Robert C. Byrd: Child of the AppalachianCoalfields

Once upon a time when Senator Byrd was considered for the Supreme Court
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Sale, who worked in a furniture shop, remained with the other children in North-Carolina. I was that child. During my early years, I was raised to believe that Mr. Byrd were my parents, and, although they were poor, they gave me love and treated me as they would have treated their very own child. After living in Bluefield for a short time, we moved to Algonquin, West Virginia, a coal camp a few miles distant, where Mr. Byrd — whom I always called "Pap" and referred to as "my dad" — worked in the coal mine.

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My future was before me. Of course, I had no way of knowing what was in that future, but West Virginia was destined to be my home and the state which I would serve in public office for more than fifty years. I was to become — in the words of Jay Rockefeller, my colleague and friend in later life — "the quintessential West Virginian. What was there in this rugged terrain with its windswept peaks; this untamed land of dense forests; this rough and wild-mountained matrix with swift-flowing rivers winding through deep gorges and meandering valleys?

What was there in all of this rustic panorama of idyllic charm that would make me what I became, and shape me to what I am? As I look back over the more than eighty years through which I have lived and become a part of the soil, as it were, of West Virginia, I have concluded that to understand West Virginians, one must first understand the history of West Virginia. That history is a saga of conflict, a story of struggle. West Virginia is a place that few Americans know and even fewer understand.

It is a place of unspeakable beauty, a place that has known terrible tragedy, a place whose past is imbrued with blood — the blood of the original Americans, and the blood of the white men and women who came over the Allegheny Mountains and who killed, and were killed by, the Indians.

These men and women came seeking to build their homes in a wilderness where they could eke out a living by the sweat of their brow and the work of their hands, where they could rear their children and enjoy the fulfillment of their free and independent spirits. It is a story of a people who struggled for a sense of community, whose love of freedom and liberty was unquenchable.

They were sturdy souls, for whom the unknowns of a vast and unexplored wilderness held no terrors too great for them to press on. It is a story that is distinctly American, and yet distinctly different from that of other parts of America. It is a land whose sturdy mountain men would fight the Indians, the French, and, yes, their kinspeople, the British.

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They were men who would flock to the banner of the first great commander of American armies, George Washington. They later would shed their blood on both sides in the terrible war between the states. They would join in the struggle over union, in which one state was torn from another. It was to become the only state born out of a great civil war. This was wild, wonderful West Virginia! The mountain people of West Virginia were hardworking, tough, clannish, and, while normally friendly, they generally looked upon strangers with suspicion. These early forebears who hewed the forests, spanned the rivers, fought the Indians, subdued the land, and wrested from the tenacious grip of nature the cleared hillsides on which to plant the crops to sustain them and their animals — these were men and women of mostly Anglo-Saxon stock.

When the steamboats and the railroads came, and when industry began to ply its way into the hills and winding hollows, workers came to the mountains of West Virginia from Continental Europe — Italians, Hungarians, Spaniards, Germans, Czechoslovakians, Greeks, Poles — and the British Isles. Blacks came from the southern cotton fields.

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These were the hardy souls who built the railroads, drove tunnels through the mountains, and plied the rivers with rafts and flatboats to open the region to commerce with the outside world. They built the state and developed it mainly on the economy of coal. In the s they fought in the mine wars. It is a state whose rich resources have been largely owned and exploited by outside interests.

Absentee owners, while living outside the state, wrested from the West Virginia earth the wealth that made them rich — rich from the toil and sweat and blood and tears of the people in the hill country who worked out their lives, all too often, for a pittance.

West Virginia is the story of a people who lived in isolation, whose wish was to be left alone and to be able to raise their families, to be at peace, and to worship the God of their fathers. It is the story of a people who would be misunderstood and all too frequently disparagingly portrayed as ignorant "hillbillies.

This was the West Virginia to which I came. And it was a state in whose southern coal fields my formative years would be spent, a state in which coal reigned, because Coal was King! In The Conduct of Life Emerson wrote of its widespread sovereignty:. Every basket is power and civilization.

