Research effects of father absence



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This child was born two years before the Revolutionary War in a one-room log house with a loft on a farm in the Virginia wilderness. He was the second of four children in a military family of many decorated soldiers, including his father, but his father died when he was only five. His mother then remarried another soldier, who moved the family to Georgia.

When the child was 13, he went back to Virginia by himself in order to run the family farm. This was, even for the time, quite unusual, but the boy was very self-reliant, capable, and responsible, and became used to being on his own.

Being back in Virginia also gave him the opportunity to attend a very good little school not far from his home. Among other students who attended this school were three future presidents of the United States, one of whom would become a life-long friend.

The boy not only enjoyed his studies, but notwithstanding his young age and responsibilities, also proved himself quite able to run the farm on his own, and actually increased its size and success. In his spare time, he loved to wander in the woods. He liked to go hunting -- he was quite a good shot -- and developed a keen interest in studying the flora and fauna.

At age 17, he attended a local college so that he could continue living on and running his farm. When he was 20, he joined the military, and fought in the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794. He became an army officer, battled in skimishes with Native Americans in the Northwest Territory, and continued his hobbies of hunting and observing wildlife. He also learned to speak several Native American languages.

His eclectic skills became widely appreciated, and one day his old school friend, who as it happens, was now the president, asked him to undertake another mission. This one required intense preparation that included, among other things, the study of cartography and medicine at a university in Pennsylvania.

Upon completing the mission, the child was hailed as a hero across the United States. His success had strengthened U.S. sovereignty across the continent, documented hundreds of new species of animals and plant life, and proved it possible to travel over land to the Pacific ocean. It inspired generations of Americans to push westward to settle the vast frontier, and his expedition to this day remains a cherished example of the American spirit.

This scientist, explorer, military man, pioneer, friend of Thomas Jefferson, leader of the famous Corps of Discovery, and first governor of the Louisiana Territory was

Meriwether Lewis, a boy from a "fatherless home."

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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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