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Beatty, John (19 December 1749–30 April 1826), physician, army officer, and government official, was born in Warwick, Pennsylvania, the son of Charles Clinton Beatty, a Presbyterian minister, and Anne Reading. John attended the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), where he was one of twenty graduates in the class of 1769. He received an A.M. there three years later. As an undergraduate, he was an original member of the school’s literary club, the American Whig Society. During the interval between his two degree awards, Beatty studied medicine under Dr. ...

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Butler, William (17 December 1759–23 September 1821), revolutionary war soldier and congressman, was born in Prince William County, Virginia, the son of James Butler and Mary Simpson, farmers. He attended grammar schools in his early years, and when he was about twelve years old his family moved to Ninety Six District, in western South Carolina. At the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1775, although he was only fifteen, he declared for the rebels and joined the South Carolina militia. Late that fall he accompanied Colonel Richard Richardson on a campaign into the backcountry of South Carolina to disperse a powerful concentration of Loyalists under the leadership of Patrick Cuningham. On 22 December he took part in a battle against Cuningham’s forces at Great Canebrake on Reedy Creek, in which the Loyalists were dispersed. Because heavy snow fell during the last days of this operation, it came to be known as the “Snow Campaign.” From July to September 1776 he served in Major ...

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Cabell, Samuel Jordan (15 December 1756–04 August 1818), revolutionary soldier and congressman, was born at “Union Hill” in Amherst County, Virginia, the son of Margaret Jordan and William Cabell, a prominent planter who served on the colony’s important revolutionary committee of safety and was chairman of the Amherst Committee. With the approach of the Revolution, Colonel William Cabell dropped plans to send Samuel to college in England and enrolled him instead at the College of William and Mary. Samuel attended from 1772 until December 1775, when Virginia militia clashed with British regulars at Great Bridge near Norfolk. Colonel Cabell, who was meeting in Williamsburg with the Virginia Committee of Safety when the battle occurred, sent Samuel home to raise a company of riflemen for Virginia’s defense....

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Dayton, Jonathan (16 October 1760–09 October 1824), revolutionary war officer and congressman, was born in Elizabethtown (now Elizabeth), New Jersey, the son of Elias Dayton, a wealthy merchant and revolutionary war general, and Hannah Rolfe. Dayton probably attended Elizabethtown Academy (a grammar school). He entered the College of New Jersey (Princeton) about 1774 and graduated in 1776, although he missed the commencement because he had joined the Continental army....

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Hampton, Wade (1754?–04 February 1835), planter, military commander, and congressman, was born (according to different sources) in either Halifax County, Virginia, or Rowan County, North Carolina, the son of Anthony Hampton, a farmer, land jobber, and trader, and Elizabeth Preston. He is often known as Wade Hampton I to distinguish him from two noted descendants of the same name. Hampton’s history prior to the American Revolution is largely mysterious. He must, however, have received some sort of formal education. Early in 1774 the Hampton family followed the example set by other backcountry residents and moved to South Carolina. Wade Hampton joined several of his brothers in a mercantile enterprise before the American War of Independence intervened....

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Irvine, William (03 November 1741–29 July 1804), revolutionary war officer and congressman, was born near Enniskillen, Fermanagh County, northern Ireland. The names of his parents are unknown. His ancestors emigrated from Scotland. Irvine attended grammar school at Enniskillen and is believed to have enrolled in Trinity College, Dublin, but his name was not entered into the Dublin University catalog of graduates. Irvine was commissioned a cornet of dragoons in the British army, but, quarreling with his colonel, he soon resigned. Irvine then studied medicine and surgery at Dublin University. He served as a surgeon in the Royal Navy during part of the Seven Years’ War....

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Lyon, Matthew (14 July 1749–01 August 1822), congressman, soldier, and entrepreneur, was born in Wicklow County, Ireland. Little information about Lyon’s parents has survived, and most of the information about Lyon’s youth is derived from the recollections of a grandson who read Lyon’s memoirs before they were mutilated by attic mice....

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Paterson, John (1744–19 July 1808), revolutionary war general and congressman, was born in Farmington, Connecticut, the son of John Paterson, a colonel in the militia, and Ruth Bird. Paterson was educated in the common schools, and he graduated from Yale in 1762. A few weeks later his father, who was serving in a military expedition, died in Havana from yellow fever. Paterson studied law while teaching school in New Britain and continued teaching part of each year after he became a practicing attorney. He married Elizabeth Lee in 1766; six of their seven children survived infancy....

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Pickering, Timothy (17 July 1745–29 January 1829), revolutionary war officer, cabinet officer, congressman, and senator, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of Timothy Pickering, Sr., a lay churchman and farmer, and Mary Wingate. Young Timothy Pickering graduated from Harvard in 1763 and returned home to Salem, where he took a position as assistant to the register of deeds, John Higginson, studied law, and, as a Loyalist, plunged into the political debate that preceded the War for Independence. In 1766 Governor ...

