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Allen, Henry Watkins (29 April 1820–22 April 1866), Confederate soldier and governor of Louisiana, was born in Prince Edward County, Virginia, the son of Thomas Allen, a physician, and Ann Watkins. Allen and his family moved from Virginia to Ray County, Missouri, when he was thirteen. His father secured him a position working in a store, but Allen found business distasteful and enrolled in Marion College at age fifteen. At seventeen he ran away from college and traveled to Grand Gulf, Mississippi, where he became a tutor on a plantation a few miles outside of town. After tutoring for two years, Allen moved to Grand Gulf to open his own school and to study law. On 25 May 1841 he received his license to practice law in Mississippi. In 1842, when Allen was becoming an established lawyer in Mississippi, President ...

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Elizabeth Bentley. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109688).

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Bentley, Elizabeth Terrill (01 January 1908–03 December 1963), Communist party activist and government witness, was born in New Milford, Connecticut, the daughter of Charles Prentiss Bentley, a newspaper editor and department store manager, and Mary Burrill, a schoolteacher. After growing up in small towns in Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania, Bentley enrolled in Vassar College and in 1930 received an undergraduate degree in English. While at Vassar, she became involved in a variety of Socialist causes but did not demonstrate any interest in more radical left-wing ideas. For two years following graduation, she taught languages at the Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Virginia, but left in 1932 for Columbia University, where she earned her M.A. in Italian in 1935. While working on her graduate degree, she accepted a fellowship that took her to the University of Florence for the 1933–1934 academic year....

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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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Aaron Burr. Engraving on paper, c. 1793 - 1814, by Charles Balthazar Julien Févret de Saint-Mémin. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon.

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Burr, Aaron (06 February 1756–14 September 1836), revolutionary soldier, U.S. senator, and vice president of the United States, was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Aaron Burr, a theologian and the second president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University), and ...

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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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Childs, Morris (10 June 1902–02 June 1991), Communist official and American intelligence double agent, was born Moishe Chilovsky in Kiev, Ukraine, the son of Joseph Chilovsky, a cobbler, and Anna Chilovsky. Joseph Chilovsky, a Jew, fled Tsarist oppression, arriving in America in 1910; he sent for the rest of his family late the next year. (In 1926 the spelling of their name was Americanized, and Morris became a naturalized citizen the following year.) In 1916 Morris went to work as an apprentice in his father's business; then he became a milkman. In 1919 he joined the Communist party in Chicago. Twice arrested for participating in street demonstrations, he soon became a protégé of future party leader ...

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Cobb, Thomas Reade Rootes (10 April 1823–13 December 1862), lawyer and Confederate congressman and military officer, was born in Jefferson County, Georgia, the son of John Addison Cobb, a planter, and Sarah Robinson Rootes. His older brother, Howell Cobb—congressman, governor, and secretary of the treasury under ...

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Cvetic, Matthew C. (04 March 1909–26 July 1962), anti-Communist and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) "confidential informant", anti-Communist and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) “confidential informant,” was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Frank Cvetic and Barbara (maiden name unknown), who had emigrated from a Slovenian village in 1890. His father, after some travail, earned a comfortable living as a small businessman; his ventures included renting out a former hotel and running gas stations. Cvetic graduated from St. Mary’s parochial school, spent two years at St. Vincent’s College Preparatory School, and in 1927 completed a two-year course of study at Curry Business College in Pittsburgh. During the early 1930s he rounded out his education with mail-order courses in penology from the Seattle-based International School of Criminology....

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Daniel, John Warwick (05 September 1842–29 June 1910), Confederate soldier, legal scholar, and U.S. senator, was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, the son of William Daniel, Jr., a lawyer and judge, and Sarah Ann Warwick. He attended private schools in the Lynchburg area; after attending Lynchburg College from 1855 to 1859, he enrolled in a classical school administered by Dr. Gessner Harrison. When Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861, Daniel interrupted his education to enlist in the cavalry. He rose to major and fought in several battles, including Gettysburg. At the battle of the Wilderness in 1864 he received a wound that put him on crutches for the remainder of his life and earned him the sobriquet of the “Lame Lion of Lynchburg.”...

