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Alsop, George (1636–?), author of A Character of the Province of Maryland, was probably born in Westminster, England, the son of Peter Alsop, a tailor, and Rose (maiden name unknown). Aside from information in A Character of the Province of Maryland, very little is known about Alsop. His father’s occupation did not provide for much education, but evidence from ...

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Chandler, Harry (17 May 1864–23 Sept. 1944), newspaper publisher and promoter, of Southern California, was the eldest of four children born in Landaff, New Hampshire to Moses Knight Chandler and Emma Jane (Little) Chandler, who worked in a bobbin factory in neighboring Lisbon....

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Coram, Thomas (1668–29 March 1751), philanthropist and colony promoter, was born in the Dorsetshire coast village of Lyme Regis, England, the son of John Coram, a mariner, and Spes (maiden name unknown). Coram was primarily self-educated. He went to sea from age eleven to sixteen and was then apprenticed to a shipwright. Coram’s steady rise from humble birth to prominent merchant was due to his great vigor, ambition, and trustworthiness. In 1694 a group of London merchants sent him to Boston as head of a team of shipwrights in order to establish a shipyard. The new governor, ...

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Cushman, Robert (1579–1625), an organizer and promoter of Plymouth Plantation in New England, was born in Canterbury, England. Little is known about his early life. He was a woolcomber by trade but evidently had some education and private means. It is known that in 1606 he intervened to protect an ill-treated apprentice in Canterbury. That year he married Sarah Reder, with whom he had one child. In 1609 he moved to Leiden, Holland, where he joined John Robinson’s Separatist congregation. In 1617, a year after Sarah’s death, he married Mary, the widow of Thomas Singleton. In that same year, he was appointed one of the Pilgrims’ agents to make arrangements for their migration across the Atlantic....

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Cutler, Manasseh (13 May 1742–28 July 1823), preacher, botanist, and land promoter, was born in Killingly, Connecticut, the son of Hezekiah Cutler and Susanna Clark, prosperous farmers. After preparatory study with Killingly pastor Aaron Brown, Cutler matriculated at Yale College (A.B., 1765; A.M., 1768; LL.D., 1789). He married Mary Balch, daughter of Rev. Thomas Balch of Dedham, Massachusetts, in 1766; they had four children. During a brief residence on Martha’s Vineyard (1766–1768), he completed his training for the ministry under his father-in-law’s direction before being licensed to preach in 1770 and ordained at the Congregational church in Ipswich Hamlet (after 1793, Hamilton), where he remained until his death. In 1782 Cutler opened a boarding school that catered to the sons of leading Essex County families....

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Filson, John (10 December 1753?–01 October 1788), author, historian, and land surveyor, was born in East Fallowfield Township near Brandywine Creek in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the son of Davison Filson and Eleanor Clarke, farmers. After attending common schools in the vicinity of his birthplace, Filson studied Greek, Latin, mathematics, and surveying at West Nottingham Academy in Colora, Maryland. He inherited part of a modest estate following his father’s death in 1776, but, eschewing life on the farm, he taught school and surveyed lands in the area during the American Revolution....

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Greenleaf, Moses (17 October 1777–20 March 1834), mapmaker, writer, and promoter of the state of Maine, was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, the son of Moses Greenleaf, a ship carpenter and a lieutenant in the American Revolution, and Lydia Parsons. In 1790 Greenleaf moved with his family to New Gloucester in the district of Maine, where his parents became farmers. From 1799 to 1806 he operated a general store, first in New Gloucester for three years, then in Poland, Kenduskeag, and Bangor. In 1805 he married Persis Poor; they had four children. One year after his marriage Greenleaf purchased from William Dodd of Boston a quarter interest in a township to be carved from Maine “wild lands” he had purchased from Massachusetts. Greenleaf agreed to manage the joint property (later incorporated as Williamsburg) and to settle forty families there by 1812. Greenleaf spent part of the winter of 1807 in Boston, where he promoted his new property and the separation of Maine from Massachusetts while the General Court was in session there. Although an ardent Federalist, he opposed the majority of his party on the issue of separation....

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Hammond, John (1613?–01 March 1663), promotion writer and lawyer, first appears in the historical records in Virginia in 1646. Nothing is known of his parentage or education. He remarked in 1654 that he had spent nineteen years in Virginia and two in Maryland, so he evidently emigrated to Virginia about 1633. He probably farmed and practiced law in Isle of Wight County, Virginia. He witnessed a deed there in 1646 and was elected a burgess in 1652, but the Puritan assembly expelled him as “a scandalous person, and a frequent disturber of the peace of the country, by libell and other illegall practices.” The offended Hammond, with his wife and four children, promptly moved to Maryland, where he bought a plantation in St. Mary’s County. In June 1653 he argued a case before the Maryland Provincial Court. The entrepreneurial Hammond was granted a license to sell liquor on 5 December 1654 and established an inn at Newtown. He was also given the right to provide a ferry over the Newtown River. In return, Hammond allowed the St. Mary’s County Court to meet at his inn, “the most Convenient place.”...

