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James Lusk Alcorn. Photograph from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the National Archives (NWDNS-111-B-1117).

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Alcorn, James Lusk (04 November 1816–20 December 1894), governor of Mississippi and U.S. senator, was born in Golconda, Illinois, the son of James Alcorn and Hannah (maiden name unknown). Soon after his birth, Alcorn’s family moved to Salem, Kentucky, where his father farmed and served as a boatman on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. In 1836 Alcorn briefly attended Cumberland College in Princeton, Kentucky. He tried teaching in Jackson, Arkansas, but soon returned to Livingston County, Kentucky, to serve as deputy sheriff under his uncle. Alcorn also studied law and in 1838 was admitted to the Kentucky bar. In the same year he married Mary Catherine Stewart; they had four children....

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Allen, Philip (01 September 1785–16 December 1865), manufacturer, governor, and senator, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Captain Zachariah Allen, a West Indies trader, and Nancy Crawford. Allen received his early education from tutors before attending Taunton Academy in Providence, Robert Rogers School in Newport, and Jeremiah Chaplin’s Latin School in Providence. In 1799 he entered Rhode Island College (now Brown University) and graduated in 1803....

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William Allen. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109897).

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Allen, William (18 December 1803–11 July 1879), U.S. senator and congressman and governor of Ohio, was born in Edenton, North Carolina, the son of Nathaniel Allen, a wealthy merchant and landowner, and Sarah Colburn. Allen’s father had surrendered his Quaker principles to fight in the American Revolution and was a delegate to the North Carolina convention convened to consider the federal Constitution in 1788. Both parents died shortly after William’s birth, and he was raised by his half sister, the wife of a Methodist Episcopal minister, the Reverend Pleasant Thurman. Although born into the gentry, the tangled genealogy of his family, owing to his father’s three marriages and various legal technicalities, denied Allen any inheritance of his father’s considerable assets....

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Adalbert Ames. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1728).

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Ames, Adelbert (31 October 1835–13 April 1933), soldier and politician, was born in Rockland, Maine, the son of Jesse Ames, a sea captain, and Martha B. Tolman. After spending some time at sea as a teenager, Ames entered the U.S. Military Academy, graduating in 1861. He was commissioned a second lieutenant and assigned to the Fifth Artillery. During the Civil War he was wounded at First Bull Run (First Manassas) on 21 July, and he later received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism there in refusing to leave his post despite the wound. He served with the Army of the Potomac during the Peninsula campaign of 1862, and for his actions at Malvern Hill he was brevetted lieutenant colonel. On 8 August 1862 he was named colonel in command of the Twentieth Maine Volunteer Infantry, with ...

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Anthony, Henry Bowen (01 April 1815–02 September 1884), newspaper editor and U.S. senator, was born in Coventry, Rhode Island, the son of William Anthony, a cotton manufacturer, and Mary Kinnicutt Greene. Preparatory school in Providence preceded Anthony’s entrance into Brown University. He graduated in 1833, fifth in a class of twenty. His lifelong regard for literature and Brown University culminated in the bequest of an exceptional collection of poetry volumes....

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Roger S. Baldwin. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-90730).

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Baldwin, Roger Sherman (04 January 1793–19 February 1863), lawyer, governor, and senator, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of Simeon Baldwin, a lawyer, judge, congressman, and mayor of New Haven, and Rebecca Sherman. Baldwin was a direct descendant of the Puritan settlers of Connecticut and the Founding Fathers of the nation. His father’s family was among the original New Haven colonists, and his mother was the daughter of ...

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Barrett, Frank Aloysius (10 November 1892–30 May 1962), Wyoming governor, congressman, and U.S. senator, was born near Omaha, Nebraska, the son of Patrick J. Barrett and Elizabeth Curran, schoolteachers. His father also worked as a mortician and court bailiff. Barrett was a Catholic and attended public schools and Creighton University, Omaha, earning an A.B. in 1913 and an LL.B. in 1916. He served for seventeen months in the Army Balloon Corps during World War I, attaining the rank of sergeant. After discharge, he married Alice Catherine Donoghue in Omaha in 1919; they had three children. After Alice’s death in 1956, in 1959 he married Augusta K. Hogan....

