Brief Biographies from the Jackson/Van Buren Era (G):

Gaines, Edmund Pendleton 1777 - 1849:

Born in Culpepper Co, VA to a revolutionary war soldier and nephew of Edmund Pendleton. His family relocated to territory which shortly thereafter became part of Tennessee, where he served in the militia fighting Indians, and in 1797, at 20, joined the U.S. Army, immediately becoming a Lieutenant.

From 1801-1804 he helped engineer a road from Nashville to Natchez; he made the arrest of Aaron Burr and was called to witness at Burr's trial. Some time after becoming a Captain in 1807, he left the army to study law, but returned to it during the War of 1812. In charge of Fort Erie, he defended it well against a long assault, and ended the war as a Brig. General having been brevetted Maj. General. Around 1817 and thereafter, he fought with Andrew Jackson against the Creeks and Seminoles.

In summer, 1831 representing the government, he forcibly evicted the Sauk from their traditional haunts of Saukenuk and Rock Island. Their displacement was the cause of the Black Hawk War.

In 1838 he presented the War Department with a plan for defence using floating batteries and railroads for rapid motion in the interior. In 1840 he submitted the plan to Congress.

He spent much of the rest of his life campaigning for his defense ideas. His 3rd wife (married 1839), Myra Clark Gaines often shared the platform with him, giving a speech on the Horrors of War. She later spent years litigating the will of her father, Daniel Clark (there being a question as to whether her parents were married). Source: DAB; Autobiography of Black Hawk.

Myra Clark Gaines 180? - 1885(?):

The 3rd wife of Edmund Pendleton Gaines; sheoften shared the platform with him, giving a speech on the Horrors of War (link to it online). She later spent years litigating the will of her father, Daniel Clark (there being a question as to whether her parents were married). DAB on E.P.Gaines; The New Orleans Book; Communication from Elizabeth Alexander, Texas Christian U.

Gallaudet, Thomas Hopkins (1787-1851):

"Father of deaf-mute education in America. Studied, and taught the deaf, in France 1816-17. Established, in Hartford CT, the first free American school for the deaf and dumb and ran this school from 1816-1830. His sons Thomas (1822-1902) and Edward Miner (1837-1917) also had prominent roles in the education of the deaf and dumb. A school founded by the latter, in Washington D.C., for the deaf and dumb, grew into Gallaudet College.

In the late 1820s, he became involved, in a kindly way, with Ibrahima, an educated Islamic negro prince who spent decades as a slave (called "Prince") on a Mississippi plantation, who cooperated with the American Colonization Society to gain his release from slavery.

Gale, George Washington, 1789 - 1861:

Had an important hand in the conversion of Charles G. Finney, when Gale was pastor and Finney was a lawyer in Adams, NY. Founded Oneida Institute in 1827, and went with a group of ministers to Illinois to found Knox College and the town of Galesburg.

Gardner, Anna:

Secretary of the local Nantucket chapter of the America Anti-slavery Society at the time, August 16, 1841, when Frederick Douglass addressed them, leading to his career as a great anti-slavery orator and writer.

Garnet, Henry Highland (1815 - 1882):

Born a slave in Kent County, MD; educated at Oneida College.

A radical black abolitionist who republished David Walker's Appeal with a speech of his own appended.

Garrison, William Lloyd (Dec. 12, 1804 - May 24, 1879):

Born, and spent much of his early life, in Newburyport Massachusetts. The son of an alcoholic sailor, and a Baptist religious zealot, who may have driven the father away (whether for good or bad is unclear).

Founded and wrote a weekly abolitionist newspaper called The Liberator from January 1, 1831 until 1865. Founded the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1832 and was president until 1865(Harper's Ency. U.S.History).

Previously he had published or worked on various newspapers, including The Genius of Universal Emancipation.

Gibbons, Abigail Hopper 1801 - 1893

Abolitionist and prison-reformer. The daughter of prominent Quakers, she followed the Hicksites in the 1827 split. At about 20 she started a school in Philadelphia. In 1830, she moved to New York to become the head of a Quaker school there.

