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Henry Justin Allen. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-96805).

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Allen, Henry Justin (11 September 1869–17 January 1950), politician and newspaper editor, was born in Pittsfield, Pennsylvania, the son of John Allen, a farmer, and Rebecca Goodwin. In 1870 the Allens settled on a farm in Clay County, Kansas, which they lost in 1879. The family relocated in Osage County, Kansas, where Allen graduated from Burlingame High School. Working as a barber to attend Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas, he excelled at forensics, which led to his first newspaper job and forecast his later stature as one of America’s most popular public speakers. While at Baker, he met Elsie Jane Nuzman, and they were married in 1892. Only one of their four children survived to adulthood....

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Erastus Brooks. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109972).

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Brooks, Erastus (31 January 1815–25 November 1886), journalist and politician, was born in Portland, Maine, the son of the late James Brooks (c. 1788–1814), a commander of a privateer in the War of 1812 who had gone down with his ship, and Betsey Folsom. The financial problems caused by his father’s early death meant that Erastus had to begin work at age eight as a grocery store clerk in Boston. Ever enterprising, he used his pocket money to buy books and attend night school. He soon was placed in a printing office, where he learned to set type. Knowledge of this trade enabled him to earn enough money to attend classes at Brown University, although he did not complete the course of study. Eager to work for himself, he started his own newspaper, the ...

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Bryant, John Emory (13 October 1836–27 February 1900), editor and politician, was born in Wayne, Maine, the son of Benjamin Franklin Bryant, a Methodist minister and (later) physician, and Lucy Ford French. Bryant was born into a family with firm religious convictions but limited financial resources. During his childhood, the family lived in several different Maine communities where his father was minister. His first profession was teaching. By offering “subscription” or “rate schools,” in which the teacher advertised for scholars and “subscribed” students for a short term, Bryant earned money to pay for his own education. In 1859 he received a college certificate from Maine Wesleyan Seminary....

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Bush, John Edward (15 November 1856–11 December 1916), businessman and politician, was born a slave in Moscow, Tennessee. In 1862 his master moved him and his mother to Arkansas to keep them from being freed when the Union army moved into western Tennessee. His mother died when Bush was only seven years old. He was educated in the freedmen’s and public schools of Little Rock and was considered a good student by his teachers. He paid his school tuition by molding bricks. In 1876 he graduated from high school with honors and was immediately appointed principal of Capital Hill School, a public institution for African Americans in Little Rock. In 1878 he moved to Hot Springs, where he was named to head that city’s African-American high school....

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James M. Cox [left to right] Franklin D. Roosevelt and James M. Cox, c. 1920. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-96173).

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Cox, James Middleton (31 March 1870–15 July 1957), newspaper publisher and politician, was born in Jacksonburg, Ohio, the son of Eliza Andrews and Gilbert Cox, farmers. He attended a one-room school until he was sixteen. His parents divorced, and in 1886 Cox moved to nearby Middletown to live with his mother. Cox’s brother-in-law John Q. Baker, who published the ...

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Dabney, Wendell Phillips (04 November 1865–05 June 1952), journalist, political leader, and publisher, was born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of John Dabney, a caterer, and Elizabeth Foster. Dabney attended elementary and secondary school in Richmond. His childhood was characterized by rigorous inculcation of John Dabney’s religious and political views. His father, who had taught himself to read and write, instilled in his children the importance of religion as a vehicle for lessening racial oppression. John Dabney also passed on to his children his perception that Republicans helped African Americans and Democrats did not....

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Davis, Benjamin Jefferson (27 May 1870–28 October 1945), publisher and political figure, was born in Dawson, Georgia, the son of Mike Davis (who changed his name from Mike Haynes in 1868 or 1869) and Katherine Davis, farmers and ex-slaves. His formal education ended after the sixth grade, and Davis worked as a bricklayer and teacher before becoming a printer. He learned the trade while working for Tom W. Loyless, a white Dawson publisher and printer, and then opened his own printing business. He soon became a moderately wealthy man, living in a two-story, fifteen-room house while his siblings eked out their livings as sharecroppers. In 1898 he married Jimmie Willard Porter, a Dawson native who had been educated at Hampton and Tuskegee Institutes; they had a son and daughter....

