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Aiken, D. Wyatt (1828-1887), agricultural editor and congressman  

William L. Barney

Aiken, D. Wyatt (17 March 1828–06 April 1887), agricultural editor and congressman, was born David Wyatt Aiken in Winnsboro, South Carolina, the son of David Aiken, a merchant and planter, and Nancy Kerr. Descended from an Irish family that had prospered in the United States, Aiken received an excellent education at Mount Zion Institute in his hometown and, as was common for the sons of planters, attended South Carolina College. He graduated in 1849 and taught mathematics for two years at Mount Zion. After traveling to Europe in 1851, he returned home to marry Mattie Gaillard in 1852. Before her death in 1855, they had two children. Aiken married Virginia Carolina Smith in 1857; they had eleven children. The following year he purchased a plantation from the estate of Virginia’s father in Cokesbury, Abbeville District. As the proprietor of “Coronaca” plantation, he became involved in the agricultural reform movement and in states’ rights politics. He fervently believed that “agriculture climbs high in the scale of science: it develops thought, matures judgment, and requires for the execution, untiring energy, perseverance, and industry.” He was instrumental in the formation of the Abbeville Agricultural Society and was a member of its executive committee. In 1858 he attended the Southern Commercial Convention in Montgomery, Alabama, a meeting that quickly became a forum for disunionist politics....


Aiken, George David (1892-1984), farmer and U.S. senator  

Donald R. McCoy

Aiken, George David (20 August 1892–19 November 1984), farmer and U.S. senator, was born in Dummerston, Vermont, the son of Edward W. Aiken and Myra Cook, farmers. He attended high school in Brattleboro. In 1914 he married Beatrice M. Howard; they had four children. His first wife died in 1966, and a year later Aiken married one of his Senate aides, Lola Pierotti....


Aiken, William (1806-1887), planter and congressman  

James M. Clifton

Aiken, William (28 January 1806–06 September 1887), planter and congressman, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of William Aiken, Sr., an Irish immigrant, and Henrietta Wyatt. At the time of his death, the elder Aiken was president of the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company and a wealthy merchant. Aiken attended the South Carolina College, from which he graduated in 1825. He then traveled to Europe. Upon returning to Charleston, he married Harriet Lowndes in 1831. They had one child....


Bouligny, Dominique (1773-1833), soldier, planter, and U.S. senator  

Carolyn E. De Latte

Bouligny, Dominique (23 August 1773–05 March 1833), soldier, planter, and U.S. senator, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Francisco Bouligny, the lieutenant governor of Louisiana, a colonel in the Fixed Louisiana Regiment, and the acting governor of Louisiana, and Marie Louise le Sénéchal d’Auberville. He spent his childhood in the comfort that his father’s influence and wealth provided. Surrounded by a large extended family and a full complement of house servants, Bouligny developed a strong attachment to his family, an even stronger admiration for the military that commanded his father’s devotion, and pride in being a citizen of Spain. Louisiana offered few opportunities for the sons of army officers outside of military service. Sons of officers entered the army at an early age, and as a senior officer in the Fixed Louisiana Regiment, Bouligny’s father arranged an appointment for his twelve-year-old son as a cadet in the regimental school in March 1786. His father’s influence assured Bouligny’s rapid promotion to the first officer rank of sublieutenant at the age of fourteen....


Garnett, James Mercer (1770-1843), congressman, agricultural reformer, and educator  

Sara B. Bearss

Garnett, James Mercer (08 June 1770–23 April 1843), congressman, agricultural reformer, and educator, was born at “Mount Pleasant” plantation, near present-day Loretto in Essex County, Virginia, the son of planters Muscoe Garnett and Grace Fenton Mercer. He was privately educated, and in 1793 married his first cousin, Mary Eleanor Dick Mercer. The couple had four daughters and four sons....


