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Grades 5 to 12

J.Q. Adams, Jackson & Van Buren
Our Presidents in America’s History Series

Subject Area: Social Studies, U.S. History
Synopsis: Chronicles the presidencies of John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. Focuses on the growth of the nation and the growing tensions between the northern and southern states over slavery. Discusses John Quincy Adams’ presidency and service in the House of Representatives, the overwhelming popularity of Andrew Jackson and the actions he took to strengthen the presidency, and the economic depression during Martin Van Buren’s term in office.

Learning Objectives:
Objective 1) Students will be able to discuss the Presidency of John Quincy Adams as well as his service in the House of Representatives following his Presidency.
Objective 2) Students will be able to describe Andrew Jackson’s appeal as a “common man” and the actions he took to strengthen the Presidency.
Objective 3) Students will be able to discuss the economic crisis and the growing debate over slavery that characterized Martin Van Buren’s term in office.
Objective 4) Students will be able to contrast the personalities and ideas of John Q. Adams, Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren.
Pre-Viewing Activities:
1) On a map, point out the new states added to the Union during the presidencies of John Q. Adams, Andrew Jackson, and Martin Van Buren.
2) Vocabulary: diplomat, electoral votes, electoral college, common man, bigamist, spoils system, Trail of Tears, laissez-faire, veto, inauguration, economic depression, Jeffersonian Democracy
Post-Viewing Discussion and Activities:
1) Describe the circumstances in which John Q. Adams became President of the United States. Was Adams qualified to be President? Why do you think his diplomatic experiences did not carry over well to the Presidency?
2) How did John Q. Adams become a member of the House of Representatives? To what issue did he devote his attention while serving in the House?
3) In what ways was Andrew Jackson different from the preceding Presidents? How was he portrayed in the Presidential Election of 1828? Why was Andrew Jackson popular with the common man?
4) Over what issue did Andrew Jackson’s cabinet resign? Why was the treatment of Peggy O’Neal of importance to Andrew Jackson?

5) What was the Trail of Tears? Why were the Cherokees relocated?

6) Of what was Thomas Hart Benton speaking when he said, “It was the only time the rising sun was eclipsed by the setting sun”?
7) What issues dominated Van Buren’s presidency? What was the cause of the economic crisis? Why did many Americans resent Van Buren?
Additional Activities:
1) Create three columns on the board and ask students to call out characteristics of John Q. Adams, Andrew Jackson, and Martin Van Buren. Encourage students to consider each President’s economic and social background and education. Afterwards, discuss how each President’s characteristics related to his ability to lead the nation. Discuss what characteristics Americans value in their leaders.
2) Discuss political campaigns: why campaigns are necessary, mediums used by politicians to gain votes, tactics commonly used, etc. If possible, bring some campaign posters or television advertisements from local elections to class. Divide the class into groups of 4 or 5 students each. Each group must create campaign slogans and posters for either John Q. Adams, Andrew Jackson or Martin Van Buren. Display students’ work and have a class discussion about effective campaign slogans and advertisements.
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