Portal:United States/Selected biography

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Selected biography


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Selected society biographies list

1–20

Portal:United States/Selected biography/1

Samuel Adams
Samuel Adams (September 27 [O.S. September 16] 1722 – October 2, 1803) was an American statesman, politician, writer and political philosopher, brewer, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Adams was instrumental in garnering the support of the colonies for rebellion against Great Britain, eventually resulting in the American Revolution, and was also one of the key architects of the principles of American republicanism that shaped American political culture.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Adams was brought up in a religious and politically active family. After being educated at Boston Latin School and Harvard College, Adams became a mercantile businessman, but this proved not to be his vocation and he soon turned to politics, and became an influential political writer and theorist. Adams established himself as one of the voices of opposition to British control in the colonies; he argued that the colonies should withdraw from Great Britain and form a new government. Adams called for the colonists to defend their rights and liberties, and led town meetings in which he drafted written protests against Parliament's colonial tax measures such as the Stamp Act of 1765. Adams played a prominent role during protests against the Stamp Act, and in the events of the Boston Tea Party in 1773. He participated in the Continental Congress. He also advocated the adoption of the Declaration of Independence at the Second Continental Congress.


Portal:United States/Selected biography/2

Calvin Coolidge
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. (July 4, 1872 – January 5, 1933), more commonly known as Calvin Coolidge, was the thirtieth President of the United States (1923–1929). A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state. His actions during the Boston Police Strike of 1919 thrust him into the national spotlight. Soon after, he was elected as the twenty-ninth Vice President in 1920 and succeeded to the Presidency upon the death of Warren G. Harding. Elected in his own right in 1924, he gained a reputation as a small-government conservative.

In many ways Coolidge's style of governance was a throwback to the passive presidency of the nineteenth century. He restored public confidence in the White House after the scandals of his predecessor's administration, and left office with considerable popularity. As his biographer later put it, "he embodied the spirit and hopes of the middle class, could interpret their longings and express their opinions. That he did represent the genius of the average is the most convincing proof of his strength."


Portal:United States/Selected biography/3

Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. (July 14, 1913 – December 26, 2006) was the thirty-eighth President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the fortieth Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974. He was the first person appointed to the vice presidency under the terms of the 25th Amendment, and became President upon Richard Nixon's resignation on August 9, 1974. Ford was the fifth U.S. President never to be elected for the position of President, but the only U.S. President to not even be elected as Vice President or President.

As president, Ford signed the Helsinki Accords, marking a move toward détente in the Cold War, even as South Vietnam, a former ally, was invaded and conquered by North Vietnam. Ford did not intervene in Vietnamese affairs, but did help extract friends of the U.S. Domestically, the economy suffered from inflation and a recession under President Ford. One of his more controversial decisions was granting a presidential pardon to President Richard Nixon for his role in the Watergate scandal. In 1976, Ford narrowly defeated Ronald Reagan for the Republican nomination, but ultimately lost the presidential election to Democrat Jimmy Carter.


Portal:United States/Selected biography/4

Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. (born August 4, 1961) is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned after his election to the presidency in November 2008.

A native of Honolulu, Hawaii, Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was the president of the Harvard Law Review. He was a community organizer in Chicago before earning his law degree. He worked as a civil rights attorney in Chicago and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004.

As president, Obama signed economic stimulus legislation in the form of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in February 2009 and the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 in December 2010. Other domestic policy initiatives include the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010. In foreign policy, Obama gradually withdrew combat troops from Iraq, increased troop levels in Afghanistan, and signed an arms control treaty with Russia. In October 2009, Obama was named the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.


Portal:United States/Selected biography/5

Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005) was an African American civil rights activist whom the U.S. Congress later called "Mother of the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement".

On December 1, 1955, Parks became famous for refusing to obey bus driver James Blake's order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. This action of civil disobedience started the Montgomery bus boycott, which is one of the largest movements against racial segregation. In addition, this launched Martin Luther King Jr., who was involved with the boycott, to prominence in the civil rights movement. She has had a lasting legacy worldwide.

Although Parks' autobiography recounts that some of her earliest memories are of the kindness of white strangers, her situation made it impossible to ignore racism. When the Ku Klux Klan marched down the street in front of her house, Parks recalls her grandfather guarding the front door with a shotgun. The Montgomery Industrial School, founded and staffed by white northerners for black children, was burned twice by arsonists, and its faculty was ostracized by the white community.

Parks received most of her national accolades very late in life, with relatively few awards and honors being given to her until many decades after the Montgomery bus boycott. For example, the Rosa Parks Congressional Gold Medal bears the legend "Mother of the Modern Day Civil Rights Movement".


