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Nelson W. Aldrich. Drawing by Arthur Dove, published in Success, 1909. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-54138).


Aldrich, Nelson Wilmarth (06 November 1841–16 April 1915), U.S. senator, congressman, and businessman, was born in Foster, Rhode Island, the son of Anan Aldrich and Abby Burgess, farmers. Having received a modest education in East Killingly, Connecticut, and at the East Greenwich Academy in Rhode Island, Aldrich was by age seventeen working in Providence. Eventually a large wholesale grocery firm, Waldron, Wightman & Co., hired him as a clerk and bookkeeper. His career there was briefly interrupted in 1862 by service with the Tenth Rhode Island Volunteers garrisoning Washington, D.C. After contracting typhoid that same year he returned to Providence and, by 1866, had been elevated to junior partner at Waldron, Wightman. He married Abby Chapman that year; the couple would have eleven children. His wife was of independent means, but Aldrich insisted on accumulating a fortune on his own account and gradually did so. He worked his way up to full partner at Waldron, Wightman, was a director of the Roger Williams Bank by 1872, and by 1877 was president of Providence’s First National Bank. He also headed the city’s Board of Trade in these years....


Rollins, Edward Henry (03 October 1824–31 July 1889), U.S. senator and congressman, and railroad executive, was born in Rollinsford, New Hampshire, the son of Daniel Rollins and Mary Plumer, farmers. Rollins attended the Franklin Academy in Dover, and the Berwick Academy in Maine, but lack of funds prevented him from enrolling at Dartmouth College. Aside from a brief tenure as a Rollinsford common schoolteacher, he worked as a drugstore clerk in Concord, New Hampshire, and Boston until 1847, when he bought his own establishment opposite the statehouse in Concord. Two years later he married Ellen Elizabeth West; they had five children....