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John Adams. After a painting by Gilbert Stuart. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-13002 DLC).

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Adams, John (19 October 1735–04 July 1826), second president of the United States, diplomat, and political theorist, was born in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts, the son of John Adams (1691–1760), a shoemaker, selectman, and deacon, and Susanna Boylston. He claimed as a young man to have indulged in “a constant dissipation among amusements,” such as swimming, fishing, and especially shooting, and wished to be a farmer. However, his father insisted that he follow in the footsteps of his uncle Joseph Adams, attend Harvard College, and become a clergyman. John consented, applied himself to his studies, and developed a passion for learning but refused to become a minister. He felt little love for “frigid John Calvin” and the rigid moral standards expected of New England Congregationalist ministers....

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Bowles, Chester Bliss (05 April 1901–25 May 1986), businessman, politician, and diplomat, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of Charles Allen Bowles, a paper manufacturer, and Nellie Harris. His grandfather, Samuel Bowles (1826–1878), a man Chester frequently identified as his inspiration and role model, transformed the Springfield ...

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Brown, Ethan Allen (04 July 1776–24 February 1852), governor of Ohio, U.S. senator, and diplomat, was born in Darien, Connecticut, the son of Roger Brown, a prominent landholder, and Mary Smith. The youngest of seven children, Brown studied under private tutors who stressed a wide knowledge of languages, most beneficial later in his brief diplomatic career. With the American Revolution playing havoc on his father’s finances, Brown’s later education was sporadic, but in 1797 he began to study law in ...

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Clark, Daniel (1766–13 August 1813), merchant, diplomat, and territorial delegate, was born in Sligo, Ireland. Although his parents’ names are unknown, his family’s wealth and connections were sufficient to provide him with an education at Eton and other English schools. Declining fortunes in Ireland prompted the Clarks in 1785 or 1786 to emigrate to America, where they settled in Germantown, outside of Philadelphia....

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Clayton, Powell (07 August 1833–25 August 1914), governor of Arkansas, U.S. senator, and diplomat, was born in Bethel County, Pennsylvania, the son of John Clayton and Ann Clarke. His father was an orchard keeper and carpenter and was prominent locally in Whig politics. Clayton attended local public schools and the Partridge Military Academy at Bristol, Pennsylvania, and he studied civil engineering in Wilmington, Delaware. In 1855 he moved to Leavenworth, Kansas, where he was a land speculator and surveyor....

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Crosby, John Schuyler (19 September 1839–08 August 1914), military officer and government official, was born in Albany County, New York, the son of Clarkson Floyd Crosby, who was independently wealthy, and Angelica Schuyler. Crosby attended the University of the City of New York in 1855–1856 but left for a grand tour of the Far East and South America. In 1863 he married Harriet Van Rensselaer; they had two children....

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Curtin, Andrew Gregg (22 April 1815–07 October 1894), lawyer, politician, and diplomat, was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, the son of Roland Curtin, an iron manufacturer and county coroner and sheriff, and Jane Gregg, the daughter of U.S. congressman and senator Andrew Gregg. After attending private academies near his home, Curtin studied law with W. W. Potter of Bellefonte and with Judge ...

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Eaton, John Henry (18 June 1790–17 November 1856), politician and diplomat, was born in Halifax County, North Carolina, the son of John Eaton, a carriage maker and state assemblyman, and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). Eaton attended the University of North Carolina in 1803–1804 and then studied law. Circa 1809 he moved to Franklin, Tennessee, where he inherited nearly 5,000 acres of land from his father and became a prosperous planter and lawyer. He married Myra Lewis, a ward of ...

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Eustis, William (10 June 1753–06 February 1825), politician and diplomat, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Benjamin Eustis, a housewright, and Elizabeth Hill. Eustis graduated from Harvard in 1772 and then studied medicine with Joseph Warren of Boston. During the Revolution, he served as surgeon to Gridley’s and Knox’s artillery regiments and as a hospital surgeon. In 1782, while attached to the General Hospital at West Point, Eustis was among the coterie of disgruntled officers who petitioned Congress over the financial plight of the army. General Washington was able to mollify the discontent with his Newburgh Address and prevented the budding rebellion among his officers. From this officer corps at West Point and Newburgh developed the Society of Cincinnati, which Eustis called a “band of friends and brothers.” He served as vice president of the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati from 1786 to 1810 and again in 1820....

