FATHERLESS CHILDREN STORY 007
by Winsome Solo
Washington's Life Guards, fighting with him during the American Revolution, but family was now poor. The little boy grew up in the boarding house that his grandmother ran, and had to leave school at age 10 to go to work. He never went to high school or college.
When his mother remarried three years later, the family moved to Indiana. He spent time in his stepfather's store/post office, sitting on barrels reading the newspapers as they arrived and any books he could find. In this way, he educated himself. He met customers and became very good at getting along with people.
He became involved with his stepfather's reformist political activities. At age 16 he met and made friends with Horace Greeley, the famous editor of America's then most influential newspaper. Greeley was a champion of the working poor, married to a suffragette and opposed to slavery. Greely began publishing some of the boy's writings, and would become his lifelong friend.
At age 19, the boy became the editor of an Indiana newspaper, the "South Bend Free Press". Several years later, with the money he had saved, and some help from others, he bought the newspaper.
Not long after that, he took a pledge of abstinence from alcohol, and threw himself full force into politics. He was a Whig Party convention delegate in 1848. A year later, he went to the Indiana State Constitutional Convention. He ran for Congress and lost, but his ideas about equality led him to create the women's branch of the Odd Fellows.
The issue closest to this young man's heart was advocating against slavery, so he later switched political parties to the Know-Nothings and then to the Republicans. (The new Republican Party had been created in opposition to slavery, and Abraham Lincoln, our first Republican president, was elected in 1860.) The young politician disagreed that the new western states should be allowed to decide themselves whether they should allow slavery in their territory or not.
He ran for Congress a second time, and won. He gained the nickname "Smiler" because of his friendly nature, and was elected Speaker of the House during the Lincoln presidency. In 1869, "Smiler" and two others wrote a book called, "Our New West", based on eyewitness descriptions of the American frontier and its characters.
That same year he was elected the seventeenth Vice President of the United States, serving under Ulysses S. Grant. He is one of only two persons ever to have been both Speaker of the House and Vice President.
Schuyler Colfax, a boy from a "fatherless home".
The term "fatherless" ("fatherlessness" or "father-absent") is used in this series as it is in research and "father absence" policy rhetoric by the U.S. government, DHHS, the National Fatherhood Initiative, U.S. states in connection with child custody law and policy, and various family values and fatherhood policy and lobbying groups. The effects of father absence can be seen in the fatherless children stories. Citations to research and studies on the effects of father-absence can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
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