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Brown, George E., Jr. (06 March 1920–15 July 1999), congressman, was born in Holtville, Imperial County, California, the son of George Edward Brown, an orange picker, and Bird Alma Kilgore Brown. He attended local public schools and then graduated from Holtville Union high school (1935) and nearby El Centro Junior College (1938). He then entered the University of California at Los Angeles, where as president of the student housing association he became the first to integrate university housing by taking an African-American roommate. A pacifist who was an early critic of internment of Japanese-Americans after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Brown spent the early part of World War II as a conscientious objector in a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Oregon before joining the Army in 1944. After enlisting as a private, he eventually rose to the rank of second lieutenant in the infantry....

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Gibbs, George (07 January 1776–05 August 1833), mineralogist and patron of science, was born in Newport, Rhode Island, the son of George Gibbs, a wealthy merchant, and Mary Channing. Despite his father’s exhortations to “give up travelling. … fix yourself to business & lead a regular life observing the strictest economy,” Gibbs chose extensive travel in his youth and the life of a wealthy gentleman farmer when he did settle down. He adopted the honorary appellation “Colonel” and was usually referred to as “Colonel Gibbs” or just “the Colonel.”...

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Smithson, James (1765–27 June 1829), scientist and philanthropist, was born James Lewis Macie, probably in France, the illegitimate son of Hugh Smithson, later the first Duke of Northumberland, and Elizabeth Hungerford Keate Macie, a wealthy widow from Weston, England. Little is known of Macie's childhood in France. In 1782 he enrolled in Pembroke College, Oxford, where he excelled in chemistry and mineralogy. Two years later, he embarked on his first geological collecting tour, in Scotland and the Hebrides, with a group of distinguished scientists. In 1786 he received an M.A.from Pembroke College and a year later was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, London, its youngest member. He presented his first paper to the society on 7 July 1791, “An Account of Some Chemical Experiments on Tabasheer,” recounting his chemical analyses of this substance found in the hollow of bamboo canes. Thus began a career of scientific research, exacting experimentation, and specimen collecting. In 1800 he was elected to the new Royal Institution of Great Britain, an organization devoted to “diffusing the knowledge and … the application of science to the common purposes of life.”...

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Tappan, Benjamin (25 May 1773–20 April 1857), jurist, politician, and scientist, was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, the son of Benjamin Tappan, a goldsmith and merchant, and Sarah Homes. The family was both prosperous and well connected. Tappan prepared for Harvard at a local academy but then pursued a literary and practical self-education, becoming versed in several trades. He studied with ...