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Addicks, John Edward O’Sullivan (21 November 1841–07 August 1919), promoter and aspiring politician, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Edward Addicks, a politician and civil servant, and Margaretta McLeod. Addicks’s father achieved local political prominence and arranged for his son to take a job at age fifteen as a runner for a local dry goods business. Four years later Addicks took a job with a flour company and, upon reaching his twenty-first birthday, became a full partner in the business. Like many Quaker City merchants, Addicks speculated in local real estate in the booming port town, avoided service in the Civil War, and achieved a modicum of prosperity in the postwar period. He became overextended, as he would be most of his career, however, and went broke in the 1873 depression....

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Baruch, Bernard Mannes (19 August 1870–20 June 1965), financier and statesman, was born in Camden, South Carolina, the son of Dr. Simon Baruch and Belle Wolfe. Place played a large role in his life. In 1881 the family moved to New York City, where his father became a prominent physician and leader in public health. Baruch graduated from the City College of New York and made his career in Wall Street, but he shrewdly maintained an identification with South Carolina through ownership of a plantation, “Hobcaw,” where he entertained people with political connections that enhanced his influence in the national Democratic party. By transcending local politics, Baruch became one of the most powerful Democrats in the first half of the twentieth century....

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Belmont, August (08 December 1813–24 November 1890), financier, politician, and sportsman, was born in Alzey, a German Rhineland village, the son of Simon Belmont, a moneylender and landowner, and Frederika Elsass. He attended a Jewish school, the Philanthropin, in Frankfurt and in 1828 began work as an office boy for the local branch of the Rothschild banking family, to which he was distantly related through marriage. He was soon promoted to confidential clerk and in 1837 was sent to Cuba to investigate that Spanish colony’s stability. A stopover in New York changed the course of his life. The panic of 1837 had just struck, and the Rothschilds’ New York agent had declared bankruptcy. Belmont decided to stay and established August Belmont and Company, a private banking firm that would maintain a close, long-term working relationship with the Rothschilds. Belmont’s rise on Wall Street was rapid. He profited from foreign exchange transactions; commercial and private loans; corporate, real estate, and railroad investments; and as a U.S. government fiscal agent during the Mexican War. In 1849 he married Caroline Slidell Perry, with whom he had six children....

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Bingham, William (08 April 1752–07 February 1804), businessman and public official, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of William Bingham, a saddler and merchant, and Mary “Molly” Stamper. Bingham graduated cum laude from the College of Philadelphia in 1768. Sometime after the death of his father in 1769, he served an apprenticeship with Philadelphia merchant ...

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Corbett, Henry Winslow (18 February 1827–31 March 1903), banker, capitalist, and politician, was born in Westboro, Massachusetts, the son of Elijah Corbett, a mechanic and businessman, and Melinda Forbush. Reared in a large family in Washington County, New York, Corbett attended Cambridge Academy and later clerked. In 1843 he moved to New York City and took employment with Williams, Bradford & Company. Confident of his business acumen, the company sent him by sea to Oregon to sell merchandise, and in February 1851 Corbett arrived in Portland, a village hacked out of the timber. While awaiting the arrival of his goods, the ambitious young merchant rode up the Willamette Valley to discover what pioneer farmers wanted to buy, and he found a strong demand for shoes, nails, sugar, coffee, tobacco, cloth, and brooms. Thus Corbett began a lifetime practice of seeking market opportunities. He opened a Portland store near the Willamette River, slept in the store’s loft, made a remarkable $20,000 profit in about fourteen months, and then rejoined his employers in New York....

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English, James Edward (13 March 1812–02 March 1890), businessman and politician, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of James English, a customs collector and shipowner, and Nancy Griswold. When he was eleven, English persuaded his parents to allow him to live with and work for a local farmer. After three years his father enrolled him in a private school. At sixteen he became an apprentice to a New Haven carpenter and joiner and grew adept at creating architectural designs and drawing up contracts. Subsequently, he worked as an independent contractor and master builder, planning and constructing several of New Haven’s more imposing houses. English had accumulated enough money by 1835 to form a lumber company in New Haven with a partner, Harmanus M. Welch. However, in the wake of the panic of 1837, he decided that it would be prudent to diversify his business. He purchased and constructed ships to serve the Philadelphia–New England trade and over the next two decades built a considerable fortune....

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Evans, John (09 March 1814–03 July 1897), physician, businessman, and politician, was born near Waynesville, Ohio, the son of David Evans and Rachel Burnet, farmers. His Quaker father left their modest farm and became a successful real estate investor. John completed his education at the Medical Department of the Cincinnati College in 1838. That year he married Hannah Canby. They moved to Attica, Indiana, where, after hearing the stirring sermons of Bishop ...

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Hagar, Jonathan (1714–06 November 1775), land speculator, assemblyman, and town developer, was born in the duchy of Westphalia, Germany; the names of his parents are unknown. Hagar (also spelled Hager) arrived as a freeman in Philadelphia from Rotterdam on the ship Harle on 1 September 1736, at the age of twenty-two. He was one of the many German-speaking settlers who began to migrate to the western areas of Maryland in the 1730s and 1740s. While most of these settlers first spent a few years in eastern Pennsylvania (sometimes as indentured servants to pay for their passage), high land prices in that settled land forced new arrivals to establish their own homes farther west and south....

