American Presidents

Dwight D. Eisenhower American Presidents Teacher Guide

Dwight D. Eisenhower: Examination of Character
Oct 25 - 30, 1999 on C-SPAN
Recommended Use:
Secondary level

Before viewing American Presidents
Part 1
As a class, define the word "Character" in regard to a personality trait. Describe good character. Brainstorm personal qualities associated with a person of good character. Appoint a student to write these standards of good character as a list and distribute copies to the class.

Invite students to suggest individuals who they believe have good character. How did they learn about these individuals? Do these individuals embody the standards of good character which students developed in this exercise?

Part 2
Tell students they will view a biography on the 34th president Dwight D. Eisenhower. Instruct students to conduct preliminary research on Dwight D. Eisenhower using library resources and the Internet. Students can obtain a bibliography on Dwight D. Eisenhower by visiting the C-SPAN American presidents web site. Distribute to each student the one page fact sheet on Dwight D. Eisenhower made available on the C-SPAN American Presidents web site.

Students will use the standards from the Part 1 as a guide to determine Dwight D. Eisenhower's character. Students should make a hypothesis and support their position using examples from the president's life.

While Viewing American Presidents
Directions: Students will play the role of historian and take notes for a chapter on the character of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Assign one of the following chapters to each of the students: Childhood, Military Life, President, The Man.

Students will use the videotape of C-SPAN's American Presidents program which features a tour of Dwight D. Eisenhower's home and discussion with historians as primary research for their chapters. Students will then apply the "standards of good character" from the Before Viewing Activity to the information about his life.

In their chapters, students can address some of the following influences on Dwight D. Eisenhower's character:

  • Dwight D. Eisenhower's Mother
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower's Father
  • Brothers Milton and Edgar
  • Mamie Eisenhower
  • General George Marshall
  • General Douglas MacArthur
  • Kay Sommersby


  • Military Academy
  • Campaign Politics
  • Korean War
  • Nuclear Weapons
  • D-Day
  • Latin America Policy

After Viewing Presidents

Part 1
Provide time for students to write their chapter. Students should then meet in groups based on their chapter topics and read each other's work. Were there differing opinions based on their research? Do they have conclusions about Dwight D. Eisenhower's character? How did his character develop over time?

Part 2
In front of the class, create a timeline of "Presidential Character" which charts the periods in Dwight D. Eisenhower's life based on the students' chapter topics. The students will take turns filling in the timeline with research they conducted for their chapters. The Presidential Character Timeline can be created with references to people and events that mark milestones in the evolution of the president's character.

Part 3
As a class, use the knowledge gained from the chapter writing and timeline activities to create an overall picture of Dwight D. Eisenhower's life and his role in American history. Use the following as a guide for discussion:

1. What were challenges in Dwight D. Eisenhower's life?

2. How did Dwight D. Eisenhower overcome these challenges?

3. How did his approach to various challenges build or detract from your impressions of his character?

C-SPAN's American Presidents Timeline Poster
Request a Timeline on all the American presidents. The poster is FREE to members of C-SPAN in the Classroom. Join C-SPAN's free membership service online or call (202) 626-4858 to request an enrollment form!

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