The Presidents

A look into the lives, policies and notable events of the first four presidents of the United States. Includes a look at the explorations of Lewis and Clark as well as the events of the war of 1812.

Unit Question: Did the first generation of presidents (Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison) do more good for the nation or more harm?

Lecture Notes

From a lowly British soldier to the man who many begged to be their new king.

There's no instructions how to be the first president so Washington had to do it himself.

From a revolutionary to a failed reelection, let's meet John Adams!

Wrote the Declaration of Independence and doubled the size of the US. No big deal.

Father of the Constitution and now president, nice work James!

30 years after the Revolution war with Britain breaks out again.

Labs and Activities

1.WWGD: The Whisky Rebellion (Digital Edition)- Students read about the basics of the Whiskey Rebellion then examine the powers of the executive outlined in the Constitution to determine how George Washington likely responded. They will then read what he really did and determine if he followed the Constitution. Works great in conjunction with the Be Washington games from Mount Vernon's website!

2. WTE: Washington - Does George Washington deserve to be on the one-dollar bill? Well, of course, he was perfect and everyone loved him right? Maybe not. Students will examine multiple sources to determine if bias has given us an unrealistic view of the first president.

3. HA!: The Farewell Address - A Critical Reading analysis of Washington's incredibly important farewell address that asks if we have followed his advice.

4. HA!: The Sedition Acts - Students read excerpts of the law and consider what it means. Meanwhile, their letters of protest to the principal are slowly censored.

5. Talking Heads: Federalists and Republicans - Who said it? A series of quotes from Federalists and Republicans that students match to their respective parties.

6. Which Party Are You? - A series of topics and opinions to help students discover which historical political party they might have belonged to. Also includes a modern version and a series of topics to use for Philosophical Chairs [worksheet] for extension.

7. Problem Solvers: Party Edition! - Given a modern political problem and an assigned historical party (either Federalist or Democratic-Republican) students in groups come up with a plan that would please their party. They then partner up with other groups to try to create a compromise that could please everyone.

8. History Mystery: Death of Meriwether Lewis - Suicide? Wrong place, wrong time? An assassination by a government agent? What happened to Meriwether Lewis?

9. HA!: Jefferson's Letter to his Daughter - Think parents and kids just recently started having communication problems? You're wrong.

10. WWTD: The Louisiana Purchase - Students are presented with the basics of the Louisiana Purchase then examine the powers of the federal government outlined in the Constitution to determine how Thomas Jefferson likely responded. They will then see what Jefferson did and compare his powers as president to those of modern presidents.

11. DFFT: Monticello - What was life like for the very uncommon man in the time of the Early Republic? Explore a series of artifacts to help tell the story. Teacher Script I Student Guide Sheet

12. Culture Shock: The Early Republic - Mini-activities involving the Sedition Act, Lewis and Clark, dirty campaigning and featuring dating advice from George Washington himself! Lesson Plan

13. You Decide: The War of 1812 - [Student Worksheet] A series of animated "interviews" with people from different regions of the U.S. in 1812 for students to analyze. Then they analyze a brief comparison of US and British naval strength and small parts of Madison's speech to congress asking for war. Ultimately, students will decide if war with Britain was the right course of action.

14. WTE: War of 1812 - The War of 1812 has been called "a little war" and a "forgotten war" among other things. Join the debate on its significance by weighing the evidence to determine if ultimately the war was a positive event for America.

15. HA!: The Star Spangled Banner - Though it was written in 1814 The Star Spangled Banner did not become our national anthem until 1931. In this HA! activity we analyze the song and compare it to one that was seen as our anthem before it (My Country 'Tis of Thee) and evaluate which better represents our nation. We will also listen to both songs... repeatedly!