Portal:United States/Selected biography/6

Nancy Reagan
Nancy Davis Reagan (born Anne Frances Robbins on July 6, 1921) is the widow of former United States President Ronald Reagan and was First Lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989. Born in New York, her parents divorced soon after her birth; she grew up in Maryland, living with an aunt and uncle while her mother pursued acting jobs. As Nancy Davis, she was an actress in the 1940s and 1950s, starring in films such as Donovan's Brain, Night into Morning, and Hellcats of the Navy. In 1952 she married Ronald Reagan, who was then president of the Screen Actors Guild; they had two children. Nancy became the First Lady of California when her husband was Governor from 1967 to 1975.

She became the First Lady of the United States in January 1981 following her husband's victory, but experienced criticism early in his first term largely due to her decision to replenish the White House china. Nancy restored a Kennedy-esque glamor to the White House following years of lax formality, and her interest in high-end fashion garnered much attention as well as criticism for accepting unreported loans and gifts from fashion designers. She championed recreational drug prevention causes by founding the "Just Say No" drug awareness campaign, which was considered her major initiative as First Lady. More controversy ensued when it was revealed in 1988 that she had consulted an astrologer to assist in planning the president's schedule after the 1981 assassination attempt on her husband's life.


Portal:United States/Selected biography/7

Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan (February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) was the 40th President of the United States (1981–1989) and the 33rd Governor of California (1967–1975). Born in Illinois, Reagan moved to Los Angeles, California in the 1930s, where he became an actor, president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and a spokesman for General Electric (GE). His start in politics occurred during his work for GE; originally a member of the Democratic Party, he switched to the Republican Party in 1962. After delivering a rousing speech in support of Barry Goldwater's presidential candidacy in 1964, he was persuaded to seek the California governorship, winning two years later and again in 1970. He was defeated in his run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968 as well as 1976, but won both the nomination and election in 1980.

As president, Reagan implemented new political initiatives as well as economic policies, advocating a laissez-faire philosophy, but the extent to which these ideas were implemented is debatable. The supply side economic policies, dubbed "Reaganomics", included substantial tax cuts implemented in 1981. After surviving an assassination attempt and ordering controversial military actions in Grenada, he was re-elected in a landslide victory in 1984.


Portal:United States/Selected biography/8

Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945), often referred to by his initials FDR, was the thirty-second President of the United States. Elected to four terms in office, he served from 1933 to 1945, and is the only U.S. president to have served more than two terms of office. He was a central figure of the 20th century during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Roosevelt created the New Deal to provide relief for the unemployed, recovery of the economy, and reform of the economic and banking systems. Although recovery of the economy was incomplete until almost 1940, many programs initiated continue to have instrumental roles in the nation's commerce, such as the FDIC, TVA, and the SEC. One of his most important legacies is the Social Security system.

Roosevelt won four presidential elections in a row, causing a realignment political scientists call the Fifth Party System. His aggressive use of the federal government re-energized the Democratic Party, creating a New Deal Coalition which dominated American politics until the late 1960s. He and his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, remain touchstones for modern American liberalism. Conservatives vehemently fought back, but Roosevelt usually prevailed until he tried to pack the Supreme Court in 1937. Thereafter, the new Conservative coalition successfully ended New Deal expansion; during the war it closed most relief programs like the WPA and Civilian Conservation Corps, arguing unemployment had disappeared.


Portal:United States/Selected biography/9

Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (/ˈrzəvɛlt/; October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919), also known as T.R., and to the public (but never to friends and intimates) as Teddy, was the twenty-sixth President of the United States, and a leader of the Republican Party and of the Progressive Movement. He became President of the United States at the age of 42. He served in many roles including Governor of New York, historian, naturalist, explorer, author, and soldier. Roosevelt is most famous for his personality: his energy, his vast range of interests and achievements, his model of masculinity, and his "cowboy" persona. Roosevelt prided himself on being a rough and tumbled man. This was partly because as a child he suffered from sever asthma. As he outgrew his ailments he took on masculine challenges such as boxing, wrestling, and of course, his favorite pastime, hunting. His last name, often mispronounced, is, per Roosevelt, "pronounced as if it were spelled "Rosavelt"— in three syllables, the first syllable as "Rose."

As Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Roosevelt prepared for and advocated war with Spain in 1898. He organized and helped command the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, the Rough Riders, during the Spanish–American War. Returning to New York as a war hero, he was elected Republican governor in 1899. He was a professional historian, a lawyer, a naturalist and explorer of the Amazon basin; his 35 books include works on outdoor life, natural history, the American frontier, political history, naval history, and his autobiography.


Portal:United States/Selected biography/10

Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman (May 8, 1884 – December 26, 1972) was the thirty-third President of the United States (1945–1953). As vice president, he succeeded to the office upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

During World War I he served as an artillery officer. After the war he became part of the political machine of Tom Pendergast and was elected a county judge in Missouri and eventually a United States Senator. In 1945, Roosevelt replaced Henry A. Wallace as vice president with Truman for Roosevelt's fourth term.

