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Boudinot, Elias (02 May 1740–24 October 1821), statesman and philanthropist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Elias Boudinot III, a silversmith and postmaster in Philadelphia, and Elizabeth Williams, daughter of a planter in Antigua, West Indies. He was fourth in a line of notable Elias Boudinots, the first a Huguenot refugee who moved from London to New York about 1687. Over the generations Boudinots became linked through marriage with a number of prominent families, including those of Thomas Bradbury Chandler, ...

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Cooper, Edward (26 October 1824–25 February 1905), businessman, philanthropist, and politician, was born in New York City, the son of Peter Cooper, a businessman, philanthropist, and public figure, and Sarah Bedell. After attending public school in New York City, the younger Cooper enrolled at Columbia College, but he earned no degree. At Columbia College, Cooper met ...

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Gerard, James Watson (25 August 1867–06 September 1951), diplomat, politician, and philanthropist, was born in Geneseo, New York, the son of James Watson Gerard, a respected lawyer and author, and Jenny Jones Angel. He studied at Columbia University (A.B., 1890; A.M. in political science, 1891) and the New York Law School (LL.B., 1892). Admitted to the New York bar in 1892, he began a long association with Bowers & Sands, a law firm founded by his grandfather. In 1901 he married Mary “Molly” Daly, daughter of ...

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Hagar, Jonathan (1714–06 November 1775), land speculator, assemblyman, and town developer, was born in the duchy of Westphalia, Germany; the names of his parents are unknown. Hagar (also spelled Hager) arrived as a freeman in Philadelphia from Rotterdam on the ship Harle on 1 September 1736, at the age of twenty-two. He was one of the many German-speaking settlers who began to migrate to the western areas of Maryland in the 1730s and 1740s. While most of these settlers first spent a few years in eastern Pennsylvania (sometimes as indentured servants to pay for their passage), high land prices in that settled land forced new arrivals to establish their own homes farther west and south....

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John Kearsley. Engraving, 1874. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B016144).

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Kearsley, John (1684–11 January 1772), physician, politician, and philanthropist, was baptized in the village of Greatham, County Durham, England. His father was John Kearsley, an Anglican minister; his mother’s name is unknown. Kearsley’s father provided two of his sons with a medical education; young John studied in London without earning a degree. For a time he practiced medicine in England, but in 1711 he emigrated and settled in Philadelphia....

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Perkins, Thomas Handasyd (15 December 1764–11 January 1854), merchant, Federalist leader, and philanthropist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of James Perkins, a wine merchant, and Elizabeth Peck. Tom Perkins grew up amid the sights and sounds of the American Revolution and vividly recalled seeing the Boston Massacre in 1770 as a boy....

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Poydras, Julien (03 April 1746–23 June 1824), philanthropist and legislator, was born in Brittany, France, at Rezé, near Nantes, the son of François Poydras and Magdeleine Simon. (Following the custom of Louisiana after the Purchase, Poydras did not use the patronymic “de Lalande,” which otherwise would have appeared as an extension of his surname.) Little is known of his early life. He arrived in New Orleans around 1768, by tradition having served briefly in the French navy and been held prisoner by the British before escaping to Santo Domingo in 1760. Beginning his business career as a peddler up and down the Mississippi valley, Poydras soon established his primary base in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana, just south of where the Red River empties into the Mississippi. From this site he expanded his commercial activities into the interior as far as Texas. He eventually became one of the largest proprietors in the Spanish colony, also acquiring extensive properties in and around New Orleans, particularly in the suburb just upriver from the original town, which quickly developed into the principal area of the city’s commercial activity after the Louisiana Purchase....