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Bad Luck Chuck
In 1820 a child named Chuck was born to a poor family in California. Chuck’s father was a miner who never had much luck. He dedicated his whole life trying to find gold in the hills of California; because one of his friends had told him a secret that California had an abundance of gold. His mom was killed at birth in a freak accident. Being the only important person left in Chuck’s father’s life, he believed that Chuck would bring a glimpse of luck to his dad’s hard life. As Chuck grew older, he went through school and educated himself. He was tall and very skinny, and always wore glasses that were broken down the middle. His dad didn’t have enough money to pay for new ones because he had no money. Growing up, Chuck only had one friend. His name was Freddy Birkawitz. Freddy was the total opposite of Chuck. He was short, chubby, and not the smartest kid on the block, but Chuck was to shy to make any friends so Freddy would do. Especially because Freddy was the most out going person he knew, and maybe Chuck could learn how to be more like him.
When they turned 16 Freddy decided he wanted to go fight in the Texas War because one of his second cousins lived in Texas. Nobody really knows why he wanted to go, but apparently he had a calling to it. Chuck decided to tag along because his dad could barely afford to have him around and he needed to find his own life somewhere else. They journeyed to Texas by horseback. It took several months, and by April 20, it was the day before the Battle of Jacinto (1). From a far they saw an army at camp, figuring it was the Texans they rode up and asked to see General Sam Houston. The Officer then became enraged and yelled out that there were Texans among the camp! Immediately the soldiers sprung to action and captured the two friends. In the POW camp, it was muggy and very cold. Their hands were tied behind two metal chairs. After a couple of hours, Chuck’s arms started to go numb. All the sudden the Mexican troops entered the room. One stepped towards Freddy and started to speak in a surprisingly descent form of English, “Are you Texans?” he asked. Freddy just turned his head and ignored him. The Mexican officer began to get angry and pulled out his gun, pointing it at Freddy’s forehead. Then he asked “What are your guys’ battle plans for tomorrow?” Again, Freddy ignored him. The officer then put away his gun and hit him in the face. Freddy just looked at him and spit in the Mexican’s face. Behind him, the other officer pulled out his gun and shot Freddy in the side of the head. He died instantly. Chuck screamed in shock. The officers both turned towards Chuck and asked the same question, “What are your battle plans for tomorrow?” Thinking quickly, Chuck responded, “I am not apart of Texas. We are just traveling through from California. However, if you set me free, I will fight for your army.” The officers turned to one another and discussed the situation. After several minutes, the officers agreed that he could fight for them. They gave him a sleeping tent and a rifle.
The next morning, the war was about to begin. Chuck was scared senseless. He knew he could not fight. Heck, he didn’t even know how to fire a gun! They started to get into rows for the battle line, and Chuck was placed up front. He could see the Texas army about a mile off. The lines started to march towards the enemy Texans, and Chuck was seeing his life flashing in front of his face. All the sudden a shot rung out and Chuck immediately started running backwards. The Texans thought that the Mexicans were retreating so they charged. This allowed for the Texans victory. At the end of the battle they found Chuck hiding behind a boulder on a hill. They knew he was American, but couldn’t recognize him. So, Chuck retold his story about how he came to fight but was captured. The Texas troops took him in and brought him back to the Capitol where he met Sam Houston. Sam asked Chuck about what had occurred and why him and Freddy even wanted to go fight with the Texans. Chuck didn’t really have an answer, but told him that “This is what Freddy wanted, so I just tagged along. I would like to see Texas become a US state, and will try to help you reach that.” Sam was very intrigued with Chuck’s enthusiasm, so he asked him to be his assistant. Chuck agreed, and they began writing the President asking permission to join. For months they got no answer. Even after winning the war with Mexico and becoming an independent country. With no luck, Chuck figured it was a dead end, and told Sam that he was going to leave Texas and start a new chapter in his life. Sam understood where he was coming from, and gratefully sent him off with two horses and a big supply of food. Chuck was heading towards Washington D.C because he knew that some of his aunts and uncles lived there.
