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John Adams. After a painting by Gilbert Stuart. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-13002 DLC).

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Adams, John (19 October 1735–04 July 1826), second president of the United States, diplomat, and political theorist, was born in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts, the son of John Adams (1691–1760), a shoemaker, selectman, and deacon, and Susanna Boylston. He claimed as a young man to have indulged in “a constant dissipation among amusements,” such as swimming, fishing, and especially shooting, and wished to be a farmer. However, his father insisted that he follow in the footsteps of his uncle Joseph Adams, attend Harvard College, and become a clergyman. John consented, applied himself to his studies, and developed a passion for learning but refused to become a minister. He felt little love for “frigid John Calvin” and the rigid moral standards expected of New England Congregationalist ministers....

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Allen, Elisha Hunt (28 January 1804–01 January 1883), congressman and diplomat, was born in New Salem, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Clesson Allen, a lawyer and later a congressman, and Mary Hunt. He graduated with honors from Williams College in 1823, studied law in his father’s office, was admitted to the bar in 1825, and worked as an attorney for two years in Brattleboro, Vermont. In 1828 he married Sarah E. Fessenden; they had four children. That same year he moved to Bangor, Maine, where he formed a law partnership with ...

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Anderson, Richard Clough, Jr. (04 August 1788–24 July 1826), congressman and diplomat, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of Richard Clough Anderson, Sr., a revolutionary war soldier, and Elizabeth Clark, sister of frontiersman George Rogers Clark. His father had come to Kentucky in 1783 to become surveyor of the Virginia Land District in Louisville. In 1789 the family moved to “Soldiers’ Retreat,” a farm ten miles east of the city, where young Anderson grew up. Tutors instructed him until 1800, when he went to a private school in Virginia. In November 1802 he enrolled at the College of William and Mary. After graduating, Anderson left Williamsburg in July 1806 and arrived at his father’s home in September. In February of the following year he moved to Frankfort, Kentucky, to study law under John Allen. He stayed in Frankfort about a year, then lived briefly at his father’s house before returning to William and Mary in September 1808 to complete his legal training. Returning to Kentucky by way of Washington, D.C., where he witnessed the inauguration of President ...

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Warren R. Austin. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-107894).

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Austin, Warren Robinson (12 November 1877–25 December 1962), U.S. senator and ambassador, was born in the rural community of Highgate Center, Vermont, near the Canadian border, the son of Chauncey Goodrich Austin, a successful country lawyer, and Anne Robinson. He attended the University of Vermont, receiving his Ph.B. in 1899. He married Mildred Lucas in 1901, and they had two children....

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Baker, Howard Henry, Jr. (15 Nov. 1925–26 June 2014), politician and diplomat, was born in Huntsville, Tennessee, to Howard Henry Baker, Sr., a lawyer and politician who subsequently served in the US House of Representatives (1951–1964), and Dora Ladd Baker. The Baker family were staunch Presbyterians, members of the Republican Party since the Civil War, and longtime defenders of civil rights for the minority African American population. Young Baker’s paternal grandfather was a prominent judge, and his maternal grandmother was the first female sheriff in Tennessee....

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Baker, Jehu (04 November 1822–01 March 1903), congressman and diplomat, was born in Fayette County, Kentucky, the son of William Baker and Margaret Caldwell, farmers. In 1829 the family moved near Lebanon, Illinois, where Baker attended common schools until the age of seventeen. He then entered McKendree College and studied for several terms but did not graduate. He studied law in Belleville and, admitted to the bar in 1846, entered practice there. Three years later he shouldered the added responsibility of coediting the ...

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Daniel Barnard. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-99337).

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Barnard, Daniel Dewey (11 September 1796–24 April 1861), lawyer, congressman, and diplomat, was born in East Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Timothy Barnard, a county judge, and Phebe Dewey. Barnard’s early years were spent on the family farm near Hartford, Connecticut. When he was twelve the family moved to Mendon, New York (near Rochester). His formal education started with a year at Lenox Academy, after which he transferred to Williams College, where he graduated in 1818....

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Barringer, Daniel Moreau (30 July 1806–01 September 1873), U.S. congressman and diplomat, was born near Concord, North Carolina, the son of Paul Barringer, a prominent Cabarrus County landowner, and Elizabeth Brandon. He enrolled in the University of North Carolina as a second-semester sophomore in 1824 and graduated with honors in 1826. He studied law under ...

