The President of the United States may be of Quebec descent, speak French, and be called Maurice!

When he died in 2021 at the age of 91, The The New York Times Mike Gravel has been called an unorthodox politician, a label that suits him well.

Maurice Robert Gravel was born on May 13, 1930 in Springfield, Massachusetts to Quebec parents of Sorrel-Tracy and Saint-Ours mother. Like many French Canadians of their time, they were attracted by better job opportunities.

Mike Gravel and the “Gravell Teens”

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The third in a family of five children, young Maurice attended a Catholic and French-speaking school. Not yet aware that he has severe dyslexia, he will experience many difficulties.

Although the young man’s interest in politics was evident from an early age (his parents nicknamed him “Our Politician”), it wasn’t until 1956 that he moved to Alaska, where he eventually became a senator.

From 1956 to 1968, the year he was elected to the Senate, Gravel climbed the ladder one by one. Initially interested in real estate, he worked as a railroad brakeman before being elected to Congress in 1959 when Alaska gained statehood.

0715 His Laliberte

Photographed by Mike Gravel for the 2008 campaign.

Photo is public domain

A lonely senator

At least as libertarian as a Democrat, the senator from Alaska goes down in history for his independent and courageous nature.

The young Democrat’s first achievement was related to the disclosure of classified documents, the Pentagon Papers. Gravel remained unknown to the public until 1971 when the US government objected to the disclosure. The Washington Post And this The New York Times From a folder shared by whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

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Democratic debate participants of the 2007-2008 campaign.

Photo is public domain

When he engages in a filibuster filibuster, the Alaskan senator reads excerpts from the filing and receives significant media coverage.

Its second moment of pride lies in supporting the construction of a pipeline to connect Alaska with ports further south.

The bill was delayed for environmental reasons, but Gravel secured the loyalty of his constituents by cooperating with Richard Nixon’s administration.

0715 His Laliberte

Photo is public domain

Mike Gravel, who was expelled from the Democratic Party in 1980, will be linked to the fond memories of his former colleagues by submitting his candidacy in the 2007-2008 Democratic primary.

Limited by his budget (he slept in hotels for $55 a night) and little support, he was no match for the heavyweights of the era, a trio made up of Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama. A certain Joe Biden was also on the team.

0715 His Laliberte

Cover of the Pentagon Papers.

Photo is public domain

More recently, “Grandpa Mike” hit the headlines due to the uniqueness of his second bid for the 2020 Democratic primary.

Already very old and weakened by illness, he agreed to respond positively to the pleas of three young men, the “Gravel Teens,” who wanted to organize his campaign.

In his own way, Mike Gravel embodied the popular American dream. The son of immigrants of modest origins, only hard work and luck can explain an extraordinary journey.

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