As president, Truman faced challenge after challenge in domestic affairs. The tumultuous reconversion of the economy of the United States was marked by severe shortages, numerous strikes, and the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act over his veto. He confounded all predictions to win re-election in 1948, largely due to his famous Whistle Stop Tour of rural America. After his re-election he was able to pass only one of the proposals in his Fair Deal program. He used executive orders to begin desegregation of the U.S. armed forces and to launch a system of loyalty checks to remove thousands of communist sympathizers from government office, even though he strongly opposed mandatory loyalty oaths for governmental employees, a stance that led to charges that his administration was soft on communism. Truman's presidency was also eventful in foreign affairs, with the end of World War II and his decision to use nuclear weapons in combat, the founding of the United Nations, the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe, the Truman Doctrine to contain communism, the beginning of the Cold War, the creation of NATO, and the Korean War. Corruption in Truman's administration reached the cabinet and senior White House staff. Republicans made corruption a central issue in the 1952 campaign.


Portal:United States/Selected biography/11

George W. Bush
George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) was the forty-third President of the United States of America. He previously served as the forty-sixth Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000 and is the eldest son of former United States President George Herbert Walker Bush. He was inaugurated as President on January 20, 2001 and his second term ended on January 20, 2009 when Barack Obama was sworn in as the forty-fourth president. Bush was a 2001 Nobel Peace Prize nominee.

As president, Bush signed into law a $1.35 trillion tax cut program in 2001, and in 2002 the No Child Left Behind Act. In October 2001, after the attacks on September 11, 2001, Bush announced a global War on Terrorism and ordered an invasion of Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban, destroy Al-Qaeda, and to capture Osama bin Laden. In March 2003, Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq, asserting that Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction and that the war was necessary for the protection of the United States.


Portal:United States/Selected biography/12

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton (/ˈhɪləri dˈæn ˈrɒdəm ˈklɪntən/; born October 26, 1947) is the 67th United States Secretary of State, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She was a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. As the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, she was the First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001. In the 2008 election, Clinton was a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.

A native of Illinois, Hillary Rodham first attracted national attention in 1969 for her remarks as the first student commencement speaker at Wellesley College. She embarked on a career in law after graduating from Yale Law School in 1973. Following a stint as a Congressional legal counsel, she moved to Arkansas in 1974 and married Bill Clinton in 1975. Rodham cofounded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families in 1977 and became the first female chair of the Legal Services Corporation in 1978. Named the first female partner at Rose Law Firm in 1979, she was twice listed as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America. First Lady of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981 and 1983 to 1992 with husband Bill as Governor, she successfully led a task force to reform Arkansas's education system. She sat on the board of directors of Wal-Mart and several other corporations.


Portal:United States/Selected biography/13

Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe III, August 19, 1946) served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. At 46 he was the third-youngest president. He became president at the end of the Cold War, and was the first baby boomer president. His wife, Hillary Clinton, has served as the United States Secretary of State since January 21, 2009. Each received a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Yale Law School.

In 2004, he released his autobiography My Life, and was involved in his wife Hillary's 2008 presidential campaign and subsequently in that of President Barack Obama. In 2009, he was named United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti. In the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Clinton teamed with George W. Bush to form the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.


Portal:United States/Selected biography/14

Ted Kennedy
Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy (February 22, 1932 – August 25, 2009) was a United States Senator from Massachusetts and a member of the Democratic Party. First elected in November 1962, he was elected nine times and served for 46 years in the U.S. Senate. At the time of his death, he was the second most senior member of the Senate, and the third-longest-serving senator in U.S. history. For many years the most prominent living member of the Kennedy family, he was the son of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., the youngest brother of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, both victims of assassinations, and the father of Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy.

Portal:United States/Selected biography/15

Pat Nixon
Thelma Catherine Ryan "Pat" Nixon (March 16, 1912 – June 22, 1993) was the wife of former President Richard Nixon and the First Lady of the United States from 1969 to 1974. She was commonly known as Pat Nixon.

As First Lady, Pat Nixon promoted a number of charitable causes including volunteerism and oversaw the collection of more than 600 examples of historic art and furnishings for the White House, an acquisition larger than that of any other administration. She also encouraged women to run for political offices and became the most traveled First Lady in U.S. history up to that time, visiting about eighty nations; she was the first First Lady to visit a combat zone. Pat's tenure ended when, after being re-elected in the landslide victory of 1972, President Nixon resigned two years later amidst the Watergate scandal.

Pat's public appearances became rarer in her later life. She suffered two strokes within ten years of returning to California and was later diagnosed with lung cancer. She died in 1993.