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For coal is a portable climate. It carries the heat of the tropics to Labrador and the polar circle; and it is the means of transporting itself whithersoever it is wanted. For millions of centuries, the hills and mountains that cover so much of West Virginia slumbered in untouched solitude. Marcus K. Elise marked it as to-read Aug 08, Sadiest marked it as to-read May 07, Ryan Austin marked it as to-read Aug 27, Heather added it Jan 29, June Pecchia marked it as to-read Feb 22, Duane marked it as to-read Jun 17, Matthew marked it as to-read Jun 21, Tracy Coffman marked it as to-read Oct 14, Stefan marked it as to-read Nov 25, Elizabeth marked it as to-read Dec 30, Diana marked it as to-read Apr 24, Justin Minsker marked it as to-read Jun 02, Elijah marked it as to-read Sep 05, Gary marked it as to-read Nov 08, David Brown marked it as to-read Dec 05, Jenny marked it as to-read Feb 16, Benjamin Glaser marked it as to-read Dec 07, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.

About Robert C.

Byrd was a senator from January 3, , until his death, and was the longest-serving senator, as well as the longest-serving member in congressional history. He was the Dean of the Senate from to He was also the oldest member of the current Congress at the time of his death Strom Thurmond was the oldest to serve in Congressional history , and was the first person to serve uninterrupted for half a century as a senator.

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He also held this post previously from to , briefly in January , and from June to January Byrd held a wide variety of both liberal and conservative political views. Books by Robert C. Trivia About Robert C. Byrd: C No trivia or quizzes yet. Welcome back. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. I've just started the book and find it very interesting.

I look forward to finishing it. Well written with excellent background observations--The way it was put together starting with the parental guidance and upbringing he was given was very inspiring and a true menue for future parents as well those of parents of the day. It was a well wanted gift for my 94 year old mother in W. We all admire Robert Byrd and his story is a great, enjoying, and educational book to read. Everyone in my family will read it--hopefully all ages.

Its nice to read about an average person being able to reach high office and not have to be a millionare. Format: Hardcover. I was a little hesitant to buy a biography of over pages. However, I was quite surprised by the content and layout. Although the book is divided into chapters dealing with specific areas of Senator Byrd's life, the narrative is more along the lines of storytelling. I have enjoyed the fact that the format is in small little stories; a motivator to complete a book of this size. This is an enjoyable, well written book.

Although I am originally from West Virginia and thus hold a stronger interest for Senator Byrd, I believe that many will enjoy learning about one of our country's most interesting Senators. Yes, this book does confront the fact that Senator Byrd was in the KKK, unlike what is said in other reviews.

Isn't this the true American story for this century? A complete turnabout in one's life, someone raised in Crabtree, West Virginia in an environment of racism. This story is a complete compilation of someone overcoming that old battle of nature vs. Senator Byrd's redemption has been proved time and time again in his recent years of the senate.

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There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Neal Portland, Oregon Search for more papers by this author. Martin Kelly. Around the World in Sixty-Six Days pp. Stormy Waters pp. Customers who viewed this item also viewed. Simon Basher.

So to belittle this man because of an indiscretion in his past is to really have your blinders on and to see what you want to see. Overlooking this man's enormous accomplishments is a sad acquiescence. As a Jewish man, I have total respect, admiration and faith in this Senator. I wonder, what do people want? Would they rather he have kept his old ideals? Another Trent Lott or Haley Barbour? No, this man has apologized, told his story, and has redeemed himself.

His actions speak louder than any words or letters from the past. This man is a true American Story. We should all be in admiration of his service to this country. Child of the Appalachian Coalfields is a fine book. Robert C. Byrd has had a long and distinguished career, and it's very good that he could tell his story himself, before time marches on. This will be an important legacy for future historians -- don't we wish we had a similar tome from Henry Clay? Some in the national news media have been highly critical of Byrd, but they don't understand him and they don't understand West Virginia.

This book, if read in the right quarters, would help explain both to those outside the state whose impressions are faulty. See all 11 reviews.

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