Dec 27, 2009

Fatherless Child - Expose Number Thirtyfive

This child was born in 1837 in New Jersey, the fifth of nine children. His mother was the daughter of a shoemaker, and his father was an itinerant preacher. The family moved frequently. The child was a happy-go-lucky boy who liked to play pranks as well as outdoor sports, and was particularly devoted to his mother and sisters.

When he was in his mid-teens, his father died, and he was forced to drop out of school and get a job to help support the family. Because he had been a good student, he was able to get a job as teaching assistant, but in order to take it, he had to leave home. He spent a year away doing this, and not liking it, wanting to return, but there were no jobs available in the small town in which his mother and sisters lived. Thus, after quitting, and then looking unsuccessfully for different work, he left home again, and obtained a job in a lawyer's office. This was lucky, because it enabled him to "read for the bar" -- a form of legal apprenticeship which was permitted in those days -- even though he had never even graduated from high school.

After passing the bar, he settled down to practice law in Buffalo, New York. He began gaining a reputation for being extraordinarily honest and principled. He also gained a reputation for being tough, as well as a bit eccentric and something of a character. But people really liked him.

He served for a while as the local prosecutor, then for some years as the town sheriff. While he held this office, he also acted as the town executioner, actually hanging two men!

Later he served as mayor of the city. Some time later, his popularity continuing to increase, he was elected governor of New York, bucking the powerful Tammany Hall political machine in New York City to achieve this.

And still later, he became President of the United States, winning the popular vote three times.

He was the only Democrat ever elected to the Presidency during the 19th Century Republican era known as "the Gilded Age". He was the most conservative Democrat president ever in office, supporting small government and big business. He was an ardent supporter of keeping America on the gold standard. He was the only President to serve two non-consecutive terms.

He also was the only President ever to be married while in office. He married for the first time when he was 51 years old -- to a woman who was only 24. They ultimately had five children together. His first child, who was born while he was in office, had a candy bar named after her.

He was the first President to be in the movies. He also liked to hunt, and named his favorite hunting rifle "Death and Destruction." And he was the only U.S. President who personally answered the White House telephone.

When he was a boy, his nickname was "Big Steve". Today we know him best by his middle name.

Stephen Grover Cleveland, a boy from a "fatherless home."

Dec 20, 2009

Fatherless Child - Expose Number Thirtyfour

This child was born in a small town in Pennsylvania in 1745, the fourth child in a family of seven children. His father died when he was six, and so he was sent off to live with his maternal uncle, a Presbyterian minister who had founded a school for children. An exemplary student, he graduated from the College of New Jersey (now known as Princeton) at age 15, and then went on to study medicine, first in Philadelphia, and then London.

On the way to London, he became upset at seeing the conditions on dozens of slave ships in Liverpool Harbor. The impression this made on him would color his views and scholarship for the remainder of his life

At age 24, he returned to Philadelphia to practice medicine and teach chemistry at Philadelphia College. During this time, he also started writing articles and treatises on politics and in favor of the abolition of slavery, as well as on his scientific theories. These writings brought him to the attention of revolutionaries such as Thomas Paine, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. And so, in 1776, he was appointed as a delegate from Pennsylvania to the Continental Congress.

During the Revolutionary War, he served as Surgeon-General to the Continental Army until a falling out with General Washington ended his military career. He returned to teaching, writing, and practicing medicine, gaining prominence in the field of medicine. He married a young woman with whom he had 13 children, 9 of whom survived infancy.

He became a vocal proponent in favor of women's rights, and the rights of those with mental illnesses, as well as an outspoken opponent against the institution of slavery. He also advocated for universal health care and for education for all. He wrote the first American textbook in chemistry, and he tutored Meriwether Lewis to prepare him for the great Corps of Discovery expedition.

A deeply religious man, largely because of his maternal uncle's early influence, he disagreed with the concept of separation of church and state -- he believed that Christianity should be a part of public life as well as taught in the schools.

He wrote:

"The only foundation for a republic is to be laid in Religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments."