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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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Devens, Charles, Jr. (04 April 1820–07 January 1891), soldier, jurist, and politician, was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, the son of Charles Devens, Sr., a hardware merchant and town clerk, and Mary Lithgow. Charles Devens attended the Boston Latin School before being admitted to Harvard University. He graduated in 1838 and went on to Harvard Law School. He was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1840 and practiced from 1841 to 1849 in Franklin County, Massachusetts. From 1848 to 1849 he served in the state senate, and from 1849 to 1853 he held the post of U.S. marshal for the District of Massachusetts. While serving as marshal he became involved in a runaway slave dispute. After a U.S. Commissioner ruled that the slave was to be returned to his owner, Devens, as U.S. marshal, was required to carry out the order. This duty was most repugnant to him, and for several years he worked unsuccessfully for the release of the slave by offering to pay for his freedom. Eventually the slave gained his freedom during the Civil War, and Devens was able to find him a position in the federal government during the ...

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Digges, Thomas Attwood (04 July 1742–06 December 1821), gentleman, confidential agent, ne'er-do-well, and novelist, gentleman, confidential agent, ne’er-do-well, and novelist, was born in Warburton, Maryland, the son of William Digges and Ann Attwood, the owners of “Warburton Manor.” Digges was sent abroad to be educated. Family tradition holds that he attended Oxford University, but his Catholic faith and the absence of his name in university records make this unlikely. In 1767, after being disowned by his family for reasons that are not known, Digges purportedly went to live in Portugal, where he stayed until 1773 or 1774. In a subsequent letter to ...

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William J. Donovan. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109385).

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Donovan, William Joseph (01 January 1883–08 February 1959), lawyer, soldier, and intelligence official, was born in Buffalo, New York, the son of Timothy Patrick Donovan, a railroad yardmaster, and Anna Letitia Lennon. After starting college at Niagara University, Donovan transferred to Columbia University from which he received an A.B. in 1905 and an LL.B. in 1907. He joined the law firm of Love and Keating in Buffalo. In 1912 he and Bradley Goodyear formed a partnership that merged with Buffalo’s leading firm, O’Brian and Hamlin, to become O’Brian Hamlin Donovan and Goodyear. Hamlin’s withdrawal led to the firm’s dissolution in 1920. Meanwhile, in 1914, Donovan married socially prominent Ruth Rumsey. They had two children....

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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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Fenner, Charles Erasmus (14 February 1834–24 October 1911), soldier, jurist, and education leader, was born in Jackson, Tennessee, the son of Erasmus Darwin Fenner and Annie America Callier. Fenner’s father was a prominent physician in New Orleans and the founder of the New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal...

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Gary, Martin Witherspoon (25 March 1831–09 April 1881), lawyer, politician, and Confederate general, was born in Cokesbury, South Carolina, the son of Thomas Reeder Gary, a physician, and Mary Anne Porter. Thomas Gary was a wealthy, upcountry slave owner. In addition to practicing medicine, he farmed and represented Abbeville District for two terms in the state legislature. Martin Gary was a pupil at the Cokesbury Methodist Conference school. He attended South Carolina College but was expelled along with others in his junior class for rebelling against an unpopular teacher. He graduated from Harvard with honors in June 1854. In November of that year he went to Edgefield, South Carolina, to study law with Chancellor James P. Carroll and was admitted to the bar in May 1855. Until his death, Gary maintained a highly successful criminal law practice in Edgefield. Reared a Methodist, he joined the Trinity Episcopal Church in Edgefield and became a vestryman....

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Gholson, Samuel Jameson (19 May 1808–16 October 1883), jurist and general, was born in Madison County, Kentucky. Little is known of his parents, but it is certain that the family moved to Russellville in northern Alabama in 1817. There Gholson studied law with Judge Peter Martin and gained admission to the bar in 1829. A year later, the young lawyer crossed the border into northeastern Mississippi, where he settled in Athens in Monroe County and established a law practice....