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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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Bowen, Thomas Meade (26 October 1835–30 December 1906), U.S. senator and mining entrepreneur, was born in Burlington, Iowa. His parents’ names and occupations are unknown. Bowen was educated at Mount Pleasant Academy (Mount Pleasant, Iowa) and began practicing law in 1853 at the age of eighteen. He was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1856 but served only one term before moving to Kansas, where he joined the Republican party over the issue of free soil. During the Civil War, Bowen organized and commanded the Thirteenth Kansas Infantry and was eventually brevetted a brigadier general in 1863. When the war ended, Bowen was stationed in Arkansas. He settled in Little Rock, where he married Margarette Thurston and established himself as a planter and a prominent lawyer. Whether they had children is not known....

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DeWolf, James (18 March 1764–21 December 1837), slave trader, politician, and businessman, was born in Bristol, Rhode Island. His father, Mark Anthony DeWolf, emigrated from Guadeloupe Island, West Indies, after being hired as a deckhand on a slave-trading vessel owned by Simeon Potter. Once back in Bristol, Potter introduced Mark Anthony to his sister Abigail Potter. The two married shortly thereafter and had fifteen children; eight were sons of which three died at sea. The remaining five boys, including James, became involved in the transatlantic slave trade. All the DeWolf children, boys and girls, received a formal education and lived a somewhat privileged life....

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Fair, James Graham (03 December 1831–28 December 1894), miner, financier, and U.S. senator, was born near Belfast, Ireland, the son of Scotch-Irish parents. His father’s name was James Fair; only his mother’s maiden name, Graham, is known. In 1843 Fair’s parents left Ireland with their son and emigrated to the United States. The family settled in Geneva, Illinois. After attending public schools, Fair continued his studies, primarily in business, chemistry, and mathematics in nearby Chicago....

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Hill, Nathaniel Peter (18 February 1832–22 May 1900), U.S. senator and mining entrepreneur, was born in Montgomery, New York, the son of Nathaniel Peter Hill, a farmer and state legislator, and Matilda Crawford. After managing the family farm in New York for several years after his father’s death, Hill graduated from Brown University in 1856 and remained with the university as a professor of chemistry. In 1860 he married Alice Hale, with whom he had three children. He supplemented his academic position by serving as a consultant and chemical analyst for numerous corporations in Rhode Island. In 1864 Hill accepted an opportunity to go west and investigate the mines of Colorado. He was employed by a group of eastern capitalists to report on the prospects of opening new mines in the San Luis Valley. While faithfully carrying out his duties for his employers, he also kept an eye open for opportunities of his own. Sufficiently impressed, he resigned from Brown, deciding that his future lay in the West....

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Truman H. Newberry Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98130).

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Newberry, Truman Handy (05 November 1864–03 October 1945), businessman and senator, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of John Stoughton Newberry, a lawyer, congressman, and manufacturer who founded the Michigan Car Company, and Helen Parmelee Handy. Newberry attended Michigan Military Academy in Orchard Lake, Charlier Institute in New York City, and Reed’s School in Lakeville, Connecticut. He graduated with a Ph.B. from the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale College in 1885. Newberry began his business career as a staff member of the Detroit, Bay City, and Alpena Railroad, of which he became superintendent of construction. After his father’s death in 1887, Newberry assumed total control of the family’s business enterprises, including the presidency of the Detroit Steel and Spring Company. He also engaged in various other manufacturing activities. In 1888 he married Harriet Josephine Barnes, with whom he had a daughter and twin sons....

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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....