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Bate, William Brimage (07 October 1826–09 March 1905), Confederate general, governor, and U.S. senator, was born in Bledsoe’s Lick (now Castalian Springs), Sumner County, Tennessee, the son of James Henry Bate and Amanda Weathered, planters. William Bate received the rudiments of education at a local school, later named the Rural Academy, which he attended until age sixteen. At that time, 1842, his father died, and Bate took a job as a clerk on the steamboat ...

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Bell, Samuel (09 February 1770–23 December 1850), lawyer, governor, and senator, was born in Londonderry, New Hampshire, the son of John Bell and Mary Ann Gilmore, farmers. His father, a tall, rugged, hot-tempered man, was a commanding figure in his community, who served as a deacon and selectman and as a member of the New Hampshire committee of safety and provincial congress during the Revolution. After working on the farm until he was eighteen, Bell studied at a local school and attended New Ipswich Academy before entering the sophomore class at Dartmouth College in 1791. Following graduation in 1793, he studied law in Amherst, New Hampshire, under ...

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Bibb, William Wyatt (02 October 1781–10 July 1820), U.S. senator and first governor of Alabama, was born in Amelia County, Virginia, the son of William Bibb, a planter and active revolutionary, and Sally Wyatt. William Bibb had served as a captain in the Continental army. In 1789 he moved his family, including young William Wyatt, to Elbert County, Georgia, to take up one of the land grants offered by Georgia to revolutionary veterans....

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Bigler, William (01 January 1814–09 August 1880), governor and senator, was born at Shermansburg, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, the son of Jacob Bigler and Susan Dock, farmers. Jacob Bigler died while William was a young boy, leaving the family in dire poverty. As a result, Bigler’s education was cut short, and he was forced to seek employment at the age of fourteen. He left to work for his brother ...

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Bilbo, Theodore Gilmore (13 October 1877–21 August 1947), Mississippi governor and U.S. senator, was born in Juniper Grove, Mississippi, the son of James Oliver Bilbo and Beedy (or Biddy) Wallace, farmers. Bilbo attended Peabody College in Nashville from 1897 to 1899 but left without receiving a degree. In 1898 he married Lillian S. Herrington; she died in 1900, leaving an infant daughter. Bilbo’s second marriage, to Linda Gaddy Bedgood in 1903, produced one son. The marriage was troubled for many years and ended in divorce in 1938. After attending Peabody, Bilbo taught in Mississippi schools. His teaching career ended in 1905 following gossip about indiscretions with a female student. He then attended Vanderbilt Law School; though he again left without receiving a degree, he was admitted to the state bar in 1907....

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Hiram Bingham Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-99525).

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Bingham, Hiram (19 November 1875–06 June 1956), explorer, was born Hiram Bingham III in Honolulu, Hawaii, the son of Hiram Bingham (1831–1908) and Clarissa Minerva Brewster, missionaries. Bingham’s family assumed he would constitute the third generation of missionary service to the natives of the south Pacific and constantly pressured him to live the godly life. His few efforts as a missionary literally made him sick, and he seems to have had little interest in the salvation of the natives. Bingham (he appears to have dropped the III about the time his father died) instead sublimated the family’s missionary zeal into a broad variety of interests....

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John J. Blaine Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102594).

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Blaine, John James (04 May 1875–16 April 1934), governor of Wisconsin and U.S. senator, was born near Castle Rock, in Grant County, Wisconsin, the son of James Ferguson Blaine and Elizabeth Johnson-Brunstad, farmers. Blaine attended Valparaiso University, from which he received a law degree in 1896. He began a law practice in Boscobel, Wisconsin, immediately after graduation. He married Anna C. McSpaden in 1904; they had one daughter....