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Blount, William (26 March 1749–21 March 1800), territorial governor and U.S. senator, was born in Bertie County, North Carolina, the son of Jacob Blount, a landowner, and Barbara Gray. While probably not formally schooled, he displayed a keen interest in the promotion of education throughout his career. Blount married Mary Grainger (known as “Molsey”) in 1778; they had eight children....

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Branch, John, Jr. (04 November 1782–04 January 1863), governor of North Carolina and Florida Territory, U.S. senator, and secretary of the navy, was born in the borough of Halifax, North Carolina, the son of prominent and wealthy parents, John Branch, Sr., and Rebecca Bradford. The senior Branch was a large landowner and revolutionary patriot who, as high sheriff, gained a reputation for identifying Tories. He represented Halifax County in four sessions of the House of Commons in the 1780s. The well-born Bradford was a daughter of Colonel John Bradford (d. 1787). Young Branch assumed the patrician inclinations of his parents. After receiving an A.B. from the University of North Carolina in 1801, he read law under the supervision of Judge ...

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Chambers, John (06 October 1780–21 September 1852), U.S. congressman and territorial governor, was born at Bromley Bridge in Somerset County, New Jersey, the son of Rowland Chambers, a farmer and storekeeper, and Phoebe Mullican. After the Revolution, Chambers’s family suffered economic reverses and moved to Kentucky. Aged fourteen and barely literate, he found a job as a clerk. Supported by his brother William, John spent four months at Transylvania University in Lexington, leaving in the summer of 1795 to resume his position in the store. Two years later he apprenticed himself to the clerk of the county court. He read law in his spare time and gained admittance to the Kentucky bar in 1800. In his rise from store clerk to attorney, he followed the pattern of many ambitious young men on the frontier....

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Dodge, Henry (12 October 1782–19 June 1867), soldier, governor of Wisconsin Territory, and U.S. senator, was born at Post Vincennes (now Vincennes), Indiana, the son of Israel Dodge, a farmer and businessman, and Nancy Ann Hunter. His father moved the family to Kentucky and then to Ste. Genevieve on the Missouri frontier in 1796. By the time Henry was born his father had become a wealthy landowner. Henry had little formal education, but worked on his father’s farms and in his mills, distilleries, and mines. In 1800 Henry Dodge married Christina McDonald; they had thirteen children, but only nine survived infancy. He succeeded his father as sheriff of the Ste. Genevieve district in 1805....

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DuVal, William Pope (1784–19 March 1854), Kentucky congressman and territorial governor of Florida, was born in Henrico County, Virginia, the son of William DuVal and Ann Pope, farmers. While a teenager, he moved to Kentucky with a brother and lived the life of a frontiersman for several years. Desiring to better himself, he settled in Bardstown and read law with a friend of his father. After admission to the bar in 1804, he married Nancy Hynes. The couple had eight children....

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Edgerton, Sidney (17 August 1818–19 July 1900), congressman and first territorial governor of Montana, was born in Cazenovia, New York, the son of Amos Edgerton, a schoolteacher, and Zerviah Graham. When Edgerton was just six months old, his father died, leaving the family in a difficult financial situation. At the age of eight, Edgerton was forced to leave home to obtain an education and to support himself with the assistance of other relatives. He taught school for several years in New York State and in 1844 moved to Akron, Ohio, where he immediately began to study law under the tutelage of Rufus P. Spaulding, a respected Akron lawyer. While training with Spaulding, Edgerton spent a short time teaching at an academy in nearby Tallmadge....

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Edwards, Ninian (17 March 1775–20 July 1833), U.S. senator and governor of Illinois, was born on the family farm, “Mount Pleasant,” in Montgomery County, Maryland, the son of Benjamin Edwards, a farmer, merchant, and prominent politician, and Margaret Beall. As a boy, Ninian received instruction from private tutors in preparation for formal schooling at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Upon graduation in 1792 he took up law and, after moving with his parents in 1795 to Bardstown, Kentucky, was elected to the Kentucky legislature at age twenty. He also won election as a presidential elector on the Jefferson/Clinton ticket in 1804....