Married James Sloan Gibbons2/14/1833.

Source: DAB.

Gibbons, James Sloan 1810 - 1892

Businessman, banker, writer, and abolitionist -- one of the chief supporters of the National Anti-Slavery Standard, helping to support it at one point by mortgaging his furniture.

Son of William Gibbons, and husband of Abigail Hopper Gibbons, his "partner in his philanthropic work".

Source: DAB.

Gibbons, William 1781 - 1845

A notable physician, called the "Nestor of Delaware physicians" in DAB article on his son. A devout Quaker who, besides writing on medicine, wrote an 1822 pamphlet replying to a Presbyterian, E.W. Gilbert, who had attacked him in print. He also wrote an 1829 pamphlet, Exposition of Modern Skepticism, attacking the doctrines of Frances Wright and Robert Dale Owen. "noted for his cheerfulness" but "opposed to novel-reading and to music in connection with religious services". He spent the first part of his life in Philadelphia, and the rest, from 1807, in Wilmington, DE.

Sources: DAB, and Eckhardt, Wright, p214.

Giddings, Joshua Reed (Oct 6, 1795 - May 27, 1864):

Abolitionist congressman. Member of House of Representatives from his 1838, upon his election as an anti-slavery Whig through 1859, with one brief interruption when he resigned in 1844 due to congress' censuring of him, but was sent back the same year.

Giles, William Branch 1762 - 1830:

A successful lawyer, having graduated Princeton 1781 and studied under George Wythe at William and Mary. In 1790 he entered congress, and had various terms in the House and Senate, as a violent Jeffersonian.

Governor of Virginia 1827-1830, he opposed the state constitutional convention, but participated in it. He also was, in 1830, one of those southern governors calling for suppression of David Walker's Appeal.

Goodrich, Charles Augustus 1790 - 1862:

Congregational minister, born in Ridgefield, CT. Brother of Samuel Griswold Goodrich. He was also a writer, though less prolific, of such works as Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence (1829, 8th ed 1840), Cabinet of Curiosities, Natural, Artificial, and Historical (1822), Pictorial and Descriptive View of all Religions (1829). Source: DAB.

Goodrich, Chauncey 1759 - 1815:

Federalist senator from CT, 1795 - 1801, who played a prominent role in the Hartford Convention. Uncle of Samuel Griswold Goodrich and Charles Augustus Goodrich. Source: DAB.

Goodrich, Samuel Griswold 1793 - 1860:

Prolific author, best known for childrens works published under the name Peter Parley. Brother of Charles Augustus Goodrich; nephew of Chauncy Goodrich. Source: DAB.

Grant, Ulysses Simpson 1822 - 1885:

General of U.S. Armies, by the end of the Civil War, and president from 1868-1876 (which made of much of what is called the Gilded Age).

Born in Point Pleasant, Ohio in 1822 to Jessey Root Grant, a tanner; lived in Georgetown, OH from age one until he went away to school at West Point in 1839. Showed himself an able soldier in the Mexican-American war, and in 1852, distinguished himself when his regiment crossed the disease-ridden Isthmus of Panama. He was promoted to captain, and stationed in a remote location on the Pacific coast. Meanwhile, in 1848, he had married Julia Dent, whom he loved deeply and was essential to his happiness. On a Captain's salary he was unable to have his family with him, and sank into despondency and drinking, which lead to his resigning the army under duress.

His unsuccessful civilian life found him, on the eve of the Civil War, a clerk in a leather shop in Galena IL. In June 1861, he became colonel of the 21st Illinois Volunteers, and immediately showed a gift for putting slovenly troops in order. Two months later, he was promoted to brigadier-general. From the winter of 1861/1862, he was winning victories in the west, beginning in the vicinity of Cairo, IL, where he was first stationed, and aggressively moving down the Mississippi.

