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Oakes Ames. Photograph from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the National Archives (NWDNS-111-B-1245).

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Ames, Oakes (10 January 1804–08 May 1873), businessman and politician, was born in North Easton, Massachusetts, the son of Oliver Ames, a manufacturer, and Susanna Angier. He was educated in local schools and, for a few months, at Dighton Academy. At the age of sixteen, he entered his father’s shovel factory as an apprentice, rising quickly to become the works superintendent and then his father’s assistant. In 1827 he married Evelina Orvile Gilmore, and for the next three decades lived with her and their four children in one wing of his father’s house opposite the factory....

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Cheves, Langdon (17 September 1776–26 June 1857), lawyer, congressman, and financier, was born in Bull Town Fort, South Carolina, the son of Alexander Chivas (or Chivis) of Buchan, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, and Mary Langdon. It is not known when or why he changed the spelling of his last name. Alexander Chivas had migrated to America in 1762 and established himself as a frontier trader. A Loyalist supporter, he lost his livelihood during the Revolution and moved to the low country. Cheves’s mother, daughter of supporters of the colonial rebellion, died in 1779, and Langdon’s aunt, Mrs. Thomas Cheves, cared for young Langdon. He attended Andrew Weed’s school, and in 1785 his father took him to Charleston. He continued his formal schooling briefly but then pursued vigorous independent study. He apprenticed in a shipping merchant’s office, gaining experience in business and finance by keeping the firm’s accounts. He read for the law with Judge William Marshall and was admitted to the bar in 1797. Successful as a Charleston lawyer, he moved into the political arena. His first elected office was as warden of his city ward in 1802; he then served from 1802 to 1809 in the state legislature and became attorney general in 1809. He won national office in 1810 when he ran for Congress on the Republican ticket. In 1806 he married Mary Elizabeth Dulles; they had fourteen children. In addition to the law and politics, Cheves enjoyed success in designing and building houses and in farming....

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McFadden, Louis Thomas (25 July 1876–01 October 1936), banker and congressman, was born in Troy, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, the son of Theodore L. McFaddin [ sic] and Julia Babb, farmers. When his mother died in 1887, McFadden went to live with Dr. T. A. Gamble in East Troy, where he attended school and did farm chores to earn his keep. Several months after the death of his father in 1892, McFadden moved to nearby Canton, where he found a job as an office boy and janitor at the First National Bank. By 1899 he had risen to cashier, and in 1916 he became president, serving in the position until 1926, when he resigned to devote himself full time to politics. McFadden was very active in the Pennsylvania Bankers’ Association, serving as president for two years and in a variety of other capacities. He was also an active farmer. In 1898 he married Helen Westgate; they had three children. Beginning in 1914 they made their home at Mourland Park, a local landmark....

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Morrill, Edmund Needham (12 February 1834–14 March 1909), banker, congressman, and governor of Kansas, was born in Westbrook, Maine, the son of Rufus Morrill, a tanner and currier, and Mary Webb. He was educated in the common schools and at Westbrook Academy, where he graduated in 1855. For one year he was the academy’s superintendent, but he moved with a colony of settlers in 1857 to Brown County, Kansas Territory, and established a sawmill a few miles west of present-day Hiawatha. The mill failed after a fire in 1860, but Morrill repaid all of his creditors....

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Price, Hiram (10 January 1814–30 May 1901), congressman and banker, was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania. His parents were farmers who moved frequently, and their names are not known. When Price was nineteen years old, he left home and went to Williamsburg, Pennsylvania. Having mastered single-entry bookkeeping, he secured a job in a store and by the next year had raised his salary to $300 a year. He wanted to marry Susan Betts, the daughter of prosperous Quakers, and when her parents opposed the match they eloped in 1834. They had five children....

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Roberts, Ellis Henry (30 September 1827–08 January 1918), editor, congressman, and financier, was born in Utica, New York, the son of Watkin Roberts, a factory worker, and Gwen Williams, immigrants from Wales. His father died in 1831, and consequently Roberts experienced a difficult childhood. He attended local schools. To support himself and earn money for more education, he learned the printer’s trade in the office of William Williams in Utica. Roberts did the usual work assigned to beginners and had mastered the trade and saved money by the time his brother Robert W. Roberts, under whom he continued to work, purchased the office. Roberts attended Whitestown Seminary for two terms in 1845 before enrolling in 1846 at Yale College, where he won a scholarship, took prizes for English composition, and edited the ...

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Spaulding, Elbridge Gerry (24 February 1809–05 May 1897), congressman and banker, was born in Summerhill, Cayuga County, New York, the son of Edward Spaulding and Mehitable Goodrich, farmers. Educated in nearby Auburn, Spaulding later read law in Batavia and Attica and by 1834 had been admitted to practice in Genesee County. That year he moved to Buffalo to clerk in the office of Potter & Babcock. He eventually became a partner, and when the firm dissolved in 1844, he took over its business, enjoying a thriving legal practice....

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Swanwick, John (09 June 1759?–31 July 1798), merchant, banker, and congressman, was born in Liverpool, England, the son of Richard Swanwick and Mary Bickerton. Around 1770 the Swanwicks, a family of middling origins, came to America and settled in Caln Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. Appointed commander of a British revenue cutter at the Customs House, his father moved the family to Philadelphia. When the Revolution broke out, his father became known for the fervor with which he pursued his role as a wagon master for the Loyalists. In contrast, young John Swanwick committed himself to the patriot cause by taking the oath of allegiance and by joining the second militia company of the Sixth Battalion in Philadelphia....