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Cruger, Henry, Jr. (22 November 1739–24 April 1827), merchant, member of Parliament, mayor of Bristol, England, and New York state senator, was born in New York City, the son of Henry Cruger and Elizabeth Harris. The Cruger family had long been prominent in the economic and political life of New York, and Henry Cruger, Jr., enjoyed an assured position in the Atlantic community throughout his career. His paternal grandfather had migrated in 1698 from Bristol, England, to New York, where he became a prosperous merchant and shipowner and also an alderman and mayor. His father was also a merchant and shipowner trading between England, North America, and the West Indies as well as a member of the provincial assembly and the governor’s council. John Cruger, his uncle, was the first president of the New York Chamber of Commerce, an alderman and mayor of New York, a member and speaker of the provincial assembly, and a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress of 1765. John Harris Cruger, an older brother, succeeded their father as a member of the governor’s council....

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Hewitt, Abram Stevens (31 July 1822–18 January 1903), iron manufacturer, congressman, and mayor, was born near Haverstraw, New York, the son of John Hewitt, a machinist and cabinetmaker, and Ann Gurnee. After attending the public schools of New York City, Abram, at the age of thirteen, entered the Grammar School of Columbia College. Three years later he won a scholarship to Columbia College, where he ranked first in his class in academics. Upon graduation from Columbia in 1842, he began the study of law while also teaching mathematics at Columbia’s grammar school. At this time he tutored ...

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Jones, Samuel Milton (08 August 1846–12 July 1904), manufacturer, mayor, reformer, nicknamed "Golden Rule", manufacturer, mayor, reformer, nicknamed “Golden Rule,” was born near Beddgelert, Caernarvonshire, Wales, the son of Hugh Samuel Jones, a stone mason and tenant farmer, and Margaret Williams. In 1849 the family immigrated to the United States, settling near Collinsville, New York. During his childhood the young Jones attended school for a total of only thirty months, never studying grammar nor advancing beyond fractions in arithmetic. At the age of fourteen he took a job in a sawmill, and soon after secured a position as wiper and greaser on a steamboat. In 1865 Jones moved to the Pennsylvania oilfields, where he remained for most of the next twenty-one years. Working as a driller, pumper, tool dresser, and pipe liner, he saved enough money to go into the oil business for himself. In 1875 the young oilman married Alma Bernice Curtiss of Pleasantville, Pennsylvania, and during the next ten years three children were born to the couple. In 1881 Jones’s infant daughter died, and his wife’s death followed four years later. Jones characterized these losses as “the greatest trial and severest shock” of his life....

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Ladd, William Sargent (10 October 1826–06 January 1893), financier, merchant, and mayor of Portland, Oregon, was born in Holland, Vermont, the son of Nathaniel Gould Ladd, a physician, and Abigail Mead. Ladd’s father moved the family to New Hampshire in 1830, and at age fifteen William started work on a farm. Four years later he taught school and then became a station agent for the Boston, Concord & Montreal Railroad at Sanbornton Bridge. In 1851 he arrived in San Francisco, responding to reports from a schoolmate, Charles Elliott Tilton. Tilton had written that wealth and opportunity awaited in Portland, Oregon, by supplying miners and prospectors in the area. Portland, Ladd learned, provided the primary source of provisions for the miners in the northern California region, where gold was plentiful. Tilton had moved his own business to San Francisco, specialized in the China trade, and extended his sales network northward. Thus, Ladd had an available supplier in the region, so he acquired a stock of goods and opened a general mercantile business called W. S. Ladd & Company in Portland....

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Low, Seth (18 January 1850–17 September 1916), reform mayor and university president, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Abiel Abbot Low, a merchant, and Ellen Almira Dow. Low’s mother died a week after his birth, and two years later his father married Ann Davison Bedell Low, the widow of Low’s uncle. Low had all the advantages of wealth and social status: he enjoyed a home in fashionable Brooklyn Heights, summers spent in New England, and travel in Europe. After graduating first in his class from Columbia College in 1870, he joined his father’s tea and silk importing firm, A. A. Low and Brothers, eventually becoming a full partner. On 9 December 1880 he married Annie Wroe Scollay Curtis; they had no children....

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Stanford, Sally (05 May 1903–01 February 1982), San Francisco madam, mayor of Sausalito, California, and restaurant owner, was born Marcia Busby in Baker City, Oregon. (Some sources give her name at birth as Mabel Janice Busby, but in her autobiography she says Marcia is her given name.) Little is known of her parentage or early life, except that she grew up in poverty on an Oregon farm. Sally supplemented the family’s income by caddying at a local golf course and working as a waitress....

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Wharton, Robert (12 January 1757–07 March 1834), merchant and mayor of Philadelphia, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Joseph Wharton, a merchant and landholder, and his second wife, Hannah Owen Ogden. One of eighteen children, he grew up on a large estate, “Walnut Grove,” in the southern section of Philadelphia. Uninterested in education, he was apprenticed at age fourteen to a hatter but soon decided to learn the mercantile business instead from his half brother Charles. Becoming a flour merchant, “Bobby” later became a successful wholesale grocer. In 1789 he married Sarah Chancellor, daughter of William Chancellor and Salome Wistar. They had two sons, both of whom died young....