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Duane, William (17 May 1760–24 November 1835), newspaper publisher and politician, was born near Lake Champlain in modern-day Vermont, the son of John Duane and Anastasia Sarsfield, Irish-immigrant farmers. The elder Duane died in 1765, and the family returned to the village of Clonmel in Ireland when William was about eleven. He received schooling with Franciscan friars, and his mother apparently wanted him to become a priest. However, believing that the Church helped make people passive and therefore abusable by the rich, political elite, he embraced secularism. That action strained relations with his mother. The two broke completely in 1779 when Duane married Catharine Corcoran, a nineteen-year-old Protestant. They had three children. After apprenticing in the printing trade for two years, Duane moved his family to London where he probably worked as a parliamentary reporter for the ...

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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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Dymond, John (03 May 1836–05 March 1922), planter, publisher, and politician, was born in Canada (exact location unrecorded), the son of Richard Dymond, a Methodist minister, and Anne Hawkens. During his early childhood Dymond’s family moved to Zanesville, Ohio, where he was educated in the local public schools and the Zanesville Academy before entering Bartlett’s College, a business school in Cincinnati. Following his graduation from Bartlett’s in 1857 he took a job as a clerk with his father, who had by that time established himself in the mercantile trade. He then toyed with the cotton manufacturing business in partnership with Homer White (trading under the name White & Dymond) before moving to New York City, where, on the eve of the Civil War, he took a job as a traveling salesman with a firm whose name has not survived. He returned to Zanesville on 3 June 1862 to marry Nancy Elizabeth Cassidy; they had six children....

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Eisler, Gerhart (20 February 1897–21 March 1968), Communist journalist and politician, was born in Leipzig, Germany, the son of Rudolf Eisler, a philosopher, and Marie Ida Fischer. Eisler grew up in Vienna, Austria, where his father was an assistant professor without tenure (Privatdozent) at the university. The socialist sympathies of his parents, his own studies in anarchist and Marxist literature, writing for his school journal, and eventually his experiences as a young officer during World War I were all factors that influenced Eisler’s future. He was active in the revolution in November 1918 and joined the Communist party of German-Austria....

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Azariah Cutting Flagg. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-110026).

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Flagg, Azariah Cutting (28 November 1790–24 November 1873), newspaper editor and politician, was born in Orwell, Vermont, the son of Ebenezer Flagg and Elizabeth Cutting. In 1801 his parents apprenticed him to a cousin, a Burlington, Vermont, printer who over a period of five years taught him the trade. For the next five years, he was engaged in printing and publishing, and in 1811 he moved to Plattsburgh, New York. Two years later he founded the Plattsburgh ...

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Horace Greeley. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-110105).

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Greeley, Horace (03 February 1811–29 November 1872), newspaper editor and political figure, was born in Amherst, New Hampshire, the son of Zaccheus Greeley and Mary Woodburn, poor New England farmers. Greeley’s youth was marred by his father’s struggle to improve his family’s financial situation. During his first ten years, the family moved four times, from Amherst to Bedford, New Hampshire, back to Amherst, and in 1821 to Westhaven, Vermont. These years of economic uncertainty made a deep impression on young “Hod” Greeley. He was often absent from school because of the need to help his father; his formal education ended at the age of fourteen. Yet, both in school and on his own, he displayed a remarkable and lively intelligence. In later years Greeley paid tribute to the various influences of his Yankee childhood: the Scotch-Irish ancestry on his mother’s side and his English forebears on his father’s, the powerful hold of Calvinism, the promise of the Enlightenment from the revolutionary era....

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Green, Duff (15 August 1791–10 June 1875), journalist, political operator, and southern economic promoter, was born in Woodford County, Kentucky, the son of William Green, a revolutionary war veteran, and Lucy Ann Marshall. He was educated at home and briefly at Danville Academy in 1805. After studying medicine for a short time and teaching school, he enlisted as a private in the War of 1812, fighting in a number of battles under ...

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A. Oakey Hall. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109931).