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Thomas Adams Upchurch

One of the most polarizing political figures in American history, James Gillespie Blaine, “the Plumed Knight of Maine,” was the most prominent presidential candidate of the late nineteenth century never to be elected. His chameleon-like character kept him at the top of the Republican Party machinery during both Reconstruction and the Gilded Age. He supported the Union during the Civil War and the Radical cause in the late 1860s, took a conciliatory view of the southern question in the early 1870s, and ultimately all but abandoned the African American civil rights agenda in the late 1870s and thereafter. As much as any other Republican, he influenced the course of the party in selling out African Americans after Reconstruction for the joint benefits of sectional reconciliation and national business interests. He did so, however, without necessarily alienating black voters or friends. Frederick Douglass for instance supported him throughout his career ...

Article

Kate Gigliotti-Gordon

Henry Clay was born in Hanover County, Virginia. His father, John, a Baptist minister, died in 1781. His mother married Henry Watkins the following year and followed her new husband to Kentucky. Henry Clay remained in Virginia, where he later studied law with George Wythe. Finishing his studies in 1797, Clay followed his family to Kentucky and settled outside of Lexington. There he married Lucretia Hart, the daughter of a prominent Kentucky businessman, on 11 April 1799 and purchased a plantation near Lexington, which he named Ashland. Clay and his wife had eleven children, although only four outlived their father. After a long and illustrious career, Clay died in Washington, D.C. He was buried in Lexington, Kentucky, where a statue to his memory stands.

Clay's national political career began in 1806 when the Kentucky legislature selected him to complete an unexpired term in the U S Senate ...

Article

Caryn E. Neumann

U.S. Army four-star general, national security adviser, and secretary of state. Colin Luther Powell was born in Harlem, New York, the second child of Luther Powell, a foreman in a women's clothing factory, and Maud Powell, a worker in the garment industry. Both parents were Jamaican-born immigrants. The family moved to the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx in 1941. Powell enrolled at the City College of New York (CCNY) in 1954 but soon discovered that he preferred the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), which he joined in 1955, to any other coursework. He liked the comradeship and sense of belonging.

Upon graduating from CCNY in 1958 Powell was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U S Army He subsequently attended Ranger School at Fort Benning Georgia and was assigned to the Third Armored Division in Gelnhausen West Germany forty miles from the East ...

Article

Lorna S. Jaffe

Born 5 April 1937 in the Harlem section of New York City and raised in the South Bronx, Colin L. Powell, the son of Jamaican immigrants, rose to become the first African American chairman of the JCS. After his 1958 graduation from City College, New York, where he had been a member of the ROTC, Powell received a commission in the regular army.

As a young officer in the recently integrated army, he had opportunities for leadership not then generally available to blacks in segregated civilian society. He received accelerated promotions to major and colonel, and in 1979 became at forty‐two the youngest general then in the army.

A turning point in Powell's career was his 1972 selection as a White House Fellow Assigned to the Office of Management and Budget he learned firsthand the workings of the federal bureaucracy and met individuals who later played key roles in ...

Article

Paul S. Boyer and Anthony H. Cordesman

Born in Harlem, New York City, to immigrants from Jamaica, Powell joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps while enrolled at the City College of New York. He received a U.S. Army commission as a second lieutenant upon graduating in 1958. He served in Vietnam in 1962–1963 and again in 1968–1969, when he was injured in a helicopter crash.

Receiving an M.B.A. from George Washington University in 1971, Powell possessed the necessary combat and educational background to profit by efforts to bring African Americans into leading military positions. In 1972–1973, he was a White House fellow in the Office of Management and Budget, directed by Caspar Weinberger.

After commanding a battalion in South Korea, attending the National War College, and serving in the Department of Defense, Powell in 1983 became military assistant to Weinberger, President Ronald Reagan s first secretary of defense Powell s policy ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

U.S. Army general and secretary of state, was born in Harlem in New York City to the Jamaican immigrants Luther Powell, a shipping clerk, and Maud Ariel McKoy a seamstress both of whom worked in New York City s garment district When he was six years old Powell moved with his family to Hunts Point an ethnically diverse neighborhood in the South Bronx Powell s autobiography portrays Hunts Point as a community of stable families and a certain rough hewn racial tolerance but it does not ignore the neighborhood s upsurge in drug and gang related crime particularly after World War II The Powells escaped the crumbling South Bronx tenements in the mid 1950s however a testament to his parents unstinting work ethic and shrewd housekeeping But luck also played a part Luther Powell a regular numbers player placed a twenty five dollar bet on a number ...

