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Bellanca, August (14 March 1885–13 November 1969), trade union and political activist, was born in Sciacca, Sicily, Italy. His father was a farmer and a baker, but little else is known of his parents or his childhood in Sicily. Bellanca attended elementary school in Sciacca and went to work at age sixteen, when he was apprenticed to a tailor and a barber in Sciacca. Some time between 1900 and 1905, he immigrated to the United States and worked as a cigar maker in Tampa, Florida, and San Francisco, California, until he moved to the Northeast. Bellanca helped found the Brotherhood of Tailors, which became an important dissident group in the United Garment Workers of America (UGWA), a conservative affiliate of the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Bellanca’s own immigrant background enabled him to become an organizing force among the garment workers, a group composed primarily of Italian and Eastern European Jewish immigrants who maintained their roots in ethnic communities and cultures....

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Childs, Richard Spencer (24 May 1882–26 September 1978), business executive and political reformer, was born in Manchester, Connecticut, the son of William Hamlin Childs and Nellie White Spencer. His father founded the Bon Ami Company and, together with his other business ventures, became one of the wealthiest men in Brooklyn, New York, where the family moved in 1892. Richard Childs attended Yale University from 1900 to 1904 and earned a B.A. In 1904 he joined the advertising agency of Alfred William Erickson; eventually becoming a junior partner, he remained with the firm until 1918. He married Grace Pauline Hatch in 1912. They had four children (their firstborn died a day after birth). From 1919 to 1920 Childs was manager of the Bon Ami Company, and from 1921 to 1928 he was head of the drug specialties division of the A. E. Chew Company, a New York exporter. Childs worked for the American Cyanamid Company from 1928 to 1947 and headed its Lederle Laboratories division from 1935 to 1944....

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Drury, Victor S. (24 February 1825–21 January 1918), labor leader and political radical, was born in France. Little is known of his life before he participated in the overthrow of Louis-Philippe in 1848, except that he was a fresco painter. Drury was a delegate to the (First) International Working Men’s Association in 1864, where he witnessed debates between Karl Marx and anarchist followers of Auguste Blanqui and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. In 1867 Drury emigrated to New York City and organized French-speaking sections of the International. He contributed articles to the radical journals ...

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Dunn, Robert Williams (01 June 1895–22 January 1977), labor organizer, economic researcher, and political activist, was born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, the son of a lawyer. Little is known about his early life. He graduated from Yale University in 1918.

Throughout his career, Dunn perceived labor issues and the rights of workers and their unions as closely related to the right to free speech. From 1918 to 1920 he worked in New England for the Amalgamated Textile Workers Unions as organizer and researcher. In 1920, during the aftermath of the Palmer Raids, he founded the New England Civil Liberties Union in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1923 he and ...

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Eagleson, William Lewis (09 August 1835–22 June 1899), editor and political activist, was born a slave in St. Louis, Missouri. The names of his parents and details about his early life are unknown. He married Elizabeth McKinney in 1865 in St. Louis; they had nine children. As a young man, he learned both printing and barbering, trades that he practiced intermittently throughout his life. In the 1870s, he settled in Fort Scott, Kansas, and started a newspaper, the ...

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Foner, Morris Moe (03 August 1915–10 January 2002), labor leader and political activist, was born in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, the third child of Abraham Foner, a seltzer delivery man, and Mary Smith Foner; both were Jewish immigrants from Bielsk, Russia (now Poland)....

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Haywood, William Dudley (04 February 1869–18 May 1928), labor leader and political radical, known as “Big Bill,” was born William Richard Haywood in Salt Lake City, Utah, the son of William Dudley Haywood, an itinerant worker, and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). The senior Haywood died when his son was three years old. Four years later Elizabeth married a hard-rock miner (name unknown). Haywood changed his middle name from Richard to Dudley in 1878. He received a rudimentary education and began working as a youngster at the odd jobs available in a small mining camp or in Salt Lake City, where his family occasionally lived. At the age of fifteen he became a miner, and that remained his primary occupation until 1901, when he became a full-time union official....

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Hunt, H. L. (17 February 1889–29 November 1974), Texas oilman and supporter of archconservative political causes, was born Haroldson Lafayette Hunt in Ramsey, Illinois, the son of H. L. Hunt, Sr., and Ella Rose Myers, farmers. Hunt left home at sixteen, working as a laborer in the West. For a short time he attended Valparaiso University in Indiana but went into cotton farming in Arkansas about 1911. He later speculated in land, but the post–World War I recession wiped him out. In 1921 he decided to try the oil business in Arkansas, buying and selling leases but not yet becoming rich. In 1930 he learned that Columbus “Dad” Joiner was wildcatting in East Texas, activity that the experts said would surely fail. It did not. The result was one of the greatest oil strikes in history—the East Texas field. Hunt investigated, decided to buy Joiner out for $95,000, and soon became the largest independent operator in East Texas. He was on the way to accumulating a fortune....