Hampton, Wade (1754?–04 February 1835), planter, military commander, and congressman  

L. H. Roper

Hampton, Wade (1754?–04 February 1835), planter, military commander, and congressman, was born (according to different sources) in either Halifax County, Virginia, or Rowan County, North Carolina, the son of Anthony Hampton, a farmer, land jobber, and trader, and Elizabeth Preston. He is often known as Wade Hampton I to distinguish him from two noted descendants of the same name. Hampton’s history prior to the American Revolution is largely mysterious. He must, however, have received some sort of formal education. Early in 1774 the Hampton family followed the example set by other backcountry residents and moved to South Carolina. Wade Hampton joined several of his brothers in a mercantile enterprise before the American War of Independence intervened....


Harris, William Alexander (1841-1909), stockman, U.S. senator, and U.S. congressman  

Robert S. La Forte

Harris, William Alexander (29 October 1841–20 December 1909), stockman, U.S. senator, and U.S. congressman, was born in Loudoun County, Virginia, the son of William Alexander Harris, a lawyer, congressman, diplomat, and journalist, and Frances Murray. He attended school in Luray, Page County, Virginia, and then enrolled at Columbian College (now George Washington University) in Washington, D.C., from which he graduated in 1859. He spent the next few months in Nicaragua preparing a preliminary survey for a projected interocean canal before entering Virginia Military Institute, graduating early, in 1861, so he and his classmates could join the Confederate army....


Hatch, William Henry (1833-1896), congressman and agricultural reformer  

Louis Gerteis

Hatch, William Henry (11 September 1833–23 December 1896), congressman and agricultural reformer, was born near Georgetown in Scott County, Kentucky, the son of Reverend William Hatch, a Campbellite minister, and Mary Adams. Educated in the public schools of Lexington, Hatch studied law for a year in Richmond, Kentucky, before securing admission to the bar in September 1854. He began his legal practice in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, but shortly thereafter he joined the stream of migration from Kentucky to Missouri and settled in Hannibal, where he practiced law and became active in politics as a Democrat. In 1855 he married Jennie L. Smith; they had one child before Jennie died in 1858. In 1861 he married Thetis Clay Hawkins; they had one child....


Izard, Ralph (1742-1804), planter and politician  

Joyce E. Chaplin

Izard, Ralph (23 January 1742–30 May 1804), planter and politician, was born near Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Henry Izard, a planter, and Margaret Johnson. His great-grandfather (also Ralph Izard) had emigrated from England in 1682, acquired land, and gained prominence in provincial politics. By the mid-eighteenth century, when the family properties in Berkeley County, South Carolina, descended to Izard’s parents, the family had maintained a strong position in the Carolina house of assembly and in the Anglican vestry....


Ladd, Edwin Fremont (1859-1925), agricultural scientist and U.S. senator  

David B. Danbom

Ladd, Edwin Fremont (13 December 1859–22 June 1925), agricultural scientist and U.S. senator, was born near Starks, Maine, the son of John Ladd and Rosilla Locke, farmers. Reflecting the progressive agricultural notions of his parents, Ladd earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the University of Maine in 1884. After graduation he was employed as an agricultural chemist at the New York Agricultural Experiment Station at Geneva, where he worked under ...


Lemke, William Frederick (1878-1950), agrarian leader, congressman, and presidential candidate  

David H. Bennett

Lemke, William Frederick (13 August 1878–30 May 1950), agrarian leader, congressman, and presidential candidate, was born in Albany, Minnesota, and raised in Towner County, North Dakota, the son of Fred Lemke and Julia Anna Klier, pioneer farmers who were successful enough to accumulate some 2,700 acres of land. The young Lemke worked long hours on the family farm, attending a common school for only three months in the summers. The family did, however, reserve enough money to send William to the University of North Dakota, where he was a superior student. Graduating in 1902, he stayed at the state university for the first year of law school but moved to Georgetown University, then to Yale, where he finished work on his law degree and won the praise of the dean....


