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Essay of Adversity

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Essay on Adversity

"Things in life will not always run smoothly," said Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1945 inaugural address as he recalled the words of a former teacher. "Sometimes we will be rising toward the heights-then all will seem to reverse itself and start downward. The great fact to remember is that the trend of civilization itself is forever upward."

Roosevelt would know perhaps as well as anyone about the peaks and valleys that we face in life. Despite having all the advantages of wealth and prestige, he could not be protected from the frailties of life. In 1909, he watched his infant son die. In 1920, as the vice-presidential candidate, he lost in the largest landslide to that time. It was a humiliating repudiation of everything he had stood for. The next year, he was struck by polio, a disease that left him paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of his life. In those days, such a disability would have ended his public life, but Roosevelt rallied back. In 1928, he was elected governor of New York and won the presidency in 1932 from where he would lead the nation through the Great Depression and World War II, celebrated as one of the greatest presidents in American History.

Mary Harris Jones, also known as Mother Jones, lost absolutely everything in her life. In 1867, she watched her husband and her four children all die in a yellow fever epidemic. Devastated, she relocated to Chicago and began a business as a dressmaker, only to see all her belongings destroyed in the Great Fire of 1871. At this time when she was at her worst or thinking she may be too old at 41, she now turned to a new career: fighting for the rights of others. Mother Jones began fighting for the rights of mine workers and child laborers, even going to prison to defend them. In 1903, at the age of 73, she organized a march of hundreds of child laborers to see President Theodore Roosevelt and brought the issue of child labor to the forefront of the American conscience. In the 1920s, well into her nineties, she still travelled across the country speaking to labor groups who celebrated her determination. Schools and even a magazine were named after a woman who refused to let herself be defeated and lived by her motto, "Pray for the dead, but fight like hell for the living."

Andrew Jackson's father died before he was born. He was raised by his widowed mother in near-poverty in South Carolina as the American Revolution erupted. At the age of 13 in 1780, he began working as a messenger for the Continental Army but was captured by the British. He and his older brother were beaten by British officers and were eventually released to the custody of their mother. Soon afterward, his brother and mother contracted smallpox and died. At the age of 14, Jackson was now utterly alone. But Jackson would not allow himself to be beaten by life. He rallied back, and by the age of 20, he had been admitted to the South Carolina bar to become an attorney.

Jackson soon moved to Tennessee and rose quickly through his hard work. By the time he was 35, he had already been a member of Congress and a justice on the Tennessee Supreme Court. And he was just getting started. Within a few years, he had become a war hero for his exploits in the War of 1812, become governor of the Florida Territory, become the governor of Tennessee, become a US Senator from Tennessee, and had become the richest man in Tennessee. In 1828, he was elected President of the United States. He became one of the most respected men of his time because of his determination to never give up.

Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. He was separated from his mother as an infant when she was sold away. He never knew his father. He was sold at the age of six and separated from his grandmother, essentially orphaned and forced to live a life of humiliating servitude. The wife of one owner started to help him to learn to read in violation of the law, but her husband forced her to stop. Douglass became determined to go further and taught himself to read. Soon, he was teaching other slaves to read and write. Showing increasing independence, he was then sold to a "slave-breaker" as a teenager and beaten regularly. But Douglass endured. At the age of 18, he tried to escape, but failed. But he tried again two years later, and this time succeeded.

Now living a life of freedom, Douglass began attending abolitionist meetings, and one day was asked to speak about his own experiences. The thought of speaking terrified him, but Douglass overcame his fears of public speaking and delivered a stirring address. He was soon found in demand to speak across the nation on the evils of slavery. Before long,



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