While many of his ideas, such as the misguided medical practice of bloodletting, have been proved wrong, his thinking in other ways has been considered to have been ahead of his time. Perhaps his greatest legacy is that of advocating for the advancement of knowledge in all areas of life, and for our government to work for the benefit of all.

Today this child is sometimes called the "father of the public school system". And because of his work as a physician on behalf of those with mental disabilities, he also is considered to be a founder of the field of psychiatry.

On the seal of the American Psychiatric Association is a silhouette of that founder. The person it belongs to was human rights advocate and signer of the Declaration of Independence,

Benjamin Rush, a boy from a "fatherless home."

Dec 13, 2009

Fatherless Child - Expose Number Thirtythree

This child was born in 1819 in New York City to a family of genteel New England ancestry. He was the third of eight children. When he was 7, he had scarlet fever, which impaired his eyesight.

His mother was said to have been a social climber and spendthrift. His father, ostensibly a merchant and importer, borrowed himself into bankruptcy, and then died when the boy was 12. Because of these events, he was forced to leave school, and start drifting through a variety of odd jobs to support himself, including as a clerk at his eldest brother's hat store, as a farmhand, and even as a surveyor on the Erie Canal, which was then being built. But he was at loose ends. He felt somewhat rejected and neglected by his mother, who seemed to prefer other of her children to him. He did not really like what he was doing. He had always wanted to go to college and become a "great orator", but there was no money.

Without clear direction, when he was 18, he took a job as a cabin boy on a ship that crossed the Atlantic to Great Britain. When he returned, he worked for a few years as a school teacher, and started writing. But he was still dissatisfied. He signed on as a member of the crew on a ship embarking on a three-to-four year voyage in the South Pacific. What he saw and experienced during this period of time began shaping his views of people, politics, and religion.

Over a period of time when other young men his age were in college, he was obtaining an education of a different kind. He became very much a skeptic and free thinker, questioning the injustices he saw perpetrated by so-called good Christians, such as colonization and slavery.

He later wrote about the choice to become a sailer on that long voyage:

"Some years ago-nevermind how long precisely -- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world."

He developed a devotion to writing and literature, often using his unusual experiences as the setting for his stories.

When he was 28, he married and settled down with his wife on a farm in Massachusetts, not far from the home of a friend he would later make, another writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne. He and his wife had four children, and for a number of years, they farmed and he wrote books. Later, however, he fell out of popularity as an author, in large part because of the themes in his works, which even included male bonding, with homoerotic undertones. Still later, his marriage went on the rocks, and his eldest son accidentally shot himself.

In his last book, written when he was an old man and nearly blind, published posthumously, he returned to the themes of sailing and the sea to contemplate justice, law, and human values.

Some of his quotes are:

"There is no dignity in wickedness, whether in purple or rags;
and hell is a democracy of devils, where all are equals."

"Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its ragged edges."

"Talk not to me of blasphemy, man. I'd strike the sun if it insulted me."

Call him Ishmael, if you like. He is now recognized as one of the greatest American authors, and you might even have read one of his books, such as Moby Dick.

Herman Melville, a boy from a "fatherless home."

Dec 6, 2009

Fatherless Child - Expose Number Thirtytwo

This child was born in 1948 in Georgia, the second of three children in an impoverished family. His mother worked as a maid. The town in which they lived lacked a sewage system or paved roads. When he was still a toddler, his father abandoned the family.

When he was seven, the one-room house he lived in with his mother and siblings burned to the ground. He and his brother were sent away to live with his maternal grandparents. In some ways, this was better -- he now ate regularly and lived in a house with indoor plumbing. But his childhood was unhappy. His grandfather, a demanding and strict religious man, sometimes made him feel ashamed of the poor community of his origins, and also of his difficulty speaking standard English.