Portal:United States/Selected biography/16

Michelle Obama (center)
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama (born January 17, 1964) is an American lawyer and the wife of US-President Barack Obama. She was born and raised on the south side of Chicago, Illinois and then educated at Princeton University and Harvard Law School. She returned to Chicago after completing her formal education to work for the law firm Sidley Austin, on the staff of the Mayor of Chicago Richard M. Daley, and for the University of Chicago and the University of Chicago Hospitals. She is the sister of Craig Robinson.

She met Barack while working for Sidley Austin. The couple has endured the trials and tribulations of a politic marriage and celebrity distractions. The family lives on Chicago's South Side in Cook County, Illinois, United States, choosing to remain in Chicago rather than moving to Washington, D.C.. She is now perceived as Barack's closest adviser.


Portal:United States/Selected biography/17

George Washington
George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799) was the first President of the United States, (1789–1797), after leading the Continental Army to victory over the Kingdom of Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783).

Washington was chosen to be the commander-in-chief of the American revolutionary forces in 1775. The following year, he forced the British out of Boston, but was defeated when he lost New York City later that year. He revived the patriot cause, however, by crossing the Delaware River in New Jersey and defeating the surprised enemy units. As a result of his strategy, Revolutionary forces captured the two main British combat armies — Saratoga and Yorktown. Negotiating with Congress, the colonial states, and French allies, he held together a tenuous army and a fragile nation amid the threats of disintegration and failure. Following the end of the war in 1783, Washington retired to his plantation on Mount Vernon.


Portal:United States/Selected biography/18

John McCain
John Sidney McCain III (born August 29, 1936) is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election.

McCain followed his father and grandfather, both four-star admirals, into the United States Navy, graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958. He became a naval aviator, flying ground-attack aircraft from aircraft carriers. During the Vietnam War, he nearly lost his life in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. In October 1967, while on a bombing mission over Hanoi, he was shot down, seriously injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese. He was a prisoner of war until 1973. McCain experienced episodes of torture, and refused an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer. His war wounds left him with lifelong physical limitations.

McCain ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000 but lost a heated primary contest to George W. Bush. He secured the nomination in 2008 after coming back from early reversals, but lost to Democratic candidate Barack Obama in the general election.


Portal:United States/Selected biography/19

Oil sketch of Daniel Boone by Chester Harding, the only portrait of Boone painted from life.
Daniel Boone was an American pioneer and hunter whose frontier exploits made him one of the first folk heroes of the United States. Boone is most famous for his exploration and settlement of what is now the U.S. state of Kentucky. Despite resistance from American Indians, for whom Kentucky was a traditional hunting ground, in 1775 Boone blazed the Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap and into Kentucky. There he founded Boonesborough, one of the first English-speaking settlements beyond the Appalachian Mountains. Before the end of the 18th century, more than 200,000 people entered Kentucky by following the route marked by Boone.

Boone was a militia officer during the American Revolutionary War, which in Kentucky was fought primarily between settlers and British-allied American Indians. Boone was captured by Shawnees in 1778 and adopted into the tribe, but he escaped and continued to help defend the Kentucky settlements. He was elected to the first of his three terms in the Virginia General Assembly during the war, and fought in the Battle of Blue Licks in 1782, one of the last battles of the American Revolution. Boone worked as a surveyor and merchant after the war, but he went deep into debt as a Kentucky land speculator. Frustrated with legal problems resulting from his land claims, in 1799 Boone resettled in Missouri, where he spent his final years.


Portal:United States/Selected biography/20

Portrait of Jim Bowie by George Peter Alexander Healy c. 1820
Jim Bowie played a prominent role in the Texas Revolution, culminating in his death at the Battle of the Alamo. Countless stories of him as a fighter and frontiersman, both real and fictitious, have made him a legendary figure in Texas history.

His rise to fame began in 1827 on reports of the Sandbar Fight. What began as a duel between two other men deteriorated into a melee in which Bowie, having been shot and stabbed, killed the sheriff of Rapides Parish with a large knife. This and other stories of Bowie's prowess with the knife led to the widespread popularity of the Bowie knife.

Bowie's reputation was cemented by his role in the Texas Revolution. After moving to Texas in 1830, Bowie became a Mexican citizen and married the daughter of the vice governor of the province. At the outbreak of the Texas Revolution, Bowie joined the Texas militia, leading forces at the Battle of Concepcion and the Grass Fight. In January 1836, he arrived at the Alamo, where he commanded the volunteer forces until an illness left him bedridden. Bowie died with the other Alamo defenders on March 6. Despite conflicting accounts of the manner of his death, the "most popular, and probably the most accurate" accounts maintain that he died in his bed after emptying his pistols into several Mexican soldiers.


