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Denver, James William (23 October 1817–09 August 1892), soldier, governor of Kansas Territory, and lawyer, was born near Winchester, Virginia, the son of Patrick Denver and Jane Campbell, farmers of Irish extraction. In 1831 his family migrated to a farm near Wilmington, Ohio. After a grade school education, James taught briefly at Platte City, Missouri, graduated from Cincinnati College (now the University of Cincinnati) in 1844, and was admitted to the bar. He opened a newspaper and law office in Xenia, Ohio, but after less than a year, in 1845, returned to Platte City, where he continued to practice both professions. After the outbreak of the Mexican War on 4 March 1847, Denver was appointed captain in the Twelfth Regiment, U.S. Volunteers, commanding a company he had raised, and was ordered to Mexico. Sick much of the time, he was ordered home on 26 October 1847....

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Ewing, Thomas, Jr. (07 August 1829–21 January 1896), soldier, lawyer, and congressman, was born in Lancaster, Ohio, the son of Thomas Ewing (1789–1871), a lawyer, and Maria Boyle. His foster brother was William T. Sherman, who had been raised by the Ewings. Ewing attended Lancaster Academy and later had a year of schooling in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, at the home of his cousin ...

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McCook, Edward Moody (15 June 1833–09 September 1909), politician, lawyer, and soldier, was born in Steubenville, Ohio, the son of John McCook, a physician, and Catharine Julia Sheldon. After being educated in the Steubenville public schools, McCook moved to Minnesota in 1849. When news of the highly publicized gold strikes in Colorado began to sweep the country, McCook was one of the fifty-niners involved in the rush to the new gold fields. He settled in the mining camp of Central City, where he amassed a respectable fortune. Moreover, he began to practice law and was elected to the Kansas legislature in 1859, when Colorado was still part of Kansas Territory. McCook was also a leader in the movement that led to the creation of Colorado as a separate territory on 28 February 1861, a month after Kansas became a state....

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Thomas Meagher. Lithograph by John Joseph Egan. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-97750).

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Meagher, Thomas Francis (23 August 1823–01 July 1867), Irish-American nationalist, lawyer, and soldier, was born in Waterford, Ireland, the son of Thomas Meagher, a merchant and member of the British Parliament, and (first name unknown) Quan. Both of Meagher’s parents came from wealthy and prominent Irish families. His mother died while Meagher was an infant. He was subsequently educated at his father’s alma mater, Clongowes-Wood, a Jesuit school in Ireland, and then at Stoneyhurst College in England from 1839 to 1843. Upon graduation he seemed destined to follow his father into a career in business, but in 1845 he joined the Young Ireland party and became embroiled in the rising debate over Irish independence from Great Britain. In the fateful year of 1848, when revolution swept over Europe, Meagher made an impassioned public appeal in Ireland for the violent overthrow of British rule. This advocacy earned him the popular title of “Meagher of the Sword,” which he carried for the rest of his life. His determination to overthrow British rule by violence also landed him in difficulty with the British authorities. In July 1848 he was arrested, tried, convicted of high treason, and condemned to death. Partly because of the prominence of his family, his sentence was commuted in 1849, and the British banished him for life to the island of Tasmania (then a British possession) off the southern coast of Australia....

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Van Wyck, Charles Henry (10 May 1824–24 October 1895), lawyer, politician, and soldier, was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, the son of Theodore Van Wyck, a physician, and Elizabeth Mason. Charles Van Wyck grew up in Bloomingburgh, Sullivan County, New York, in a distinguished Dutch family. While little is known about his early education, he entered Rutgers College and graduated in 1843. After studying law for a few years, he was admitted to the New York bar in 1847 and opened a practice in his native Sullivan County. In 1850 Van Wyck entered a long and somewhat uneven career in politics, winning the position of public defender for Sullivan County, a position he held until 1856....