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  • Pair this primary source with Washington’s First Inaugural Address. Instruct students to read both documents and determine the main points of each. Ask students why they think the Second Inaugural Address is significantly shorter than the first one? What could Washington have discussed in his Second Inaugural Address that he chose not to? What issues and debates were government officials and citizens grappling with during the early 1790s? 
  • Although Washington won re-election unanimously, a political divide was forming in America. Supporters of a strong central government were Federalists, while Anti-Federalists believed more authority should be given to individual states. Read Mount Vernon’s web page on Washington, Jefferson, and Madison to understand the reasons why this divide happened among the Founding Fathers, and ask students to create a Venn diagram explaining the differences and similarities between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists during Washington’s presidency. What were the arguments of each party? Who were some of the individuals associated with each party? Ask students to go a step further and decide which political party they would side with if they lived during the period.
  • Create a word cloud for the First Inaugural Address and the Second Inaugural Address. Are the words similar or different? What does this say? What can students infer about the state of the country?

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Washington delivered his Second Inaugural Address in the Senate Chamber of Congress Hall in Philadelphia on March 4, 1793. It was the shortest inaugural speech given by any United States President; it consisted of only 135 words. Washington’s First Inaugural Address was ten minutes long, and spoke on topics ranging from foreign policy to education, while his second focused on his presidential duties and the consequences that should occur if he were to break them.

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