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Grayson, William John (12 November 1788–04 October 1863), politician and author, was born in Beaufort, South Carolina, the son of William John Grayson, a sheriff of the Beaufort District, and Susannah Greene. His father, who had been an officer during the American Revolution, died in 1797 at the age of thirty-seven; eleven months later Susannah Grayson married William Joyner, a widower and wealthy planter of the Beaufort District. Young Grayson early developed an insatiable desire for learning. From 1801 to 1803 he attended private academies in the North in preparation for admission to either Yale or Harvard. Accustomed to the gentility and hospitality of the South, he chose instead the new South Carolina College (now University of South Carolina)....

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Hopkinson, Francis (02 October 1737–09 May 1791), author, composer, and judge, was born in Philadelphia, the son of Thomas Hopkinson, a lawyer and Pennsylvania councillor, and Mary Johnson. Hopkinson’s father emigrated from England in 1731. Hopkinson matriculated in the first class of the College of Philadelphia (later the University of Pennsylvania) in 1751; he graduated in 1757 and, with other members of his class, received an M.A. degree three years later....

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James Russell Lowell. Engraving, c. 1894, from a drawing by S. W. Rowse, 1855. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-100831).

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Lowell, James Russell (22 February 1819–12 August 1891), author and diplomat, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Charles Lowell, a liberal Congregational minister, and Harriet Brackett Spence. Among New Englanders who were apt to take ancestry seriously, the Lowell family was already firmly established in the region’s ecclesiastical and legal annals. During the nineteenth century the Lowell name became synonymous with manufacturing wealth and State Street trusts, but Charles Lowell’s descendants benefited little from this tradition. Their area of prominence was in literature; both James Russell Lowell’s sister Mary Lowell Putnam and brother ...

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Piatt, John James (01 March 1835–16 February 1917), author and diplomat, was born at James’ Mills (later Milton), in Dearborn (now Ohio) County, Indiana, the son of John Bear Piatt and Emily Scott, farmers. Piatt attended school at nearby Rising Sun, on the Ohio River. In 1841 the family moved to a farm near Columbus, Ohio, where Piatt continued his education. At age fourteen he began an apprenticeship as a printer in the office of his uncle, Charles Scott, who published the ...

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Wolcott, Roger (04 January 1679–17 May 1767), colonial governor and literary figure, was born in Windsor, Connecticut, the son of Simon Wolcott and Martha Pitkin, merchants and farmers. The youngest of nine children, Wolcott was educated at home by his mother, then apprenticed to a clothing shop in 1694. He established his own clothier enterprise at age twenty. In 1702 he married Sarah Drake. They had fifteen children before her death on 21 January 1748. Wolcott purchased a large estate in Windsor in 1702 where, following the eighteenth-century pattern of Hartford-area merchant-farmers, he established both a clothing manufactory and a farm....