The travel was very difficult, and by the time he had reached Washington he had run out of food and was starving to the point of visions appearing. He was in the center of the city on his horse when all the sudden, Chuck passed out and fell off his horse. A man in a very fancy Carriage with guards surrounding it on horses saw the event occur (4). The carriage stopped and a man in a nice suit stepped out. It was Andrew Jackson, the President of the United States. He ordered the guards to pick him up and place him into the carriage. They brought him back to the
(Here President Andrew Jackson has his carriage) White House where the on-site nurses helped him recover. Once Chuck had woken up he was starving. He looked around the room and it very nice. By the door there was a plate with lots of food piled on. Chuck jumped up and ran to the plate eating vigorously. From behind he heard the door open so he pulled his face away from the plate and turned around. It was a guard. The guard told Chuck to follow him, so he followed making sure not to leave the plate of food behind. They walked down a long hall full of paintings and portraits of past Presidents. They finally reached the door and the guard opened it and stood at the side, ushering Chuck inside. Chuck slowly walked in and immediately recognized who was sitting at the chair. “Mr. President!” Chuck exclaimed as he dropped the plate full of food to the ground. Servants immediately cleaned it up and rushed out of the room. “What happened?” Chuck asked. President Jackson told him how he had passed out in the middle of the road, so he brought Chuck back to the White House to help him. Chuck was very thankful, and asked the President if he needed any help with anything. The President asked if Chuck had any suggestions about how to deal with the Indians. Chuck thought for a while and then an idea hit him. They should remove the Indians from the Southeastern part of the United States to make room for more US states to be had (3). The president was very interested in the idea. Within a few hours he had passed the Indian Removal Act, to remove all Indians from the southeastern region. Because of the idea Chuck had provided the President, Mr. Jackson decided to give him a job in a local bakery. Chuck graciously took the job and began working right away.
Chuck absolutely loved being a baker. Everyday he would get the normal costumers that were always very cheery. Chuck became friends with one of the costumers. He was a very tall and skinny fellow just like Chuck. His name was Abraham Lincoln. Him and Chuck started to talk about life during one of Chuck’s breaks. Abe was trying to decide between being a lawyer or a politician. Chuck looked at him and said “I think you should become a lawyer. You just don’t look like the politician type.” So Abe left to become a lawyer.
Chuck continued on with his work for about a year when one Thursday afternoon, a man came through the bakery door. It was Abe Lincoln! At first, Chuck didn’t even recognize him because he was in such poor shape. His shirt was ripped all over and blood was running down his arms. Chuck took him to the back of the bakery and gave him something to eat and a wash cloth to clean up the blood. Then Chuck asked “What happened? Did someone try to mug you?” Abe brought his hands to his face and started to weep. Chuck wanted to know what happened so he could help. Abe finally started to speak… “I failed at being a lawyer. Everyone was better than me, and nothing I did was right. My life was not worth living anymore so I came back to Washington to end my life, but I couldn’t do it.” Chuck was astounded at the news of his friend. He began to think of ideas to help him recover. One popped into his mind immediately. Chuck then told Abe that he should go out and become a politician like he wanted to. That’s exactly what Abe did. He thanked Chuck for all of his help, and left right away.
It was 1841 and the owner of the bakery was getting very old, and wasn’t in the very best of shape. He died from naturally causes one night. He was so close with Chuck that in his will he gave the bakery to him. About eight years had passed and nothing exciting had occurred in Chuck’s life. Everyday he was doing his normal routine of going to the bakery at six in the morning, serving the same people everyday, and then closing up at ten in the evening. One normal day he overheard a costumer talking about how they had finally struck gold in California (2). This gave Chuck a reason to abandon the bakery business and start a new life.
The next day Chuck sold the bakery for a decent profit and bought a train ticket to California. It was a long trip, even by taking a train. When Chuck arrived he didn’t know where to start, so he went to the one place he knew; his old home. Even though it had been many years since he had last been there, he knew exactly where to go. When he reached the front door an old man walked out and it was his father. He had very bad arthritis down his hands from all the mining he had done over the years. Chuck’s father greeted him and welcomed him into his home like he had never left. When they entered the house nothing was changed from when he had left. Chuck sat down on the couch, and his father started to make him some tea. Chuck asked him if he had been mining at all with the whole gold rush going on. His father told him that he had retired from mining, but had made a company that was mining and making a very good amount of money. Chuck asked if he could have a job in the mine. His father obliged and gave him a low position as a miner on one of the mountains.
