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English, James Edward (13 March 1812–02 March 1890), businessman and politician, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of James English, a customs collector and shipowner, and Nancy Griswold. When he was eleven, English persuaded his parents to allow him to live with and work for a local farmer. After three years his father enrolled him in a private school. At sixteen he became an apprentice to a New Haven carpenter and joiner and grew adept at creating architectural designs and drawing up contracts. Subsequently, he worked as an independent contractor and master builder, planning and constructing several of New Haven’s more imposing houses. English had accumulated enough money by 1835 to form a lumber company in New Haven with a partner, Harmanus M. Welch. However, in the wake of the panic of 1837, he decided that it would be prudent to diversify his business. He purchased and constructed ships to serve the Philadelphia–New England trade and over the next two decades built a considerable fortune....