By Bob Ferris
|Syrian refugees in Turkey.|
Now in this it is important to differentiate between immigrants and refugees. For example, Donald Trump’s grandfather Frederick and the Koch brothers’grandfather Harry as well as Rupert Murdoch were and are immigrants who came to these shores simply to make money. They were not being persecuted for religious or ideological beliefs nor were they leaving their natal lands to avoid being unjustly put to death or being imprisoned. Refugees on the other hand experience all of these latter hardships and more.
|Typed transcript of Winifred Gales recounting of her distress when Joseph was forced to leave England or face trial from The Gales Family Papers 1815-1939|
|Typed transcript of Winifred Gales on the Brittannia sailing with her children to Hamburg to rejoin her husband in The Gales Papers 1815-1939.|
The William and Henry dropped seven souls on the landings in Philadelphia on that fine day in July. What did the newly formed US get for its open arms policy at the point?
|Joseph Gales Sr.|
Winifred Marshall Gales (1761–1839) Winifred continued to write and was credited with being the first female novelist in North Carolina when Matilda Berkely was published 1804. (see also 1,2,3)
|Joseph Gales Jr.|
Winifred M Gales Johnson (1787-1825) Winifred married General Robert Ransom Johnson from a prominent North Carolina family in 1804 on the 20th anniversary of her parent’s wedding. She died at 38 and some of her children were raised by her mother and father.
|Lt. Col. Thomas Gales|
|From The North Carolina Booklet Volume VII page 4 (July, 1907)|
|Sarah Weston Gales Seaton with Julia and Augustine.|
|William Winston Seaton|
*******When I look at the above, I do not see much that this group of seven Gales refugees did that has caused anything, but benefit to this country. And I do not think that their stories are that unique except perhaps for their level of accomplishment. They loved their new country and sacrificed much on the altar of public service to make it better.
Now as to the Syrians refugees, we have several questions to ask. The first is why would these refugees act any differently than other refugees who we have helped in the past? Yes, there will be some cultural challenges as there always are, but adoption of and adjustment to new cultures take time. Now to those who would ask what about the possibility of ISIL salting the ranks of the refugees to do us harm, my responses would be two. The first is the refugees themselves are fleeing ISIL so it seems unlikely they would voluntarily be complicit in bringing them along. Moreover, this is likely the wrong question because we should be asking whether or not ISIL will still try to send or recruit operatives in the US to cause us problems regardless of whether we accept the refugees and the answer to that is: Yes. Essentially we gain nothing from denying them access, but put at risk that which has so often helped us: Crops of grateful new Americans striving to repay our generosity and earn their place in this great country.
Epilogue and After Thoughts
|1934 photo of students in front of the Gales School in Washington DC that was built in 1881 and closed in 1944. After acting as a homeless shelter the school is now the home of the Central Union Mission.|
Many of the these Gales refugees are somewhat forgotten even in my own family, but they linger in the shadows. My younger sister's middle name is Gales and my brother-in-law named their sailboat Merry Gales in honor of this. My mother has a miniature of Lt. Col. Thomas Gales on her bedroom dresser and my Uncle Pat Ferris has the full and deeply-sad portrait in his living room. And I used to saunter by the Gales School in my walks around DC and have visited Eliza Ramsay's Grave at Oakhill Cemetery and mean to visit Winifred, Joseph Jr. Sarah and William's graves in the Congressional Cemetery when next I hit DC. Thinking about the legacy of Joseph and Winifred I cannot help but believe that they would be happy with all of us who descend from them who write in any fashion or think it is important to stay informed. I would also think that they would love that the school named for their son helped children for nearly half a century and now helps the homeless. And I would have to believe that they would welcome these Syrian refugees with open arms looking for rooms and housing options even before asked we should indeed learn lessons from these refugees.