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Bush, John Edward (15 November 1856–11 December 1916), businessman and politician, was born a slave in Moscow, Tennessee. In 1862 his master moved him and his mother to Arkansas to keep them from being freed when the Union army moved into western Tennessee. His mother died when Bush was only seven years old. He was educated in the freedmen’s and public schools of Little Rock and was considered a good student by his teachers. He paid his school tuition by molding bricks. In 1876 he graduated from high school with honors and was immediately appointed principal of Capital Hill School, a public institution for African Americans in Little Rock. In 1878 he moved to Hot Springs, where he was named to head that city’s African-American high school....

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Holbrooke, Richard (24 Apr. 1941–13 Dec. 2010), diplomat, magazine editor, and investment banker, was born Richard Charles Albert Holbrooke in New York City, the son of Dan Holbrooke, a doctor, and Trudi Kearl (née Moos), a potter. Holbrooke’s Jewish parents immigrated to the United States separately before his birth. His father emigrated in the 1930s from Warsaw, Poland, and changed his last name from Goldbrajch, while Trudi emigrated to the US from Germany, via Argentina. Holbrooke’s father died of cancer when Richard was fifteen. Holbrooke attended and graduated from Scarsdale High School in New York in ...

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Eugene Meyer. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-105094).

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Meyer, Eugene Isaac (31 October 1875–17 July 1959), investment banker, government official, and newspaper publisher, was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Marc Eugene Meyer, a retail merchant, and Harriet Newmark. After growing up in San Francisco, Meyer attended the University of California for one year in 1892. He was a mediocre student who spent much of his time drinking and gambling. After his freshman year, his family moved to New York City and he transferred to Yale. By working much harder academically at Yale, Meyer earned excellent grades and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. After skipping his junior year, he graduated with an A.B. with honors in 1895, ranking nineteenth in a class of 250. Meyer then spent two years in Europe learning French and German and gaining work experience in banking and international finance. On returning to the United States, Meyer was employed by the international banking firm of Lazard Frères, where his father was a partner. However, because his duties there were menial compared with the work he had been doing in Europe, Meyer left the firm in 1901, much against his father’s wishes, to open his own investment firm....

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Osborn, Chase Salmon (22 January 1860–11 April 1949), governor of Michigan, journalist, and entrepreneur, was born in Huntington County, Indiana, the son of George Augustus Osborn and Margaret Ann Fannon, hydropathic physicians. Osborn was named by his abolitionist-oriented parents after Ohio’s then-U.S. senator and soon-to-be ...

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P. B. S. Pinchback. Courtesy of the National Afro-American Museum.

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Pinchback, P. B. S. (10 May 1837–21 December 1921), politician, editor, and entrepreneur, was born Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback in Macon, Georgia, the son of William Pinchback, a Mississippi plantation owner, and Eliza Stewart, a former slave of mixed ancestry. Because William Pinchback had taken Eliza to Philadelphia to obtain her emancipation, Pinckney was free upon birth....

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Roberts, Ellis Henry (30 September 1827–08 January 1918), editor, congressman, and financier, was born in Utica, New York, the son of Watkin Roberts, a factory worker, and Gwen Williams, immigrants from Wales. His father died in 1831, and consequently Roberts experienced a difficult childhood. He attended local schools. To support himself and earn money for more education, he learned the printer’s trade in the office of William Williams in Utica. Roberts did the usual work assigned to beginners and had mastered the trade and saved money by the time his brother Robert W. Roberts, under whom he continued to work, purchased the office. Roberts attended Whitestown Seminary for two terms in 1845 before enrolling in 1846 at Yale College, where he won a scholarship, took prizes for English composition, and edited the ...

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Elliott Roosevelt Henry A. Wallace, Elliot Roosevelt, Harlow Shaple, and Jo Davison, 1947. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-117441).

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Roosevelt, Elliott (23 September 1910–27 October 1990), advertising executive, public figure, and author, was born in New York City, the son of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the thirty-second president of the United States, and Eleanor Roosevelt. He attended Groton Academy in Massachusetts (1923–1929) and Hun School in New Jersey (1929–1930). He declined to follow the family tradition and did not go to Harvard but entered the business world instead. He was an advertising account executive in one firm (1930), vice president of another (1931), and then an account executive in yet another (1932). He became aviation editor for the ...