21–40

Portal:United States/Selected biography/21

General Winfield Scott Hancock
Winfield Scott Hancock was a career U.S. Army officer and the Democratic nominee for President of the United States in 1880. He served with distinction in the Army for four decades, including service in the Mexican–American War and as a Union general in the American Civil War. Known to his Army colleagues as "Hancock the Superb", he was noted in particular for his personal leadership at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. One military historian wrote, "No other Union general at Gettysburg dominated men by the sheer force of their presence more completely than Hancock." As another wrote, "his tactical skill had won him the quick admiration of adversaries who had come to know him as the 'Thunderbolt of the Army of the Potomac.'" His military service continued after the Civil War, as Hancock participated in the military Reconstruction of the South and the Army's presence at the Western frontier.

After the Civil War, Hancock's reputation as a soldier and his dedication to conservative constitutional principles made him a quadrennial Presidential possibility. His noted integrity was a counterpoint to the corruption of the era. This nationwide popularity led the Democrats to nominate him for President in 1880. Although he ran a strong campaign, Hancock was defeated by Republican James Garfield by the closest popular vote margin in American history.


Portal:United States/Selected biography/22

McClintock's microscope and ears of corn on exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History.
Barbara McClintock the 1983 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine, was an American scientist and one of the world's most distinguished cytogeneticists. McClintock received her PhD in botany from Cornell University in 1927, where she was a leader in the development of maize cytogenetics. The field remained the focus of her research for the rest of her career. From the late 1920s, McClintock studied chromosomes and how they change during reproduction in maize. Her work was groundbreaking: she developed the technique for visualizing maize chromosomes and used microscopic analysis to demonstrate many fundamental genetic ideas, including genetic recombination by crossing-over during meiosis—a mechanism by which chromosomes exchange information. She produced the first genetic map for maize, linking regions of the chromosome with physical traits, and she demonstrated the role of the telomere and centromere, regions of the chromosome that are important in the conservation of genetic information. She was recognized amongst the best in the field, awarded prestigious fellowships and elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1944.

Portal:United States/Selected biography/23

Lunney on console during the Apollo 16 mission.
Glynn S. Lunney (born November 27, 1936) is a retired NASA engineer. An employee of NASA since its foundation in 1958, Lunney was a flight director during the Gemini and Apollo programs, and was on duty during historic events such as the Apollo 11 lunar ascent and the pivotal hours of the Apollo 13 crisis. At the end of the Apollo program, he became manager of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, the first collaboration in spaceflight between the United States and the Soviet Union. Later, he served as manager of the Space Shuttle program before leaving NASA in 1985 and later becoming a Vice President of the United Space Alliance.

Lunney was a pivotal figure in America's manned space program from Project Mercury through the coming of the Space Shuttle. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the National Space Trophy, which he was given by the Rotary Club in 2005. Chris Kraft, NASA's first flight director, described Lunney as "a true hero of the space age", saying that he was "one of the outstanding contributors to the exploration of space of the last four decades".


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Holmes in about 1853
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (August 29, 1809 – October 7, 1894) was an American physician, professor, lecturer, and author. Regarded by his peers as one of the best writers of the 19th century, he is considered a member of the Fireside Poets. His most famous prose works are the "Breakfast-Table" series, which began with The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table (1858). He is recognized as an important medical reformer.

Surrounded by Boston's literary elite—which included friends such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and James Russell Lowell—Holmes made an indelible imprint on the literary world of the 19th century. Many of his works were published in The Atlantic Monthly, a magazine that he named. For his literary achievements and other accomplishments, he was awarded numerous honorary degrees from universities around the world. Holmes's writing often commemorated his native Boston area, and much of it was meant to be humorous or conversational. Some of his medical writings, notably his 1843 essay regarding the contagiousness of puerperal fever, were considered innovative for their time. He was often called upon to issue occasional poetry, or poems written specifically for an event, including many occasions at Harvard. Holmes also popularized several terms, including "Boston Brahmin" and "anesthesia".


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Sylvanus G. Morley; taken c.1912 in Copan, Honduras.
Sylvanus Morley was an American archaeologist, epigrapher, and Mayanist scholar who made significant contributions toward the study of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization in the early twentieth century.

Morley is particularly noted for the extensive excavations of the Maya site of Chichen Itza that he directed on behalf of the Carnegie Institution. He also published several large compilations and treatises on Maya hieroglyphic writing, and wrote popular accounts on the Maya for a general audience.

To his contemporaries, he was one of the leading Mesoamerican archaeologists of his day. Although more recent developments in the field have resulted in a re-evaluation of his theories and works, his publications, particularly on calendric inscriptions, are still cited.

Morley also conducted espionage in Mexico on behalf of the United States during World War I, but the scope of those activities only came to light well after his death. His archaeological field work in Mexico and Central America provided suitable cover for investigating German activities and anti-American activity. His espionage was undertaken at the behest of the United States' Office of Naval Intelligence.


