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William W. Belknap. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-2034).

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Belknap, William Worth (22 September 1829–12 or 13 Oct. 1890), secretary of war, was born in Newburgh, New York, the son of William Goldsmith Belknap, a career army officer, and Ann Clark. Following his graduation from Princeton in 1846, he studied law at Georgetown University. Belknap moved to Keokuk, Iowa, in 1851 and became the law partner of Ralph P. Lowe, who later became the governor of Iowa and a state supreme court justice....

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James G. Blaine. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-89793).

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Blaine, James Gillespie (31 January 1830–27 January 1893), Speaker of the House of Representatives and secretary of state, was born in West Brownsville, Pennsylvania, the son of Ephraim Blaine, a prosperous investor in land and trading goods, and Maria Gillespie. Blaine graduated from Washington and Jefferson College in 1847. While only seventeen years old, he began teaching at the Western Military Institute in Georgetown, Kentucky. Blaine married Harriet Stanwood in June 1850. They had six children. The following year he joined the faculty at the Pennsylvania Institute for the Education of the Blind in Philadelphia. In 1854 Blaine moved to Maine, where he became a newspaper editor and, in the political turmoil of the 1850s, served as one of the “founding fathers” of the new Republican party....

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Brunauer, Esther (07 July 1901–26 June 1959), international affairs specialist and State Department official, was born Esther Delia Caukin near Jackson, California, the daughter of Ray Oakheart Caukin, an electrician, and Grace Elizabeth Blackwell, a suffragist and, later, a federal employee. Esther attended Mills College where she earned an A.B. in 1924. Three years later she received a Ph.D. in modern European history and international politics from Stanford University....

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Bundy, Harvey Hollister (30 March 1888–07 October 1963), lawyer, assistant secretary of state, and special assistant to the secretary of war, was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the son of McGeorge Bundy, a lawyer, and Mary Goodhue Hollister. Bundy attended private school in his hometown and Hackley School in Tarrytown, New York. He graduated from Yale University in 1909 with a degree in psychology. Unsure about a career in law, he accepted a one-year teaching position at St. Mark’s Boys Preparatory School in Southboro, Massachusetts. The following year he served as a traveling companion for a “wayward” boy on a trip around much of the world, which seems to have shaped Bundy’s love for international affairs. Upon his return he entered Harvard University Law School, and following graduation in 1914, he worked as a stenographic clerk, legal aide, and traveling companion for U.S. Supreme Court justice ...

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Michael H. Cardozo. Courtesy of Michael H. Cardozo V.

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Cardozo, Michael H. (15 September 1910–20 October 1996), lawyer, educator, and government adviser, was born Michael Hart Cardozo IV in New York City, the son of Ernest Abraham Cardozo, a lawyer, and Emily Rebecca Wolff Cardozo. He was a first cousin of United States Supreme Court Justice ...

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Wilbur J. Carr Right, with the German ambassador to the United States, Friedrich Wilhelm von Prittwitz, 1928. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-113165).

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Carr, Wilbur John (31 October 1870–26 June 1942), State Department official, was born near Taylorsville, Ohio, the son of Edward Livingston Carr and Catherine Fender, farmers. An elder son from whom much was expected, Carr grew up not far from Zanesville in southeastern Ohio. Aiming toward a business career, he graduated from the Commercial College of the University of Kentucky in 1889 and polished his shorthand and typewriting skills at Chafee’s Phonographic Institute in Oswego, New York. The following year, Carr accepted a position as secretary of the Peekskill Military Academy. Having passed the federal civil service examination, in 1892 Carr departed the bucolic environment of a preparatory school and Dutchess County, New York, for Washington, D.C. He had secured a clerkship in the State Department, an organization that was beginning to emerge from decades of lethargy....

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Christopher D. O’Sullivan

Dern, George Henry (08 September 1872–27 August 1936), secretary of war, was born in Dodge County, Nebraska, the son of John Dern, a pioneer Nebraska farmer, mine operator, and industrialist, and Elizabeth, whose maiden name was the same as her married name, Dern. Both parents were German immigrants. Dern graduated from Nebraska’s Fremont Normal College in 1888 and from 1893 to 1894 attended the University of Nebraska, where he was captain of the football team. In 1894 he accompanied his family to Salt Lake City, joining the Mercur Gold Mining and Milling Company, which his father served as president. Rising rapidly from bookkeeper to company treasurer, he was promoted in 1901 to general manager of the company, which had been reorganized as the Consolidated Mercur Gold Mines Company. Dern was coinventor of the Holt-Dern roaster, a furnace for carrying out the Holt-Christenson roasting process, a technique for recovering silver from low-grade ores. In 1899 he married Charlotte “Lottie” Brown; they had seven children....

