American Presidents

Andrew Jackson American Presidents Teacher Guide

Biographical Vignette on Andrew Jackson
April 26 on C-SPAN (approximate length: five minutes) Recommended Use: Secondary Level

Before Viewing American Presidents

Part 1
Define the verb, "to command." What is the noun form of the verb? Elicit some examples of commands. What makes a command a command (versus a suggestion or a request)? Does a command require "roughness"? What tone do commands usually take? Why?

Have students brainstorm different situations with one person taking command of a situation. Pairs of students can design and perform a role play of a leader (i.e. a teacher, a parent, a student government representative, a politician, a police officer, a referee) commanding something of another person.

Have students consider the qualities of an effective leader, the job duties of a president, and answer the following question: In what ways must a president of the United States command?

Part 2
Present students with the following words Andrew Jackson used to describe himself in 1821:

"I know what I am fit for. I can command a body of men in a rough way; but I am not fit to be president."

Ask students: Was Andrew Jackson selling himself short? Make predictions about the ways Andrew Jackson’s "roughness" enhanced or detracted from his leadership as president.

Part 3
Prepare students to use the activity sheet below to categorize information about Andrew Jackson as they view the biographical vignette. For example, Andrew Jackson was described as a pugnacious, slobbering child. Students may put the words pugnacious and slobbering in the left hand column as words that describe the "rough" Andrew Jackson. Andrew Jackson served two terms. Students may put that fact in the right column as a fact related to the presidential Andrew Jackson.

Finally, students may decide that some facts about Andrew Jackson are related to both the rough and the presidential Andrew Jackson, such as his tendency to dueling. Students should put this information under the middle heading "both."

While Viewing American Presidents
Directions: Take notes on the information in the vignette by categorizing biographical facts about President Jackson in the columns below.

"Rough" Qualities Both Presidential Qualities

After Viewing American Presidents
Part 1
Replay the vignette several times so that students may refine their notes. Review students answers. Which column has more information? Which of Jackson’s qualities stand out? What conclusions can you draw about the ways his personal qualities impacted his effectiveness as a leader?

Part 2
Review some information about the personalities and styles of the presidents preceding Andrew Jackson. You can use C-SPAN's American Presidents web site to identify this information. How might his styles have contrasted with theirs? How might the styles of the preceding presidents have contributed to Andrew Jackson’s pessimistic view of his "fitness" for the presidency?

Part 3
Answer the following question using C-SPAN's American Presidents web site, additional C-SPAN programming on Andrew Jackson and other sources of information. Did Andrew Jackson’s personal "roughness" make him an effective president? Write a short essay explaining and defending your answer.

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