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Aldrich, Winthrop (02 November 1885–25 February 1974), lawyer, banker, and legal and political adviser, was born Winthrop Williams Aldrich in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Nelson Wilmarth Aldrich, a U.S. senator, and Abby Chapman. Aldrich graduated from Harvard College in 1907 and Harvard Law School in 1910. Upon graduation from law school Aldrich joined the New York City law firm of Byrne, Cutcheon & Taylor, specializing in finance and commercial law. In 1916 Aldrich was named a junior partner in the firm, and in December of that year he married Harriet Alexander, the granddaughter of California railroad and banking magnate ...

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Cheves, Langdon (17 September 1776–26 June 1857), lawyer, congressman, and financier, was born in Bull Town Fort, South Carolina, the son of Alexander Chivas (or Chivis) of Buchan, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, and Mary Langdon. It is not known when or why he changed the spelling of his last name. Alexander Chivas had migrated to America in 1762 and established himself as a frontier trader. A Loyalist supporter, he lost his livelihood during the Revolution and moved to the low country. Cheves’s mother, daughter of supporters of the colonial rebellion, died in 1779, and Langdon’s aunt, Mrs. Thomas Cheves, cared for young Langdon. He attended Andrew Weed’s school, and in 1785 his father took him to Charleston. He continued his formal schooling briefly but then pursued vigorous independent study. He apprenticed in a shipping merchant’s office, gaining experience in business and finance by keeping the firm’s accounts. He read for the law with Judge William Marshall and was admitted to the bar in 1797. Successful as a Charleston lawyer, he moved into the political arena. His first elected office was as warden of his city ward in 1802; he then served from 1802 to 1809 in the state legislature and became attorney general in 1809. He won national office in 1810 when he ran for Congress on the Republican ticket. In 1806 he married Mary Elizabeth Dulles; they had fourteen children. In addition to the law and politics, Cheves enjoyed success in designing and building houses and in farming....

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Davison, George Willets (25 March 1872–16 June 1953), lawyer and banker, was born in Rockville Center, New York, the son of Robert Anthony Davison, a lawyer, and Emeline Sealy. Davison, a Methodist, attended Wesleyan University where his academic excellence earned him election to Phi Beta Kappa and graduation with honors in 1892. He earned an LL.B. in 1894 from New York University. He married Harriet Rice Baldwin the following year; they had two children who both died young....

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Dexter, Andrew, Jr. (28 March 1779–02 November 1837), attorney, financier, real estate speculator, and swindler, was the eldest child of Andrew Dexter, a Boston dry goods merchant, and Mary Newton. He was born in Brookfield, Massachusetts, where his parents had fled during the British siege of Boston, and grew up in Providence, Rhode Island. Dexter graduated from Rhode Island College (later Brown University) in 1798. His salutatory address expressed the heady combination of reverence for the leaders of the Revolution, anxiety about the future, and soaring ambition that marked the Revolutionary generation....

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Few, William (08 June 1748–16 July 1828), lawyer, politician, and banker, was born near Baltimore, Maryland, the son of William Few, a failed tobacco planter turned frontier farmer, and Mary Wheeler. Few’s family moved in 1758 to North Carolina, where young William received little formal schooling but enough skills and enough love for reading that the future Founding Father was able to educate himself. In the early 1770s, the Few family joined the Regulator movement, rural westerners’ sometimes violent opposition to unrepresentative coastal political control. The family lost one of William’s brothers, the family farm, and the family fortune in the struggle for more local autonomy. The Fews then moved to Georgia, leaving William behind to settle the family’s affairs, to farm, and to teach himself law....

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Fisk, James (01 April 1834–07 January 1872), financial speculator, was born in Pownal, Vermont, the son of James Fisk, a country peddler; his mother’s name is unknown. He was four years old when his mother died and his father moved to Brattleboro and married Love B. Ryan. He left school at age twelve to accompany his father on peddling trips, became a waiter two years later when his father built a temperance hotel, and joined the Van Amberg Circus as a roustabout and ticketseller when he was fifteen. Returning home at age eighteen, he reorganized his father’s peddling business and married Lucy Moore in 1854. They had no children....

