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Baldwin, John (13 October 1799–28 December 1884), manufacturer and philanthropist, was born in North Branford, Connecticut, the son of Joseph Baldwin, a blacksmith, and Rosanna Meloy. Baldwin’s parents, devout Congregationalists, espoused antiliquor, antitobacco, and antislavery beliefs, which he, too, would champion. He had a conversion experience and became an evangelical Methodist at eighteen. After briefly attending an academy during his late teens, Baldwin taught school in New York, Maryland, and finally Litchfield, Connecticut. In January 1828 he married Mary D. Chappel of New London, Connecticut, herself a Methodist of humble station. They had seven children....

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Coker, James Lide (03 January 1837–25 June 1918), entrepreneur and philanthropist, was born on a plantation near Hartsville, South Carolina, the son of Caleb Coker, a planter and merchant, and Hannah Lide. Coker’s father also served as a director of the Chersaw and Darlington (S.C.) Railroad. His wealth afforded Coker considerable advantages that he used and built upon. His education was similar to that of other sons of South Carolina’s planter elite. Schooled in a local, privately supported academy, he then attended The Citadel. However, in 1857 he took the unusual step of going to Harvard to take courses in chemistry and botany, working under ...

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Crown, Henry (13 June 1896–14 August 1990), entrepreneur and philanthropist, was born Henry Krinsky in Chicago, the son of Arie Krinsky, a Lithuanian immigrant garment worker, and his wife Ida Gordon. At some point they changed their name to Crown. To help his poor family, Crown took a job at age fourteen as clerk at the Chicago Firebrick Company. In 1912 he began work at the Union Drop Forge Company, while taking night courses in accounting. In 1915 he and his two older brothers, Sol and Irving, formed a small steel-brokerage company, S. A. Crown and Company, and Crown quickly established a local reputation as an aggressive and reliable deal maker with a discerning eye for opportunity, a striking power of recall, and an acute sense of timing....

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Armand Hammer Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-114806 ).

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Hammer, Armand (21 May 1898–10 December 1990), entrepreneur and philanthropist, was born on the Lower East Side of New York City, the son of Russian-born Julius Hammer, a pharmacist and physician, and Rose Robinson. Hammer’s childhood economic circumstances were better than those of many of his immigrant contemporaries. When he was still a child, his family moved to the Bronx, where his father balanced a quest for a medical degree with the demands of his drugstores. Hammer attended Morris High School and in 1917 registered at Columbia Heights Premedical School. Two years later he enrolled at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, from which he graduated in June 1921....

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Jonsson, John Erik (06 September 1901–31 August 1995), co-founder of Texas Instruments and mayor of Dallas, was born in Brooklyn, the only child of John Peter and Ellen Charlotte Palmquist, both small merchants. In 1911 Jonsson's family moved to Montclair, New Jersey, where his family operated a stationery and tobacco store. During his school years, Eric worked at a number of small jobs and helped in his parents' shop. He graduated from high school at the age of sixteen and hoped to study journalism at Columbia University but lacked the academic credits necessary for acceptance, so instead Jonsson enrolled in Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York....

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Kane, Thomas Leiper (27 January 1822–26 December 1883), lawyer, soldier, philanthropist, entrepreneur, and defender of the Mormons, was born in Philadelphia, the son of John Kintzing Kane, a jurist, and Jane Duval Leiper. He attended school in Philadelphia and from 1839 to 1844 traveled in England and France, studying and visiting relatives. While in Paris he served for a time as an attaché of the American legation. Small in stature and never robust, he would spend most of his life struggling with ill health. In Paris he met Auguste Comte and others who surely encouraged his social conscience, which would be manifested later in his concern for philanthropic causes. In 1844 Kane returned to Philadelphia, where he studied law with his father. Although he was admitted to the bar in 1846 and clerked briefly for his father, who was a federal judge, his interests and activities generally moved in other directions....

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Pritzker, Abram Nicholas (06 January 1896–08 February 1986), entrepreneur and financier, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Nicholas Pritzker, a pharmacist and later a lawyer, and Annie Cohn. He attended public schools and then Northwestern University, but he preferred the University of Chicago, where he transferred and lived on campus, completing his B.A. in philosophy in 1916. He began law school at Harvard but left during the first year to join the navy, where he served as a chief petty officer. When he was mustered out, he returned to Harvard, earning his law degree in 1920. He immediately joined his father and brother in the firm of Pritzker and Pritzker. He married Fanny L. Doppelt in 1921; they had three sons. He practiced law only briefly, drawn instead to real estate investment and finance. He did well in Chicago real estate but lost most of his fortune in the great Florida land boom of the 1920s; he then recovered quickly, in spite of the Great Depression....

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Sprunt, James (09 June 1846–09 July 1924), entrepreneur, philanthropist, and author, was born in Glasgow, Scotland, the son of Alexander Sprunt, an exporter, and Jane Dalziel. Sprunt migrated with his parents to North Carolina in 1852, living first in Duplin County and then Wilmington, New Hanover County, where he attended school until age fourteen. During the Civil War he became a purser on a blockade-runner, but when the ship was captured in 1864, he was imprisoned only to make a daring escape to Halifax, Nova Scotia. He again became a ship’s purser, returned to the South, and was shipwrecked off the coast of Florida. Avoiding Federal troops, he returned to Wilmington....

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Touro, Judah (16 June 1775–23 January 1854), entrepreneur and philanthropist, was born in Newport, Rhode Island, the son of Rabbi Isaac Touro and Reyna Hays. Suspected of Loyalist sympathies during the revolutionary war, the rabbi fled with his family to Jamaica, where he died in January 1784. His widow and their three children sought refuge with her brother, Moses Michael Hays, in Boston. Reyna Touro died three years later. Hays had a high regard for his nephew Judah but a solid determination not to allow either of his daughters, Catherine or Rebecca—which one is not certain—to marry her cousin....