Article

When George Walker Herbert Bush was president of the United States, he appointed General Colin Powell chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Powell's strong leadership role during the Persian Gulf War in 1991 gained him immense popularity.

Article

Rebecca Stefoff

In January of 2001, soon after President George W. Bush took office, he named Condoleezza Rice as his national security advisor. In this role, Rice has had significant influence in shaping the Bush administration's policies toward other international affairs. Her appointment followed several decades of study, research, and activity in the field of foreign policy, with special focus on Russia (the former Soviet Union) and Europe.

Condoleezza Rice was born in 1954 in Birmingham, Alabama. Her father was a college administrator. Her mother was a music teacher who chose her daughter's name—a musical term that means “play with sweetness”—and Condoleezza displayed her own musical talent by becoming a skilled pianist at an early age. She grew up during a difficult era for blacks in the American South. The Civil Rights Movement had not yet eliminated Segregation in the United States and Birmingham experienced some of the worst ...

Article

Steven J. Niven and John McDermott

secretary of state, national security adviser, educator, was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the only child of John Wesley Rice Jr., an educator and minister, and Angelena Ray, a teacher. Her mother, an accomplished pianist, named her after the Italian musical direction con dolcezza, meaning to play “with sweetness.” The Rices viewed the restrictions of Jim Crow Alabama as obstacles for their daughter to overcome. She did so effortlessly, taking early lessons in ballet, French, flute, and piano. Extra tutoring from her father enabled her to skip the first and seventh grades.

Though she enjoyed a comfortable, if by no means wealthy, childhood, Rice was not immune to the harsh realities of Birmingham under Bull Connor, the city's notoriously racist commissioner of public safety. Like everyone else in the city, she attended segregated schools, and one of her classmates was killed in the 1963 ...

Article

Greg Sidberry

the first African American female secretary of state. Condoleezza Rice was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Her father, John Wesley Rice III, was a school guidance counselor, football coach, and pastor of the Westminster Presbyterian Church. Her mother, Angelena Ray, taught science, music, and speech and was an accomplished pianist who served as the church musician. The Rices wanted their daughter to have a professional career in classical music and created her name, Condoleezza, from an Italian musical term, con dolcezza, which means “with sweetness.”

The Rice family lived in the segregated neighborhood of Titusville a middle class enclave of schoolteachers and professionals High priority was given to education and academic success and the importance of dress grooming and manners was emphasized as well Condoleezza exceeded all expectations She was given lessons in piano ballet French and anything else that would help her be twice as good as ...

Article

Patricia Washington

Condoleezza Rice skipped first and seventh grades, entered college when she was fifteen, finished her doctorate by the time she was twenty-six, and was immediately tapped for a tenure track position at Stanford University. There, in 1993, she became the youngest person, the first woman, and the first black to be named provost. Rice came to national attention six years later when she left her academic post to become foreign policy adviser for presidential candidate George W. Bush. After Bush won the 2000 election, Rice was appointed national security adviser, the first woman and only the second black named to this position. And in 2005 Rice replaced Colin Powell as secretary of state for George W. Bush’s second presedential term. Given the trajectory of Rice’s career, it is not surprising that the Washington Post characterized her as the first Black woman in just about any job she ...

Article

Dinah Mayo-Bobee

William Henry Seward, one of seven children born to the slaveholders Samuel Sweezy Seward and Mary Jennings Seward, became one of the most prominent antislavery politicians of the antebellum period. Trained as a lawyer, Seward served in the New York State Senate from 1830 to 1834 and was elected governor of New York in 1839. While he was governor, Seward signed legislation that protected the rights of New York's black citizens. The laws provided for jury trials in runaway cases, helped recover persons kidnapped into slavery, guaranteed education to black children, and freed slaves brought into the state. After leaving the governor's office in 1843, Seward continued his antislavery activism. In 1846 he defended Henry Wyatt and William Freeman African Americans charged with murder in Auburn New York In each case Seward defended the accused on the ground of insanity but public outrage and hostility over the ...