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Peter Cooper. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-11083).


Cooper, Peter (12 February 1791–04 April 1883), inventor, manufacturer, and civic benefactor, was born in New York City, the son of John Cooper and Margaret Campbell. His father was a struggling merchant who moved the family successively to Peekskill, Catskill, and finally Newburgh, New York, in search of financial success. Assisting his father in a series of occupations (hatter, brewer, shopkeeper, and brickmaker), Cooper obtained valuable practical work experience. Given his family’s relative poverty and constant movement, Cooper was only able to obtain a year’s worth of formal schooling; this deficiency in his formal education haunted him throughout his life....


Weeks, Sinclair (15 June 1893–07 February 1972), industrialist, Republican party official, and secretary of commerce, was born in West Newton, Massachusetts, the son of John Wingate Weeks and Martha Aroline Sinclair. His father, a founder of the Boston brokerage house of Hornblower & Weeks, was a Republican who served as mayor of Newton, congressman, U.S. senator, and secretary of war. His staunch conservatism and commitment to public service were powerful influences on his son....