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Lesson Purpose

A lesson that asks students to examine document-based evidence related to George Washington and slavery. Students are asked to use evidence to write an essay that answers the essential question: What were George Washington’s views on slavery?


Lesson Objectives:

  • Students will analyze documents that present multiple perspectives on a central issue, specifically public vs. private perspective and change over time.
  • Students will understand the societal, cultural, and economic conditions of 18th century American life that sustained the institution of slavery.
  • Students will explore the relationship between George Washington and his slaves.
  • Students will collaborate on a project that does not have a definitive final answer and will have to come to consensus or explain the reason for disagreement.
  • As a group, students will create a thesis statement and evidence that answers the essential question: What were George Washington’s views on slavery?
  • As individuals, students will write an essay based on the conclusions of their group.

Related Standards:

  • Revolution and the New Nation
  • Colonization and Settlement
  • Writing an argumentative essay
  • Reading Standards in Technical Subjects
  • Reading and Writing Literacy in History/Social Studies
  • Reading Informational Texts
  • Use questions generated about an individual to assess how the significance of their actions changes over time and is shaped by historical context.
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Reading for Perspective
  • Speaking and Listening
  • Explain how the perspectives of people in the present shape interpretations of the past. 
  • Critique the usefulness of historical sources for a specific inquiry.
  • Integrate evidence from multiple relevant historical sources into a reasoned argument about the past.