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Aldrich, Winthrop (02 November 1885–25 February 1974), lawyer, banker, and legal and political adviser, was born Winthrop Williams Aldrich in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Nelson Wilmarth Aldrich, a U.S. senator, and Abby Chapman. Aldrich graduated from Harvard College in 1907 and Harvard Law School in 1910. Upon graduation from law school Aldrich joined the New York City law firm of Byrne, Cutcheon & Taylor, specializing in finance and commercial law. In 1916 Aldrich was named a junior partner in the firm, and in December of that year he married Harriet Alexander, the granddaughter of California railroad and banking magnate ...

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Alexander, Sadie Tanner Mossell (03 January 1898–01 November 1989), economist and lawyer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Aaron Mossell, an attorney and the first black graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and Mary Tanner. While a young girl her father abandoned the family, and she was raised by her mother with the assistance of relatives....

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Charles E. Bedaux. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-107447).

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Bedaux, Charles Eugene (10 October 1886–18 February 1944), scientific manager, entrepreneur, and fascist collaborator, was born in Charenton-le-Pont, France, a suburb of Paris, the son of Charles Emile Bedaux, a railroad engineer, and Marie Eulalie, a dressmaker. Bedaux spent his first twenty years on the streets of Paris, doing odd jobs and usually avoiding school. He attended the Lycée Louis LeGrand in Paris but did not receive a regular degree. In 1906 he left Paris to seek his fortune across the Atlantic. In the United States Bedaux worked as a dishwasher, an insurance salesman, and a sandhog with the crews building the Hudson River tunnels. He also had a stint at the New Jersey Worsted Mills in Hoboken. He became a naturalized citizen in 1908....

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Carey, Mathew (28 January 1760–16 September 1839), publisher and economist, was born in Dublin, Ireland, the son of Christopher Carey, a prosperous baker, and Mary Sherridan, both Catholics. He was an avid reader but not a good student. He was taunted at school because of his lameness (the result of having been dropped by a nurse) and his small stature; for the rest of his life he was quick to take offense at any imagined slight to his dignity. In 1775 he was apprenticed to a bookseller who was also copublisher of the ...

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Cheves, Langdon (17 September 1776–26 June 1857), lawyer, congressman, and financier, was born in Bull Town Fort, South Carolina, the son of Alexander Chivas (or Chivis) of Buchan, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, and Mary Langdon. It is not known when or why he changed the spelling of his last name. Alexander Chivas had migrated to America in 1762 and established himself as a frontier trader. A Loyalist supporter, he lost his livelihood during the Revolution and moved to the low country. Cheves’s mother, daughter of supporters of the colonial rebellion, died in 1779, and Langdon’s aunt, Mrs. Thomas Cheves, cared for young Langdon. He attended Andrew Weed’s school, and in 1785 his father took him to Charleston. He continued his formal schooling briefly but then pursued vigorous independent study. He apprenticed in a shipping merchant’s office, gaining experience in business and finance by keeping the firm’s accounts. He read for the law with Judge William Marshall and was admitted to the bar in 1797. Successful as a Charleston lawyer, he moved into the political arena. His first elected office was as warden of his city ward in 1802; he then served from 1802 to 1809 in the state legislature and became attorney general in 1809. He won national office in 1810 when he ran for Congress on the Republican ticket. In 1806 he married Mary Elizabeth Dulles; they had fourteen children. In addition to the law and politics, Cheves enjoyed success in designing and building houses and in farming....

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Davison, George Willets (25 March 1872–16 June 1953), lawyer and banker, was born in Rockville Center, New York, the son of Robert Anthony Davison, a lawyer, and Emeline Sealy. Davison, a Methodist, attended Wesleyan University where his academic excellence earned him election to Phi Beta Kappa and graduation with honors in 1892. He earned an LL.B. in 1894 from New York University. He married Harriet Rice Baldwin the following year; they had two children who both died young....

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Dexter, Andrew, Jr. (28 March 1779–02 November 1837), attorney, financier, real estate speculator, and swindler, was the eldest child of Andrew Dexter, a Boston dry goods merchant, and Mary Newton. He was born in Brookfield, Massachusetts, where his parents had fled during the British siege of Boston, and grew up in Providence, Rhode Island. Dexter graduated from Rhode Island College (later Brown University) in 1798. His salutatory address expressed the heady combination of reverence for the leaders of the Revolution, anxiety about the future, and soaring ambition that marked the Revolutionary generation....

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Billie Sol Estes. Tempera, ink, and pencil on board, 1962, by Boris Chaliapin. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine.

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Estes, Billie Sol (20 January 1925–14 May 2013), business entrepreneur, was born in Gray County, Texas, the second of six children of Lillian Coffman and John Levi Estes, struggling farmers. His parents raised their children in the fundamentalist Church of Christ. Young Billie attended local public schools near Clyde, Texas, and as a teenager wrote to President ...

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Few, William (08 June 1748–16 July 1828), lawyer, politician, and banker, was born near Baltimore, Maryland, the son of William Few, a failed tobacco planter turned frontier farmer, and Mary Wheeler. Few’s family moved in 1758 to North Carolina, where young William received little formal schooling but enough skills and enough love for reading that the future Founding Father was able to educate himself. In the early 1770s, the Few family joined the Regulator movement, rural westerners’ sometimes violent opposition to unrepresentative coastal political control. The family lost one of William’s brothers, the family farm, and the family fortune in the struggle for more local autonomy. The Fews then moved to Georgia, leaving William behind to settle the family’s affairs, to farm, and to teach himself law....

