A Clear Writing Technique – Outlining “John Adams – History’s Forgotten President”

As noted in the last post,  clear writing flows from well thought out preparation.    This in turn depends on a three step process:  a preliminary plan, an outline,  and writing the first draft.

An outline is akin to the blueprint of a building.  It should be prepared in sufficient detail to capture the essence of your writing.  There are three workable approaches in preparing an outline.  One of them, the traditional approach will be shown in this post.

[Note – Although indentation of capital letters, small letters, and arabic numerals, is preferred in an outline, formatting issues and space limitations have necessitated that all outline entries be aligned completely left.]

In adopting the traditional approach, the topic outline and the sentence outline are commonly used.

The topic outline may appear as follows:

John Adams – An Unrecognized President.

Theme: John Adams, America’s second president, has been largely unrecognized by history.

I.  Achievements of John Adams.

A.  Delegate from Massachusetts to the Continental Congress.

1.  Was instrumental in securing passage of the Declaration of Independence.

B.  Elected first Vice-President, under George Washington.

C.  Elected second President of the United States.

D.  Statesman of unquestioned honesty and character.

1.  Appointed minister plenipotentiary to France and to England.

E.  Achieved prominence as Boston attorney.

1.   Successfully defended British soldiers accused of murder in the 1770 Boston Massacre trial.

F.   Intellectual

1.  Was extremely well read and fluent in several languages.

II.  Reasons for lesser recognition are obscure.

A.  Sometimes argumentative personality, fiery temper.

III. Remedies for consideration.

A.  Erect monument/statue in Washington D.C.

B.  Place likeness on currency.

C.  Recent biographies, presidential coinage, television mini-series helpful.

In using a sentence outline, complete sentences and appropriate punctuation should be employed.

I.  John Adams had many notable achievements in his life.

A.  Adams was a delegate to the Continental Congress from Massachusetts.

1.  His  unflagging advocacy was instrumental in Congress’ adopting the Declaration of Independence.

B.  Adams was elected as the second President of the United States.

1.  He kept America neutral during the was between France and England.

C.  He was America’s first Vice President, under George Washington.

D.   Adams was an able statesman as well as a successful politician.

1.  He was appointed minister plenipotentiary to France and to England.

E.  He was a prominent Boston area lawyer.

1.  A noteworthy achievement was his successful defense of British soldiers accused of murdering Massachusetts colonists in  the  Boston  massacre  trial of 1770.

F.  Adams was an intellectual, well read, and fluent in several languages.

II. Reasons for his lesser recognition are obscure.

A.   Though he was an eloquent public speaker, he could be argumentative, was irascible, and had a fiery temper.

B.  Passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts was a black mark on his presidency.

C.  Was victimized by a scurrilous letter publicized by Alexander Hamilton before the 1800 election questioning his fitness for public office.

III. There are several possible remedies to consider.

A.  Erect a statue and/or monument to his memory in Washington, D.C.

B.  Place his likeness on one of America’s currency bills.

C.   Recent biographies, likeness on presidential coinage, and the television mini-series about him have helped to ease Adams’  non- recognition by historians.

Copyright 2012.  Arnold G. Regardie.  All rights reserved.

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