George Washington's Foreign Policy

In this lesson, students will connect George Washington’s Farewell Address to later presidential foreign policy messages. As a group, the class will discuss the influence Washington’s message had on the nation and posterity. Students, working in groups, will then investigate excerpts from later presidential foreign policy messages. The groups will compare and contrast their assigned document with Washington’s Farewell Address and present their findings to the class. In closing, the class will conduct a Socratic Seminar analyzing past U.S. foreign policy and chart a course for future U.S. foreign policy.

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Presidency Comparison

A primary source worksheet for students focused on close reading skills. Students are asked to compare how both George and Martha Washington felt about General Washington becoming the first President of the United States. Students should complete the George Washington's Letter to Henry Knox about the Presidency and Martha Washington's Letter about the Presidency worksheets prior to beginning this activity. This resource was created by 2015-2016 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Marcia Motter.

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Using Political Cartoons to Understand History

In 2005, Mount Vernon invited several well-known political cartoonists from newspapers across the country to draw political cartoons focusing on major issues of George Washington’s presidency. These cartoons are displayed in the galleries of the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center at Mount Vernon. This lesson will use these political cartoons to engage students in a deeper understanding of George Washington’s presidency. 

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Who Are Our Greatest Presidents?

The President of the United States receives media coverage on a daily basis and is often ranked against, or compared to, past presidents. This lesson will help students actively develop their own conclusions, rather than passively absorbing ideas generated by the media or other outside influences. It will provide them with a systematic analytical methods to compare past presidents and current or potential future presidents and to determine their own research-based ranking system.

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