Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Making Connections

This week my students have been reading a story for Language Arts that deals with the Orphan Trains that travelled the county. Imagine my surprise as I did some research of my own and found a connection to a U.S. President. I have to share it with you…..

John Green Brady was born in New York City in 1848. After his mother died Brady was left in the hands of his longshoreman father who beat Brady regularly whether he was drunk or not. By age seven Brady had run away and was found roaming the streets by New York’s finest. They placed the youngster in a home for boys on Randall’s Island.

By age twelve Brady was riding an orphan train in hopes of a new life. During a stop in Noblesville, Indiana Judge John Green got a glance of the motley crew of young toughs on the train. Years later Judge Green stated that he purposely chose, “the homeliest, toughest, most unpromising boy in the whole lot. I had a curious desire to see what could be made by such a speciman of humanity.”

By 1877, John Green Brady had graduated from Yale University and had obtained a degree from the Union Theological Seminary. He ended up in Sitka, Alaska as a Presbyterian minister, lawyer, missionary, and trader.

So, why am I touting John Green Brady on the American President’s Blog? No, he was never a president, never a vice-president…….he never even ran for office.

John Green Brady did attract the interest of President McKinley who appointed Brady as a three term territorial governor of Alaska from 1897 to 1908. Once McKinley was assassinated Theodore Roosevelt was on hand to reappoint Brady.

While the governor of Alaska Brady was known as the rose governor since he cultivated several varieties himself. He also worked very diligently towards civil rights for native Alaskans. Unfortunately he was forced to resign due to his alleged involvement with a scandal involving the Reynolds-Alaska Development Corporation. He was later fully exonerated.

Again, I’m sure you are wondering why go to this much trouble to post about a little known governor from so long ago on a site for American Presidents. I wouldn’t steer you wrong. Yes, there is more……

During a governor’s conference James Green Brady approached Theodore Roosevelt. This was no regular governor to governor hello. Per Wikipedia, Brady stated to Roosevelt,

"Governor Roosevelt, the other governors have greeted you with interest, simply as a fellow governor and a great American, but I greet you with infinitely more interest, as the son of your father, the first Theodore Roosevelt." When greeted warmly by Governor Roosevelt and asked why and in what special way he had been interested in his father, Governor Brady replied, "Your father picked me up on the streets of New York, a waif and an orphan, and sent me to a Western family, paying for my transportation and early care. Years passed and I was able to repay the money which had given me my start in life, but I can never repay what he did for me, for it was through that early care and by giving me such a foster mother and father that I gradually rose in the world until I greet his son as a fellow governor of a part of our great country."

You see, Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. was a great New York City philanthropist. He helped form the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The American Museum of Natural History, and was instrumental in forming the Children’s Aide Society which was the group behind many of the orphan trains.

History is absolutely amazing to me. The mazes of information and connections help weave our American story and I find it absolutely facinating.

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