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Edward Teller in 1958 as Director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Edward Teller (Hungarian: Teller Ede, January 15, 1908 – September 9, 2003) was a Hungarian-born American theoretical physicist, known colloquially as "the father of the hydrogen bomb," even though he did not care for the title. Teller emigrated to the United States in the 1930s, and was an early member of the Manhattan Project charged with developing the first atomic bombs.

In his later years he became especially known for his advocacy of controversial technological solutions to both military and civilian problems, including a plan to excavate an artificial harbor in Alaska using thermonuclear explosives. He was a vigorous advocate of Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, perhaps overselling the feasibility of the program. Over the course of his life, Teller was known both for his scientific ability and his difficult interpersonal relations and volatile personality, and is considered one of the inspirations for the character Dr. Strangelove in the 1964 movie of the same name.


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Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, USA, in May 1865. The black ribbon around his left arm is a sign of mourning over President Lincoln's death. Portrait by Mathew Brady.
William Tecumseh Sherman was an American soldier, businessman, educator, and author. He served as a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War, for which he received recognition for his outstanding command of military strategy and criticism for the harshness of the "scorched earth" policies that he implemented in conducting total war against the Confederate States.

Sherman served under General Ulysses S. Grant in 1862 and 1863. In 1864, Sherman succeeded Grant as the Union commander in the western theater of the war. He proceeded to lead his troops to the capture of the city of Atlanta, a military success that contributed decisively to the re-election of President Abraham Lincoln. Sherman's subsequent march through Georgia and the Carolinas further undermined the Confederacy's ability to continue fighting.

After the Civil War, Sherman became Commanding General of the Army (1869–83). As such, he was responsible for the conduct of the Indian Wars in the western United States. He steadfastly refused to be drawn into politics and in 1875 published his Memoirs, one of the best-known firsthand accounts of the Civil War.


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Laura Bush
Laura Lane Welch Bush (born Laura Lane Welch on November 4, 1946, in Midland, Texas) is the wife of the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush. She was the First Lady of the United States from January 20, 2001 to January 20, 2009. She has held a love of books and reading since childhood and her life and education have reflected that interest. She graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1968 with a bachelor's degree in education and soon took a job as a second grade school teacher. After attaining her Master's degree in Library Science at the University of Texas at Austin, she was employed as a librarian. She met George Walker Bush in 1977 and they were married later that year. The couple had twin daughters born to them in 1981.

Polled by Gallup as one of the most popular first ladies, Laura Bush was involved in topics of both national and global concern during her tenure. She continued to advance her trademark interests of education and literacy by establishing the semi-annual National Book Festival in 2001 and encouraged education on a worldwide scale. She also advanced women's causes through The Heart Truth and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. She represented the United States during her foreign trips, which tended to focus on HIV/AIDS and malaria awareness. In May 2010, Bush released her memoir, Spoken from the Heart, in conjunction with a national tour.


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George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush (born June 12, 1924) was the 41st President of the United States (1989–1993). He also served as the 43rd Vice President (1981–1989), a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.

Bush was born in Massachusetts to Senator and New York Banker Prescott Bush and Dorothy Walker Bush. Following the attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941, at the age of 18, Bush postponed going to college and became the youngest aviator in the US Navy at the time. He served until the end of the war, then attended Yale University. Graduating in 1948, he moved his family to West Texas and entered the oil business, becoming a millionaire by the age of 40.

Bush is the father of George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, and Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida. He is the last president to have been a World War II veteran. Until the election of his son George W. Bush to the presidency in 2000, Bush was commonly referred to simply as "George Bush"; since that time, the form "George H.W. Bush", "Bush 41", "Bush the Elder" or "George Bush, senior." has come into common use as a way to distinguish the father from the son.


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Frederick Russell Burnham, DSO (May 11, 1861 – September 1, 1947) was an American scout and world traveling adventurer known for his service to the British Army in colonial Africa and for teaching woodcraft to Robert Baden-Powell, thus becoming one of the inspirations for the founding of the international Scouting Movement.

Burnham had little formal education, attending high school but never graduating. He began his career at 14 in the American Southwest as a scout and tracker for the U.S. Army in the Apache Wars and Cheyenne Wars. Sensing the Old West was getting too tame, as an adult Burnham went to Africa where this background proved useful. He soon became an officer in the British Army, serving in several battles there. During this time, Burnham became friends with Baden-Powell, and passed on to him both his outdoor skills and his spirit for what would later become known as Scouting.

Burnham eventually moved on to become involved in espionage, oil, conservation, writing and business. His descendants are still active in Scouting.


