Presidents in Office

  • You Decide: Jefferson or Hamilton? | A Biography of America

    In the formative years of the United States, two key figures helped shape a new government: Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. But their vision of what that government should be and do often conflicted. In this interactive from A Biography of America, read statements by Jefferson and Hamilton on the role of government, the virtue of people, slavery, and the role of cities, and decide who had the more enduring vision for America.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • John & Abigail Adams - The Choice for Revolution

    Beginning in the 1760s, a series of political events forced John Adams to think hard about colonists' rights. Make your own political decisions and learn about Adams', in this interactive from American Experience: "John & Abigail Adams."

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Presidents - Primary Source: John Adam's Thoughts on Government, 1776

    In 1776, at the time of this letter John Adams was the representative for Massachusetts in the Continental Congress. He was writing to George Wythe, representative for Virginia, who was America's first professor of law and a supporter of the Declaration of Independence. Adams cites the need for a system of checks and balances, an idea that he came back to when writing the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Learn more with this primary source from American Experience: "John & Abigail Adams."

    Grades: 9-12
  • John & Abigail Adams - Interview with Carol Berkin, Joanne Freeman, Doug Ambrose

    Historians discuss John Adams and Thomas Jefferson's complicated friendship: its roots at the Continental Congress, their falling out over the French Revolution, and a final late-in-life reconciliation. Learn more with these interviews from American Experience: "John & Abigail Adams."

    Grades: 9-12
  • TR: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt - Primary Resources: Monroe Doctrine, 1823

    The Monroe Doctrine provided the basis for Theodore Roosevelt's military intervention in Latin America. Learn more with this primary source from American Experience: "TR: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt."

    Grades: 9-12
  • Monroe Doctrine (1823) and Resource Materials

    This is a facsimile of the Monroe Doctrine, articulated in President Monroe's annual message to Congress on December 2, 1823. This Doctrine held that the Western Hemisphere was the United States of America's sphere of interest, warned the European Powers not to interfere in the affairs of said hemisphere, and that any attempts to do so would be taken as acts of aggresstion. It was issued as many Latin American nations were gaining independence from Spain and Portugal.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • William Henry Harrison Makes the Front Page! Lesson Plan

    In this lesson, to be used with The War of 1812, students will learn about American General William Henry Harrison. The students are to turn what they learn about the ruthless general into a captivating newspaper article. By doing this, they will learn parts of a newspaper article and how to grasp a reader's attention.

    Grades: 5-8, 13+
  • James K. Polk. An Article by Robert W. Johanssen | US-Mexican War

    James K. Polk. An Article by Robert W. Johanssen. James Knox Polk (1795-1849), 11th president of the United States, was elected in November, 1844, and held office for one term, from March 2, 1845 to March 3, 1849, at age 49 the youngest president until the 20th century.

    Grades: 6-12
  • James K. Polk. A Policy Appraisal | US-Mexican War

    James K. Polk. A Policy Appraisal. What Polk wanted was to push Mexico into negotiating with the United States, and he was willing to create a threat of war to do this.

    Grades: 6-12
  • James K. Polk. Bluffs and Boundaries | US-Mexican War

    James K. Polk. Bluffs and Boundaries. James Knox Polk was a small town lawyer, a man who was provincial in both his outlooks and his tastes. He was a man with a very strong sense of duty and professional obligation that made him seem cold, aloof and distant to many people.

    Grades: 6-12
  • James Buchanan

    WLVT PBS 39 presents its Lehigh Valley Tempo! segment on James Buchanan. Lehigh Valley Tempo! is a weekly news magazine broadcast program for WLVT. James Buchanan is the only Pennsylvanian to ever be elected President. Buchanan, unfortunately, is also considered one of the worst Presidents by many historians. Buchanan was replaced by Abraham Lincoln just before the outbreak of the Civil War.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided - Primary Resources: Responses to John Brown's Raid at Harper's Ferry

    Study opinions on the Harper's Ferry affair, from American Experience: "Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided."

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Abolitionists: Lincoln's Uncertain Commitment to Emancipation

    Many abolitionists were uncertain if President Lincoln was truly committed to freeing slaves or if he was more concerned with ending the Civil War. Abolitionists questioned his commitment to emancipation. Video from, American Experience: "Abolitionists."

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Lincoln Oath | History Detectives

    The Royal Oak Museum in Webster, Michigan has a note that Abraham Lincoln signed. Supposedly. The museum’s curator is always suspicious of Lincoln forgeries, so she asks Tukufu Zuberi to verify this signature. The words are scribbled on the back of a square cut from an unfamiliar document. This message, coupled with the document, reveals a key Civil War practice history textbooks often overlook.

    Grades: 6-12
  • UNC-TV Science | Using Animation to Find Lincoln

    An ex-Disney animator and professor of New Media was able to locate Lincoln among the crowd in one of the few photos taken at the battlefield in Gettysburg. He did it by superimposing an animated 3-D model over the photo.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Abraham Lincoln: Man versus Legend | History Detectives

    Students examine elements of Abraham Lincoln's life in this lesson based on the PBS series History Detectives. Using primary source documents, students should have a better understanding of who Lincoln was as a person and leader.

    Grades: 6-12
  • U.S. Grant: Warrior - Biography: Abraham Lincoln

    Abraham Lincoln led his nation through the most difficult times it had known, restoring a shattered Union and ending slavery in America. Lincoln had struggled to heal the wounds of war, yet he became one of its last victims, and the war left the country no less divided. Learn more with this resource from American Experience: "U.S. Grant: Warrior."

    Grades: 9-12
  • Lincoln's Legend and Legacy (Lesson Plan) | Bill Moyers Journal

    Write an original poem or one-page speech on a contemporary American or on someone that students have studied in class.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Webinar: Lincoln's Words at Gettysburg

    Ken Burns's documentary, The Address follows the students of the Greenwood School as they uncover the meaning behind President Lincoln’s speech at Gettysburg. This webinar gives you the opportunity to hear from Stewart Miller, the Headmaster of the Greenwood School, and Greg Timmons, the curriculum expert behind the resources that accompany the film. Hear how Stewart was able to capture and foster his students’ curiosity about Lincoln’s celebrated words and discover the rich collection of materials that Greg developed to help you engage your own students. This webinar was recorded on April 14, 2014.

    Guest Speakers: Stewart Miller, Headmaster of Greenwood School and Greg Timmons, curriculum expert

    Grades: 13+
  • Cartoon depicting Abraham Lincoln squaring up to Jefferson Davis (engraving) by American School, (19th century)

    American School, (19th century), American. 19th Century. Abraham Lincoln (1809-65), President of the U.S.A. during the American Civil War (1861-65); Jefferson Davis (1808-89), President of the Confederacy during the American Civil War. Provenance: Private Collection.
    Grades: 5-13+