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Fitch, James (02 August 1649–10 November 1727), Connecticut land speculator and magistrate, was born in Saybrook, Connecticut, the son of the Reverend James Fitch and Abigail Whitfield. In 1659 his father led a group of people to settle the town of Norwich, situated where the Quinebaug and Shetucket rivers combine to form the Thames. Fitch was raised largely on the frontier in close proximity to the Indians, with whom his father had numerous contacts. He gained knowledge of the unsettled lands in eastern Connecticut and learned to manipulate the Native Americans who controlled them. Fitch served in ...

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Harvey, Coin (16 August 1851–11 February 1936), economic reformer, lawyer, and real estate investor, was born William Hope Harvey in Buffalo, West Virginia, the son of Robert Trigg Harvey and Anna Maria Hope, farmers. After two years at a local academy, he entered Marshall College in nearby Huntington but remained there only a few months. He then began to study law on his own while supporting himself by teaching school. After being admitted to the West Virginia bar, he practiced law, first in Barboursville (1870–1874), then with his brother in Huntington for two years, then in Cleveland, Ohio. He married Anna R. Halliday in 1876; they had four children. In 1879 they moved to Chicago and two years later to Gallipolis, Ohio, where Harvey served as attorney for several wholesale firms....

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Henderson, Richard (20 April 1735–30 January 1785), land speculator, judge, and politician, was born in Hanover County, Virginia, the son of Samuel Henderson and Elizabeth Williams. Samuel Henderson, who had served for a time as sheriff of Hanover County, moved his family to North Carolina around 1742 and settled on Nutbush Creek in Granville County; within a few years he became sheriff. Little is known of Richard Henderson’s childhood, but it must have been a happy one. Under the watchful eye of his mother his education was guided toward a law career. He studied under a private tutor before getting his first job as a deputy sheriff under his father. He then read law under John Williams, his mother’s cousin and a gifted attorney who became a lifelong friend. After being admitted to the bar, Henderson joined Williams in law practice. Their association grew closer after 1763, when Henderson married Elizabeth Keeling, Williams’s stepdaughter who was the daughter of an English peer, Lord Keeling. They had six children....

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Lanier, James Franklin Doughty (22 November 1800–27 August 1881), lawyer and banker, was born in Washington, North Carolina, the son of Alexander Chalmers Lanier, a farmer and storekeeper, and Drusilla Doughty. The family moved to Kentucky, then to Ohio, and finally to the frontier village of Madison, Indiana, in 1817. Although Lanier’s father was a man of modest means, he managed to send his son to an academy in Newport, Kentucky, for a sound education. In 1819 Lanier began to read law with Alexander A. Meek in Madison, and in the same year he married Elizabeth Gardner. They would have eight children. His father died the following year, deeply in debt, and Lanier, an only child, struggled to support his mother while also paying his father’s debts....

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Lay, Ken (15 April 1942–05 July 2006), businessman, was born Kenneth Lee Lay in Tyrone, Missouri, the son of Omer Lay, a feed store owner, traveling agricultural equipment salesman, and lay Baptist pastor, and Ruth Reese Lay. After his father’s store failed, the family was reduced to poverty, sometimes staying with relatives on a farm, and Ken did not live in a house with indoor plumbing until he was eleven years old. He helped support his parents by delivering newspapers, mowing lawns, and baling hay for neighboring farmers....

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Leffingwell, Russell C. (10 Sept. 1878–2 Oct. 1960), lawyer, financier, and federal government official, was born Russell Cornell Leffingwell in New York City to Mary Cornell Leffingwell and Charles Russell Leffingwell. Charles Leffingwell, whose ancestors played a major role in the development of colonial and revolutionary Connecticut, operated his wife’s family’s lucrative iron business. He sent his son to fine private schools, first to Yonkers Military Academy and then to New York City’s Halsey School, where he graduated in ...

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Lewis, Reginald Francis (07 December 1942–18 January 1993), arbitrager and business executive, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Clinton Lewis, a skilled worker and small businessman, and Carolyn Cooper. Lewis was strongly influenced by his mother, especially since his African-American parents divorced during his childhood. His mother married Jean S. Fugett, Sr., in 1951. An elementary school teacher, he was a graduate of Morgan State College and had five sons and daughters....