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Grover Cleveland in 1903 at the age of 66
Stephen Grover Cleveland (March 18, 1837 – June 24, 1908) was the 22nd and 24th President of the United States. Cleveland is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms (1885–1889 and 1893–1897) and therefore is the only individual to be counted twice in the numbering of the presidents. He was the winner of the popular vote for president three times—in 1884, 1888, and 1892—and was the only Democrat elected to the presidency in the era of Republican political domination that lasted from 1860 to 1912. Cleveland was the leader of the pro-business Bourbon Democrats who opposed high tariffs, free silver, inflation, imperialism and subsidies to business, farmers or veterans. His battles for political reform and fiscal conservatism made him an icon for American conservatives. His second term coincided with the Panic of 1893, a severe national depression that Cleveland was unable to reverse. It ruined his Democratic party, opening the way for Republican landslides in 1894 and 1896, and for the agrarian and silverite seizure of his Democratic party in 1896. Cleveland took strong positions and in turn took heavy criticism. His intervention in the Pullman Strike of 1894 to keep the railroads moving angered labor unions nationwide and angered the party in Illinois; his support of the gold standard and opposition to free silver alienated the agrarian wing of the Democratic Party. Biographer Allan Nevins wrote, "in Grover Cleveland the greatness lies in typical rather than unusual qualities. He had no endowments that thousands of men do not have. He possessed honesty, courage, firmness, independence, and common sense. But he possessed them to a degree other men do not."

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Smedley Butler
Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940), nicknamed "The Fighting Quaker" and "Old Gimlet Eye", was a Major General in the U.S. Marine Corps, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. During his 34-year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean during the Banana Wars, and France in World War I. By the end of his career he had received 16 medals, five of which were for heroism. He is one of 19 people to twice receive the Medal of Honor, one of three to be awarded both the Marine Corps Brevet Medal and the Medal of Honor, and the only person to be awarded the Brevet Medal and two Medals of Honor, all for separate actions.

Butler continued his speaking engagements in an extended tour but in June 1940 checked himself into a naval hospital, dying a few weeks later from what was believed to be cancer. He was buried at Oaklands Cemetery in West Chester, Pennsylvania; his home has been maintained as a memorial and contains memorabilia collected during his various careers.


Portal:United States/Selected biography/33 Frank Woodruff Buckles (born Wood Buckles; February 1, 1901 – February 27, 2011) was the last living American veteran of World War I. After enlisting in the United States Army he served in Europe, driving ambulances and motorcycles near the front lines.

During WWII he spent three years as a civilian prisoner in the Philippines following his capture by Japanese forces while working in the shipping business. After the war he married in San Francisco and moved to Gap View Farm near Charles Town, West Virginia where he continued working on his farm until the age of 105.

In his last years, he advocated for the establishment of a World War I memorial in Washington, D.C.; even testifying before Congress and meeting with President George W. Bush at the White House in support of this cause. His funeral was March 15, 2011, at Arlington National Cemetery where he received full military honors, with President Barack Obama attending.


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Pollock c. 1923
Edwin Taylor Pollock (1870–1943) was a career officer in the United States Navy, serving in both the Spanish–American War and World War I. As a young ensign, Pollock served on board USS New York during the Spanish–American War. After the war, he gradually rose through the ranks and served on many ships, including conducting important research into wireless communication. Less than a week before World War I, he won a race against a fellow officer to be the one to officially sign over the U.S. Virgin Islands from Denmark and serve as the territory's first acting-governor. During the war, he was promoted to captain and successfully transferred 60,000 American soldiers to France, for which he was awarded a Navy Cross. Subsequently, he was made the eighth Naval Governor of American Samoa and then the superintendent of the United States Naval Observatory, before retiring in 1927.

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Portrait of Edwin P. Morrow by Boris G. Gordon
Edwin P. Morrow (1877–1935) served as the 40th Governor of Kentucky from 1919 to 1923. He was the only Republican elected to this office between 1907 and 1927. After rendering non-combat service in the Spanish–American War, Morrow graduated from the University of Cincinnati Law School in 1902 and opened his practice in Lexington, Kentucky. He was appointed United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky by President William Howard Taft in 1910 and served until he was removed from office in 1913 by President Woodrow Wilson. In 1915, he ran for governor against his good friend, Augustus O. Stanley. Stanley won the election by 471 votes, making the 1915 contest the closest gubernatorial race in the state's history. Morrow ran for governor again in 1919. He encouraged voters to "Right the Wrong of 1915" and ran on a progressive platform that included women's suffrage and quelling racial violence. He charged the Democratic administration with corruption, citing specific examples, and won the general election in a landslide. With a friendly legislature in 1920, he passed much of his agenda into law including an anti-lynching law and a reorganization of state government. By 1922, Democrats regained control of the General Assembly, and Morrow was not able to accomplish much in the second half of his term. Following his term as governor, he served on the United States Railroad Labor Board and the Railway Mediation Board.

