What is Helen Keller's family background?

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Helen Keller came from a distinguished American pedigree. On her father's side, her ancestors included a governor of the Virginia colony, Colonel Alexander Spottswood, while her mother was descended from important Massachusetts families. Helen's maternal grandfather, Charles Adams, though from Massachusetts, fought on the Confederate side in the Civil War, where he rose to become an acting brigadier general, while Helen's father, Arthur Keller, fought as a Confederate captain during the same war. 

Although the Keller family became poorer after the Civil War, they were hardly impoverished. Helen's father was a newspaper editor and when Helen was five, he became Marshall of North Alabama under President Cleveland's administration.

Helen was fortunate to grow up with privilege. Her family had servants and the financial resources to seek help for their blind and deaf daughter, which included the money to hire Anne Sullivan. Without these resources, Helen's fate likely would have been very different. 

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Helen Keller has long been venerated as an example of courage and determination. Rendered blind and deaf due to a disease she had at 19 months old, Helen eventually became an author, public speaker, and benefactor of other similarly affected people.

Helen was aided by a strong family who was not content to let her remain isolated. Her father, Arthur Keller, was the editor of a newspaper called the North Alabamian in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Her mother, Kate Adams, was the daughter of Charles Adams, who reached the rank of brigadier general in the Confederate army during the Civil War. She also had three brothers and one sister.

Helen was undoubtedly helped by the fact that her family was financially stable and had the connections to help them find the assistance Helen needed. A child from a less prosperous family would probably not have had the opportunity to overcome Helen's limitations.

Perhaps the most important person in Helen's life was her teacher, Anne Sullivan. Although not technically a member of her family, she lived with Helen for almost 50 years. Sullivan was able to open up Helen's world by teaching her to communicate.

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