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Maverick, Samuel Augustus (23 July 1803–02 September 1870), politician and landowner, was born in Pendleton, South Carolina, the son of Samuel Maverick, the owner of “Montpelier” plantation, and Elizabeth Anderson. He received his early education locally and then attended Yale College, from which he received his B.A. in 1825. Afterward, he studied law in Winchester, Virginia, then returned to Pendleton, where he was admitted to the bar in 1829 and practiced law....

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McCloy, John Jay, Jr. (31 March 1895–11 March 1989), lawyer, banker, and diplomat, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Jay McCloy, a claims officer for an insurance firm, and Anna May Snader. McCloy’s father died just before McCloy’s sixth birthday. Left with a modest bequest, Anna McCloy learned hairdressing and developed a wealthy clientele to support herself, John, and her two spinster sisters. In summers Anna followed her clients to their vacation homes in the Adirondack Mountains, where John worked as a chore boy at resorts and taught tennis, a sport in which he excelled. Tennis opened doors for him for many years, as did his mother’s clients and his father’s business associated....

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Mellon, Thomas (03 February 1813–03 February 1908), jurist and financier, was born at Camp Hill Cottage near Omagh, County Tyrone, Ireland, to Andrew Mellon and Rebecca Wauchob, farmers. Despite the relative comfort of their 23-acre farm, Andrew Mellon chose to follow his parents and siblings and emigrate to the United States with his wife and five-year-old Thomas. They arrived in Baltimore in early October 1818 and traveled by Conestoga wagon to Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. Andrew Mellon purchased a farm in Franklin Township, twenty-one miles east of Pittsburgh....

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Phillips, John (27 December 1719–21 April 1795), merchant-banker, judge, and school benefactor, was born in Andover, Massachusetts, the son of the Reverend Samuel Phillips and Hannah White. His father, who had graduated from Harvard in 1708, prepared him for the college, which he entered when he was only eleven years old, in 1731. As an undergraduate, John was awarded the William Browne and the Hollis scholarships, received the Hopkins Prize for outstanding scholarly achievement, and was selected to deliver an oration at his class of 1735 commencement. After graduation, Phillips taught school in Andover and took the M.A. degree at Harvard in 1738....

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Scammon, Jonathan Young (27 July 1812–17 March 1890), lawyer, banker, and civic promoter, was born in Whitefield, Maine, the son of Eliakim Scammon and Joanna Young, farmers. As a boy he lost two fingers on his left hand, an injury that diverted his attentions away from farming and toward a profession. Scammon attended Maine Wesleyan Seminary, Lincoln Academy, and then Waterville (now Colby) College. Abandoning his studies at Waterville after only one year because of financial difficulties, Scammon went to Hallowell to read law at age nineteen and was licensed to practice in 1835....

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Symmes, John Cleves (21 July 1742–26 February 1814), legislator, jurist, and land speculator, was born near Southold, New York, the son of the Reverend Timothy Symmes and Mary Cleves. Having been driven from his Millington, Connecticut, parish because of his participation in the Great Awakening, Reverend Symmes had settled on Long Island near the Cleves family home the same year that John Symmes was born. After the death of his mother and the departure of his father to do missionary work in New Jersey, Symmes was reared by his maternal grandparents. The formal education he received included the study of surveying and law, supplemented by an extensive reading of Greek and Roman literature and history. Unlike his Harvard-educated father, John Cleves did not attend college and had little, if any, interest in university training. In 1760 he married Anna Tuthill, the daughter of an influential Long Island family. The couple would have two daughters, one of whom would marry ...

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Wentworth, Paul (?– December 1793), speculator and secret agent, was born probably on the island of Barbados, the son of William Wentworth, probably a sugar planter, and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). Little is known about Paul’s early life, but he was mentioned in his father’s will of 23 August 1750. He appears to have been well educated with a special proficiency in languages. As a teenager he surfaced in New England with letters of recommendation that he presented to Samuel Wentworth of Boston and ...