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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

John Adams

John Quincy AdamsJohn Quincy Adams by Harlow Giles Unger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I did not know much about John Quincy Adams except for the fact that he was president of the United States, and that he argued the Amistad case before the Supreme Court, winning the kidnapped African's their freedom. What I discovered was that he was a true genius, a man who saw far beyond his time and paid the price for it. Adams was fluent in several European languages including Dutch, French, and Russian. Due to this fact and other aspects of his intelligence, he first served his country in diplomacy securing international recognition for the new American nations and favorable trade relations for its industries.

His presidency was unsuccessful due to the fact that he was a true minority president, receiving fewer popular and electoral votes than his main rival and successor Andrew Jackson. However, due to the fact that no candidate for the presidency got a majority of the electoral votes, the election was thrown into the House of Representatives, where a deal was reached with Henry Clay to give Adams the office. However, while president, he was never respected. Jackson used the accusation that Adams had made a dishonorable deal to gain the White House to discredit and thwart Adams.

After losing to Jackson in 1828, Adams was elected to the House of Representatives from Massachusetts practically without opposition where he immediately threw himself into the growing slave controversy much to the outrage of the Southern congressmen who tried, unsuccessfully to censure and dismiss him from the House.

Adams' success in the Amistad trial was in many ways the first battle of the Civil War and the precursor to Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. (Lincoln in his only term in the House served with Adams in his final term.) Adams literally died on the House floor fighting the Amistad case when he opposed the claims Spain made against the United States in regards to their lost "property" (the freed Africans).

Harlow Unger's book is very accessible. He acquainted me not only with the man but the times in which he lived. I now have a respect for John Quincy Adams that I did not have before.

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Poe, a Graphic Novel

PoePoe by J. Barton Mitchell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the benefits of becoming interested in the "Steampunk" genre is the discovery of new types of literature. I have not been that interested in "graphic novels", not since I was a teenager reading comic books.

Poe is a graphic novel with text by J. Barton Mitchell and art by Dean Kotz with assistance from others. The story is shows Poe and his brother William, a constable with the Baltimore police department, attempting to solve a series of murders that seem to revolve around some Roman coins that date back to the time of Jesus. The adventure that Poe and his brother go through create allusions to Poe's most famous writings.

I have not read enough graphic novels to be a proper judge of them. But the art work and graphics impressed me with their dark hues and active imagery. The story line was engaging. Given the supernatural premise of the plot, the characters seemed plausible and well motivated.

I would recommend this story for middle school students as a way to introduce them to Edgar Allen Poe, as well as for those interested in the graphic novel genre.

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