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Adams, James Hopkins (15 March 1812–13 July 1861), planter and politician, was born in Richland District, South Carolina, the son of Henry Walker Adams and Mary Goodwyn, planters. At an early age, both of his parents died and James was placed in the care of his maternal grandfather, an early settler of South Carolina from Virginia. Prosperous, his grandfather, a plantation owner, was able to raise Adams in an atmosphere of wealth and education. Shortly after his graduation from Yale in 1831, Adams married Jane Margaret Scott, with whom he had eleven children....

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Sherman Adams Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-100619).

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Adams, Sherman Llewelyn (08 January 1899–27 October 1986), public servant, was born in East Dover, Vermont, the son of Clyde H. Adams, a grocer, and Winnie Marion Sherman. Through his father he was descended from a collateral branch of the famous Quincy Adams clan. In 1901 the family moved to Providence, Rhode Island, but Adams’s parents divorced soon thereafter. In 1916 Adams enrolled at Dartmouth College. His academic record there was solid, but he was best remembered for the gusto with which he threw himself into extracurricular activities. For Adams, physical fitness was practically a religion....

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Henry Justin Allen. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-96805).

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Allen, Henry Justin (11 September 1869–17 January 1950), politician and newspaper editor, was born in Pittsfield, Pennsylvania, the son of John Allen, a farmer, and Rebecca Goodwin. In 1870 the Allens settled on a farm in Clay County, Kansas, which they lost in 1879. The family relocated in Osage County, Kansas, where Allen graduated from Burlingame High School. Working as a barber to attend Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas, he excelled at forensics, which led to his first newspaper job and forecast his later stature as one of America’s most popular public speakers. While at Baker, he met Elsie Jane Nuzman, and they were married in 1892. Only one of their four children survived to adulthood....

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Allston, Robert Francis Withers (21 April 1801–07 April 1864), planter and statesman, was born on “Hagley Plantation” in All Saints Parish (Georgetown District), South Carolina, the son of Benjamin Allston, a planter, and Charlotte Anne Allston. Allston entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, in December 1817 and graduated tenth in his class on 1 July 1821. Appointed lieutenant in the Third Artillery and assigned to the Coast Survey, he participated in the surveying of the harbors at Plymouth and Provincetown, Massachusetts, and of the entrance to Mobile Bay. He resigned his commission on 1 February 1822 in response to his widowed mother’s plea for help on their plantations and returned to South Carolina, where he remained a rice planter for the rest of his life. As a planter, however, he continued his interest in civil engineering and in 1823 was elected to the first of two terms as surveyor general of South Carolina. In 1832 he married Adele Petigru, sister of Unionist ...

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Alston, Joseph (1779–10 September 1816), planter and statesman, was born in All Saints Parish (Georgetown District), South Carolina, the son of Colonel William Alston, a rice planter, and Mary Ashe. He attended the College of Charleston from 1793 to 1794, then entered Princeton in 1795, his junior year, but he withdrew without graduating. He read law in the office of ...

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Black, Frank Swett (08 March 1853–22 March 1913), lawyer and politician, was born in Limington, York County, Maine, the son of Jacob Black and Charlotte Swett, farmers. When Black was eleven years old, his family moved to Alfred, Maine, where he attended what later became the Limerick Academy. While still a youth he taught school to earn enough money to pursue his education at the Lebanon Academy in preparation for study at Dartmouth College. In 1875 he graduated from Dartmouth with honors and in his senior year married Lois B. Hamlin; they had one child....

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Bloomfield, Joseph (18 October 1753–08 October 1823), lawyer, soldier, and politician, was born in Woodbridge, New Jersey, the son of Moses Bloomfield, a physician, and Sarah Ogden. The family was one of the most prominent in colonial New Jersey. His father had received a first-rate medical education in Edinburgh, Scotland, and had a thriving practice in Middlesex County by the time Joseph was born. Joseph’s mother was a member of a wealthy and influential family of Elizabethtown, which further assured Joseph’s upper-class pedigree. His education and choice of occupation were in line with his social standing. While in his early teens, he attended the Reverend Enoch Green’s classical academy in Deerfield, Cumberland County, at the opposite end of the province from Woodbridge. Upon graduation, Bloomfield returned to East Jersey, determined to be a lawyer. He entered the profession at the top, studying in Perth Amboy with Cortlandt Skinner, attorney general of New Jersey, and was admitted to the bar in November 1774. Setting up practice in Bridgeton, Cumberland County, he soon became known and respected in all of New Jersey’s southern counties. The future seemed secure, had not the American Revolution intervened....

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Bowdoin, James (07 August 1726–06 November 1790), scientist and statesman, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of James Bowdoin, a wealthy Boston merchant of French Huguenot origins and a member of the Massachusetts Council, the upper house of the General Assembly, and his second wife, Hannah Portage. Young James Bowdoin was educated at Boston Latin School and graduated from Harvard College in 1745. At his father’s death in 1747 he inherited a fortune valued at over £80,000 sterling. Independently wealthy, he lived luxuriously on his income from bonds, loans, rentals, and real estate holdings in Maine. In 1748 he married Elizabeth Erving, daughter of John Erving, a Boston merchant. The couple had two children....