More in his career can be read in William McFeely's, Grant: A Biography; his memoirs (writing is one of the two things he did really well) are online at

Graves, William Jordan, 1805-1848

Representative from Kentucky; born in New Castle, Ky., in 1805; pursued an academic course; studied law; was admitted to the bar and practiced; member of the State house of representatives in 1834; elected as a Whig to the Twenty-fourth, Twenty-fifth, and Twenty-sixth Congresses (March 4, 1835-March 3, 1841); engaged in a duel on the Marlboro Road in Maryland with Congresman Jonathan Cilley in 1838, in which the latter was killed; this duel prompted passage of a congressional act of February 20, 1839, prohibiting the giving or accepting, within the District of Columbia, of challenges to a duel; was not a candidate for renomination in 1840; again a member of the State house of representatives in 1843; died in Louisville, Ky., September 27, 1848; interment in the private burial grounds at his former residence in Henry County, Ky.

Greeley, Horace 1811 - 1872:

After a harsh childhood in New Hamshire and Vermont, and apprenticeship in East Poultney, VT, he came to New York, where he tried different ventures, including co-founding a literary and news weekly called the New Yorker (popular but unremunerative) in 1834.  In the late 1830s, Thurlow Weed noticed the quality of his Whig editorials, and recruited him for a party paper, the Jeffersonian, which was succeeded by the Log Cabin in 1840 (a party organ for Harrison's "log cabin and hard cider" campaign for president).  Finally in 1841, the Log Cabin and New Yorker were merged into the New York Tribune, which went on to set high journalistic standards and achieve the highest circulation in New York.

Greeley was, for many years, a loud voice for anti-slavery and other reforms (some dubious, no doubt).  He supported the cause of the Republican party, though he often wavered on Lincoln, even in the 1864 election.  Later he was a strong backer of Reconstruction.  After supporting Grant in his first term, Greeley accepted the nomination of a third party, the Liberal Republicans, to run for president against Grant.  He took a great deal of abuse for this, lost control of his newspaper, and died the same year, broken, and reputedly insane (cf. DAB).

Began life in southern New Hampshire, never far from the Merrimack River.  His mother's family - Woodburns, were Scots Irish who came from Londonderry, and established Londonderry NH.  Later, they lived in the Bedford/Amherst area.  His father's family descended from one of "three Greeley brothers whose names were spelled five different ways", who came around 1640.  His father, grandfather, and great grandfather were named Zaccheus Greeley. His father had been a poor but respectable farmer, but in 1820, he, like many others succumbed to hard times.  His property, which had cost $1,350, was seized for debt; the family was turned out, and had to start again in Westhaven, VT, on the shore of Lake Champlain, where they worked as hired laborers.

In 1826, Greeley was apprenticed, at his own wish, to a printer in East Poultney (described well in Parton, Greeley). The paper was called the Northern Spectator (previously the Poultney Gazette).  By 1830, it was finished, having been started in an improbably small town for supporting a newspaper, and Greeley moved on.

Sources: Greeley, Recollections; Parton, Greeley; Mott, American Journalism.

Green, Beriah (1794 - May 4, 1874):

Educator and anti-slavery activist. Born in New York; graduated Middlebury College in 1819, he settled in Ohio of 1821 (according to Harpers; I have doubts about this though). In 1832 he was a professor at the Western Reserve College when he came under the influence of Theodore Weld, who was at that time crusading for manual labor schools and for temperance. Later; influenced very likely by Weld's subsequent anti-slavery radicalism, Green, as president of Oneida Institute, set about converting that school into a stronghold for abolition and equal rights for African Americans.

(see also The Antislavery Alliance of Gerrit Smith and Beriah Green, by Prof. Milton Sernett)

Green, Duff (1791 - 1875):

A newspaperman, and risk-loving entrepreneur. After a sojourn practicing law in St. Louis, MO, he purchased there the St. Louis Enquirer

He was born in Woodford County, KY.