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Imlay, Gilbert (09 February 1754–20 November 1828), speculator and author, was born probably in Monmouth County, New Jersey, the son of Peter Imlay, a landowner. His mother’s name is not known, and only segments of his life appear in the historical record. He served as a lieutenant and paymaster in a Continental regiment in 1777–1778, subsequently assuming the title of captain. In 1783 he began acquiring paper claims to tens of thousands of acres in Kentucky. In those dealings Imlay, who also became a deputy county surveyor, associated with notable inhabitants of the western country such as ...

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Hall Jackson Kelley. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-113755).

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Kelley, Hall Jackson (24 February 1790–20 January 1874), promoter of Oregon settlement, was born in Northwood, New Hampshire, the son of Benjamin Kelley, a physician, and Mary Gile. The pious youth began serious reading early and came to entertain visions of a “lonely, laborious, and eventful life.” After studying at the academy in Gilmanton, where his family had moved, he went to Middlebury College in Vermont. He graduated in 1813, and seven years later both Middlebury and Harvard conferred master of arts degrees on him. In the interval he had gone to Boston, where in 1815 he married Mary Baldwin, procreated a son, and began teaching in the public schools. His wife died in 1816. He was also active in church and welfare work, but his primary interest was in education. In 1820 he published a textbook, ...

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Peerson, Cleng (17 May 1782 or 1783–16 December 1865), "the father of Norwegian immigration", “the father of Norwegian immigration,” was born Kleng Pedersen in the parish of Tysvær—north of the coastal city of Stavanger—in Rogaland County, Norway, on the Hesthammer farm, the son of Peder Larsen and Inger Sivertsdatter, renters of Hesthammer, an ecclesiastical possession. Information about Peerson’s childhood is sparse. An attestation of confirmation is dated in November 1800, making him seventeen or eighteen years old at that time. The relatively high age for this religious rite of passage within the Norwegian Lutheran State Church has suggested to some historians that already at that young age he had revealed a rebellious spirit against the state church, causing the parish minister to delay his confirmation. In his youth he went to sea. It was the beginning of a life as a wanderer and adventurer. He had a quick mind, and visiting England, France, and Germany, he gained some facility in their languages....

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Singleton, Benjamin (15 August 1809–1892), black nationalist and land promoter, known as “Pap,” was born into slavery in Nashville, Tennessee. Little is known about the first six decades of his life. In his old age Singleton reminisced that his master had sold him to buyers as far away as Alabama and Mississippi several times, but that each time he had escaped and returned to Nashville. Tiring of this treatment, he ran away to Windsor, Ontario, and shortly thereafter moved to Detroit. There he quietly opened a boardinghouse for escaped slaves and supported himself by scavenging. In 1865 he came home to Edgefield, Tennessee, across the Cumberland River from Nashville, and supported himself as a cabinetmaker and carpenter....

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Smith, John (1580–21 June 1631), colonial governor, promoter, and historian, was born in Willoughby by Alford in Lincolnshire, the son of George Smith, a yeoman, and Alice Rickard. His earliest schooling may have been under Francis Marbury, father of Anne Hutchinson, who was schoolmaster in Alford. Toward the end of his life Smith published an autobiography, one of the first examples of the modern genre, which he titled ...

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John Smith. Illustration from The True Travels, Adventures, and Observations of Captaine John Smith, 1629, depicting Smith's 1607 capture. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-99524).

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Walker, George (1752–1817), advocate of locating the federal capital at what became Washington, D.C., was born at Clackmannon, Scotland. Little is known about his life in Scotland other than that he received an excellent education. By 1785 he had been sent to Georgetown, Maryland, as an agent for the Falkirk, Scotland, tobacco and dry goods firm of Huie, Reid and Company. Walker quickly established himself as a prominent resident of the town, where he was the owner of one of the most prestigious pews in the Presbyterian church. With important business connections in Baltimore, he traveled there frequently. As early as July 1788 he began contributing anonymous articles on political issues to the ...

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White, Andrew (1579–27 December 1656), Jesuit missionary and promotion writer, was born in London, England. The names and occupations of his parents are unknown. He matriculated at Douai College, France, in April 1593. After studying at other Catholic colleges, he returned to Douai, arriving on 4 June 1604, where he took vows as a priest in 1605. He then went to England, where, since the Gunpowder Plot had just been discovered, Catholic priests were being persecuted. Promptly arrested and imprisoned, White was banished from England on penalty of death. On 1 February 1607 he was admitted as a novitiate at Jesuit college of St. John’s, Louvain, Belgium. In 1612 White returned to London as a Jesuit missionary. From then until 1633, he alternated between various teaching positions on the Continent and missionary posts in England....

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White, Elijah (03 April 1806–03 April 1879), medical missionary, federal agent, and proponent of westward emigration, was born in Havana, now Montour Falls, New York, the son of the Reverend Alward White and Clara Pierce. His father and uncles were Methodist Episcopal itinerant preachers, and as a youth White was an activist in the local Methodist congregation, being especially interested in temperance. He became a doctor, possibly having studied in Syracuse. He married Sarepta Caroline Rhoode sometime before 1835....