Fifty Famous People

- By James Baldwin
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James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an American novelist, playwright, essayist, poet, and activist. His essays, collected in Notes of a Native Son (1955), explore intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in the Western society of the United States during the mid twentieth-century.[1] Some of Baldwin's essays are book-length, including The Fire Next Time (1963), No Name in the Street (1972), and The Devil Finds Work (1976). An unfinished manuscript, Remember This House, was expanded and adapted for cinema as the Academy Award–nominated documentary film I Am Not Your Negro (2016).[2][3] One of his novels, If Beale Street Could Talk, was adapted into the Academy Award-winning film of the same name in 2018, directed and produced by Barry Jenkins. Baldwin's novels, short stories, and plays fictionalize fundamental personal questions and dilemmas amid complex social and psychological pressures. Themes of masculinity, sexuality, race, and class intertwine to create intricate narratives that run parallel with some of the major political movements toward social change in mid-twentieth-century America, such as the civil rights movement and the gay liberation movement. Baldwin's protagonists are often but not exclusively African American, and gay and bisexual men frequently feature as protagonists in his literature. These characters often face internal and external obstacles in their search for social- and self-acceptance. Such dynamics are prominent in Baldwin's second novel, Giovanni's Room, which was written in 1956, well before the gay liberation movement.[4]

Fifty Famous People

(1) WHEN Andrew Jackson was a little boy, he lived with his mother in South Carolina. He was eight years old when he heard about the ride of Paul Revere and the famous fight at Lexington.
(2) It was then that the long war, called the Revolutionary War, began. The king’s soldiers were sent into every part of the country. The people called them the British. Some called them “red-coats.”
(3) There was much fighting; and several great battles took place between the British and the Americans.
(4) At last Charleston, in South Carolina, was taken by the British. Andrew Jackson was then a tall white-haired boy, thirteen years old.
(5) “I am going to help drive those red-coated British out of the country,” he said to his mother.
(6) Then, without another word, he mounted his brother’s little farm horse and rode away. He was not old enough to be a soldier, but he could be a scout—and a good scout he was.
(7) He was very tall—as tall as a man. He was not afraid of anything. He was strong and ready for every duty.
(8) One day as he was riding through the woods, some British soldiers saw him. They quickly surrounded him and made him their prisoner.
(9) “Come with us,” they said, “and we will teach you that the king’s soldiers are not to be trifled with.”
(10) They took him to the British camp.
(11) “What is your name, young rebel?” said the British captain.
(12) “Andy Jackson.”
(13) “Well, Andy Jackson, get down here and clean the mud from my boots.”
(14) Andrew’s gray eyes blazed as he stood up straight and proud before the haughty captain.
(15) “Sir,” he said, “I am a prisoner of war, and demand to be treated as such.”
(16) “You rebel!” shouted the captain. “Down with you, and clean those boots at once.”
(17) The slim, tall boy seemed to grow taller, as he answered, “I’ll not be the servant of any Englishman that ever lived.”
(18) The captain was very angry. He drew his sword to hit the boy with its flat side. Andrew threw out his hand and received an ugly gash across the knuckles.
(19) Some other officers, who had seen the whole affair, cried out to the captain, “Shame! He is a brave boy. He deserves to be treated as a gentleman.”
(20) Andrew was not held long as a prisoner. The British soldiers soon returned to Charleston, and he was allowed to go home.
(21) In time, Andrew Jackson became a very great man. He was elected to Congress, he was chosen judge of the supreme court of Tennessee, he was appointed general in the army, and lastly, he was for eight years the president of the United States.

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Word Lists:

Gash : a long deep slash, cut, or wound

Knuckle : a part of a finger at a joint where the bone is near the surface, especially where the finger joins the hand

Slim : (of a person or their build) gracefully thin; slenderly built (used approvingly)

Soldier : a person who serves in an army.

Haughty : arrogantly superior and disdainful

Prisoner : a person legally held in prison as a punishment for crimes they have committed or while awaiting trial

Rebel : a person who rises in opposition or armed resistance against an established government or ruler

Blaze : a very large or fiercely burning fire

Trifle : a thing of little value or importance

Congress : a national legislative body, especially that of the US. The US Congress, which meets at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., was established by the Constitution of 1787 and is composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives


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