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Fairchild, Lucius (27 December 1831–23 May 1896), soldier, governor, and diplomat, was born in Portage County, Ohio, the son of Jairus Cassius Fairchild, a tanner and storekeeper, and Sally Blair. In 1846 the family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where Jairus Fairchild became state treasurer. After a local education supplemented by a brief stint at Carroll College, Lucius Fairchild left Wisconsin for the gold fields of California. From March 1849 to May 1855 he prospected and farmed in the Shasta Valley, where he also owned an interest in a general store. Returning home, he developed an interest in politics, joined the Democratic party, and in 1858 was elected clerk of the circuit court of Dane County, Wisconsin....

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Forsyth, John (22 October 1780–21 October 1841), politician and diplomat, was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the son of Robert Forsyth, a businessman and farmer, and Fanny Johnston Houston. John was reared in Augusta, Georgia, where the Forsyth family had made its home in 1785. In 1799 he graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), returned to Augusta, studied law, and in 1802 started his practice. In May he married Clara Meigs, daughter of ...

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Christopher Gore. Engraving of a portrait by John Trumbull, 1809. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-111573).

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Gore, Christopher (21 September 1758–01 March 1827), Federalist statesman, diplomat, and lawyer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of John Gore, a paint and color dealer, and Frances Pinkney. Paternally, he was descended from a Puritan family that migrated from Hampshire in England to Roxbury, Massachusetts, in 1635. After attending the Boston Public Latin School, Gore entered Harvard College where he graduated in 1776. Although his Loyalist father fled Boston in 1776, Gore remained in Massachusetts and served the revolutionary cause as an officer in an artillery regiment. John Gore returned to America from England in 1785 and regained his citizenship. The taint of his father’s Toryism persisted, however, and Gore’s opponents used it against him when he was a candidate for the Massachusetts ratifying convention in 1787....

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David McMurtrie Gregg. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1756).

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Gregg, David McMurtrie (10 April 1833–07 August 1916), U.S. Army officer, diplomat, and Pennsylvania state official, was born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, the son of Matthew Duncan Gregg and Ellen McMurtrie (occupations unknown). He was the paternal grandson of U.S. senator Andrew Gregg and the first cousin of ...

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Herrick, Myron Timothy (09 October 1854–31 March 1929), banker, governor of Ohio, and diplomat, was born near Huntington, Ohio, the son of Mary Hulbert Herrick and Timothy R. Herrick, farmers. He attended local schools and at age sixteen began teaching in nearby Brighton. Two years later he enrolled in Oberlin Academy for a year and a half, and he later attended Ohio Wesleyan University for two years. In 1875 Herrick began reading law in the Cleveland offices of G. E. Herrick and J. F. Herrick and became active in the Cleveland Grays, a local militia group. In 1878 he opened his own law office. In 1880 he married Carolyn M. Parmely; they had one son. Until her death in 1918, Herrick considered his wife his closest adviser....

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John Jay. Engraving by Albert Rosenthal, 1889. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-96380 ).

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Jay, John (12 December 1745–17 May 1829), diplomat and first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was born in New York City, the son of Peter Jay, a prosperous merchant, and Mary Van Cortlandt, a member of one of the great Dutch patroon landed families of the Hudson Valley. On 28 April 1774 John Jay joined another powerful landlord clan by marrying Sarah Livingston, daughter of a future governor of New Jersey; the couple had seven children....

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Kavanagh, Edward (27 April 1795–21 January 1844), politician and diplomat, was born in Damariscotta Mills, in what was then the District of Maine, part of Massachusetts. His father, James Kavanagh, a pioneering lumberman and prosperous merchant, emigrated from Ireland in 1784; his mother was Sarah Jackson of Boston. Edward grew up in a staunchly Catholic household. His mother was a convert to Catholicism in Boston before he was born. His father was a major donor for the construction costs of the brick St. Patrick’s Church in Newcastle built in 1808, the oldest standing Catholic church in New England. The family played a role similar to other middle-class Catholics in Ireland and Maine, “consolidating the community” and “maintaining cultural continuity” (McCarron, p. 285)....