Cover Lemke, William Frederick (1878-1950)
William Lemke Announcing his candidacy for president, 1936. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-95941).


Newton, Isaac (1800-1867), farmer and first commissioner of agriculture  

Pamela Riney-Kehrberg

Newton, Isaac (31 March 1800–19 June 1867), farmer and first commissioner of agriculture, was born in Burlington County, New Jersey, the son of Isaac Newton and Mary Newton, farmers. Following his father’s early demise, the infant Isaac and his mother lived in Burlington County with his paternal grandfather, a well-established farmer. There Newton learned the agricultural trade....


Peek, George Nelson (1873-1943), businessman, farm leader, and New Deal administrator  

Justus D. Doenecke

Peek, George Nelson (19 November 1873–17 December 1943), businessman, farm leader, and New Deal administrator, was born at Polo, a small village in northern Illinois, the son of Henry Clay Peek, a livestock merchant and local sheriff, and Adeline Chase. In 1885 the family moved to a farm near Oregon, Illinois. In 1891 Peek attended Northwestern University, remaining there one academic year. After briefly working as an office assistant for a furniture company, he was hired in January 1893 in Minneapolis by Deere and Webber, a branch of the John Deere Plow Company. He rose from credit manager and salesman to head of the collections department....


Porter, Alexander (1785-1844), U.S. senator and Louisiana sugar planter  

Joseph G. Tregle

Porter, Alexander (24 June 1785–13 January 1844), U.S. senator and Louisiana sugar planter, was born in County Donegal, Ireland, the son of James Porter, a Presbyterian minister and natural scientist, and Anna Knox. Following the execution of his father by the British during the revolution of 1798, in 1801 he emigrated to America, settling with his younger brother James and uncle Alexander Porter in Nashville, Tennessee, where he worked in the latter’s store, studied law, and won admission to the bar in 1807. Following the advice of ...


Tyler, Julia Gardiner (1820-1889), second wife of John Tyler, tenth president of the United States  

Theodore C. DeLaney

Tyler, Julia Gardiner (04 May 1820–10 July 1889), second wife of John Tyler, tenth president of the United States, second wife of John Tyler, tenth president of the United States, was born on Gardiner’s Island in Long Island Sound, the daughter of David Gardiner, a lawyer and later state senator, and Juliana McLachlan, the wealthy heiress of a Scottish brewer. Julia was also a direct descendant of the English adventurer and military engineer ...


Van Rensselaer, Stephen (1764-1839), patroon, congressman, and founder of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute  

Steven E. Siry

Van Rensselaer, Stephen (01 November 1764–26 January 1839), patroon, congressman, and founder of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, was born in New York City, the son of Stephen Van Rensselaer and Catherine Livingston. Born into one of New York’s wealthiest families, he was the eighth and last patroon of a vast estate in Rensselaer and Albany counties. With rights that were a legacy of the Dutch patroon system, he was to receive rents and tithes perpetually from his tenants. He received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard in 1782. The next year he married Margaret Schuyler, daughter of General ...


Wallace, Henry Agard (1888-1965), agriculturist, secretary of agriculture, and vice president of the United States  

Richard S. Kirkendall

Wallace, Henry Agard (07 October 1888–18 November 1965), agriculturist, secretary of agriculture, and vice president of the United States, was born on a farm in Adair County, Iowa, the son of Henry Cantwell Wallace and May Brodhead. In 1895, Wallace’s father and grandfather, ...


Whitehill, Robert (1735-1813), farmer and member of the House of Representatives  

Rodger C. Henderson

Whitehill, Robert (24 July 1735–05 April 1813), farmer and member of the House of Representatives, was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the son of James Whitehill, a blacksmith and farmer, and Rachel Cresswell. His father had migrated from Ireland in 1723. Robert Whitehill acquired 440 acres and erected the first stone house in Lowther Manor, Cumberland County. In 1758 he married Eleanor Reed; they had five sons and four daughters....