American Presidents

John Tyler American Presidents Teacher Guide

Biographical Vignette on John Tyler
May 17, 1999 on C-SPAN at 9am ET
Recommended Use:
Secondary Level

Note to teachers: This Teacher Guide can be used with the biographical vignette that opens C-SPANís American Presidents program on John Tyler. You may choose to have students gather additional information from the American Presidents web site or other segments of John Tyler programming airing this week.

Before Viewing American Presidents
Have students review the biographical information on C-SPANís web site about John Tyler. Read the letter from John Tyler to his daughter.

Have students list the topics that he addressed in his letter and match each topic to a biographical fact. For example, in the letter he refers to the Capitol building as, "now nearly finished." Students can match that observation to the biographical information: in the year Tyler wrote the letter, he was serving in Washington, DC as a member of Congress from Virginia.

Ask students: What is the tone of the letter? What are some words to describe the person who wrote that letter? Was he a good father? Was a good public servant? Explain. What surprised you about the letter?

Tell students they will watch a biographical vignette about John Tyler and gather material to construct another letter, but one that John Tyler could have written to his daughter during his presidential term.

While Viewing American Presidents
Directions: Take note of the facts of John Tylerís life, particularly the years of his presidency. Use the following categories to gather material, or add categories of your own.

1. Current events in the country:

2. Current events in Washington, DC:

3. Events in his personal life:

4. Political friends/enemies:

5. Other friends/enemies:

6. Political concerns, likes/dislikes:

7. Personal concerns, likes/dislikes:

After Viewing American Presidents
Prepare students to write a letter. Students should review their notes on John Tyler, and pose some questions, such as:

  • What topics would John Tyler address in a letter to his daughter?
  • What topics wouldnít he address?
  • How did John Tyler personally change from the time of his letter of 1827?
  • How would John Tyler address his daughter as an adult?

Then have each student, in the role of John Tyler, write a letter to his daughter Mary, addressing topics similar to those addressed in his letter of 1827. The letter should have a similar tone, but reflect the changes in his personal life. Students may date their letter at any time during his presidency.

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