American Presidents





Millard Fillmore American Presidents Teacher Guide

Running For Office in New York State
June 11, 1999 on C-SPAN
Recommended Use:
Secondary level


Before Viewing American Presidents
Tell students they have been hired to find and gather information to aid a politician campaigning for office representing the state of New York. Students should assume this politician is unfamiliar with New York, and the primer they are creating will be titled "New York State 101." Students should focus on gathering information that will be useful to a politician who wants to represent New York state concerns on a national level.

Two types of resources for this activity can be accessed through C-SPANís web site:

  • Links to New York state media through C-SPANís Washington Journal home page
  • Links to members of the U.S. Congress who represent New York State by using C-SPANís Congress home page


    Students can gather evidence on the following and other topics concerning New York state:

    1. daily life

    2. concerns of the middle class

    3. employment

    4. environment

    5. history

    6. social issues: crime, health care, education

    7. party politics


    Review students findings, and raise additional questions, if necessary. How can students obtain answers to these questions? Consider writing or calling a member of Congress or journalist from New York state for more information.

    Ask students to imagine which social issues were of concern to citizens of New York state during the mid-19th century. What issues were gaining prominence at this time? (Student may review information about President Martin Van Buren of New York state from C-SPANís American Presidents web site and other sources.) Have students imagine further back in time to the early republic and colonial times. What role did New York play in the countryís formation, particularly in comparison to Massachusetts and Virginia?

    Tell students they are to engage in a study of New York in the 19th century through the life of one of its citizens, Millard Fillmore. Students will watch the American Presidents programming and create another version of "New York 101," this time for an ambitious New York state politician in the 19th century.


    While Viewing American Presidents
    Directions: Take notes on the history, issues and events in New York state during the course of Millard Fillmoreís life. Add other categories for information, if necessary.

    1. daily life

    2. concerns of the middle class

    3. employment

    4. environment

    5. history

    6. social issues: crime, health care, education

    7. party politics


    After Viewing American Presidents
    In what ways did Millard Fillmoreís status as a New Yorker propel his political career? Did his background as a New Yorker impact his life in Congress? As president?

    How was New York state representative of the country during the 19th century? How is it representative today? Does New Yorkís size, or demographics, affect its significance on the national political scene?

    What about New York state has remained constant from the 19th century to the 20th? What has changed? What social issues will New Yorkers give priority to in the upcoming Congressional and presidential elections? What lessons does Millard Fillmore offer to current New York politicians who aspire to national office?


    Additional Activity
    Have students continue to track the Congressional and presidential campaigns in New York state and gauge issues of significance to New York state by using C-SPANís programming and web site, as well as other sources.


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