American Presidents

William Henry Harrison American Presidents Teacher Guide

William Henry Harrison: Campaigning during the 1800's
May 1,1999 on C-SPAN
Recommended Use:
Secondary Level

Before Viewing American Presidents

Part 1
Discuss with students some qualities valuable to a presidential candidate. Ask students: if you yourself were running for president, what biographical information would you emphasize? Consider accomplishments, personality traits, work habits, family background and skills.

Instruct each student to make campaign posters, or write slogans for their own presidential campaigns. Share completed posters and slogans with the whole group. What qualities are emphasized most often? What slogans are most effective?

Now ask students: how close are the slogans and posters to reality? Should campaign materials accurately represent the candidate? Have students explain their answers. Draw out their opinions about the correlation between the candidate and the candidate’s image.

Part 2
Prepare students to view selections of C-SPAN’s American Presidents series on William Henry Harrison, whose 1840 presidential campaign is considered the first modern presidential campaign. Students will indentify biographical information that would be considered an asset to candidate Harrison's presidential campaign.

While Viewing American Presidents
Directions: Note biographical information about William Henry Harrison for each of the following categories.

1. Early life

2. Military career

3. Family

4. Friends, political allies

5. Military career

6. Other public service

7. Physical appearance

8. Personality

After Viewing American Presidents
Review the biographical information about William Henry Harrison. Invite students to conduct additional research for the project, if necessary. Visit C-SPAN's American President web site for more information about the ninth president.

Reviewing the data gathered from the While Viewing Activity and students' research, circle the details you would want to include in a campaign for Harrison. Cross out the details you would not want to emphasize. Then, design a campaign slogan or button for William Henry Harrison.

What campaign slogans did William Henry Harrison use in his campaign for the presidency? Were they factually accurate? In what ways did Harrison’s campaign misrepresent him, or embellish the truth? How is using figurative language like "keep the ball rolling" an effective way to garner support for a candidate? Is it a fair way to solicit votes? Explain. How do campaign techniques, such as slogans, songs and buttons benefit the candidate? How do they benefit the voter? What is the downside?

What elements of the Harrison-Van Buren campaign still exist today? What is different? What campaign reform initiatives have been proposed? Why? Could Harrison have predicted the type of campaign techniques that are used today?

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