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Sevier, John (23 September 1745–24 September 1815), soldier, governor, and congressman, was born near the present town of New Market, Virginia, the son of Valentine Sevier, a farmer, trader, and merchant, and Joanna Goade. He attended school briefly when the family lived in Fredericksburg and in Staunton and at the age of sixteen was married to fifteen-year-old Sarah Hawkins; the couple had ten children. Very shortly after her death in 1780, he married Catherine Sherrill, with whom he had eight children. For a decade after his first marriage, Sevier moved about in the Shenandoah Valley, operating a tavern and store, and farming, trading, and speculating in land. In 1773, joined by his parents and several brothers, he moved to the southwest and settled on the Holston River. Why Sevier and family members would leave the rich lands of the valley is unknown, except perhaps that the valley lands rapidly were filling and the Holston area offered cheap land certain soon to become more valuable....

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Shepard, William (01 December 1737–16 November 1817), soldier and congressman, was born in Westfield, Massachusetts, the son of John Shepard, a tanner, and Elizabeth Noble. Reared in an atmosphere of Congregational rectitude (his father was a deacon of the church) and educated in the public schools of Westfield, he grew to adulthood as a sober, honest citizen whom his neighbors respected. He had his first experience of soldiering at the age of seventeen, when he enlisted as a private in the Massachusetts militia during the French and Indian War. Gaining valuable experience in the profession of arms during that long conflict, he served for seven years and achieved the rank of captain under Sir ...

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Smith, Samuel (27 July 1752–22 April 1839), soldier and politician, was born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the son of John Smith, a successful merchant, and Mary Buchanan. The family relocated to Baltimore in 1760, and their personal wealth enabled Smith to attend private academies in Elkton, Maryland, and Newark, Delaware. Intent upon a commercial career, the young man was apprenticed in his father’s firm both in America and England, and he spent several years traveling abroad....

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Smith, William Stephens (08 November 1755–10 June 1816), revolutionary war officer and congressman, was born in New York City, the son of John Smith, a prosperous merchant, and Margaret Stephens, the daughter of John Stephens, a British army officer. After graduating from the College of New Jersey (Princeton) in 1774, Smith studied law with ...

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Sumter, Thomas (14 August 1734–01 June 1832), revolutionary war general, congressman, and senator, was born in Louisa County, Virginia, the son of William Sumter, a farmer and miller said to have been an indentured servant, and Patience (maiden name unknown). According to family tradition, both parents emigrated from England. Nothing is known of Sumter’s youth, and he had only a limited education....

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Thomas, David (11 June 1762–27 November 1831), soldier, congressman, and New York politician, was born in Pelham, Massachusetts, the son of David Thomas and Elizabeth Harper. David’s early schooling consisted of the traditional preparatory studies, but he did not go to college. In 1777 he joined an expedition of Massachusetts troops engaged in the relief of Rhode Island. Following this action, he worked as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Worcester, Massachusetts. In 1781 Thomas joined the Fifth Massachusetts Regiment as a corporal. He later served as a sergeant in the Third Massachusetts Regiment, in which he continued for the remainder of the revolutionary war....

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Wadsworth, Jeremiah (12 July 1743–30 April 1804), revolutionary war soldier and congressman, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the son of the Reverend Daniel Wadsworth, a minister, and Abigail Talcott. Because his father died when he was four years old, he was raised by Matthew Talcott, an uncle and ship owner in Middletown, Connecticut. He attended common schools and in 1761 went to sea in hopes of improving his health as a common sailor aboard one of his uncle’s ships. He became first mate of a vessel, then captain, and by 1771 he was a wealthy man. He married Mehitable Russell in 1767; they had three children. Through his uncle’s influence he was appointed by the Connecticut legislature to be commissary of the colony’s militia in 1774, and a year later, when the revolutionary war began, he was employed as a commissary of Connecticut forces raised to resist Britain. In 1776 he was chosen by Commissary General ...

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Winn, Richard (1750– January 1824), revolutionary war soldier and congressman, was born in Fauquier County, Virginia, the son of Minor Winn, Sr., and Margaret O’Connor, farmers. The parents emigrated from Wales in the 1740s and changed their surname from Wynne to Winn. Richard Winn’s education is unknown, but he gained a knowledge of mathematics. He followed his brother John to South Carolina in 1768 and worked as a surveyor for a while in the employ of a British company. As was customary, Winn received as a fee one-eighth of the land that he surveyed. Winn and his brothers John and William became large landholders in the Fairfield District of upper-central South Carolina. They owned a whole town named after them, Winnsboro. Besides surveying, Winn was a planter and engaged in merchandizing. He was appointed a justice of the peace in 1775. About the time of the outbreak of the revolutionary war (c. 1775), Winn married Priscilla McKinnie; they had eleven children....