Griffin, Rev. Edward D. 1770 - 1837:

Pastor in NJ 1801-09; professor at Andover Seminary until 1811; pastor Park St. Church, Boston '11-'21; President of Williams College 1821-1836, and "revitalized it in every way" (concise DAB) . Criticized the "New Divinity" Calvinism in a publication of 1831.

Grimke, Angelina (February 20, 1805 - ?):

Born of a wealthy slave-holding family of the Charleston South Carolina elite, she and her sister became Quakers, strong abolitions. From their commitment to speak out publically against slavery, contrary customs against women speaking in public, they also became women's rights heroines.

Grimke, John Faucheraud (Dec. 16, 1752 - Aug. 9, 1819):

Jurist educated in the law in London. Signer, with Benjamin Franklin, of a 1774 petition to the king protesting the Boston Port Law.

Father of Angelina, Sarah, and Thomas Grimke.

A judge and member of Charleston South Carolina high society, with a plantation in Beaufort. Wealthy due to a good marriage, inheritance, successful plantation management, investment, and acquiring of lands through litigation.

Wrote Public Laws of the State of South Carolina, which served for several decades as the standard work on the subject.

He died at a spa in Long Branch, attended by his daughter Sarah.

The name Grimke came from Huguenot ancestors. Many Huguenots had come to South Carolina in the 17th century.

Grimke, Sarah Moore (Nov 26, 1792 - ?):

Born of a wealthy slave-holding family of the Charleston South Carolina elite, she and her sister became Quakers, strong abolitions. From their commitment to speak out publically against slavery, contrary customs against women speaking in public, they also became women's rights heroines.

Sarah was strongly attracted to intellectual pursuits from her youth, and got some encouragement from her brother Thomas and a bit less from her father. She kept trying to learn whatever Thomas was learning and participate in political debates in the family. It seems as if the social barriers that she kept straining against gave her much of her empathy for slaves, and inability to accept their role, just as she could not accept her own.

As a teenager she tried to teach the slave who was supposed to wait on her to read, an illegal act at the time, for which she was severely reprimanded.

When she was 13, and Angelina was born, she threw herself into the care of this new child, and even pursuaded her parents to let her be her sister's godmother.

In 1819, when her father was fatally ill, the 27 year old woman, now seen as a "spinster", accompanied her father to a seaside resort in New Jersey, and cared for him for the several months before he died.

In 1821, much impressed by the anti-slavery writings of John Wollman, Sarah, with enough to live on from her inheritance, joined the Society of Friends (Quakers), and later that year moved to Philadelphia.

Grimke, Thomas 1786 - 1834:

b.9/26, d.10/12.
Brother of Sarah and Angelina Grimke. Native of Charleston SC.

Educated at Yale from 1805 - 7. A educator and reformer widely regarded as very eccentric A spoof on his reform activities was printed in the U.S. Telegraph has him preaching

Studied law under Langdon Cheves (at his father's behest, despite his inclination to be a Minister), and was then, for some years, the law partner of Robert Y. Hayne. In the State Senate from 1826-30, supporting the federal gov't on the Tariff issue and opposing then and later, Nullification.

In education, he would have replaced the central role of the classics and mathematics in education with a combination of religious, and strictly practical teaching. He also tried to reform English spelling and himself, refused to spell out silent letters. He played an important role in the informal education of Sarah Grimke. (Main source: DAB)

Guild, James 1797 - 1841

Born in Hatfield, MA, in the Connecticut valley, few miles south of Northampton.

The early parts of Guild's diary are full of the most intense mortification at finding himself a shabby pedlar, carrying a trunk of small notions from town to town.  At some point, he seems to have risen above maudlin self-pity, as when he describes how he dealt bravely and coolly with an attempt by some tavern rowdies to humiliate him.

He takes a step up in the world when learns to cut silhouettes, and buys 300 small frames to put them in.  He continues a long upward climb, beginning to paint miniatures on the road, and later full sized portraits, at which he was successful beyond the wildest dreams of his peddling days.

Source:  Vermont Historical Society Proceedings, new series, Vol V (1937) pp250-313, quoted in Sanford, Quest For America.