March 18, 2005

Rob Portman

Posted at March 18, 2005 6:37 PM

Bush's latest appointee:

The Rob Portman file Name: Robert J. Portman.

Age-birth date: 49; Dec. 19, 1955.

Education: B.A., Dartmouth College, 1979; J.D., University of Michigan School of Law, 1984.

Experience: Trade attorney at Patton, Boggs & Blow in Washington, D.C., 1984-1986; attorney at Graydon, Head & Ritchey in Cincinnati, 1987-1989 and 1992-1993; associate counsel, deputy assistant to the president, then director, Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House, 1989-1991; elected as a Republican to Congress, May 4, 1993, by special election to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Bill Gradison. Re-elected six times.

Family: Wife, Jane, and three children.

Achievements: The IRS Restructuring Act of 1998, which created 50 new "taxpayers' rights" and was the result of recommendations of a bipartisan commission co-chaired by Portman; the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act; the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, which prevents Congress from imposing unfunded mandates on state and local governments without first determining the cost and deciding how to fund them; the Pension Simplification Act, designed to cut the costs of maintaining pension plans for small business employers.

Quote: "I have a loyalty and allegiance to making them (the Bush administration) successful. I have a real commitment to that."

Obviously my first question: what is the "National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act"?

The National Park Service is implementing a national Underground Railroad (UGRR) Program to coordinate preservation and education efforts nationwide and integrate local historical places associated with the UGRR into a mosaic of community, regional and national stories. The NPS program builds upon and is supported by community initiatives around the country as well as legislation passed in 1990 and the National Underground Network to Freedom Act of 1998.

The name -- Underground Railroad -- is metaphorical and refers to the effort of enslaved African Americans to gain their freedom through escaping bondage. Their acts of self-emancipation made them fugitives according to the law of the times. While most freedom seekers began their journey unaided and many completed their self-emancipation without assistance, each decade in which slavery was legal in the United States saw an increase in active efforts to assist their escape. In many cases the decision to assist may have been a spontaneous reaction as the situation presented itself. However, in some places, and particularly after the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, the UGRR was deliberate and organized. Despite the illegality of their actions, and without regard to their own personal danger, people of all races, classes and genders participated in this early form of civil disobedience. Wherever slavery existed, there were efforts to escape, at first to maroon communities in swamps or other rugged terrain on the edge of settled areas. Spanish territories to the south in Florida, British areas to the north in Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and other foreign countries offered additional destinations for freedom. Free black communities in urban areas in both the South and the North were the destination for some freedom seekers. The maritime industry was an important source for spreading information as well as offering transportation and employment. Through ties with the whaling industry, California became a destination, as did possibly, Alaska. Military service provided another avenue as thousands of African Americans joined the military, from the colonial era to the Civil War, as a means to gain their freedom. During the Civil War, many fugitives sought protection and freedom by escaping to the United States army.



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