to join a volunteer company recruited for service in Florida during the Seminole Wars. When his enlistment was up, he attended Oglethorpe University in Milledgeville, Georgia, and the law school of the University of Virginia, graduating from the latter in 1841. The following year he married Sara Lumpkin; they had two children. Thereafter, except for three terms in the state legislature, one in the lower house (1854) and two in the senate (1859–1860, 1863–1864), Cook practiced law in the town of Oglethorpe....

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Dayton, Jonathan (16 October 1760–09 October 1824), revolutionary war officer and congressman, was born in Elizabethtown (now Elizabeth), New Jersey, the son of Elias Dayton, a wealthy merchant and revolutionary war general, and Hannah Rolfe. Dayton probably attended Elizabethtown Academy (a grammar school). He entered the College of New Jersey (Princeton) about 1774 and graduated in 1776, although he missed the commencement because he had joined the Continental army....

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Ewing, Thomas, Jr. (07 August 1829–21 January 1896), soldier, lawyer, and congressman, was born in Lancaster, Ohio, the son of Thomas Ewing (1789–1871), a lawyer, and Maria Boyle. His foster brother was William T. Sherman, who had been raised by the Ewings. Ewing attended Lancaster Academy and later had a year of schooling in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, at the home of his cousin ...

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Gartrell, Lucius Jeremiah (07 January 1821–07 April 1891), soldier and U.S. and Confederate congressman, was born in Wilkes County, Georgia, the son of Joseph Gartrell, Jr., a planter and merchant, and Eliza Boswell. After attending the state university and Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, Gartrell read law in the Washington, Georgia, office of another future Confederate commander, ...

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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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Herbert, Hilary Abner (12 March 1834–06 March 1919), Confederate soldier, congressman, and secretary of the navy, was born in Laurensville, South Carolina, the son of Thomas Edward Herbert and Dorothy Teague Young, teachers and slaveholding farmers. The Herberts moved to Alabama in 1846, and Hilary matriculated as a sophomore at the state university in 1853 only to quit that same year, along with most of his class, in protest against harsh discipline. He attended the University of Virginia from October 1854 to February 1856 before a stomach ailment forced his withdrawal. Eventually he read law in Alabama, practicing in Greenville until 1861....

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Thomas C. Hindman. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-99327).

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Hindman, Thomas Carmichael (28 January 1828–27 September 1868), general and congressman, was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, the son of Thomas Carmichael Hindman and Sallie Holt. His father moved to Jacksonville, Alabama, in 1832 as an Indian agent of the federal government and then to Ripley, Tippah County, Mississippi, in 1841, where he operated a large plantation. As the son of a well-to-do family, Hindman attended a variety of local private schools and graduated in 1846 from the Lawrenceville Classical and Commercial Institute located near Princeton, New Jersey....

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Hunton, Eppa (22 September 1822–11 October 1908), soldier and U.S. congressman and senator, was born in Fauquier County, Virginia, the son of Eppa Hunton, brigade inspector of the Virginia militia, and Elizabeth Marye Brent. Educated at a private academy, he taught school, read law, and was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1843. Moving to Brentsville in Prince William County, he pursued his profession and joined the militia. By 1847 he was a general officer of state troops. The following year he married Lucy Carolina Weir; they had one son....