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Axtell, Samuel Beach (14 October 1819–06 August 1891), politician, lawyer, and jurist, was born near Columbus, Ohio, the son of Samuel Loree Axtell and Nancy Sanders, farmers. Axtell graduated from Western Reserve College in Hudson, Ohio, and, after studying law, was admitted to the bar. He married Adaline S. Williams in 1840, and in 1843 they moved to Mount Clemens, Michigan, where Axtell established a law practice. The couple had at least one child. In 1851 Axtell migrated to California, where he invested in the booming mining industry and practiced law. Politically active as a Democrat, he helped organize Amador County east of Sacramento in 1854 and was elected as the new county’s first district attorney, a post to which he was reelected in 1856 and 1858....

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Clagett, Wyseman ( August 1721–04 December 1784), New Hampshire lawyer, judge, and revolutionary war leader, was born in Bristol, England, the son of Martha (maiden name unknown) and Wiseman (also spelled Wyseman) Clagett, an attorney of Barnard’s Inn, who inherited the manor of Broad Oakes, Wimbish, Essex, which was sold for the benefit of its creditors in 1749. The younger Clagett received a classical education, studied at the Inns of Court, and was admitted an attorney of the King’s Bench. In 1748, after being commissioned a notary public, he removed to the British colony of Antigua in the West Indies. There he served as a notary and secretary of the colony and enjoyed the patronage of John Weeks, a wealthy planter, who in 1750 left him an annuity of £50 sterling for life....

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Joseph Force Crater Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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Crater, Joseph Force (05 January 1889–1930), jurist, was one of four children born in Easton, Pennsylvania, to Frank E. Crater, orchard owner and the operator of a produce market, and his wife (whose name cannot be ascertained). The family was comfortable financially, but Joseph learned the value of hard work from an early age by working long hours for his father. He also loved music, and encouraged by his mother he became a skillful pianist. After attending local public schools, he enrolled at Lafayette College, also in Easton, graduating with honors in 1911. He went on to law school at Columbia University and received his degree in 1916....

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Dane, Nathan (29 December 1752–15 February 1835), lawyer, legislator, and legal writer, was born in Ipswich, Massachusetts, the son of Daniel Dane and Abigail Burnham, prosperous farmers. Dane, one of twelve children, received a common school elementary education. He worked on his father’s farm until he entered Harvard College at the unusual age of twenty-two. Dane’s college career from 1774 to 1778 was interrupted by the American Revolution; he apparently performed militia service in Boston during the British siege of the city in 1775–1776. In his academic studies Dane displayed an aptitude for mathematics, which later bore fruit when, as a legislator, he took special interest in taxation, government finance, and census issues. Throughout his life Dane retained the studiousness that marked his college years....

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Dargan, Edmund S. (15 April 1805–24 November 1879), legislator and judge, was born near Wadesboro, in Montgomery County, North Carolina, the son of a Baptist minister, whose given name is unknown, and a woman whose maiden name was Lilly. Dargan’s full middle name is listed in a number of sources as either Strother or Spawn. His father died when Dargan was very young. There was no adequate estate, and to earn a livelihood he became an agricultural laborer. Dargan was a self-educated young man who studied the law in typical nineteenth-century fashion, in the law office of a local practitioner in Wadesboro. After a year of study he was admitted in 1829 to the North Carolina bar. The following year he walked to Alabama, where he settled in Washington in Autauga County. He was admitted to the Alabama bar and served as a justice of the peace in Autauga County for a number of years....

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Goodrich, Elizur (24 March 1761–01 November 1849), lawyer, politician, and law professor, was born in Durham, Connecticut, the son of the Reverend Elizur Goodrich, a Congregational clergyman, and Catharine Chauncey. Like his father, the younger Goodrich attended Yale College, and excelled academically. He was awarded a Berkeley scholarship upon graduation in 1779 and was chosen to give the Latin valedictory oration....

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Jones, Thomas Goode (26 November 1844–28 April 1914), lawyer, politician, and judge, was born in Macon, Georgia, the first son of Samuel Goode Jones, a railroad builder and promoter, and Martha Ward Goode Jones; his parents were cousins. At the age of five he was brought by his family to Montgomery, Alabama. Educated there by private tutors, he then attended preparatory schools in Virginia prior to enrolling in the fall of 1860 at the Virginia Military Institute....

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Kent, Edward (08 January 1802–19 May 1877), lawyer, politician, and judge, was born in Concord, New Hampshire, the son of William Austin Kent, a well-to-do merchant and politician, and Charlotte Mellen. After graduating with honors from Harvard University in 1821, Kent studied law briefly with Chancellor ...

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Marshall, Thomas Alexander (15 January 1794–15 April 1871), jurist, lawyer, and legislator, was born near Versailles, Woodford County, Kentucky, the son of Humphrey Marshall, a Kentucky legislator and later U.S. senator, and Mary Marshall, a sister of Chief Justice John Marshall. Marshall was educated at Joshua Fry’s academy in Mercer County, Kentucky, and at Yale College, from which he graduated with a B.A. in 1815. He returned to Kentucky, where he married Eliza Price, a sister-in-law of statesman ...

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Parker, Isaac Charles (15 October 1838–17 November 1896), lawyer, politician, and judge, was born near Barnesville, Ohio, the son of Joseph Parker and Jane Shannon, farmers. He attended the local public school and the Barnesville Academy. He taught school and read law. In 1859 he opened a law office in St. Joseph, Missouri, and married Mary O’Toole two years later. They were the parents of two children. Parker entered politics as a ...

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Patton, John Mercer (10 August 1797–29 October 1858), politician and lawyer, was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the son of Robert Patton, a Scottish immigrant and businessman, and Ann Gordon Mercer. Patton studied at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) for a year before graduating from the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school in 1818. He returned to Fredericksburg, where, instead of practicing medicine, he took up the study of law. In 1824 he married Margaret French Williams; they had nine children....

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Ranney, Rufus Percival (30 October 1813–06 December 1891), lawyer, judge, and politician, was born in Blandford, Massachusetts, the son of Dolly Blair and Rufus Ranney, farmers. Joining the westward migration from New England, the family settled in Freedom, Portage County, Ohio, in 1824. Despite frontier conditions, Ranney secured enough education to enter Western Reserve College in 1833, although, compelled to support himself through manual labor and teaching, he remained only a year. Following the recommendation of a college friend, he entered the offices of ...