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Dulles, Eleanor Lansing (01 June 1895–30 October 1996), economist and State Department official, was born in Watertown, New York, the fourth child of Allen Macy Dulles, a minister, and Edith Foster Dulles. The family, which also included siblings John Foster, Margaret, and Allen, lived in the Presbyterian manse. Following the birth of another daughter, the family moved to Auburn, New York, where the scholarly Reverend Dulles taught at the Auburn Theological Seminary and preached at the Second Avenue Presbyterian Church. The move to Auburn ideally suited Edith Foster Dulles. She quickly became one of the area’s most active, progressive social work leaders, heading the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union. Edith also brought the expectations and ambitions of her wealthy, upper-class background to bear on her children’s lives. Edith’s father, ...

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Field, Noel Haviland (23 January 1904–12 September 1970), government official and alleged traitor, was born in London, the son of Herbert Haviland Field, a prominent American biologist, and Nina Eschwege Field. Herbert Field was descended from a long line of New England Quakers; his English-born wife was partly of German descent. During World War I, responding to anti-German feeling, the Eschwege family anglicized their surname; henceforth Herbert Field's wife was known as Nina Foote Field. The Field family, which grew to include three other children, lived in Zurich, where Herbert Field directed the Concilium Bibliographicum, an international institute that compiled scientific bibliographies. During the war the elder Field organized a Quaker-sponsored food-relief program, and his efforts attracted the attention of U.S. president ...

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Joseph C. Grew Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102349 ).

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Grew, Joseph Clark (27 May 1880–25 May 1965), diplomat, U.S. ambassador to Japan, and undersecretary of state, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Edward Sturgis Grew, a wool merchant, and Annie Crawford Clark. Grew’s family was among the more well-off Bostonians, and he was a distant cousin of the financier ...

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Hiss, Alger (11 November 1904–15 November 1996), government official convicted of giving false testimony about Soviet espionage, was born in Baltimore, Maryland. His father, Charles Alger Hiss, a dry-goods importer, killed himself when Alger was two. His mother, Mary Lavinia Hughes Hiss, raised Alger and four siblings with the support of her husband's family. Hiss attended Baltimore public schools and Powder Point Academy in Massachusetts. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1926 with an exemplary record. Similar success at Harvard Law School led to his selection in 1929 as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice ...

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Hornbeck, Stanley Kuhl (04 May 1883–10 December 1966), State Department official, was born in Franklin, Massachusetts, the son of Marquis D. Hornbeck, a Methodist minister, and Lydia M. Kuhl. He spent much of his adolescence in Colorado. He attended the University of Colorado but after two years transferred to the University of Denver, from which he graduated in 1903 with Phi Beta Kappa honors. After teaching Latin for one year at Golden (Colo.) High School, he became his state’s first Rhodes Scholar....

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Lovett, Robert Abercrombie (14 September 1895–07 May 1986), under secretary of state and secretary of defense, was born in Huntsville, Texas, the son of Robert Scott Lovett, a lawyer, and Lavinia Chilton Abercrombie. Lovett’s father, who represented the E. H. Harriman railroad interests in Texas, became chief counsel and then president of the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific railroads. In 1909 the family moved to New York City, where Robert enjoyed the fruits of wealth and social standing. He entered Yale in 1914 and received his B.A. in 1918. After service as a navy pilot during World War I, he briefly studied law and business administration at Harvard. After his discharge from the navy in 1919, in April of that year he married Adele Brown, daughter of a senior partner in Brown Brothers, one of Wall Street’s most prestigious firms. They would have two children. Two years later he joined that firm as a “runner.” Owing to his intelligence, loyalty, preparedness, and willingness to take risks, he would likely have risen quickly even without his family connections. Within just five years, he was appointed a partner. In 1931 he merged his firm with the E. H. Harriman banking company, for whom his father had once overseen sizable financial interests in Texas....

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Matthews, Francis Patrick (15 March 1887–18 October 1952), secretary of the navy, was born in Albion, Nebraska, the son of Patrick Henry Matthews, a merchant, and Mary Ann Sullivan. Although his father died when Matthews was eleven, he was able to complete his secondary schooling in Albion and then work his way through Creighton University in Omaha by waiting on tables and doing janitorial chores. He graduated in 1910 and completed his legal studies at Creighton three years later. Matthews was admitted to the bar in 1913 and practiced law in Omaha, where he became a partner in the firm of Frandenburg and Matthews. He was also active in several business ventures. In 1914 he married Mary Claire Hughes; they had six children....

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Miller, David Hunter (02 January 1875–21 July 1961), lawyer, State Department official, and historian, was born in New York City, the son of Walter Thomas Miller, a stockbroker and a member of the New York cotton exchange, and Christiana Wylie. He was educated in private and public schools in New York. Soon after the United States declared war with Spain, Miller enlisted in the Ninth New York Volunteers, serving in the army from May to November 1898. After his military service he began working in his father’s brokerage. In 1900 he married Sarah Whipple Simmons; they had no children. In 1904 he decided to prepare himself for a legal career and entered the New York Law School, where he earned an LL.B. in 1910 and an LL.M. the next year. Admitted to the New York bar, he began the general practice of law....