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Adair, John (09 January 1757–19 May 1840), soldier, politician, and governor of Kentucky, was born in Chester County, South Carolina, the son of Baron William Adair and Mary Moore. Little is known about his childhood. As a young man, he fought in the revolutionary war and was captured by the British. During his imprisonment he suffered many cruelties, which apparently did little to deter him from becoming a career soldier. After the war Adair traveled west, eventually settling in Mercer County, Kentucky, in 1786. In 1784 he had married Katherine Palmer; they had twelve children....

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Bedinger, George Michael (10 December 1756–08 December 1843), soldier, legislator, and businessman, was born in York County, Pennsylvania, the son of Henry Bedinger and Magdalene von Schlegel, innkeepers. In 1737 his grandfather had moved to Pennsylvania from the vicinity of Strasbourg in Alsace-Lorraine. At the time of George Michael’s birth, the family name was spelled Biedinger and German was the language spoken at home. Late in life Bedinger was described by a contemporary as a “full blooded Virginia Dutchman.”...

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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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Dodge, Henry (12 October 1782–19 June 1867), soldier, governor of Wisconsin Territory, and U.S. senator, was born at Post Vincennes (now Vincennes), Indiana, the son of Israel Dodge, a farmer and businessman, and Nancy Ann Hunter. His father moved the family to Kentucky and then to Ste. Genevieve on the Missouri frontier in 1796. By the time Henry was born his father had become a wealthy landowner. Henry had little formal education, but worked on his father’s farms and in his mills, distilleries, and mines. In 1800 Henry Dodge married Christina McDonald; they had thirteen children, but only nine survived infancy. He succeeded his father as sheriff of the Ste. Genevieve district in 1805....

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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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Hopkins, Samuel (09 April 1753–16 September 1819), soldier and politician, was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, the son of Samuel Hopkins, a physician, and Isabella Taylor. He grew up in affluent circumstances and was educated by private tutors. When the American Revolution commenced, he favored the American cause; on 26 February 1776 he was commissioned as a captain of the Sixth Virginia Infantry Regiment. In his first few months of military service, he gained the respect and confidence of his fellow Virginian General ...

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Howard, Benjamin (1770?–18 September 1814), soldier and territorial governor, was born in Virginia, the son of John Howard, a farmer and land speculator, and Mary Preston. Howard’s birth is often dated 1760; however, the fact that he was the fourth child of a 1764 marriage along with his letters from college offer convincing evidence that 1760 is at least a decade too early. Howard’s father, by living to be 103 years old, eventually became a celebrated Kentucky figure. His mother belonged to a powerful western Virginia clan. Benjamin Howard had an unsettled and difficult childhood. A disastrous manager and a sometimes violent husband, John Howard in 1779 was judged, in a court controlled by his wife’s connections, to have been “for some time past in a State of Insanity.” Throughout Benjamin’s boyhood and youth, his father spent long periods in Kentucky, where adventure and military bounty lands drew him, while his mother, often calling on her kin for help, struggled in Virginia to fix the family’s tangled affairs so that they could migrate to Kentucky. The fact that Benjamin Howard so often found himself under the care and tutelage of his maternal kin was formative....

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Izard, George (21 October 1776–22 November 1828), army officer and territorial governor of Arkansas, was born in the Richmond district of London, England, the son of Ralph Izard, a planter and diplomat, and Alice DeLancey. His parents were members of influential families in both South Carolina and New York. Izard spent his early years abroad, received his initial education at the Collège de Navarre in Paris, and accompanied his mother back to Charleston in 1783. When his father was elected senator in 1789, the family relocated to New York City. There Izard attended King’s College (now Columbia University) and graduated in 1792 at the age of fifteen. He then accompanied Minister to Great Britain ...

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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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King, William (09 February 1768–17 June 1852), merchant shipper, army officer, and governor of Maine, was born in Scarborough, Maine, the son of Richard King, a merchant and shipowner, and Mary Black. He was educated at home, but he spent one term at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts....

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Miller, James (25 April 1776–07 July 1851), army officer, territorial governor, and customs official, was born at Petersborough, New Hampshire, the son of James Miller and Catharine Gregg. He entered the Andover Academy in 1794, obtained a common education, and briefly attended Williams College in Massachusetts. Miller returned to New Hampshire, studied law under ...

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Miller, John (25 November 1781–18 March 1846), soldier and governor of Missouri, was born near Martinsburg, Virginia (now West Virginia), the son of a farmer. Virtually nothing else is known of his parents, including their social and economic status, and his youth is also undocumented. His formal education was limited to an unknown period in the state common schools, but his career suggests thorough literacy, implying additional schooling at home and thus an above-average socioeconomic background. At the age of twenty-two Miller moved to Steubenville, Ohio, where he published and edited the ...

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Mitchell, George Edward (03 March 1781–28 June 1832), soldier and politician, was born in Elkton, Maryland, the son of Abraham Mitchell, a physician, and Mary Thompson. He studied medicine under his father, took classes at the University of Pennsylvania, and on 5 June 1805 received a permit to practice. Soon afterward Mitchell developed an interest in politics, and in 1808 he was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates as a Democratic Republican. The following year he gained appointment as a member of the state executive council, and from 1809 to 1812 he served as president of this body. Mitchell had previously been tendered a captain’s commission in the light dragoons, but he declined military service until war with Great Britain proved imminent. Accordingly, on 1 May 1812 he resigned from office to accept the rank of major in the newly formed Third U.S. Artillery Regiment....

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Quitman, John Anthony (01 September 1799–17 July 1858), Mexican War general and southern secessionist, was born in Rhinebeck, New York, the son of Frederick Henry Quitman, a Lutheran minister, and Anna Elizabeth Hueck. His father achieved considerable prominence as a minister, and John, in turn, was educated privately for the ministry. From the fall of 1816 until the summer of 1818, he taught and pursued theological studies at Hartwick Seminary in Hartwick, New York. He then became adjunct professor of English at Mount Airy College, a Catholic academy near Philadelphia, before moving to Ohio in the fall of 1819 to pursue a career in law. Though he passed Ohio’s bar examination in July 1821, he became discouraged by the state’s depressed economy due to the panic of 1819 and traveled, almost penniless, to Natchez, Mississippi, where he arrived in December 1821. The next month, however, he passed Mississippi’s bar requirements and soon established a lucrative legal practice, becoming a leading figure in the Mississippi State Bar Association. Marriage in 1824 to Eliza Turner, the niece of the influential Edward Turner, provided John with social respectability. They had ten children. The transplanted northerner relished southern institutions, and through his marriage and subsequent purchases he acquired a Natchez mansion, four plantations in Mississippi and Louisiana, and several hundred slaves....

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Sargent, Winthrop (01 May 1753–03 January 1820), soldier, territorial administrator, and author, was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the son of Winthrop Sargent, a shipping trade merchant, and Judith Sanders. Winthrop attended Harvard, from which he was nearly expelled for his part in the violent student disorders of 1770. Upon his graduation in 1771, he served as naval merchant at Gloucester until the outbreak of armed hostilities with Britain in 1775. He joined General ...

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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....