Out of Print, and Still the Best, Part 2
The book contains mini-biographies of each never-president — the author calls them Also Rans — and a rundown of each of their runs for president and a final section that compares them to the man who did ascend to the presidency.
Owning to the nature of lifetime political careers, the biographies can help my students review the major political issues over time, and, better yet, they put a personality behind the portrait and name they see in their book.
Horace Greeley help found the Republican party following the death of the Whig party. He will never be on the Advanced Placement test, but knowing that the journalist was so disgusted with the graft and incompetence of Ulysses Grant that Greeley accepted a Reconstruction-era Democratic nomination reviews the following information:
1. Former Whigs were the earliest Republicans.
2. Ulysses Grant’s administration had legendary graft and incompetence.
3. Reconstruction was so hard on the mostly Southern Democratic Party that a founder of the Republican Party was nominated in its ticket.
Though the reading level is a little high for lower-level students, I love the book for it. He closes a section on Henry Clay with this jem.
He blamed his defeat on fraud, foreigners, Catholics, abolitionists, Tyler-ites, renegade Whigs — on everything except the life, career and character of Henry Clay.
William Jennings Bryan was even better liked.
His mind was like a soup dish, wide and shallow; it could hold a small amount of nearly anything, but the slightest jarring spilled the soup into somebody’s lap.
When I teach AP U.S. History, this book will be transformed into copyright-infringing packets.
I’ll buy my own reams, if I have to. I’ll probably have to.
Moral of the story? Teachers know their subject can be interesting, and an outside text hammers that point home.