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Gerard K. O'Neill in 197
Gerard K. O'Neill (1927–1992) was an American physicist and space activist. As a faculty member of Princeton University, he invented a device called the particle storage ring for high energy physics experiments. Later he invented a magnetic launcher called the mass driver. In the 1970s he developed a plan to build human settlements in outer space, including a space habitat design known as the O'Neill cylinder. He founded the Space Studies Institute, an organization devoted to funding research into space manufacturing and colonization. In 1965 at Stanford University he performed the first colliding beam physics experiment. While teaching physics at Princeton, O'Neill became interested in the possibility that humans could live in outer space. He researched and proposed a futuristic idea for human settlement in space, the O'Neill cylinder in "The Colonization of Space", his first paper on the subject. He held a conference on space manufacturing at Princeton in 1975. Many who became post-Apollo-era space activists attended. O'Neill built his first mass driver prototype with professor Henry Kolm in 1976. He considered mass drivers critical for extracting the mineral resources of the Moon and asteroids.

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Chotiner in 1950
Murray Chotiner (1909–1974) was an American political strategist, attorney, government official, and close associate and friend of President Richard Nixon during much of Nixon's political career. He served as campaign manager for the future president's run for the United States Senate in 1950 and for his vice presidential bid in 1952, and managed the campaigns of other California Republicans. He was active in each of Nixon's two successful runs for the White House in low-profile positions. After Congress investigated Chotiner in 1956, suspecting the attorney was using his connections to Nixon for influence peddling to benefit his private clients, the Vice President and his former campaign manager temporarily parted ways. Nixon recalled him to work on his 1962 gubernatorial campaign and again for his successful 1968 presidential bid. After Nixon was inaugurated in 1969, Chotiner received a political appointment to a government position and, in 1970, became a member of the White House staff. He returned to private practice a year later, but was involved in Nixon's 1972 re-election campaign. He remained an informal adviser to Nixon until he died in Washington D.C. following an auto accident in January 1974, and Nixon mourned the loss of a man he described as a counselor and friend.

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Portrait of Lawrence Sullivan Ross
Lawrence Sullivan Ross (1838–1898) was the 19th Governor of Texas, a Confederate States Army general during the American Civil War, and a president of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. As a teenager, Ross attended Baylor University and Florence Wesleyan University. After graduation Ross became a Texas Ranger, and in 1860 led troops in the Battle of Pease River, where he rescued Cynthia Ann Parker, who had been captured by the Comanches as a child. When Texas joined the Confederacy, Ross joined the Confederate States Army. He participated in 135 battles and skirmishes and became one of the youngest Confederate generals. Following the Civil War, Ross briefly served as sheriff of McLennan County before resigning to participate in the 1875 Texas Constitutional Convention. With the exception of a two-year term as a state senator, Ross spent the next decade focused on his farm and ranch concerns. In 1887, he became the 19th governor of Texas. During his two terms, he oversaw the dedication of the new Texas State Capitol, resolved the Jaybird-Woodpecker War, and became the only Texas governor to call a special session to deal with a treasury surplus. Days after leaving office, Ross became president of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. After his death, the Texas legislature created Sul Ross State University in his honor.

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Dave Johnston with gas-detection instrument at Mount St. Helens, 4 April 1980
David Alexander Johnston (1949–1980) was a volcanologist with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) who was killed by the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington. One of the principal scientists on the monitoring team, Johnston died while manning an observation post on the morning of May 18, 1980. He was the first to report the eruption, transmitting the famous message "Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!" before being swept away by the lateral blast created by the collapse of the mountain's north flank. His work and that of his fellow USGS scientists had convinced the authorities to close Mount St. Helens to the general public and to maintain the closure in spite of heavy pressure to re-open the area; their work saved thousands of lives. His story has become part of the popular image of volcanic eruptions and their threat to society, and also part of the history of volcanology. Following his death, Johnston was commemorated in several ways, including a memorial fund set up in his name at the University of Washington, and two volcano observatories that were named after him. Johnston's life and death have been featured in several documentaries, films, docudramas and books about the eruption. Along with other people killed by the volcano, Johnston's name is inscribed on memorials dedicated to their memory.

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Portrait of William Henry Harrison by James Reid Lambdin
William Henry Harrison (1773–1841) was the ninth President of the United States, an American military officer and politician, and the first president to die in office. He originally gained national fame for leading U.S. forces against American Indians at the Battle of Tippecanoe. As a general in the subsequent War of 1812, his victory at the Battle of the Thames brought an end to hostilities in his region. After the war, Harrison was elected to the United States Congress, later serving as a member of the Senate. Elected president in 1840, Harrison was the oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan, and the last President to be born before the United States Declaration of Independence. Harrison died in office of complications from pneumonia, having served the shortest tenure in United States presidential history. His death sparked a brief constitutional crisis, but that crisis ultimately resolved many questions about presidential succession left unanswered by the Constitution until passage of the 25th Amendment.


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