Chuck decided to stay with his father because he hadn’t seen him in such a long time and wanted to catch up. The next morning he began work on the mountain. There were so many people there it was a competition just to get enough room to start panning for gold or digging. (Chuck is mining on the mountain)
Not much was found that day except for a little gold nugget that was so small it was barely worth anything at all. Chuck was very disappointed with himself. Especially because most of the miners had a great day, finding the most gold they’ve ever found. Weeks passed and the same thing happened. He could never find any gold! His father knew that Chuck staying in California would only cause him more pain and suffering. Mining just wasn’t in his blood. One night Chuck’s father sat him down after another tough day in the mountains. They talked about how Chuck had not been doing so well, and how lately he had become depressed with his lack of luck. Chuck decided that he should leave the town, and head somewhere else. Many people he knew have been talking about how lots of land was being given away down in the south if you planned to farm it. Chuck decided that this was the best plan for him, so the next morning he headed to South Carolina.
Once he reached South Carolina it was 1853. He wrote a letter to the President asking for land he could have and would farm. He obtained about fifty acres of very nice farming ground. With the money he had left over from selling the bakery he bought and abundance of crops to plant and about 50 slaves. This went against his morals a bit because
(Chuck’s Plantation home and slave houses)
through out his whole life he had looked down on slavery. He thought that all men were created equal. However, the only way he could make money was to have slaves. He wasn’t hard on the slaves like all the other farmers near him. Chuck treated the slaves the best he possibly could. He never beat them, and fed them a very well amount. Since he treated them so nice and they were well nourished the slaves worked very hard and produced more crops and a faster rate than most of the plantations around. Chuck started to make a name for him self, as well as a pretty good amount of money.
When people started to hear that he treated the slaves like normal people they became angered with him. Some started to vandalize his property and even sent him death threats at his home. The threats and vandalism became worse and worse. Some people had even started coming and burning down the little houses where the slaves stayed. Chuck knew that he had to leave the plantation before his own life was at stake. He sold the plantation for a fortune, took his slaves, and moved up north to West Virginia in 1859. This was just above the border line and was a “free state,” so he released all of his slaves giving each some amount of money to provide for themselves (5).
Things were getting very heated between the north and south at this time, and in 1860 Abe Lincoln ran for the President of the United States. When Chuck heard of the news he was very excited. He knew Abe had finally made it and became a very big supporter of the candidate, both financially, and vocally. Abe eventually won and Chuck was very happy. However, immediately after the news of his election South Carolina seceded from the nation. Eventually ten more states followed South Carolina and seceded as well.
The eleven states created the Confederate States of America and eventually they declared war on the Union. Both the Confederate and Union troops were stationed very close to each other in Virginia. Being so close to home, Chuck decided to join the Union and fight alongside them. On July 21, 1861 the First Battle of Bull Run took place (6). The Union was looking for a quick victory to end the war. Chuck was in the middle of the Union troops that were marching towards the Confederate army. Once the war had started many people around Chuck were shot and dying. He started getting flashbacks from the Texas- Mexico battle he had fought in and became very scared. Chuck retreated, and along with him many other Union soldiers did. The Confederates took the victory, and now Chuck and all of the Union knew that this war would take much longer than a few months.
The battle of Bull Run really effected Chuck’s mind. He had now lost two of the only battles he had been in. The loss made him think that the Confederates were going to have an easy win. Having no belief in the Union army he moved back down to the South and joined the Confederate army. The Confederates accepted him with open arms because they needed as many people as possible to fend off the huge Union armies. They replaced his Union uniform with a Confederate one, and he was put into the army right away. They went around and fought many small battles for a couple months. Soon they were marching on Union soil. It was September 17, 1862 and they knew a huge battle was about to take place. They were in Maryland near Antietam creek wear they saw the opposing Union soldiers. Immediately guns were fired at the enemies. Both the Union and Confederates were behind bunkers to help protect them selves. This time Chuck was not so scared. He was angry that he had been such a coward in the past and started to fire at kill many of the Union soldiers. Some he even recognized from back home. This was the most deaths he had seen ever. Bullets were whizzing past his head and killing the soldier behind him and on the other side, the same thing was happening. By the end of the day 23,000 people combined from both sides were either dead, wounded, captured. Chuck had survived when they retreated back into Virginia (7).