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Bayard, Richard Henry (26 September 1796–04 March 1868), lawyer, senator, and diplomat, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the son of James Asheton Bayard, a Federalist leader, and Ann Bassett. Bayard graduated from Princeton College in 1814 and then read for the law. Toward the end of the War of 1812 his studies were briefly interrupted by military service. In 1815 he married Mary Sophia Carroll, granddaughter of ...

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Thomas F. Bayard. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-105898).

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Bayard, Thomas Francis (29 October 1828–28 September 1898), U.S. senator, secretary of state, and ambassador to Great Britain, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the son of James Asheton Bayard, a political leader and U.S. senator, and Ann Francis. The family had been politically prominent in Delaware for generations, and Thomas was educated in private schools. In 1843, when his father moved briefly to New York, Thomas found employment in a mercantile house there and, for less than a year in about 1846–1847, in Philadelphia. Although he never attended college, he at about the age of twenty began to read law in Wilmington and was admitted to the bar in 1851. He developed a successful practice in Wilmington and Philadelphia administering estates and from 1853 to 1854 served as U.S. district attorney for Delaware. In 1856 he married Louise Lee, with whom he had three sons and six daughters....

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Bidlack, Benjamin Alden (08 September 1804–06 February 1849), lawyer, legislator, and diplomat, was born in Paris, Oneida County, New York, the son of Benjamin Bidlack, a pioneer farmer, and Lydia Alden Bidlack. After his family relocated to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Bidlack completed his education at local public schools and the Wilkes-Barre Academy. Intent on a career in law, he studied law in the office of Garrick Mallery, a local attorney, and was appointed deputy attorney for Luzerne County shortly after gaining admittance to the state bar. After an early marriage to Fanny Stewart ended shortly after it began (for reasons that are not known), Bidlack married Margaret Wallace on 8 September 1829. The couple had seven children....

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Blount, James Henderson (12 September 1837–08 March 1903), lawyer, congressman, and special diplomatic envoy, was born near the village of Clinton, Jones County, Georgia, the son of Thomas Blount and Mary Ricketts, planters. Blount, whose parents died during his childhood, was raised in the household of his older half-brother, David Blount. He attended private schools in Clinton, Georgia, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama, before graduating with honors from the University of Georgia in 1858. He read law and was admitted to the Georgia bar in 1859, and after a brief practice in Clinton, joined the firm of Anderson and Simmons in nearby Macon....

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Solon Borland. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109949).

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Borland, Solon (08 August 1811–15 December 1864), editor, U.S. senator, and diplomat, was born in Suffolk, Virginia, the son of Thomas Wood Borland, a physician, and Harriet Godwin. His father was politically active, serving as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Nansemond County between 1815 and 1820. In 1831 Borland married Huldah Wright, with whom he had two children. Following in the medical footsteps of his father, he attended the University of Pennsylvania Medical School during the academic year of 1833–1834. He then practiced medicine in Suffolk, but upon the death of his wife in 1836 Borland moved to Memphis, Tennessee. There he entered into a medical career with his brother, who was also a physician. In 1839 Borland married Eliza Hart, who died just a few months later. They had no children. By this time he had forsaken pills for politics, becoming the founding editor of the ...

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Bragg, Edward Stuyvesant (20 February 1827–20 June 1912), Civil War general, congressman, and diplomat, was born in Unadilla, Otsego County, New York, the son of Joel Bragg, a rural businessman, and Margaretha Kohl. Bragg received his early education at local schools and went on to study law at Geneva College (now Hobart College) in Geneva, New York. He was admitted to the New York bar in 1848. After briefly practicing in Unadilla, he migrated to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, at the age of twenty-three. He was admitted to the Wisconsin bar and began a lifetime practice of arguing cases before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. In 1854 he was elected district prosecuting attorney. That same year he married Cornelia Coleman; they had four children....

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Broadhead, James Overton (29 May 1819–07 August 1898), congressman and diplomat, was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, the son of Achilles Broadhead, a farmer and justice of the peace, and Mary Winston Carr. He attained his preparatory education at a subscription school in Red Hills, Virginia, run by his uncle Dr. Frank Carr and then spent a year at the University of Virginia, paying his own expenses by tutoring the children of one of the professors. He then served as tutor in a private home in Baltimore for a short time before emigrating to St. Louis, Missouri, in June 1837. There he secured employment as a tutor in the home of ...