The child was a good student, however, and in his spare time, he liked to go to the local library. Occasionally after school, he also accompanied his grandfather to work. When he was halfway through high school, he was sent to a seminary to become a priest. He did fairly well there, and then transferred to another seminary in Missouri. He was not happy at this school at all, and soon quit. After taking some time off, and extricating himself from his controlling grandfather, he re-enrolled in a different college, where he decided to major in English, and did very well, graduating ninth in his class.

After graduating, he married his college sweetheart, and was accepted on scholarship into one of the country's top law schools. When he successfully finished law school, he went to work in the Missouri Attorney General's office, and then for a large pharmaceutical company as a corporate lawyer. Through these experiences and the contacts he made, he secured a job with an administrative agency of the federal government. He worked at this job for some years, during which he went through a divorce and then, two years later, happily remarried.

In 1990, he was appointed to the position of judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.

Subsequently, in a controversial nomination process, he was appointed to another judicial position. Some have claimed that emotional issues from his difficult childhood carried into his adult life. But no one could say that he did not achieve for himself extraordinary personal success. He is U.S. Supreme Court Justice

Clarence Thomas, a boy from a "fatherless home."

Nov 29, 2009

Fatherless Child - Expose Number Thirtyone

This child was born in Scotland in 1881 into a poor farm family. He was the seventh child of eight siblings and half-siblings. When he was seven years old, his father died. His mother and older siblings continued to run the farm. He attended a local rural grammar school, and for the most part was a hardworking, good student.

One day the boy had an accident on the school playground. He broke his nose, which was never fixed. This permanently gave him a face that looked a little like that of a boxer.

At age 14, he was sent far from home to live with one of his older brothers who lived in London, and who had gone on to medical school and become a doctor. Several other siblings later joined them.

He got a job as a shipping clerk, where he worked through the rest of his adolescent years. Then, when he was about 20, his uncle died, leaving him a small inheritance. This and a scholarship enabled him to return to school to study medicine as his older brother had done.

When he graduated, he obtained a job as a research bacteriologist in the same institution that had given him the scholarship. He interrupted work this for a time to serve as a physician in the army. In his mid-thirties, he married, and had one son, who also later became a physician.

In 1928 while he was working in his lab, he noticed a petri dish that had become contaminated with mold. The mold had killed off a staphylococcus culture that had been growing in the dish..

Seventeen years later, he won the Nobel Prize.

In his later life he said, in response to the folly of overly exalting teamwork that "It is the lone worker who makes the first advance in a subject. The details may be worked out by a team, but the prime idea is due to the enterprise, thought, and perception of an individual."

He also said, commenting on life as much as research that "One sometimes finds what one is not looking for."

By the time of his death, the man who discovered penicillin -- the wonder drug that has saved countless lives -- had received worldwide recognition and numerous awards, lectured at the finest universities, been knighted by the Queen, and become an exemplar of scholarly achievement. He was

Alexander Fleming, a boy from a "fatherless home."

Nov 22, 2009

Fatherless Child - Expose Number Thirty

This child was born in 1758, the eldest son of five children of a wealthy Virginia tobacco planter and slave owner. He was raised in luxury and attended the finest schools where he studied Latin, math, science, literature, and the Romance languages. He and his school chum were the top students -- his friend later became one of the most famous Chief Justices of the U.S.Supreme Court.

When he was 16, his father died, and he and his brother inherited the plantation and the rest of their father's estate. His mother's brother, acting as his guardian, encouraged him to start college, but he became distracted by the politics and war fever that was sweeping the county. He quit school after one year to join the Continental Army and fight in the Revolutionary War, where he crossed the Delaware with Washington, and also made the acquaintance of Thomas Jefferson. He never returned to college.

Instead, after the war, he studied law for two years under Jefferson, and then was appointed as a member of the Continental Congress, where he and his friend Patrick Henry argued vehemently against a strong federal government in favor of States' Rights.

At age 29, he married, and had three children. His two daughters survived, but his only son died in infancy. He ran for and became a U.S. Senator from Virgina. Afterward, he was appointed Minister to France. He also served as the Governor of Virginia, and helped Robert Livingston negotiate Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase. Later he served as Minister to Great Britain, and was appointed Secretary of State under President James Madison.