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Henderson, Richard (20 April 1735–30 January 1785), land speculator, judge, and politician, was born in Hanover County, Virginia, the son of Samuel Henderson and Elizabeth Williams. Samuel Henderson, who had served for a time as sheriff of Hanover County, moved his family to North Carolina around 1742 and settled on Nutbush Creek in Granville County; within a few years he became sheriff. Little is known of Richard Henderson’s childhood, but it must have been a happy one. Under the watchful eye of his mother his education was guided toward a law career. He studied under a private tutor before getting his first job as a deputy sheriff under his father. He then read law under John Williams, his mother’s cousin and a gifted attorney who became a lifelong friend. After being admitted to the bar, Henderson joined Williams in law practice. Their association grew closer after 1763, when Henderson married Elizabeth Keeling, Williams’s stepdaughter who was the daughter of an English peer, Lord Keeling. They had six children....

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Hoffmann, Francis Arnold (05 June 1822–23 January 1903), German-American political leader, businessman, and agricultural writer, was born in Herford, Westphalia, Prussia, the son of Frederick William Hoffmann, a bookbinder, and Wilhelmina Groppe. Educated at the Gymnasium in Herford, he left home in 1840 to emigrate to the United States. He traveled first to Chicago, where he worked briefly as a hotel porter then took a position as teacher for a German congregation in Addison township, Du Page County, Illinois, west of Chicago. He also led hymns and read sermons in the church services. In 1841 he went to Michigan to study under clergy of the Lutheran Michigan Synod and was ordained. He returned to Addison to serve as pastor and also served other congregations in northeastern Illinois. In 1844 he married Cynthia Gilbert, a native of Ohio. The exact number of their children is unknown; four survived Hoffmann. He acquired citizenship by naturalization in 1846....

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Leary, John (01 November 1837–08 February 1905), business leader and politician, was born in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. Virtually nothing is known about his parents or his early life. Apparently relying largely on his own initiative, he prospered in lumber manufacturing and shipping as a young man, and he operated mercantile establishments in his native province. Financial setbacks prompted him to move to Houlton, Maine, where he engaged in the lumber business. In 1858 he married Mary Blanchard. They had no children. In 1869 he followed his interest in lumbering to Seattle, Washington Territory....

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Herbert H. Lehman. At laying of the cornerstone of Letchworth Village, a state mental institution near Haverstraw, New York. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102023).

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Lehman, Herbert Henry (28 March 1878–05 December 1963), investment banker and politician, was born in New York City, the son of Mayer Lehman and Babette Newgass, German immigrants. Lehman was reared in the prosperous surroundings of German-Jewish society in midtown Manhattan. His father was a founding partner of Lehman Brothers, a cotton-trading company that developed into a leading investment banking firm....

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Maverick, Samuel Augustus (23 July 1803–02 September 1870), politician and landowner, was born in Pendleton, South Carolina, the son of Samuel Maverick, the owner of “Montpelier” plantation, and Elizabeth Anderson. He received his early education locally and then attended Yale College, from which he received his B.A. in 1825. Afterward, he studied law in Winchester, Virginia, then returned to Pendleton, where he was admitted to the bar in 1829 and practiced law....

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Andrew W. Mellon Photograph by Arnold Genthe, 1924. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G401-T-4559-003-001-x).

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Mellon, Andrew William (24 March 1855–26 August 1937), financier, statesman, and art collector, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas Mellon, a lawyer and later a judge, entrepreneur, and banker, and Sarah Jane Negley. Mellon attended public schools in Pittsburgh and Western University of Pennsylvania (now the University of Pittsburgh). While still a student he observed his father’s financial dealings with industrialists ...

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George W. Perkins Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-99094).

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Perkins, George Walbridge (31 January 1862–18 June 1920), banker and political leader, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of George W. Perkins, a prison official, and Sarah Louise Mills. In 1872 his father left prison work to run an agency of the New York Life Insurance Company. George had only a grammar school education. In 1877 he began working for his father as an office boy, and by 1886 he had become agency cashier at $100 a month. In that year the elder Perkins died. George hoped to take over the agency, but the company considered him too young for the position and offered him a job as salesman. He accepted reluctantly but was a phenomenal success. Between February 1887 and the end of the year he sold nearly $3 million in policies in Kansas and Colorado. The company then made him district supervisor in charge of business in the Southwest....

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Phelan, James Duval (20 April 1861–07 August 1930), politician and banker, was born in San Francisco, the only son of James Phelan and Alice Kelly. The elder Phelan, Irish-born, came to San Francisco in 1849 and prospered through investments in trade, real estate, banking, and insurance. The younger Phelan graduated from St. Ignatius College in 1881 and studied at Hastings College of Law (both in San Francisco), then entered his father’s businesses and moved immediately into prominent roles in civic and commercial organizations....

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Symmes, John Cleves (21 July 1742–26 February 1814), legislator, jurist, and land speculator, was born near Southold, New York, the son of the Reverend Timothy Symmes and Mary Cleves. Having been driven from his Millington, Connecticut, parish because of his participation in the Great Awakening, Reverend Symmes had settled on Long Island near the Cleves family home the same year that John Symmes was born. After the death of his mother and the departure of his father to do missionary work in New Jersey, Symmes was reared by his maternal grandparents. The formal education he received included the study of surveying and law, supplemented by an extensive reading of Greek and Roman literature and history. Unlike his Harvard-educated father, John Cleves did not attend college and had little, if any, interest in university training. In 1760 he married Anna Tuthill, the daughter of an influential Long Island family. The couple would have two daughters, one of whom would marry ...