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Goodwin, John Noble (18 October 1824–29 April 1887), lawyer, congressman, and territorial governor of Arizona, was born in South Berwick, Maine, the son of John Goodwin, a lawyer, and Mary Noble. He was educated at Berwick Academy and Dartmouth College. After graduating from Dartmouth in 1844, he returned to his home town, read law in the office of John Hubbard, and was admitted to the bar in 1848. In 1854 he was elected to the state senate from York County and the following year was appointed to a special commission to revise the laws of Maine. In 1857 he married Susan Howard; they had one child who survived to adulthood. Goodwin supported the establishment of the Republican party and in 1860 was elected to Congress from the First District with a majority of 1,462 votes. He did not deliver a major speech during his term in Congress, but he was a member of the House Committee on Invalid Pensions. Although the rest of the state remained strongly Republican in the fall elections of 1862, Goodwin lost in his district to his Democratic opponent, Lorenzo Sweat, by the narrow margin of 247 votes....

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Andrew Jackson. From an engraving by James Barton Longacre. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-117120).

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Jackson, Andrew (15 March 1767–08 June 1845), soldier and seventh president of the United States, was born in the Waxhaw Settlement, South Carolina, the son of Andrew Jackson and Elizabeth Hutchinson, farmers. Like many other Scotch-Irish at the time, Andrew and Elizabeth Jackson migrated to this country from the port of Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland in 1765, landing most probably in Philadelphia and then journeying southward to join relatives living in the Waxhaw Settlement along the northwestern boundary separating North and South Carolina. They settled with their two sons, Hugh and Robert, on a stretch of land on the south side of Twelve Mile Creek, a branch of the Catawba River, and for two years tried to scratch a living from this acid soil. Then, early in March 1767, Andrew died suddenly. Approximately two weeks later, on 15 March, Elizabeth gave birth to her third son and named him after her deceased husband. Later a dispute arose over the exact location of the birthplace of the future president—whether he was born in North or South Carolina—but Jackson himself always believed and repeatedly stated that he was born in South Carolina....

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Lucas, Robert (01 April 1781–07 February 1853), congressman, governor of Ohio, and territorial governor of Iowa, was born at Shepherdstown, Jefferson Country, Virginia, the son of William Lucas, a land owner, and Susannah Barnes. Born into a family of some wealth and social standing, Lucas was educated in surveying and mathematics by a Scottish private tutor. In 1800 the family moved to Scioto County, Northwest Territory (later Ohio). Lucas’s emerging career exemplified the opportunities offered on the frontier: he was the county surveyor after Ohio statehood in 1803, justice of the peace for Scioto County, and an officer in the state militia. His rapid rise from lieutenant in 1804, to colonel in 1809, and to brigadier general by 1810 testified to the expanding militia in Ohio as well as to the influence of Lucas’s friends. In 1810 he married Elizabeth Brown, who died in 1812; the couple had one child....

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Miller, James (25 April 1776–07 July 1851), army officer, territorial governor, and customs official, was born at Petersborough, New Hampshire, the son of James Miller and Catharine Gregg. He entered the Andover Academy in 1794, obtained a common education, and briefly attended Williams College in Massachusetts. Miller returned to New Hampshire, studied law under ...

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Nye, James Warren (10 June 1814–25 December 1876), governor of Nevada Territory and U.S. senator, was born at De Ruyter, New York, the son of James Nye and Thankful Crocker. His father’s occupation is unknown. Although his family had very limited financial resources, James received a secondary education at Homer Academy and studied law in Hamilton, New York. He married Elsie Benson in Fabius, New York, and they had two children....

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Robert J. Walker. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109886).

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Walker, Robert John (19 July 1801–11 November 1869), U.S. senator, cabinet officer, and governor of Kansas Territory, sometimes known as Robert James Walker, was born in Northumberland, Pennsylvania, the son of Jonathan Hoge Walker, a lawyer and judge, and Lucretia Duncan. Robert entered the University of Pennsylvania, finishing a two-year course magna cum laude in 1819. He read law with his father for two years, and he earned a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1822. Returning to Pittsburgh, Robert, to his conservative father’s surprise, joined the new Democratic party and threw his abundant energy into ...