His final achievement was being elected President himself for two terms, which later came to be called "the Era of Good Feeling". Upon his reelection, he won every Electoral College vote except for one. This sweep effectively terminated the Federalist Party in America.

This political statesman, founding father, and champion of States' Rights, who is sometimes known as the "The Last Cocked Hat", meaning the last Revolutionary War president, was

James Monroe, a boy from a "fatherless home."

Nov 15, 2009

Fatherless Child - Expose Number Twentynine

This child lost both his mother and father when he was only nine years old, and then grew up to become one of the world's greatest composers.

He was born March 21, 1685, in Germany, the youngest child of six children in a large extended family, many of whom were musicians. His father was a court musician, as were his uncles and older brothers. While still very young, the boy learned to play a number of musical instruments, including the harpsichord and violin.

After his parents' unexpected deaths in the same year, he went to live with his eldest brother, who was newly married and working as a church organist. While living with his brother, he attended grammar school, where he was taught to read and write. His brother also gave him music lessons, and he learned how to play -- and also how to repair and manufacture -- organs.

The brother was poor, however, and so the child was required to obtain a job, and turn over all of his earnings to help with his support. Because of his beautiful soprano voice, the child obtained a job singing with a religious chorale group, which also gave him the opportunity to further his musical education.

As an adult, he married twice, having a total of 20 children, seven with his first wife, who died, and then thirteen with his second wife, who was only 17 when she married him. By all accounts, both marriages were successful and happy, although not all of the twenty children survived to adulthood.

He spent the bulk of his lifetime teaching music, performing as the music director in a church and as a court organist, and writing an astonishing twenty volumes of original compositions. He achieved some fame during his lifetime, and after his death, his achievements came to be more and more appreciated. Three centuries later, he is universally recognized as a musical genius.

This fatherless child, who is considered to be the best contrapuntal, or "counterpoint" composer of all time, was

Johann Sebastian Bach, a boy from a "fatherless home."

Nov 8, 2009

Fatherless Child - Expose Number Twentyeight

This child was born in 1804 in Salem, Masachusetts, into a well-connected family that hailed from a long line of famous and powerful Puritan ancestors. One of his ancestors was a judge who presided over the Salem witch trials.

When the child was four, his father, a sea captain, was drowned at sea. This forced his mother and the child and his two sisters to have to leave their home and thereafter live on the charity of her extended family. The child's mother, it has been said, became overprotective, and consequently, the child grew up shy and "bookish". Nevertheless, he later reported that his childhood was a happy one, and he was close with his family.

While in school, because of his shyness, he was uncomfortable with public speaking -- an academic requirement in those days -- and often preferred solitary thinking and studying to socializing. Otherwise, he was good at his studies, and enjoyed reading and writing.

He persevered through school and college, writing stories and articles from a young age. Often he wrote them anonymously. A few were published. When he graduated from a local college, in order to earn money, he took a job as a customs house official. During this young period of his life, he became acquainted with men who themselves ultimately rose to become famous writers and poets.

Finally, his writing began to earn sufficient additional money for him to marry and settle down. Then, when he was fired from his job, and he was forced to write full-time to earn a living, he began to achieve real success with his novels. By the end of his life he was a famous, established author, friend and confident of presidents, and even a European ambassador.

This child's prolific writings are notable for their controversial moral and philosophical subjects, as well as for their extraordinary and forward-thinking insights. Many of them question the assumptions of traditional family and society. Many of the characters in his books have lost parents, and the issue of family values and parentage is an important theme. While some students today who get assignments to read his works in school might find his writing to be a bit tedious and flowery by modern standards, without question, the stories themselves are entertaining and remain relevant.

This giant of American literature, whose fiction dealt with themes of prejudice, and confronted ideas about sin and evil, and misguided assumptions of right and wrong, the author of such classics as the "Twice-Told Tales", "The House of Seven Gables", and the very famous "The Scarlet Letter" was

Nathanial Hawthorne, a boy from a "fatherless home."

