American Presidents

Bill Clinton American Presidents Teacher Guide

The Clinton Presidency - A Research Paper

This Teacher Guide was developed by Champion Teacher Steve Armstrong at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, IL.
C-SPAN is provided to his area by TCI.

Goal: Research the office of the President by focusing on this single, contemporary individual - President Bill Clinton.

Using several resources, research and write about the American Presidency.


  • Portions of editorials on President Clinton, articles from magazines such as Time and Newsweek, political magazines such as the New Republic and National Review. You should also use newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune and the Daily Herald. Obviously, you would use at least six to ten resources in order to write a successful paper.

  • The White House web site and C-SPAN's American Presidents: Life Portraits web site

    You must plan your reading and research time accordingly so that you will have enough time to complete the project.

  • Procedure
    All of the following must be covered in your paper:

    1. Personal data: the man, his educational and political background, relevant personal data, pre-political career experience; personal philosophy & economic views. This section should take no more than one or two paragraphs.

    2. Campaign data: How he conducted his presidential campaign; key issues; party platform; key sentences from speeches with your analysis; campaign techniques and gimmicks; debates (where applicable). This section should be at least two paragraphs. You may use only the 1992 and 1996 elections.

    3. Roles as President: Examples of each of the roles of President, giving specific incidents for each: Chief of State, Chief Executive, Chief Diplomat, Chief Legislator, Commander-in- Chief. Which did he fill best? Each of these should be at least one paragraph, with some roles using two paragraphs.

    The summary below will assist in helping to define your explanation of these roles.

    [1] Chief of State: All American Presidents have attended ceremonies on the behalf of the nation. Find a unique one that seems to suit President Clinton. You are of course not limited to ceremonies.

    [2] Chief Executive: President Clinton recently issued an executive order overriding decisions from the Bush and Reagan administrations regarding the limits placed on federally funded abortion clinics.

    [3] Chief Diplomat: President Clinton has held several summit meetings with various heads of state regarding the relationship of the United States to other nations, discussing a variety of issues. This section can easily occupy two paragraphs of your paper.

    [4] Chief Legislator: President Clinton has had a seemingly rocky relationship with Congress during the past two years. Analyze at least two of President Clinton's programs which have either been accepted or rejected by the Congress. At least two paragraphs would be needed to adequately complete this assignment.

    [5] Commander-in-Chief: President have needed to order the military into some kind of action in the past 200 + years, from President Jefferson ordering the Navy to attack the Libyans in 1803, to President Bush authorizing the bombing of Iraq prior to leaving office in January 1993. Use a paragraph or two to describe an action taken by President Clinton in this arena.

    4. Overall Appraisal: How do you believe President Clinton will be remembered as President? What key decisions did he make? Give examples of his policies, promises, foreign involvement. What did he do best? Was he a strong or a weak President? For what personal attributes was he known? What impact did his Presidency have on the country?

    Your paper must be at least five typed pages or seven hand-written pages. You must cover all of the items listed above, using essay format. You must list the sources you used with proper bibliographic format; put them on a separate sheet at the end of your paper. Use a cover sheet with a title. Include an introductory and a concluding paragraph. The introduction must tell what the paper is about, and the conclusion must show that you covered all the major points successfully.

    Finally, you must use proper methods of scholarship. First of all, limit your use of direct quotes. Don't use an entire paragraph of quoted material as one of your paragraphs. It's best to use a brief section verbatim, then paraphrase and analyze in your own words what has taken place.

    Avoid direct copying word-for-word from your sources. This is easy to recognize, and will be dealt with accordingly.

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