Research effects of father absence



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This child's father died in a logging accident few weeks before he was born near the border of North and South Carolina. Now widowed, his mother took her baby and his two older brothers to live in the home of her sister, where she raised them.

The year was 1767, less than a decade before the Revolutionary War.

When the child was only nine years old, both of his brothers joined the Continental Army. When the child was twelve one of his brothers was killed in battle. The following year, at age 13, he joined his remaining brother in the army, becoming a courier. He and his brother were both captured by the British. A British officer ordered them to clean his boots, and the child defiantly refused. The officer hit them with his sword, severely injuring the child's hand. Then, while imprisoned, both boys contracted smallpox. The brother died from his illness. Then the boys' mother, who had been nursing wounded soldiers contracted an illness and died.

The child, now still only 14, was an orphan who had lost his entire immediate family, his father before his birth, both of his older brothers, and his mother. Without money or a home, he had no choice but to go to live with relatives. His relatives thought the child needed to have some kind of suitable productive vocation, and so apprenticed him out to a saddle maker.

But the child was an excellent reader and had done very well in his studies before all this happened. He did not want to be a saddle maker. He set his sights higher. At age 16, he found a job teaching school. Then, when he was 17, he decided did not like that either, and that he wanted to be a lawyer instead. He went to Salisbury, North Carolina where he worked for a lawyer and studied law. Three years later, in 1787, the same year the new constitution of the United States was ratified, he was admitted to the North Carolina bar.

By the following spring, he had obtained a job as a prosecutor in the western part of North Carolina, in the town which is now Nashville, Tennessee. He did well, and he was well-liked. In 1796, when Tennessee split off from North Carolina and became the 16th state in Union, the child was elected as the first congressman of the new state. Then he was elected senator. Then he became a judge. He served for six years as a justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court.

At that point,he decided to go back into the military, where he had started out as only a boy. He ran for and was elected major general of the Tennessee militia. The strict discipline with which he commanded his troops gave him a nickname, "Old Hickory", because, his men said, he had become as tough as that type of wood. He rose in rank over a period of ten years to become major general of the U.S. armed forces. During the War of 1812, his successful battles against the British and the Creek Indians made him a wildly popular and famous national hero.

This child ran for the presidency in 1824. He overwhelmingly won the people's vote in an election that is now called "The Stolen Election" because electoral politics of the time ended up giving his opponent the win . In fact the politics were vicious, including much back-room deal-making and under-the-table influencing , as well as scandalous accusations of adultery when he married a divorcee -- who was not quite finished getting divorced!

But he ran again in 1828, and, still holding the popular vote, this time he succeeded. He became the seventh president of the United States.. He has been considered to be the first president without any family ties to aristocracy. And he was the first president to be married to a divorcee. He also was the first president -- when he ran for his second term -- to be nominated at a national convention. He was the first president to use a "Kitchen Cabinet" of advisors. And he was the first president to use the "pocket veto" to kill a bill that had been passed by Congress.

He believed in a strong presidency, and as president vetoed more legislation than all of the prior presidents until that time put together. Most importantly, he believed in himself, following his own convictions, and even when making controversial decisions, always did what he thought was right. He now is considered to be the most important political figure during the period between Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.

Andrew Jackson, a boy from a "fatherless home."

This fatherless child story was researched and co-written by Rory JSK.

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* The term "fatherless" is used in this series as it is in current research and policy rhetoric by the U.S. federal government, DHHS and the National Fatherhood Initiative, most U.S. states in connection with child custody law and policy, and various family values and fatherhood interest policy and lobbying groups.

"...Just add Dad, the magic ingredient. It's hard to know where wishful thinking becomes deliberate deception. But this argument, advanced by the fathers' rights movement, is like saying that, since Mercedes Benz owners make more money than people who drive Hyundais, you will become wealthy if you buy a Mercedes..." Mike Peterson



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