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Bolling, Robert (17 August 1738–21 July 1775), Virginia burgess and poet, was born in Varina, Henrico (new Chesterfield) County, Virginia, the son of John Bolling II, burgess and planter, and Elizabeth Blair. He was the third of their eight children who lived to adulthood. Through his father’s side, he was a great, great, great-grandson of ...

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Brooke, Henry (01 October 1678–06 February 1736), poet and politician, was born at Norton Priory in England, the youngest son of Sir Henry Brook, baronet of Norton. His mother’s name is not known. He was probably the Henry Brooke who graduated from Bracenose College, Oxford, in 1693. He went to Pennsylvania in 1702 seeking his fortune. An Episcopalian, Brooke had difficulty securing a place in Quaker-controlled Philadelphia, so he accepted the office of queen’s customs collector for Lewes Town, a trading settlement at the mouth of the Delaware River. While serving as collector he saved Newcastle from plunder by a French privateer in 1709, leading local inhabitants in a sortie against the raider....

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Grayson, William John (12 November 1788–04 October 1863), politician and author, was born in Beaufort, South Carolina, the son of William John Grayson, a sheriff of the Beaufort District, and Susannah Greene. His father, who had been an officer during the American Revolution, died in 1797 at the age of thirty-seven; eleven months later Susannah Grayson married William Joyner, a widower and wealthy planter of the Beaufort District. Young Grayson early developed an insatiable desire for learning. From 1801 to 1803 he attended private academies in the North in preparation for admission to either Yale or Harvard. Accustomed to the gentility and hospitality of the South, he chose instead the new South Carolina College (now University of South Carolina)....

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Munford, William (15 August 1775–21 June 1825), court reporter, poet, and politician, was born in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, the son of Robert Munford, a planter, playwright, and poet, and Anne Beverley. William began his education at the grammar school at William and Mary, then attended the college. His talents and intelligence impressed his teachers, including ...

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Rowley, Thomas (1721–1796), politician and poet of the Green Mountain Boys, was born in Hebron, Connecticut, the son of poor farmers whose names are not known. Little is known of Rowley’s early years. Rowley was himself an unremarkable small farmer until the age of forty-seven, when he moved with his family to the northern frontier of New England and helped to found the town of Danby. Elected the first town clerk in 1769, an office he held until 1782, Rowley taught himself surveying and traveled through much of the Green Mountains. The struggle between New Hampshire and New York for control of this region propelled Rowley into an active political career on the side of those settlers who favored independence from both provinces....

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Snow, Wilbert (06 April 1884–28 September 1977), college professor, poet, and politician, was born Charles Wilbert Snow on White Head Island, St. George, Maine, the son of Forrest Alwin Snow, a coast guardsman, and Katherine Frances Quinn, the Canadian-born daughter of Irish immigrants. When he was seven the family moved to Spruce Head on the mainland so that four of the six children could attend the village school. Before attending high school in Thomaston, Maine, Snow worked for three years as a lobsterman, deepening his acquaintance with the tasks and rhythms of the coastal life that were to figure in his poetry. After high school he worked in a stone quarry. Fired for trying to organize the laborers there, he taught for two short periods in rural schools. Seeing in both settings the plight of people who worked hard and faced retirement with no pensions and little savings motivated Snow to improve social conditions through political action....