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Juliette Gordon Low is the founder of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America.
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Born in Savannah, Georgia, Juliette Gordon Low, or "Daisy" as she was fondly called, spent her early life in the South as a member of an socially and financially elite family. After the death of her millionaire husband, Low met William Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts, which inspired her to create the Girl Scouts of the United States of America.
Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon was born on October 31, 1860, in Savannah, Georgia, to father William Washington Gordon and mother Eleanor Lytle Kinzie. The second of six children born to the Gordons, Juliette was named for her maternal grandmother, but was quickly dubbed "Daisy," a common nickname at the time. Daisy's parents described their second child as "a beautiful baby" with "a sweet disposition."
Entering infancy shortly before the Civil War, Daisy's childhood was complicated by the war efforts and her parents' conflicting views on slavery. Her father, a Georgia-born Southern slave owner, believed in the succession of the South from the Union, while her Northern-born mother, whose family had helped found the city of Chicago, believed in abolition. While Daisy's father was joining the war efforts on behalf of the South, her maternal relatives were enlisting in the Northern militias. Daisy's mother struggled with the conflicting feelings of having loved ones on both sides of the war, and often faced wrath from angry neighbors, who didn't understand the Gordon family's divided feelings.
As the war dragged on, Daisy's mother grew increasingly despondent about her husband's absence, and her ability to provide for the family. By the time Daisy was 4, the South had lost the war, and the little girl—malnourished and sickly—still had yet to truly see her father for more than a few days at a time. Her mother and sisters, under the protection of General William Tecumseh Sherman, moved to Illinois to stay with Daisy's maternal grandparents.
At her grandparents' home in Illinois, Daisy was exposed to an entirely different way of life. Her grandfather, a member of the Chicago elite, helped found the Chicago Board of Trade, the Chicago Athenaeum, and the city's public schools. He was also a savvy investor, who earned his wealth through the railroads, copper mines and his presidency of the Second State Bank in Chicago.
As a result of her maternal grandparents' influence in the community, Daisy encountered a variety of new people, including many Native Americans, who sought business and investment advice from her grandfather. Her interactions with Native Americans gave her an early appreciation of Native American culture, which she would idealize for the rest of her life.
By 1865, the family had reunited in Savannah and, thanks to her mother's efforts to recoup their financial losses in the South, Daisy's father was able to revitalize Belmont cotton plantation.
As Daisy grew, her empathy for others, and her unconventional outlook on life became more and more apparent.
Buy Juliette Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts, by Stacy A. Cordery, on Amazon.com
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