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Howe, Timothy Otis (24 February 1816–25 March 1883), senator and postmaster general, was born in Livermore Falls, Androscoggin County, Maine, the son of Timothy Howe, a doctor, and Betsy Howard. He attended local public schools, worked on a farm, and graduated from the Maine Wesleyan Seminary. After studying law, he was admitted to the bar in 1839 and practiced in Readfield, Maine, where for a short time he was postmaster. In 1841 he married Linda Ann Haynes, with whom he raised two children. An ardent Whig, Howe served in the state legislature in 1845. The next year he relocated to Green Bay, Wisconsin, for health reasons. Although he ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1848, Howe succeeded two years later in winning election as judge of the Fourth Circuit Court, which meant he also sat on the state supreme court and for one year occupied the chief justiceship. While serving as circuit judge, he presided at the locally celebrated murder trial of Ann Wheeler in Kenosha. He held this judicial position until 1855, when he resigned to return to his law practice....

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Meigs, Return Jonathan, Jr. (17 November 1765–29 March 1824), governor of Ohio, senator, and postmaster general, was born in Middletown, Connecticut, the son of Return Jonathan Meigs (1740–1823) and Joanna Winborn. Meigs graduated with honors from Yale College (now Yale University) in 1785 and became a lawyer in Middletown. There he met Sophia Wright, a student in a local academy. They were married in 1788; among their wedding gifts were two slaves. They had one child....

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Harry S. New Right, inspecting the Warren G. Harding memorial stamp, 1923. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-93503).

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New, Harry Stewart (31 December 1858–09 May 1937), U.S. senator and postmaster general, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, the son of John C. New, a banker and newspaper publisher, and Melissa Beeler. He grew up amid Gilded Age Indiana’s Republican politics: his father was financial assistant to the state’s wartime governor, ...

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Reagan, John Henninger (08 October 1818–06 March 1905), U.S. congressman, U.S. senator, and postmaster general of the Confederacy, was born in Sevierville, Tennessee, the son of Timothy Richard Reagan and Elizabeth Lusk, farmers. His early life was not unlike that of many young men in early nineteenth-century frontier America, hunting, fishing, and helping with farm chores. However, in 1834, Reagan decided to follow his own ambitions. After a year of “hiring out” to a local planter, he attended Boyd’s Creek Academy for fifteen months. When funds ran low, he worked so that in 1837 he could study for a year at Southwestern Seminary in Maryville....

Article

Vilas, William Freeman (09 July 1840–27 August 1908), cabinet member and senator, was born in Chelsea, Vermont, the son of Levi Baker Vilas, a lawyer and a wealthy investor, and Esther G. Smilie. In 1851 the enterprising Levi Vilas, a Democrat, moved his family to Madison, Wisconsin, the seat of the recently organized state government and newly created University of Wisconsin. William took advantage of his privileged opportunities, graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1858 with the highest record in his class and from the Albany (N.Y.) Law School in 1860 with a bachelor of law degree. Twenty years old, Vilas established a law partnership in Madison, but his career was soon interrupted by the Civil War. He volunteered and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, experiencing active duty in the siege of Vicksburg....