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Johnson, William (1809–17 June 1851), diarist and entrepreneur, was born in Natchez, Mississippi, the son of William Johnson, a slaveholder, and Amy Johnson, a slave. When William was five years old his mother was emancipated and established her household in Natchez. In 1820 the eleven-year-old William was freed by the Mississippi legislature at the request of his owner. Once emancipated, he apprenticed with his brother-in-law, James Miller, in his barber business in Natchez. Johnson became proprietor of the business—reportedly the most popular barber shop in Natchez—when Miller moved to New Orleans in 1830. Johnson and his African-American staff ran the shop, which served a predominantly white clientele. Johnson’s barbers not only offered haircuts and shaves, they also fitted wigs, sold fancy soaps and oils, and, beginning in 1834, operated a bathhouse at the Main Street location....

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Wentworth, Paul (?– December 1793), speculator and secret agent, was born probably on the island of Barbados, the son of William Wentworth, probably a sugar planter, and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). Little is known about Paul’s early life, but he was mentioned in his father’s will of 23 August 1750. He appears to have been well educated with a special proficiency in languages. As a teenager he surfaced in New England with letters of recommendation that he presented to Samuel Wentworth of Boston and ...