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Jackson, Gardner (10 September 1896–17 April 1965), newspaperman, public official, and liberal gadfly, also known as “Pat,” was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the son of William Sharpless Jackson, a wealthy banker and railroad magnate, and Helen Banfield. In the Jackson family, affluence mingled with sympathy for the oppressed: Jackson’s father was a Quaker, and his mother was the niece of his father’s late and revered second wife, ...

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Lubin, David (10 June 1849–01 January 1919), merchant, agricultural reformer, and pioneer internationalist, was born in the Jewish settlement of Klodowa in Russian Poland, the son of Simon Lubin and Rachel Holtz. While David was still an infant, his father died of cholera. His mother soon married Solomon Weinstock, a peddler, who, following an anti-Jewish pogrom, fled with his new family to London, England, before eventually coming to the United States in 1855. Settled in New York City, Lubin attended public schools until the age of twelve, when he became an apprentice jeweler in North Attleboro, Massachusetts....

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Pope, Generoso (01 April 1891–28 April 1950), businessman, newspaper publisher, and political power broker, was born in Pasquarielli (province of Benevento), Italy, the son of Fortunato Papa and Fortuna Covino, farmers. He completed his elementary education in local schools in Italy. After his mother’s death and father’s remarriage, Pope emigrated to the United States, arriving in New York City in May 1906. He worked a number of unskilled construction jobs and in 1907 found employment in the Long Island sand pits. In 1911, after having been a driver and then foreman for the Manhattan Sand Company, he joined the newly formed Colonial Sand and Stone Company, rising to superintendent by 1914. He became an American citizen on 20 September 1915, and in June 1916 he married Catherine Richichi. They had three sons. He anglicized his last name at about this time....

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Tenayuca, Emma (21 December 1916–23 July 1999), labor organizer, community activist, school teacher, was born in San Antonio, Texas, the first daughter of eleven children born to Sam Tenayuca and Benita Hernandez Zepeda. Her parents had eleven children and to relieve their economic burden, the maternal grandparents raised some of the children, including Emma. Her grandfather worked as a carpenter and followed politics. Tenayuca developed an early understanding of transnational politics when, at age seven, she was taken to the ...

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Turner, Jack (1840?–19 August 1882), political activist and party organizer, was born a slave in Alabama. His parents’ names are unknown. He lived on the Choctaw County farm of Beloved Love Turner, from whom he acquired his surname after emancipation. Turner had no formal education but was described as articulate, perceptive, and courageous, with a commanding physical presence. He married Chloe (maiden name unknown) in the late 1860s, and they had four children. He remained in Choctaw County after being freed, working as a farm laborer around Mount Sterling and Tuscahoma....

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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....

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Welch, Robert (01 December 1899–06 January 1985), political extremist, publisher, and businessman, was born Robert Henry Winborne Welch, Jr., in Chowan County, North Carolina, the son of Robert H. W. Welch, a farmer, and Lina Verona James, a former schoolteacher. Welch graduated at seventeen in the top third of his class at the University of North Carolina. He dropped out of graduate school at UNC, moved from Chapel Hill to Durham, North Carolina, and in 1917 received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. Unable to adjust to military life, he left Annapolis in 1919 to pursue a career as a writer. Several North Carolina newspapers carried his “Headline Jingles,” a weekly summary of the news in verse. He enrolled at Harvard Law School in the autumn of 1919 but quit in 1921 to form the Oxford Candy Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The following year he married Marian Lucile Probert, with whom he had two children....

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Wright, Eliphalet Nott (03 April 1858–10 January 1932), physician, politician, and businessman, was born near Armstrong Academy, Choctaw Nation, in Indian Territory (now southeastern Oklahoma), the son of Allen Wright, a Choctaw civil and religious leader and scholar, and Harriet Mitchell, a white Presbyterian mission teacher. Wright attended school fourteen miles southwest of Atoka at Boggy Depot, Choctaw Nation, when it was a Confederate post during the Civil War. He was in Washington, D.C., briefly, when his father represented the Choctaw Nation to treat with the U.S. government. Wright attended classes for one year at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, and three years at Spencer Academy near Doaksville in Choctaw Nation. In 1878 he entered Union College in Schenectady, New York, but discontinued his classical course of study there in 1881 to enter the Albany Medical College, New York. He earned necessary money by practicing back home in the summer of 1883 and then returned to Albany, where he received an M.D. early in 1884. He went home to Boggy Depot to begin a career combining medicine, politics, and business....