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An American girl became vicereine of India

"An American girl, Mrs. George N. Curzon, will shortly occupy a rank next to Queen Victoria in the British empire, as her husband, George N. Curzon, has just been appointed viceroy to all India. He is already one of the great men of his nation," announced the Aug. 21, 1898, San Francisco Call.

That American girl, the former Mary Leiter, was born in Chicago and grew up to be a tall, willowy and elegant beauty. By all accounts, she was refined, educated, gracious and utterly charming, wrote Pearl Blay Nov. 8, 2009, in "The Vicereines Jewels."

Starting with virtually nothing, Mary's father Levi Leiter parlayed the dry goods riches made in partnerships with Potter Palmer and Marshall Field into a second fortune in real estate, while also striking riches in the Old West.

In 1881, Levi sold his half interest in the department store and his wife, Mary Theresa, moved the family to  Washington D.C., where she could more easily marry their three daughters to members of the English aristocracy.

As a young girl, Mary was taught dancing, singing, music, art, and French, by her governess. A professor from Columbia University taught her history, arithmetic, and chemistry, the harder, less "feminine" subjects lacking in many girls' educations, wrote Victoria Howard, Nov. 14, 2015, in "The American Heiresses Who Saved the British Aristocracy."

When she was a little older, Mary and her sisters spent time at a boarding school in England. Her extensive travel and time abroad gave her an unusual maturity and intelligence for her age.

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