Nov 1, 2009

Fatherless Child - Expose Number Twentyseven

This child, an only child, was born into a wealthy family in upstate New York in the late 1800s. Her father was an alcoholic who was disowned by his relatives. When the child was 8, her mother died, and she was sent to live with relatives. Then, when she was 10, her father, who she had rarely seen anyway, also died.

When she was 15, her relatives sent her off to a boarding school in London, where she proved to be an outstanding student. The headmistress there befriended her, and helped her to expand her experience and outlook beyond the privileged bigotry of the narrow and provincial society into which she had been born.

When she was 18, she returned to the United States, and became a social worker. She got married and had six children, although one son died in infancy. Her marriage was not a happy one, however. She did not get along well with her mother-in-law, and her husband repeatedly cheated on her. Then, when she was in her 30s, her husband became ill with a disease from which he never fully recovered, and which further burdened their lives.

Although the marriage endured, once her children were nearly grown, she decided that she had to pursue her own life and interests. She built herself her own residence not far away from her husband's home, and with her friends, started a furniture factory to provide work for unemployed workers. This business was successful and soon expanded to pewter work and weaving. Then, she and a friend purchased and operated a private girls' school, where she taught history.

When her husband's work took him to Washington, D.C., she became an activist for educational and civil rights programs. She worked with the National Consumers League, the Red Cross, the League of Women Voters, the Women's Trade Union League, the American Student Union, and the American Youth Congress. She also wrote books and numerous magazine articles and columns.

In 1941, she was appointed by the president as the assistant director of the Office of Civilian Defense, where she helped organize volunteer and community efforts during World War II. After the war, the president appointed her to be a delegate to the first United Nations General Assembly, where she worked with world leaders on humanitarian, social, and cultural issues. This work continued for more than two decades, through a brief semi-retirement, to yet another official appointment to the United Nations during the Kennedy administration. Her greatest accomplishment in the U.N. was, perhaps, the passage of its Human Rights Doctrine. She also chaired the 1961-62 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, and participated in dozens of others causes ranging from fair labor practices, to activism for Jewish refugees, to black civil rights.

At the time of her death, she was considered to be one of the most admired women in the world. This humanitarian, diplomat, social reformer, and author, one of the most important women of the 20th century, was

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, a girl from a "fatherless home."

Oct 25, 2009

Fatherless Child - Expose Number Twentysix

This child was born in 1820. He was one of four children, the only boy. His father was one of the most famous inventors in U.S. history, who had built a gun manufacturing center in New Haven, Connecticut. New Haven was at that time poised on the edge of the Industrial Revolution. The entrepreneurial spirit of the manufacturing community was growing and energetic. Two of the child's uncles also were inventors and entrepreneurs. Family members and friends owned businesses and factories.

But then, when the child was four years old, his famous father died.

The child attended Yale University, and then Princeton. Upon graduating, at age 21, he took over the armory where his father once had made rifles. He retooled the armory, and began producing different kinds of weapons. Then he put his education to use in developing the business, branching out to the manufacture of handguns.

One of his biggest manufacturing coups was joining forces with a man named Samuel Colt to produce a revolver Colt had invented. To do so, he first had to invent and manufacture the machines to produce the revolvers.

Over a period of years, the business grew, and it became more sophisticated, applying the latest technology and business theories. Over the same period of time, the population of the city of New Haven also grew. Ultimately the child became a powerful and wealthy industrialist, and a noted inventor himself, like his father and uncles. He also built a water works company for the city, became influential in local and state politics as an early Republican, and was reknowned for his generosity as a philanthropist.

Undoubtedly, you've heard all about the remarkable inventor of the cotton gin. His only son inherited his talent for business innovation and invention, and parlayed the material inheritance he received from his father into America's industrial age, helping to build America's future world superiority in arms manufacturing. Did he require his father's parenting in order to become an achiever? Or were his accomplishments the result of other factors...

Eli Whitney, Jr., a boy from a "fatherless home."