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Bloomfield, Joseph (18 October 1753–08 October 1823), lawyer, soldier, and politician, was born in Woodbridge, New Jersey, the son of Moses Bloomfield, a physician, and Sarah Ogden. The family was one of the most prominent in colonial New Jersey. His father had received a first-rate medical education in Edinburgh, Scotland, and had a thriving practice in Middlesex County by the time Joseph was born. Joseph’s mother was a member of a wealthy and influential family of Elizabethtown, which further assured Joseph’s upper-class pedigree. His education and choice of occupation were in line with his social standing. While in his early teens, he attended the Reverend Enoch Green’s classical academy in Deerfield, Cumberland County, at the opposite end of the province from Woodbridge. Upon graduation, Bloomfield returned to East Jersey, determined to be a lawyer. He entered the profession at the top, studying in Perth Amboy with Cortlandt Skinner, attorney general of New Jersey, and was admitted to the bar in November 1774. Setting up practice in Bridgeton, Cumberland County, he soon became known and respected in all of New Jersey’s southern counties. The future seemed secure, had not the American Revolution intervened....

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Carroll, William (03 March 1788–22 March 1844), soldier, businessman and governor of Tennessee, was born near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas Carroll, a farmer and businessman, and Mary Montgomery. Although his formal education was meager, his letters, papers, and public documents exhibit an unusual clarity of thought and facility of expression. His father formed a partnership with ...

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Thomas L. Crittenden. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1730).

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Crittenden, Thomas Leonidas (15 May 1819–23 October 1893), lawyer and soldier, was born in Russellville, Kentucky, the son of John J. Crittenden, a lawyer and statesman, and Sarah “Sally” Lee. After unsuccessful business ventures in New Orleans and with a brother-in-law in Louisville, he studied law and was admitted to the Kentucky bar in 1840. Appointed a commonwealth’s attorney in 1843, he occasionally opposed his famous father in courtroom appearances. Crittenden married his stepsister Kittie Todd, probably in 1840. Their only son, Lieutenant John J. Crittenden, was killed with ...

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Alexander William Doniphan. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109945).

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Doniphan, Alexander William (09 July 1808–08 August 1887), soldier and lawyer, was born near Maysville, Mason County, Kentucky, the son of Joseph Doniphan and Anne Smith, farmers. His father died when Doniphan was not quite five years old. He attended a private school at Augusta, Kentucky, graduating from Augusta College at the age of nineteen. After two years of studying law in the office of Martin Marshall, Doniphan was admitted to the bar in Kentucky and Ohio. He moved to Missouri in 1830, settling initially at Lexington. Three years later, he reestablished his law practice at Liberty in Clay County, where he shared a law office with ...

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Hamtramck, John Francis (19 April 1798–21 April 1858), soldier, mayor, and jurist, was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the son of John F. Hamtramck, Sr., a soldier, and Rebecca Mackenzie. When his father died in Detroit in 1803, Hamtramck fell under the guardianship of ...

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Hardin, Martin D. (21 June 1780–08 October 1823), lawyer, soldier, and U.S. senator, was born near the Monongahela River in southwestern Pennsylvania, the son of John Hardin, a revolutionary war soldier and Indian fighter, and Jane Daveiss. The Hardins were a somewhat prosperous Virginia family of French Huguenots who immigrated in 1706 and settled beyond the Virginia border on the Pennsylvania frontier about 1765. In 1786 John Hardin moved the family to Nelson County in the Kentucky District (now Washington County, Ky.) along Pleasant Run, a branch of Beech Fork, near the present-day county seat of Springfield. John Hardin was murdered by Shawnee Indians in May 1792, near present-day Hardin, Ohio, while serving as a peace emissary; he became a celebrated martyr and the namesake of counties in Kentucky and Ohio....

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Andrew Jackson. From an engraving by James Barton Longacre. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-117120).

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Jackson, Andrew (15 March 1767–08 June 1845), soldier and seventh president of the United States, was born in the Waxhaw Settlement, South Carolina, the son of Andrew Jackson and Elizabeth Hutchinson, farmers. Like many other Scotch-Irish at the time, Andrew and Elizabeth Jackson migrated to this country from the port of Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland in 1765, landing most probably in Philadelphia and then journeying southward to join relatives living in the Waxhaw Settlement along the northwestern boundary separating North and South Carolina. They settled with their two sons, Hugh and Robert, on a stretch of land on the south side of Twelve Mile Creek, a branch of the Catawba River, and for two years tried to scratch a living from this acid soil. Then, early in March 1767, Andrew died suddenly. Approximately two weeks later, on 15 March, Elizabeth gave birth to her third son and named him after her deceased husband. Later a dispute arose over the exact location of the birthplace of the future president—whether he was born in North or South Carolina—but Jackson himself always believed and repeatedly stated that he was born in South Carolina....

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Johnston, Albert Sidney (02 February 1803–06 April 1862), Confederate general, was born in Washington, Kentucky, the son of John Johnston, a physician, and Abigail Harris. Raised by a stepmother following the death of his mother when he was three, Johnston aspired to follow in his father’s footsteps. He studied medicine at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, where he became a close friend of ...

