Research effects of father absence



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This child, one of 8 siblings (6 sisters and 1 brother), was born in the mid-18th century to an ambitious and successful colonial mapmaker, surveyor and landowner, who died when the child was 14. His father, who had never received any formal education himself, believed himself to be descended from Welsh kings, and wanted his son to become well-educated in European culture.

When a wealthy friend of the father's died, the child's father inherited a large amount of land and was named guardian of the friend's orphaned children. The child thus started his schooling at age 5, at the private school with classically-trained tutors that his father set up for the children of his deceased friend.

When his own father died, the child inherited his entire estate, and so was not only well-provided for financially, but also able to continue his education as he preferred. His interests and his ideas in many respects veered considerably away from those of his father, and he sought out his own mentors. The inheritance he had received gave him an unusual amount of personal autonomy, and so he left home at age 14 to live and study with one of them. It does not appear that he had a great sense of loss about his father's death, nor did he apparently suffer from being separated for most of the time from his mother and siblings. On the contrary, it appears that he deliberately left what he considered to be a crowded and unpleasant domestic situation.

What the child was most attached to were his studies. The child was a voracious reader, and actually loved to study, sometimes studying 15 hours a day. He continued this habit throughout his life, periodically immersing himself in a wide variety of subjects, including philosophy, art, the various sciences, mathematics, Latin, Greek, horsemanship, agriculture, history, and architecture. He entered college at age 17, which he finished two years later, and then spent the next five years in the study of law and enlightenment philosophy.

When he was in his twenties, he married a young widow whose first husband had died when she was only 19. Ultimately they had six children together, although only two survived to adulthood. The marriage lasted for ten years until her death after the birth of the sixth child. Later there were rumors, which continue to this day, that he had a number of other children as well out of wedlock with another woman but these rumors are hotly disputed.

During his lifetime, this child brought the liberal ideas he amassed during his considerable and eclectic education into his lifetime career in law and politics. He participated in the Continental Congress before and through the Revolutionary War. He wrote the first draft as primary author of one of the most famous pieces of American political literature of all time. He is widely revered as the promoter of radical ideals of Republican egalitarianism and religious freedom upon which the country was founded. He also was singlehandedly responsible for the greatest-ever expansion of terroritory of the United States. Of all his accomplishments, far too many to list in full, he was perhaps proudest that he built a university, which still stands today.

This child, America's third President, and considered to be our most influential Founding Father, was

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

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

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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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