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Fisk, James (01 April 1834–07 January 1872), financial speculator, was born in Pownal, Vermont, the son of James Fisk, a country peddler; his mother’s name is unknown. He was four years old when his mother died and his father moved to Brattleboro and married Love B. Ryan. He left school at age twelve to accompany his father on peddling trips, became a waiter two years later when his father built a temperance hotel, and joined the Van Amberg Circus as a roustabout and ticketseller when he was fifteen. Returning home at age eighteen, he reorganized his father’s peddling business and married Lucy Moore in 1854. They had no children....

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Fitch, James (02 August 1649–10 November 1727), Connecticut land speculator and magistrate, was born in Saybrook, Connecticut, the son of the Reverend James Fitch and Abigail Whitfield. In 1659 his father led a group of people to settle the town of Norwich, situated where the Quinebaug and Shetucket rivers combine to form the Thames. Fitch was raised largely on the frontier in close proximity to the Indians, with whom his father had numerous contacts. He gained knowledge of the unsettled lands in eastern Connecticut and learned to manipulate the Native Americans who controlled them. Fitch served in ...

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Vito Genovese Photograph by Phil Stanziola, 1959. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-123541).

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Genovese, Vito (21 November 1897–14 February 1969), criminal entrepreneur, was born in Ricigliano, Italy, the son of Philip Anthony Genovese, a building trades worker, and Nancy (maiden name unknown). Genovese received the equivalent of a fifth-grade education in Italy before following his father to New York City in 1913. A petty thief and street tough in the Greenwich Village area of Little Italy, Genovese soon established a reputation for unusual cunning and violence. Frequently arrested on charges of assault and homicide, he was twice convicted of carrying a concealed weapon. More important, he became a collector for the illegal Italian lottery, an indication that he had attracted the attention of locally prominent underworld figures....

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Hammond, John (1613?–01 March 1663), promotion writer and lawyer, first appears in the historical records in Virginia in 1646. Nothing is known of his parentage or education. He remarked in 1654 that he had spent nineteen years in Virginia and two in Maryland, so he evidently emigrated to Virginia about 1633. He probably farmed and practiced law in Isle of Wight County, Virginia. He witnessed a deed there in 1646 and was elected a burgess in 1652, but the Puritan assembly expelled him as “a scandalous person, and a frequent disturber of the peace of the country, by libell and other illegall practices.” The offended Hammond, with his wife and four children, promptly moved to Maryland, where he bought a plantation in St. Mary’s County. In June 1653 he argued a case before the Maryland Provincial Court. The entrepreneurial Hammond was granted a license to sell liquor on 5 December 1654 and established an inn at Newtown. He was also given the right to provide a ferry over the Newtown River. In return, Hammond allowed the St. Mary’s County Court to meet at his inn, “the most Convenient place.”...

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Harvey, Coin (16 August 1851–11 February 1936), economic reformer, lawyer, and real estate investor, was born William Hope Harvey in Buffalo, West Virginia, the son of Robert Trigg Harvey and Anna Maria Hope, farmers. After two years at a local academy, he entered Marshall College in nearby Huntington but remained there only a few months. He then began to study law on his own while supporting himself by teaching school. After being admitted to the West Virginia bar, he practiced law, first in Barboursville (1870–1874), then with his brother in Huntington for two years, then in Cleveland, Ohio. He married Anna R. Halliday in 1876; they had four children. In 1879 they moved to Chicago and two years later to Gallipolis, Ohio, where Harvey served as attorney for several wholesale firms....

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Hastings, Serranus Clinton (22 November 1814–18 February 1893), jurist, politician, educational philanthropist, and real estate magnate, was born near Watertown, Jefferson County, New York, the son of Robert Collins Hastings, a farmer, and Patience Brayton, who was from an early settler family in western New York. Robert Hastings, a Bostonian, saw action in the War of 1812 as a militia officer during the several attacks on the U.S. Naval Station at Sackets Harbor on Lake Ontario. Serranus attended Gouverneur Academy for six years, taught by graduates of the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution in a strenuously moral classicism acceptable to Baptist tenets. He instituted that learning, aged twenty, as principal of the Norwich Academy, Chenango, New York. Within a year, however, he began the westward trek that brought him first to Lawrenceburg, southeastern Indiana, in 1835, to study law with two prominent lawyers there, meanwhile editing the ...

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Henderson, Richard (20 April 1735–30 January 1785), land speculator, judge, and politician, was born in Hanover County, Virginia, the son of Samuel Henderson and Elizabeth Williams. Samuel Henderson, who had served for a time as sheriff of Hanover County, moved his family to North Carolina around 1742 and settled on Nutbush Creek in Granville County; within a few years he became sheriff. Little is known of Richard Henderson’s childhood, but it must have been a happy one. Under the watchful eye of his mother his education was guided toward a law career. He studied under a private tutor before getting his first job as a deputy sheriff under his father. He then read law under John Williams, his mother’s cousin and a gifted attorney who became a lifelong friend. After being admitted to the bar, Henderson joined Williams in law practice. Their association grew closer after 1763, when Henderson married Elizabeth Keeling, Williams’s stepdaughter who was the daughter of an English peer, Lord Keeling. They had six children....

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Hilton, Edward (1596–1670?), entrepreneur and judge, was baptized at Witton chapelry in Northwich, Chester County, England, on 9 June 1596, the son of William Hilton, a gentleman farmer. His mother’s name is unknown. Very little is known about Hilton’s childhood and early adult years. Sometime after his father’s death in 1605, he was apprenticed to a fishmonger’s widow, Marie Hilton, in London. In 1621 he was admitted to the aristocratic Fishmongers Guild—the same year his brother William, who had been admitted to the guild in 1616, immigrated to the Plymouth colony in New England....