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Bowie, Robert ( March 1750–08 January 1818), planter and politician, was born near Nottingham, Prince Georges County, Maryland, the son of William Bowie, a and Margaret Sprigg. He was educated by the Reverend John Eversfield near Nottingham and then by the Reverend Thomas Craddock, the first rector of St. Thomas Parish in Garrison Forest, Baltimore County, Maryland. On the eve of the American Revolution, about 1773, tradition has Bowie eloping with Priscilla Mackall, a daughter of the richest man in Calvert County, James John Mackall. Bowie’s father gave them a farm near “Mattaponi,” the family plantation where Bowie had been born. They had five children who survived to adulthood....

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Bowles, Chester Bliss (05 April 1901–25 May 1986), businessman, politician, and diplomat, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of Charles Allen Bowles, a paper manufacturer, and Nellie Harris. His grandfather, Samuel Bowles (1826–1878), a man Chester frequently identified as his inspiration and role model, transformed the Springfield ...

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Brown, Aaron Venable (15 August 1795–08 March 1859), politician, was born in Brunswick County, Virginia, the son of Aaron Brown, a Methodist minister, and Elizabeth Melton. Born into a slaveowning family, Brown graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1814. After his matriculation his parents moved to Giles County, Tennessee, so upon the completion of his studies Brown studied law in Nashville. In 1817 Brown was admitted to the Tennessee bar and opened a law practice in Nashville; shortly thereafter he moved to Pulaski in Giles County. While practicing law he also invested in cotton planting and established himself as a member of the wealthy planter class. At an unknown date he married Sarah Woodford Burrus; the couple had four children. Sarah Woodford Brown died, apparently in 1844. The next year Brown married the widowed Cynthia Pillow Saunders. This union produced one child....

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Bryan, Charles Wayland (10 February 1867–04 March 1945), political adviser, governor of Nebraska, and vice presidential nominee, was born in Salem, Illinois, the son of Silas Lillard Bryan, a lawyer and farmer, and Mariah Elizabeth Jennings. He was the brother of William Jennings Bryan...

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Burke, Thomas (1747–02 December 1783), congressman and governor, was born in County Galway, Ireland, the son of Ulick Burke and Letitia Ould. The family apparently fell on hard times. Burke wrote John Bloomfield on 25 April 1782 that “misfortunes reduced me to the alternative of domestic indolent dependence or an enterprising peregrination, and I very early made choice of the latter.” At an early age Burke was blinded in one eye (the circumstances are unknown). As a youth he lived with an uncle, Fielding Ould, a “man-midwife,” who had a practice in Dublin. Burke had university training, probably at the University of Dublin, and some medical education. Having quarreled with his uncle, he went to America in 1763. After a few months in Philadelphia he resided in Accomac County on Virginia’s Eastern Shore for a year and then in Norfolk, Virginia. Burke had several essays and poems published in the ...

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Candler, Allen Daniel (04 November 1834–26 October 1910), politician and compiler of records, was born in Auraria, Georgia, the son of Daniel Gill Candler and Nancy Caroline Matthews, farmers. Candler worked on the family farm, taught school, and attended Mercer University, where he earned an A.B. in 1859 and an M.A. in 1866. During the Civil War he served in the Confederate Army of Tennessee. A wound in 1864 resulted in the loss of one eye. That same year he married Eugenia Thomas Williams; they would have eleven children. At the war’s end he said, “I counted myself quite wealthy [with] … one wife, and baby, one eye, and one silver dollar.”...

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Carpenter, Cyrus Clay (24 November 1829–29 May 1898), politician and farmer, was born in Harford, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, the son of Asahel Carpenter, a farmer, and Amanda Thayer. Orphaned during his early teens and raised by relatives, Carpenter attended public school in Harford. Between 1848 and 1851 he alternated teaching jobs with attendance at Harford Academy. During these early years he developed the temperance and antislavery views that he held during his adult years....

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Chamberlain, George Earle (01 January 1854–09 July 1928), lawyer and politician, was born near Natchez, Mississippi, the son of Charles Thomson Chamberlain, a physician, and Pamelia H. Archer. He received both the bachelor of arts and bachelor of law degrees from Washington and Lee University in 1876. He sought broader opportunities outside his native region and shortly after graduation moved to Albany, Oregon, where he took a job as a teacher. In 1878–1879 he served as the Linn County (Ore.) deputy clerk. Although he returned to Mississippi briefly in 1879 to marry Sallie Newman Welch (they would have six children), he never really went home again....

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Joshua L. Chamberlain. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1859).

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Chamberlain, Joshua Lawrence (08 September 1828–24 February 1914), soldier, politician, and educator, was born in Brewer, Maine, the son of Joshua Chamberlain, a farmer and shipbuilder, and Sarah Dupee Brastow. After attending a military academy in Ellsworth, Chamberlain entered Bowdoin College in 1848, graduating in 1852. Three years later, after graduating from the Bangor Theological Seminary, he joined Bowdoin’s faculty and taught a broad range of subjects, including logic, natural theology, rhetoric, oratory, and modern languages. In 1855 he married Frances Caroline Adams; of the couple’s five children, three survived to adulthood....