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Bentsen, Lloyd (11 February 1921–23 May 2006), U.S. senator, vice presidential nominee, and Treasury secretary, was born just north of the Mexican border in Mission, Texas, to Lloyd Bentsen, Sr., a pioneer in military aviation who became a prosperous rancher, land speculator, and banker, and Edna Ruth (Dolly) Colbath. The couple raised four children amid the citrus groves and cotton fields of the Rio Grande Valley and on the family’s expansive Arrowhead Ranch....

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English, William Hayden (27 August 1822–07 February 1896), congressman, vice presidential candidate, and historian, was born in Lexington, Indiana, the son of Elisha G. English and Mahala Eastin. Elisha, a landowner and railroad vice president, was a Democrat who served in the Indiana legislature for nearly twenty years and was friends with many important politicians. William benefited from his father’s contacts and status and was influenced by his views....

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Johnson, Herschel Vespasian (18 September 1812–16 August 1880), Georgia governor, U.S. and Confederate senator, and vice presidential candidate, was born in Burke County, Georgia, the son of Moses Johnson, a planter, and Nancy Palmer. He studied at local schools before entering Monaghan Academy near Warrenton at fourteen. Attending the University of Georgia, he became a friend of ...

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Kemp, Jack French (13 July 1935–02 May 2009), professional football player, key conservative in the Reagan revolution, and vice presidential candidate, professional football player, key conservative in the Reagan revolution, and vice presidential candidate, was born in Los Angeles, the third of four sons of Paul Robert Kemp, the founder of a small trucking company, and Frances Elizabeth Pope Kemp, a social worker and Spanish teacher. Kemp grew up in the upper-middle-class Wilshire district of West Los Angeles, graduating from Fairfax High School in 1953. At only five feet ten inches and 175 pounds, he was too small to play quarterback at a Division I school, so he chose Occidental College because it ran a pro-style offense. College teammates remembered Kemp as very tenacious and determined to play professional football. A powerful arm made him a Little All-America standout and small college passing leader. Kemp had no bigger booster than college sweetheart, Joanne Main. They married on 19 July 1958 and would have two boys and two girls. Like their father, Jeff and James Kemp both became professional football quarterbacks....

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Miller, William Edward (22 March 1914–24 June 1983), U.S. congressman and Republican vice presidential nominee, was born in Lockport, New York, the son of Edward J. Miller, a janitor, and Elizabeth Hinch, who ran a millinery shop. He attended the University of Notre Dame from 1931 to 1935. Upon graduating with a B.A. in economics, he entered Union University Law School in Albany, New York, receiving an LL.B. in 1938. After his admission to the New York State bar that same year, Miller was appointed U.S. commissioner for the western district of New York. Soon thereafter, In a case involving a “routine” auto accident, he met Stephanie Wagner. They were married in 1943, a year after he had joined the army. The couple had four children....

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Edmund S. Muskie. Campaign poster, 1968. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-106838).

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Muskie, Edmund S. (28 March 1914–26 March 1996), governor, U. S. senator, and secretary of state, was born Edmund Sixtus Muskie in Rumford, Maine, the son of Stephen Muskie, a tailor, and Josephine Czarnecki Muskie. The spelling of his immigrant father's surname, Marciszewski, had been distorted by an official at Ellis Island, and the new version was eventually adopted by the family. Quiet and studious as a boy, Muskie grew up in relative poverty and often felt isolated as a member of one of the few immigrant families in the area. He attended local schools before entering Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, from which he graduated cum laude with a B.A. in 1936. Awarded a scholarship for law school, Muskie received his LL.B. from Cornell in 1939 and gained admittance to the bar in both Massachusetts (1939) and Maine (1940)....

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Sargent Shriver. Tempera, pencil and ink on board, 1963, by Boris Chaliapin. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine.

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Shriver, Sargent (09 November 1915–18 January 2011), federal official and vice presidential candidate, was born Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr., in Westminster, Maryland, to Robert Sargent Shriver, Sr., a banker, and Hilda Shriver. His parents were second cousins. On her mother’s side, Hilda Shriver was descended from one of the founding Catholic families of Maryland; for his part, her husband converted to Catholicism upon their marriage. The couple went on to establish several Catholic organizations, and they were among the founders of ...

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Allen G. Thurman. [left to right] Grover Cleveland and Allen G. Thurman. Presidential campaign poster, 1888. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZC4-2110).

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Thurman, Allen Granberry (13 November 1813–12 December 1895), U.S. senator and vice presidential candidate, was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, the son of Pleasant Thurman, a teacher and minister, and Mary Granberry Allen, a teacher. In 1815 the family freed its slaves and moved to Chillicothe, Ohio, where Thurman spent his boyhood. His chief formal education took place under the supervision of his mother at her academy in Chillicothe. Thurman later read law under the tutelage of his uncle ...