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Mullan, John (31 July 1830–28 December 1909), army explorer, road builder, and lawyer, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of John Mullan, a civil servant, and Mary Bright. The eldest of ten children, Mullan grew up in Annapolis, Maryland, where his father was postmaster at the U.S. Naval Academy. He received his education, beginning at the age of nine, at St. John’s College in Annapolis, from which he received a B.A. in 1847 and an M.A. in 1855. Family tradition holds that Mullan sought a personal interview with President ...

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Parke, Benjamin (02 September 1777–12 July 1835), jurist and soldier, was born in New Jersey, where he received a common school education. In about 1797 he moved to Lexington, Kentucky, where he studied law with James Brown (1766–1835), a former minister to France, and married Eliza Barton; they had two children. In 1801, having been admitted to the bar, he moved to Indiana, residing first at Vincennes, then at Salem. In Indiana he allied himself with the territorial governor, ...

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Pillow, Gideon Johnson (08 June 1806–08 October 1878), soldier, lawyer, and planter, was born in a log cabin in Williamson (now Maury) County, Tennessee, the son of Gideon Pillow, a pioneer planter, and Annie Payne. Gideon graduated from the University of Nashville in 1827 and, after reading law for three years in the offices of two judges, was admitted to the Tennessee bar in 1830. He hung out his shingle in Columbia, and, possessed of a “quick mind and a powerful speaking voice,” his civil and criminal practice flourished. In 1831 Pillow married Mary Elizabeth Martin. The union was blessed with ten children. The Martins were an affluent Middle Tennessee family, and Mary was a good manager, capable of overseeing family and business interests during her husband’s long absences from home....

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Porter, Peter Buell (04 August 1773–20 March 1844), politician, soldier, and secretary of war, was born in Salisbury, Connecticut, the son of Joshua Porter, a speculator, and Abigail Buell. He graduated from Yale in 1791 and subsequently studied law in Litchfield under the celebrated Judge ...

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Smyth, Alexander (14 September 1767–17 April 1830), lawyer, soldier, and congressman, was born on Rathlin Island, County Antrim, twelve miles off the northern coast of Ireland, the son of the Reverend Adam Smyth. His mother’s name is unknown. In 1775 his father relocated the family to Botetourt County, Virginia, where he served as rector of the Episcopal parish. Smyth read law and in 1787 was appointed deputy clerk of Botetourt County. He passed the bar in 1789, moved to Wythe County, and married Nancy Binkley in 1791. The couple had four children. A vigorous orator, Smyth entered politics and was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1792, 1796, 1801–1802, and 1804–1808. Success and a mercurial disposition garnered him powerful enemies, however. Foremost among these was John Preston of Wythe County, with whom Smyth dueled in 1795. The confrontation proved bloodless, but the two men and their respective families remained staunch political adversaries....

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Van Rensselaer, Solomon (06 August 1774–23 April 1852), soldier, congressman, and public official, was born in Rensselaer County, New York, the son of Henry Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, a revolutionary war general, and Alida Bradt. The Van Rensselaers were one of the powerful Dutch patroon families of New York. Respect for the military profession ran high in the culture and in the family, so Solomon’s father secured for him in 1792 a commission as cornet in the newly formed U.S. light dragoon squadron. The dragoons became part of ...

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Wilkinson, James (1757–28 December 1825), soldier and intriguer, was born in Calvert County, Maryland, the son of Joseph Wilkinson and Betty Heighe, merchant-farmers. He spent his early years on his parents’ farm, but his father died when he was seven, and his mother apprenticed him to a local physician, John Bond, to learn medicine. When Wilkinson was seventeen he went to Philadelphia to continue his medical training. In 1775 he completed his studies and opened a practice in Monocacy, Maryland. But his heart was not in it. While in Philadelphia he had been dazzled by the fervor of the growing revolutionary movement, avidly watching militiamen drill and listening to heated oratory against the “Intolerable Acts.” He began to neglect his patients, concentrating instead on drilling with a volunteer corps of riflemen, and soon he had joined colonial forces investing Boston. An affable young man, he received attention from General ...

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Williams, John (29 January 1778–10 August 1837), soldier, lawyer, and legislator, was born in Surry County, North Carolina, the son of Joseph Williams and Rebecca Lanier. He attended schools in his home county and studied law in nearby Salisbury. He moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, soon after the turn of the century and was admitted to the bar in 1803. Two years later he married Malinda Lawson White, a daughter of General ...

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Winder, William Henry (18 February 1775–24 May 1824), lawyer and soldier, was born in Somerset County, Maryland, the son of William Winder, a merchant, attorney, and legislator, and Charlotte Henry. He received his primary education at the nearby Washington Academy and went on to study at the University of Pennsylvania. His graduation date cannot be determined, but in 1798 he developed an interest in politics and was elected to the state legislature as a Federalist. The following year he married his cousin, Gertrude Polk; they had one son. In 1802 Winder relocated to Baltimore, where he studied law with his uncle John Henry and then with Judge ...