Months passed and not much action had occurred. It was early January now and all of the troops were freezing. At night Chuck was sitting around the fire to stay warm with a couple of friends he had made while fighting. They were eating a warm soup which didn’t quite fill them up, but sure made them warm. They were all telling about there past lives before the war when a man ran up to the fire and told them that Lincoln had given a speech today freeing all slaves in the Confederate States. All the sudden out rage went around the whole camp. People could not believe he could have the right to do that. Many of them got news that the Union army had come in and already started freeing some of their slaves, and some slaves had even started freeing themselves. Chuck couldn’t help, but laugh a little at everyone’s reactions. He didn’t care because he had no slaves. Chuck was sort of happy, and knew that it would start the beginning of the end of slavery in the South (8).
General Lee started to notice how Chuck had been a very good soldier. So, he asked Chuck if he would like to be his personal assistant. Chuck took the offer very happily. He now had a position of power and respect. On July 1, 1863 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania a new battle was about to begin. General Lee began to trust Chuck so much he let Chuck hold the cigar case which within it he had hidden the battle plans for the day. The war was about to begin and General Lee asked Chuck for the plans. He looked in his jacket pocket where he had placed them earlier. They were missing! In its place was a hole in his pocket. Chuck looked back up at General Lee and shrugged not knowing where they could be. For some reason Lee wasn’t mad. He just told Chuck that there was no time to search for them and he had all of them memorized anyways. So they went on and marched to the battle field. The battle began and lasted for three days straight! Chuck could not fight because he was now General Lee’s assistant and had to give his messages to the troops. They knew that whoever was going to win would have the whole war as a victory. The battle was the bloodiest he had ever seen. The Union was so well prepared it was like they had found General Lee’s battle plans or something. Chuck laughed at this thought. There’s no way they could have found the plans in a cigar case. By the end of the battle, the Union had a clear victory. The confederates kept pushing, but the Union lines wouldn’t budge. Then the Union charged the Confederates, and Lee was forced to retreat back to Virginia again (9).
On the way back to Virginia Chuck decided he didn’t want to live a soldier’s life anymore. So, he decided to move to Georgia and start to farm again. His crops grew and grew. It had been a year since he had been in the army and things hadn’t gone any better for them. The Union had split the Confederacy in half so they couldn’t transport goods from Texas to the Confederate army. Chuck’s farm was doing very well, and nothing could be better in his life. Everything just felt right. News came to his farm of William Tecumseh Sherman’s march to the sea and that he was destroying everything in his path (10). Chuck took no notice of this because what were the chances that the farm would be in the middle of his path.
The next night Chuck was woken up by a loud clang. All the sudden his house was lit up in flames. Chuck ran down the stairs and hid in a secret basement he had set up just in case. The noises passed, so he waited another hour then opened the door and climbed out. Everything was burned. His home, crops, and livestock were all gone. Chuck fell to his knees and sobbed for hours. He ended up falling asleep on the ashy dirt underneath him. The next morning he woke up and had nowhere to go. He thought of his dad, but there was no way he could get all the way to California from Georgia. So, he decided to turn to the only other friend he had: Abraham Lincoln. The travel back to Washington took many months considering he only had one horse and no money. During this time Abe was reelected and the war had ended.
Once he had arrived in Washington, Chuck went to the White House immediately. When he got near guards grabbed him and asked him what he wanted. Chuck told him he was an old friend of Abe Lincoln’s. They returned inside the White House and came back minutes later asking Chuck to come inside. There the dropped Chuck off in the Oval Office where Abe sat at his desk. Abe looked up and saw Chuck standing at the door and smiled. They talked for hours about what had occurred since they had last seen each other. Abe told of how he became President and all his troubles, and Chuck told him how he had become a wealthy farmer. However, he left out the fact that he had fought with the Confederate army. Chuck had no job so Abe made him the front desk manager. All Chuck had to do was take messages from people and give them to Abe. As thanks, Chuck decided to go and get Abe and his wife tickets for a new play that was tonight. It was called “Our American Cousin” and Abe and his wife accepted the tickets and went. That night Abe Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. Chuck felt responsible for his friend’s death. He disappeared the next day, never to be seen again.